I remember the first time I saw the movie Premium Rush, I was left completely fascinated by the idea of riding a fixed gear bike. I mean, riding without brakes, not being able to coast, weaving through peak hour traffic, sounds like something that someone with a death wish would do. But then, what bigger adrenaline rush can you get if not this!
After a lot of pondering over whether I should get myself a Pure Fix, I decided to take the plunge on the 21st of May and gift myself a sweet looking Pure Fix Juliet and a pair of gold wheels on my birthday.
Fixed or Single Speed?
Q. What are fixed gear bikes?
As stated on wikipedia – Most bicycles incorporate a freewheel to allow the pedals to remain stationary while the bicycle is in motion, so that the rider can coast, i.e., ride without pedaling using forward momentum. A fixed-gear drivetrain has the drive sprocket (or cog) threaded or bolted directly to the hub of the back wheel, so that the rider cannot stop pedaling. When the rear wheel turns, the pedals turn in the same direction. This allows a cyclist to apply a braking force with the legs and bodyweight, by resisting the rotation of the cranks.
For someone who has always been used to the idea of coasting on the bike, riding fixed seemed like a strict no-no. The Pure Fix original series bikes come with both fixed gear and freewheel riding options. It takes a simple flip of the rear wheel to switch between the two modes. I had dabbled with the idea of riding my commute in fixed gear mode but Bangalore traffic made me think twice about this. So I initially setup the bike in single speed mode.
The first ride
The first thing you notice when you ride a single speed bike is the absence of gears (duh!). Those short nagging inclines on which you typically shift down and cruised leisurely start demanding that extra bit from you. Initially, there is some involuntary reaching out to gear levers only to find yourself grabbing thin air! But then, to be honest, the feeling you get trying to power through those sections of the road (or those flyovers) in the city is so very fulfilling!
The frame of the bike is made up of high tensile steel and the stock grips did a good job at dampening out the road vibrations to a good extent (I do wear gloves when I ride my bike). Also, Pure Fix has done a great job with the frame geometry – neither too aggressive not too upright. The shoulders were not over-stressed and the wrists and elbows were in a relaxed position throughout the ride. Besides that, the bike felt responsive and alive and the 44/16T gear ratio ensure the bike was adequately geared for the varied terrain one generally comes in our city.
The other point of note was the lack of a rear brake (the Pure Fix comes with only with a default front brake). The lack of a rear brake when riding single speed is actually quite unnerving and I definitely recommend installing a rear brake to commute safe on city roads.
Fixed gear mode : Activated
The first thing I did the next day when I reached BUMSONTHESADDLE was to change my rear wheel to the fixed gear mode (approx. after 22 kilometers of riding in single speed mode). I needed the confidence that it would provide when it comes to having rear braking ability and since I had decided not to get myself a pair of rear brakes (for me, the beauty of a Pure Fix lies in its simplicity. And having an additional rear brake set on it just didn’t do justice to how I see that bike).
Immediately I could feel the difference in stopping power. Yes, it does take time to get used to the fact that you cannot afford to coast on a fixed gear bike. But then, its actually turned out to be so much more fun! The heightened sense of awareness, the thrill in trying to manouver through traffic while not keeping a foot down and the joy derived from constant pedalling no matter how the legs feel ; Its like magic! I actually felt more in control of the bike when riding in fixed gear mode than when it was in single speed! In simple terms, riding a fixed gear bike is like trying to tame a wild animal. It does take some time, but at the end of the day, its worth the effort once you get the hang of it. Will I opt to go back to riding it as a single speed? never ever ever never!
I’ve been commuting extensively with this bike and with each passing day I end up falling more in love with it.
Oh yeah, one more thing – the attention one ends up getting while pedaling down the streets on one of these beauties! From people on two wheelers to smoke spewing BMTC busses, their looks say it all. You know you have one hell of a good looking bike! ;)
- Well designed frame geometry – Responsive and comfortable! Perfect for riding inside the city.
- The 44/16T gear ratio is ideal for riding around within the city limits. Neither is it way too hard to pedal up those city flyovers, nor do you find yourself spinning out on flat stretches.
- The high tensile steel does a good job at adequately dampening out road vibrations.
- The deep dish wheels are literally bomb proof and can handle our Indian roads very well. They tend to stay true for a longer time than regular road bike wheels.
- The Wellgo aluminium pedals are of real good quality! Something that caught me completely unawares when I bought this bike. Broad base with pins to provide that extra grip one needs while riding fixed.
- Looks! For someone like me who is very particular about how their bike looks, Pure Fix have done a fantastic job at coming up with gorgeous looking bikes that can be customized to a great extent. From bullhorn handlebars and coloured wheelsets to coloured bartape, chains and saddles. You can do a lot to jazz up your bike just the way you want.
- Fantastically priced!
- My front brake pads wore off within fifteen days of riding my bike. I would recommend everyone to get a pair of koolstop brake pads along with the bike. They are very competitively priced brake pads and offer excellent stopping power while being durable.
- The bike is designed keeping the urban commuter in mind. If you intend to use it for longer distances a nice saddle upgrade would be worthwhile.
The ideal commuter bike that looks great and rides really well for city roads. So be it your go-to bike to head to your workplace or to pick up some stuff from your nearby grocery store, this is all you need. Also, the fixed gear aspect adds another fun dimension to this bike. And for the price tag on it, it surely packs a bang for its buck! All in all, this is one bike I will be riding for a long long time to come.