Fixie bikes are often associated with urban riding. They’re an excellent choice for city cyclists, providing an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way to travel the daily commute.
But can you get fixed gear mountain bikes? Absolutely!
Here we’ll take a look at what to look for in fixed gear mountain bikes, along with the pros and cons of fixed gear riding.
Single speed vs fixed gear mountain bikes
A fixed gear and a single speed bike have a lot in common.
They both have a single chain ring, a single rear cog and just one gear ratio. So you can’t switch between gears as you ride.
The key difference? A single speed has a free wheel. This means you can coast as you travel downhill or along a nice long, straight stretch of road.
A fixie, on the other hand, has a fixed wheel. If your pedals are turning, so is the wheel.
What to look for in a fixie mountain bike
Do a little shopping around and you’ll find lots of fixie bikes designed for track cycling. These bikes have lightweight track frames, specifically designed for speed.
But these aren’t what you need if you’re planning to tackle trails on your fixie. Here’s what you should be looking for.
Any mountain bike worth your consideration has wide tyres. It will also have top-notch suspension or shock absorbing frames.
The best mountain bikes have strong titanium or steel frames that can stand up to the knocks and scrapes you’re likely to experience along a trail.
And you can take your pick from fixie mountain bikes with drop bars (great when you want to choose the optimum hand position for the terrain) and those with wide flat handlebars too.
Pros and cons of fixie mountain bikes
So why would a mountain biker choose a fixie bike? And what are the challenges associated with this type of riding?
Hilly terrain is hard work
Compared to geared riding, hitting the trails on your fixie can feel like hard work. Pedalling up hills without being able to switch gears puts extra strain on your legs.
Your rides may end up shorter because your legs give out sooner. And, if feeling the burn isn’t your favourite, your riding enjoyment may take a nosedive too.
You can’t place your pedals
A skilled mountain biker knows how to position their pedals to avoid hitting them on rocks or other obstructions along a trail. But when you ride a fixie mountain bike you don’t have the same level of pedal control.
The riding experience
People can be pretty evangelical about the fixie experience.
You slow down by resisting the motion of your pedals. Lots of riders say this makes them feel more connected to the bike.
Similarly, you’re not listening to the crunching or clunking of gears. There’s just you, the sound of the wheels on the ground and your view of the trail ahead.
Fixie mountain bike riding offers a simplicity that geared riding doesn’t.
Fixie bikes have fewer components than standard geared bikes. This means that they are often a little lighter. Perfect if the terrain gets too tricky or steep, and you need to carry your bike for a stretch.
Maintenance is so much easier with a fixie bike. There are fewer parts to clean and maintain. There’s also a lot less that can go wrong.
For instance, if you ever have the misfortune to hit the deck, your fixie bike and its minimal components are likely to withstand the shock.
Fitness and finesse
When you ride a fixie mountain bike, you push your body harder than you do on a geared bike. Stick at it and your fitness levels will rise the more your ride.
You also develop your skill and technique as a rider. Fixie mountain bikers tend to be much more in tune with their bike and the terrain. That’s because they have to anticipate and respond early to the trail ahead.
Where to find fixed gear mountain bikes
If you want the inimitable experience of a fixie mountain bike, you have two options.
The first? You can go the DIY route and convert a geared bike to a single speed.
Or the second. You can buy a brand new fixie to satisfy all of your fixed wheel mountain biking needs.
Bear in mind that most single speed bikes, including those from Steed Bikes, can be adapted for fixed gear riding.
The rear wheel comes with a fixed cog on one side and a free wheel on the other. So you simply flip it over to get the style of ride you want.