Fixed Gear Bike Advantages & Disadvantages

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If you are an avid cyclist, then you are more than aware of what a fixed-gear bike or “fixie” is. But if you’re new to cycling, let me explain what a fixed is. 

As the name suggests, a fixed-gear bike is simply a bike that doesn’t have gears. When you’re riding a fixed-gear bicycle, the pedals are rotating. Generally speaking, the bike has no brakes, which can be pretty frightening, especially for those who have never ridden a fixie before. 

In essence, the only real way to slow down and come to a halt is to oppose the bike‘s forward momentum; there are many different ways to do this, but we’ll go over that later on. The fixed-gear bicycle first came to prominence in the 1970s when a group of bike couriers called “the kamikaze bike couriers” rode them in San Francisco and New York.

Since then, fixies have gained in popularity, particularly amongst young so-called “hipsters.” Fixies are seen as cool, chic, and somewhat elitist and are very popular in big metropolitan cities around the world, such as New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Bike commuters are commonly seen on fixed, as are bike couriers and even uber eats delivery staff. 

Now, although it may seem like fixies are challenging to ride, just like anything, they can be mastered and even become a lot of fun with enough practice. The purists love fixed-gear bikes because they feel it brings them closer to being “one” with the bike. Remember, as a kid, when you used to “skid”? Well, the fixe is the perfect bike to use the skid to come to a halt.

There are many benefits and disadvantages to riding a fixed-gear bike which we’ll go over in depth in this article, but first, let’s take a quick look at some of the most obvious pros and cons of riding a fixed-gear bike

A Quick Look


  • Supreme pedaling efficiency
  • Provides a great cardio workout (you’re continuously pedaling)
  • Fixies are lightweight compared to traditional bikes
  • Fixies are easy to “pimp” your ride
  • Much more affordable than road and mountain bikes
  • Require little maintenance
  • You’ll be part of a “tight-knit,” passionate cycling community
  • Fixies will improve your bike handling skills


  • Fixies have no gears, so climbing hills is pretty much impossible; unless you’re Lance Armstrong.
  • Fixies have no suspension and are pretty uncomfortable
  • Fixies generally have no braking system, so they can be unsettling for those new to the niche

Whether you’re a fan of fixed-gear bikes, fixies have become increasingly popular. So if you are sitting on the fence and unsure if you should go down the “fixie” route, keep reading, and let’s see if we can help you make up your mind.

Fixed Gear Bike Advantages & Disadvantages

What’s The Difference Between A Single Speed Bike & Fixed-Gear Bike?

When it comes to the main differences between single speeds and fixies, there are really only two that stand out. Now while the average person looking at both bikes would be hard-pressed to see the disparities, those of us who love cycling can easily spot the difference.

First and foremost, single-speed bikes always come equipped with brakes for both the front and back wheels. Can you imagine a bike with no brakes? Now, fixies, on the other hand, generally come with no brakes, that’s right, no brakes. Not surprisingly, riding a bike with no brakes is pretty scary, and it’s actually illegal in many parts of the world.

To combat this, most fixie manufacturers will now deliver your bike with a front brake in the box for you to attach if you need to. Unless you’re a seasoned veteran and have loads of experience riding a fixie, they can be dangerous, especially on the busy undulating streets of a big metropolis like London or New York. 

The next main differences between single-speed and fixies are the flywheel. Just in case you’ve forgotten, the freewheel allows you to “coast,” which simply means not pedal. Single-speed bikes allow riders to coast and take advantage of a nice downhill section where you can get a bit of a rest. 

Fixies don’t allow riders to coast, and in fact, it’s when going downhill that fixed-gear bikes can be downright dangerous, even for the most experienced riders. 

Top 16 Benefits Of Owning A Fixed-Gear Bike (Plus BONUS Benefit)

Ok, so this article is all about highlighting the many benefits and advantages of owning a fixed-gear bike or “fixie.” So I’ve compiled a list of the top 15 benefits that will have you wishing you owned a fixie bike too. 

