All your ride quandaries, solved
Q: What's the difference between a singlespeed and a fixie? Why would you want only one gear?
A singlespeed is exactly what it sounds like—a bike with one gear. A fixie (or fixed gear) is a singlespeed without brakes and without the mechanism that allows the bike to coast when you're not pedaling. In other words, if the wheels on a fixie are moving, so are the cranks —and your legs. Why would you want a single gear? It can make you stronger , especially on hills, which require more power to climb when you don't have the ability to downshift. And because there's no need for components such as a cassette, shifters, and derailleurs, bikes with one gear are lighter and require less maintenance. For one thing, there are fewer parts to break. "It's also easier to keep your bike clean," says Vicki Barclay, 2013 singlespeed cyclocross world champion. Any kind of bike can be a singlespeed—road, mountain, cyclocross, or commuter. Fixies tend to be popular with urban riders, bike messengers, and the style-conscious who prize their old-school functionality and sleek, minimalist aesthetic.
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