Despite their obvious utility, I’m not a big fan of Fixies. I understand they have minimal maintenance – which make them great for commuting – and the fixed gear forces excellent pedaling technique. But the wide-spread adoption of these bikes has less to do with those two considerations than they do with fad. But fads aren’t all bad, and I really do appreciate how they’ve made cycling more popular in metro areas and it’s been keeping people out of their cars more. To visit a Farmer’s market in Seattle is a testament to the wide-spread use of the bicycle as transportation, due in no smart part to the popularization of the Fixie.
For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of bike ownership is the process of tweaking and customizing it to make it your own, personal bike of which there is no other in the world exactly like it. The sad fact is that most people don’t even recognize that a bike is a collection of separate parts. Back in 2002, I was going through the process of buying components for the new Bianchi XL EV2 frame I had recently acquired. In passing, I told my boss about the project and I remember he was shocked that bikes are available à la carte and aren’t only sold as complete packages. The truth of the matter is that you have to have a certain level of interest in bikes before you even realize there are parts on your bike, let alone that you can make choices that will make your bike more to your liking. And that is one thing I love about the Fixie community: most of these are some seriously customized rides. One of the most memorable examples I have seen was a guy in Ballard who was scooting around on a mid-80’s Kilo bike, complete with 26-inch front wheel.
At the risk of looking like I’m imitating the Bike Snob, I’ve been snapping some shots around town as I spot a bike that I feel exemplifies the love and care that goes into customizing your bike. Check back and watch for updates; I’ll keep posting more shots here as I come across more.