1. Fixies increase your pedaling efficiency and stroke

If you’re a keen cyclist, then you probably love the word “efficiency,” and when it comes to fixies, they have bags of it. Because the chain is straighter and there’s no gear pulley, the pedaling technique and method are much more efficient than, say, that of a road or mountain bike

There are two ways to look at this; one, you can develop into a much stronger and more efficient rider over time because you’re always pedaling, or two, you become worn out and tired pretty quickly because there’s no chance for you to “coast.”

Either way, to really improve your pedaling stroke and efficiency, you should invest in some good clipless pedals to get the most out of your leg power. 

2. Boost your aerobic fitness

Riding a fixie is not only a lot of fun, but it also provides one hell of an excellent aerobic workout. Why; well, simply put, you’re unable to coast on a fixed-gear bike, which means that as long as your bum is in the seat, your little legs will be turning. Bonus tip: your legs won’t be so little after riding a fixie for a few months.

3. Fixies are pretty light

Because fixed-gear bikes have fewer moving parts and components than regular mountain or road bikes, they tend to be much lighter. Remember, fixed-gear bikes have no:

  • Derailleur
  • Cassette
  • Brakes 
  • Levers

Less weight means everything when it comes to cycling, which is one of the main reasons many people have turned their attention and passion toward the fixie. Trust me, although your fixed-gear bike may only be a pound or two lighter, you’ll definitely notice the difference out on the blacktop. 

carry a fiixie bike

Fixies are favored amongst bike couriers, with one of the reasons being they are so light and easy to pick up if need be. Can you imagine carrying a heavy mountain bike up 10 floors to deliver someone’s Subway sandwich for lunch? 

4. Like to go fast? Fixies are super quick

Do you know where the fixed-gear bike originates from? The bike track, that’s right, fixies have got their technology from those super-slick bikes you see hurtling around the velodrome at breakneck speeds in excess of 80 km/h.

 If you have the leg power, and that’s a pretty big if, fixies can reach some pretty impressive speeds, and the fact that fixes are lightweight makes them even faster. Couple that with clipless pedals, and you’ll be absolutely flying on your daily commute.

5. Fixies win races, and lots of them

Remember when you were a kid, and you used to race your friends up and down the street? Well, owning a fixie will help rekindle some of those memories. As you’ve just seen, fixed-gear bikes get their technology from track bikes and, as such, have the perfect pedigree for racing.

Most fixies these days are manufactured with racing in mind, with many of the brands ensuring their bikes are race-ready right out of the box. Fixies are also pretty easy to control at high speeds, so it makes them quite a bit safer and easier to avoid collisions than your regular bike

6. Pimp my ride with a fixed-gear bike

Do you remember the popular TV show “Pimp My Ride”? It was a show where they would take someone’s car and “pimp it out” with all the latest tech and accessories. Well, fixies are also the perfect piece of machinery to customize in any way you want.

Mamy hipsters love to paint their bikes and make them stand out from the pack and because fixies don’t have many moving parts customizing them is relatively straightforward. I must admit, I do love the simplistic and minimalistic nature of the fixed-gear bike

fixed gear bike minimal design

7. Fixies are relatively cheap

If you’re on a “fixed budget,” pun intended, then the fixed-gear bike is for you. Fixies have far fewer moving and expensive parts and components than a road or mountain bike and, as such, are much cheaper. You can check our detailed article about the best budget fixed gear bikes to see examples of decent cheap fixies. Now, that’s not to say you can’t get some pretty expensive fixies, but generally speaking, they are much more affordable.

Another bonus is fewer moving parts also equates to less that can go wrong, meaning you save money when it comes to regular checkups and maintenance issues. 

8. Hate maintenance? Fixies are for you

In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages of owning a fixed-gear bike is the lack of maintenance needed to keep them in good working order. Fixies have far fewer components, meaning less can go wrong, and you have less to worry about and even less to spend your hard-earned cash on.

When you think of today’s road bikes, and all the fancy components like disc brakes and electronic shifting, maintenance and parts upgrades can frequently run into the $1000s. Not to mention that chains wear out quicker, and replacement parts are required more often than not. 

As long as you are lubing the drivetrain and regularly washing your fixie, you should have very little worry about any significant mechanical issues. If you have installed a brake on your fixie, ensure you keep the pads in good working order and check them regularly. 

