Thursday, June 28, 2007

Seven Signs of the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse

For all my bashing of the fixie trend I think a lot of good things have come out of it: the tire industry is thriving thanks to skip-stopping; there are lots of barely-ridden Bianchi Pistas on the used market; and cars now stop for me even when they have the light because they now just assume anyone with drop bars can't or won't be able to stop at an intersection.

For those of you who ride your bikes because you love to ride and don't care what everybody else is doing, you won't care about any of this. But if you're one of those people who rides them because it's important to for you to be cool, stop immediately and seek out a new trend. Because it's over for the fixie subculture in a biblical sense. Here are the seven signs that the end is nigh:

1) This. Spinning, as we all know, is "the hottest, hippest aerobic group workout to hit the nation since jazzercise." It's nothing new. And it's fixed. This place owns the URL "" and is in Orange County, CA. Remember break dancing? People started doing that in gyms too.

2) Specialized special city edition Langsters. I haven't seen mention of these online yet, but I have seen them at my LBS. They are limited edition Langsters, each one honoring a certain city. The NYC one is taxi cab yellow and has chopped flat bars. The Seattle (or was it Portland?) one has wooden fenders. The London one is painted in a Union Jack motif. They're actually cool as a style exercise, but as far as fixed-gear riding being "underground" this isn't even the final nail in the coffin--the fixie coffin is already buried and this is the penultimate nail in the coffin that will be buried next to the fixie coffin. Just wait until you see one--you'll see what I mean.

3) Building a fixie and learning a track stand as life goals. Building your own house by hand is a life goal. Building a fixie is an entertaining diversion. And learning a track stand is a skill you acquire as a natural consequence of riding a bicycle in traffic, or off-road, or at a velodrome. It should not be an end goal in and of itself. One commenter suggests practicing on grass. I can't wait to see people practicing trackstands in McCarren park, like a bunch of trendy garden gnomes that occasionally fall over. Next alleycat competition category: freestyle tire wiping.


4) That New York Times article. I know everybody in the world has seen this already, but when the Times finally gets wind of your subculture, it's already a memory. Forthcoming hot trends you can expect the Times culture desk to report on soon: Williamsburg is trendy; white kids starting to adopt black culture in the suburbs; and Apple just may have a hit on its hands with this "iPod" thing.

5) That Intersection magazine feature. I saw this at Barnes and Noble awhile back, and was just reminded of it while visiting the excellent blog He's already said just about all that needs to be said here, but I'll add that if you're one of those people who race well on the power and adrenaline of raw anger, get yourself a copy of this issue and read it at the start line of your next race. You'll wake up on the podium.

6) "I want one. What is it?" If you're anything like me, you're the person all your non-cycling friends and family come to if they have any questions about bikes or cycling. Lately a lot of these people have been coming to me saying, in essence, "I'm intersted in getting a fixed gear bike. What are they exactly?" In that order. Sign #4 in this list might have a lot to do with this. I should submit my own article to the Times: "Putting the Cart Way the Hell in Front of the Horse."

7) That court case in Portland with the guy who didn't use a brake. This "controversy" got a lot ot attention. When the "brake or no brake" debate has its own Roe v. Wade test case, I think the writing is on the wall.


Zoe said...

Fixed Gear spinning - "Your mind will not wonder." But will it wander? Great stuff!!!! I have decided that you and I may have been separated at birth. Next time I'm in NYC, I WILL track you down and buy you some beers.

Colin R said...

Screw you, a seated trackstand on a regular road bike is still my primary goal in life, if not the reason I was put on earth.

Robosauce said...

marry me? Please?

steve said...

If you forwarded this post to this blogger, he might cry. Which would be good because then he would have to pause from shilling for rapha, huf, and velocity.

meh-wee-uhn said...

robosauce: I asked first!
(And if it comes down to it, I've got the Park PW-4 in the one hand and the boxcutter in the other, so watch it!)

Ah ha ha ha ha ha.

StevenCX said...

That court case in Portland with the guy who didn't use a brake.
"the guy" is a girl, Ayla Holland.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Thanks for the correction, Stevencx. I suppose I automatically assumed someone riding brakeless was a guy, since girls are the smarter sex.

I think Robosauce, Meh-wee-uhn, and I are going to have to move to Utah...I'd hate for someone to get hurt.

El said...

heh, orange county, ca. what losers.

who the hell lives in orange county, ca?


shit. me again. i really suck.

p. squiddy said...

El's comment is the funniest thing I read today.

You just have to feel sorry for a lot of the kids. I was in a bike shop the other day and this kid comes in with an old Kabuki or Seraph frame with cottered cranks and says he's trying to build it into a fixed gear. Didn't really know what he was doing, and I just felt sorry for him listening to the mechanic try and explain what he'd need to do to the bike. So sad.

p. squiddy said...