Lastly, you won’t need to replace any expensive Shimano or SRAM derailleurs, which can save you pocket loads of money in the long run. Sure, something could go wrong, but the chance of something drastically going wrong on your fixie is much lower than on a regular road or mountain bike.  

9. Fixing your bike has never been easier

I still remember the first time I decided to start working on my bike; I had no idea what I was doing, and it ended in disaster, but with a fixie, fixing your bike has never been easier and less intimidating. That’s because fixed-gear bikes have few moving parts and components than road or mountain bikes. 

That being said, several excellent channels on YouTube go into depth about how to fix everything from a punctured tire to a rubbing disc brake. Learning to fix your bike is a good skill, and it is very rewarding knowing if you get into trouble, you have the skill set to fix any problem. 

Bonus Benefit: You can save your money too. 

10. Tight-knit, slightly excentric community

The cycling community has been called many things, some of which I can’t repeat here, but all in all, most cyclists are a very tight-knit bunch, and the “fixie” community is no different. Most fixie fans have dedicated social media channels on platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok. 

The fixie community is also very well known for planning heaps of events such as races, hill climbs, and even leisurely cafe rides. You’ll meet lots of like-minded cyclists who are just as passionate about their fixie as you are about yours. 

11. Storing your bike is convenient and simple

Do you live in a small apartment or have limited space to store your fixie? Well, because fixies are easy to disassemble, it makes them very practical bikes to store in tight spaces. Taking the front and back wheels off is a piece of cake and taking the handlebars off is even easier. 

Because fixies are super lightweight, I’ve even seen people hanging their fixies on the wall with some really cool handmade bike racks. 

12. Fixies make it easier to concentrate on the road

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to drive an automatic car compared to a manual car? Personally, I love to drive manual cars, but you get what I mean. Riding a fixie bike is much easier than a road bike because you don’t need to worry about finding the right gear for the right road. 

Because you’re not focused on your gear selection, you have much more energy to concentrate on the road making your ride safer and, quite frankly, a lot more fun. Focusing on the bike also improves your handling skills, pedal stroke, and efficiency.

13. Stand out from the crowd with your fixed-gear bike

If you’ve never ridden a fixie before, you’re in for a pleasant, unique, and exhilarating experience. In short, riding a fixed-gear bike brings you closer to being truly “one” with your fixie. Because fixies require you to keep pedaling, the riding experience is one that is raw and natural. 

14. Easy to control

There is a reason why most bike couriers and messengers choose to ride fixies as their bike of choice; think about it; riding a bike is how they make their living. 

15. Fixies are perfect for bike couriers because they are:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to control
  • Require little to no maintenance
  • Are easy to store and 
  • Look cool

16. Fixies are an excellent teacher

You’re never too old or too good to stop learning. Fixies are excellent teachers, as a matter of fact, fixies may well be the best cycling coach in the entire industry. Why?

Well, fixies improve your bike handling skills, pedaling technique, stopping ability, and even your awareness while riding in the bigger cities. Because “fixies” require your power to move, you’re forced to concentrate and focus the entire time, which is a good thing. 

fixed gear bike girl

Bonus Benefit

Fixies allow riders to ride in reverse and perform other tricks, such as bar spins; now, how cool is that? Just make sure you practice on your own before trying the tricks in public LOL!

Drawbacks and Limitations Of Fixed-Gear Bikes: What Are The Users Saying?

Norbert Korzus, a mountain biking journalist with more than 15 years of experience, summed it up best when she said. “most benefits are only speculative and appear on paper, unless you are a track racer that has outlandish leg power.”

In her eyes, she sees the main advantages as:

  • Barely more reliable drivetrain (derailleurs break less frequently than fixie lovers say; especially if you understand how to use them)
  • Slightly lighter than traditional road bikes
  • Slightly cheaper

The main disadvantages:

  • Fixed-gear bikes use more energy since you have to pedal, and braking demands some decent leg muscle work on your behalf. 
  • Requires a raised bottom bracket since you have to pedal through corners; therefore, it heightens your cog and makes the bike unbalanced.
  • No gears, so if you have to ride uphill, you’ll probably be pushing your bike. Fixed-gear bikes also reduce your acceleration and limit your max speed.
  • Lower frame availability since not all frames have dropouts, letting you tension the chain correctly.