You might want to check out these shirts Joel Metz is doing:

Less Talk, More Rack!

Anonymous said...

SO GOOD...except for the rap and ipod analogies, which were overdone. hey, how about that hot new group 'the white stripes'? and have you heard that a lot of people are into baby-yoga these days?

Anonymous said...

Thank You! Living in what seems to be fixed-gear central (San Francisco - Mission District), I felt like the last man standing (or riding w/ freewheels and brakes at least).

It seems these item also included whenever you buy a fixed hub:
- short-brimmed baseball cap
- american apparel t-shirt w/ abstract print
- converse all-stars
- studded black leather belt
- skinny jeans w/ kryptonite holder rear pocket.
and of course all the above items are "distressed" at the factory.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this yet?
Urban Velo.

I couldn't make myself read it. Other than big johnny from dc was profiled in an article. Otherwise.. just yuppie fixie-ness.

SKiDmark said...

That guy is not a girl or a guy per se. Ayla Holland is transgendered.

Joe Hell said...

I just bought a 2006 Bianchi Pista and I love it!!! See you on! Seething yet?

le freak c'est keek said...

bah humbug. i love my track been a messenger forever! so what if all these kids are frontin. this is is just like what happened back in the day with skateboarding and bmx. i guess you cant keep a good thing a secret for ever! haterz every where you go. the smart ones will cash in on this explosion. im afraid all subculutures must die at somepoint..but so do we aaaaahhhh fuck it!

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Anonymous said...

If this ever happens to BMX please shoot me.

Anonymous said...

ha ha--hipsters suck and riding fixed wheel is still fun. Scorcher bikes--the next big thing! Sheldon Brown blazed a trail with his iconoclastic road conversions that make sense--relaxed geometry but the subtle control that only comes without a freewheel. May we all
wear wool and run over Diesel clad

Anonymous said...

I don't see why everyone is so mad at the "hipsters." If more people get on bikes instead of using their cars I don't really see a downside here. Good for the environment...and maybe they'll get a little exercise at the same time.

weltall82 said...

mr. snob,

the word, if you look it up in the dictionary, is 'fixocalypse.'

and it's friggen coming.


heimey said...

that's perfect! my sentiments exactly.
the pic reminds me of the time i saw about 8 of em just circling around on a side street - not practicing anything, just killin time. for god's sake, at least RIDE the ^$#@&-ing things!!

Anonymous said...

I now know these things are called Fixies, but what is the costume called that goes along with the bike? Skin tight pants, odd shoes and that hair cut thingy.
And, why do I always visualize the rival gang in the Thriller video when I see a gaggle of these "bikers" tearing up the boardwalk in Newport?

bird said...

truly amazing.

nick said...

Are you guys just bitter because this fixed-gear phenomenon is resulting in less riders in full spandex? Well rest assured you can't escape looking silly whether you are the only one in spandex or one of many in a sea of spandex.

bushwick said...

i ride a ten speed with both brakes and so far have not been offended by nor have a seem to have upset and "fixie's", i must ask where has all of your hostility come from? if you ride for you why do you concern your self with a riding community you dont even belong to? btw... everyone iv met at crit. mass has been a pleasure, why nock it?

Carl said...

They're just bicycles. All of them. Just bicycles. Two wheels a crank and some brakes attached to a frame. There is not a big deal here. Sometimes it looks like they're becoming the new SUVs "status" wise. (Getting almost as expensive as well.)

Anonymous said...

"If this ever happens to BMX please shoot me."

That's the funniest thing I've heard in a while. The author is obviously waaay under 25.

Daddo said...

hi everyone...I'm visiting from the future - it's ugly!

Matt said...

"ot" isn't a word. (#7, line 1)

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been riding for 30 years (gasp, I'm 34!) The same thing happened in the 80s with BMX. Every asshole was doing it, until they hurt themselves and moved onto something else. Big deal. It has bothered me for decades that cyclists always have to discriminate against each other based on the style or value of each others bikes. I have a variety of bikes in my stable, each are a joy to ride for a variety of reasons. How about we stop bitching and go back to having fun?

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Anonymous said...

"if this happens to bmx please shoot me" it already did man... im sorry... remember the bright borderline feminine bike and components you see all over the skate park? FADDIES!!!!

Burnt Reynolds said...

late to the game but I want to say that I have taken classes at fixed gear in Orange County. The classes there are the best spin classes I have taken. I like doing the spin classes on the fixed gear rather than the free wheel bikes. It's a better work out and a great way to burn a TON of calories. And I'm a real biker. Not like a roadie but I ride my bike to work, to school, to run errands. It's my main form of transportation. I've actually had to explain to people that I don't have a DUI, I just like to ride my bike.

Burnt Reynolds said...

oh and I ride a 7-geared townie bike around town. Not a fixie.

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