Simply put, one of the biggest disadvantages of owning a fixed-gear bike is the inability to coast and pedal uphill. Subsequently, pedaling downhill is also a real issue and can even leave the most experienced fixie riders in a state of panic.

Remember, on a fixie, you have no brakes; granted, many riders do choose to attach them, but the reality is that they come from the manufacturer with NO BRAKES!!

Let’s not also forget that in many countries around the world, it’s illegal to ride a bike on the road with no brakes. So I strongly recommend checking with your local authorities before spending $100s or $1000s of dollars on a fixed-gear bike you can’t ride. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you haven’t learned everything you need from this article, here are a few more of the most frequently asked questions regarding fixed-gear bikes. 

What are the obvious Benefits of a fixed-gear bike?

Fixies are chic, cool, and trendy, especially with younger groups, bike commuters, and bike couriers. Because fixies force you to pedal continuously, many cyclists find that it brings them closer to being “one” with the bike. Ask any fixie enthusiast, and they’ll tell you how intimate the riding experience is.

Can you ride fixies on the street and in the city?

YES, fixed-gear bikes are built to be ridden on the street of even the busiest cities. Still, I would make sure you practice in quiet areas until you get enough confidence to tackle the big cities and the congested traffic. Remember, fixies don’t have a brake, so I suggest newbies install a front brake just until they have enough confidence.

How light are fixed-gear bicycles?

Because fixed-gear bicycles have fewer moving parts and components, they tend to be much lighter than traditional road and mountain bikes. Not to mention that fixies derive their designs from track bikes which are designed to be fast and super lightweight. 

Can you race on a fixed-gear bike?

If you’ve got the power in your legs, then fixed-gear bikes are the fastest and lightest bikes out there; again, “if” you have the power. Fixed-gear bikes share their designs with “track bikes,” so they come from a heritage of racing, and if you’ve seen some of the track bikes, they are the coolest-looking cycling bikes.

I heard you can ride fixies in reverse; is that true?

This is an easy question to answer. Simply put, YES, you can ride fixed-gear bikes both forward and in reverse. This is because the rear cog is linked straight to the pedals meaning if you pedal in reverse, the bicycle will also travel in the same direction. Pretty cool trick to show your friends, right? Just make sure to practice beforehand!!

Why are fixed-gear bicycles so popular?

Fixed-gear bikes are perfect for those after a bike that stands out and is radically different from your regular bicycle. If you hate continuously changing gears, then fixies also make an excellent alternative to a road or mountain bike. Not to mention, fixies are super lightweight and provide riders with a good cardio workout because you need to keep pedaling; you can’t “coast” like on a road bike. 


Well, there you have it, probably one of the most comprehensive guides to fixies you’ll find on a cycling website. We went deep into the pros and cons, and as you can see, the advantages of owning a fixed-gear bike far outweigh the disadvantages.

Obviously, there is a portion of the cycling community who think fixies are a fun option for “non-serious” road cyclists. Still, there will always be a small minority of die-hard fans who love fixies and everything about them.

Let’s quickly recap some of ther most significant advantages of owning and riding a fixie:

  • Great cardio workout
  • Fixies are super lightweight compared to other bikes
  • Improved pedaling efficiency
  • Less maintenance
  • Cheaper than other bikes 
  • Tight-knit and passionate fixie community
  • You can ride in reverse; although I’m not sure if that’s an advantage LOL

As always, drop in some comments and let us know why you love or hate fixed-gear bikes. 

Be sure to check out our other articles, where we cover everything from product reviews to nutrition and don’t forget to check out our youtube channel, where we have some of the best expert video reviews in the cycling niche. 

Brenton Barker

Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Delaware and was the former Head Advisor for the Japanese Government's Sports Science Institute. Brenton currently consults with several Professional Athletes and clients in Self- Accountability, Health, and Goal Orientation.

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