I recently had the pleasure to sit down and watch the film Fixation, a fixed gear documentary by Alex Trudeau Viriato and it was definitely a very enjoyable experience, in part because I was able to watch this flick with my brother Jeff who is completely clueless when it comes to cycling. This was helpful in showing how the film, and the overall idea of it, translates well with cyclists and non-cyclists alike. Regardless of your experience on a bike (or lack there of), you can still take something away from Fixation.
The film really focuses on the recent surge in fixed gear culture, the many facets of fixed gear riding and the people behind it. Concentrating mainly on the scenes in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose, Fixation brings to light the fascination with this simple form of conveyance that has been around since the 1950’s. Through many of the interviews with various shop owners, professionals and enthusiasts, we are shown just what cycling is to certain people and how they view it. Whether it be for relaxation, transportation, socializing or employment, you get a good feeling that everyone is in it for the right reasons.
Beginning in San Francisco, a city renowned for hills and dangerous terrain, the movie takes us into the infamous walls of American Cyclery, a shop I have always wanted to check out; there Bradley Woehl gives an excellent rundown and history of fixed gear bikes and early versions of this form of cycling. Through other interviews and accounts, the whole idea of fixed gear is explained so that even my brother Jeff could understand the benefits. Many interviews in the film also hammer down the notion that fixed gear bikes aren’t necessarily as dangerous as others would like to argue. The brake vs brakeless benefits and handicaps are represented well in this movie, however, that is a controversy that will probably never see an end.
Examining the scene in Los Angeles, the film focuses more on the speed aspect of fixed gear riding and the notion of covering more mileage. Rather than bombing hills or doing tricks, the L.A. segments really communicate the idea of the journey and what it is to ride a bike. Sean Martin had this to say and I think its something all cyclists understand at some point in their lives,
“The mission is getting there, it’s part of the fun.”
The interviews in this documentary span the length of different generations of riders and brings an honest perspective from each, however the film isn’t just about interviews…the visuals in the film are breathtaking; throughout the entire film, you’re is hit with excellent, high definition images from some of the best places to ride in California. The creative angles and cinematography of this film alone would make Fixation an enjoyable watch for my near deaf grandma.
The social angle and ‘party’ image that fixed gear riders and crews around the country have become synonymous with is also a fascinating characteristic of this film. One Los Angeles fixed gear crew is followed around for a bit, showing them drinking and riding and talking about drinking. I get it, i like having common interests with my friends too, but these guys really want you to know they like drinking…here you could go into the whole ‘hipster’ and ‘fad’ side of things, but we won’t go there.
While the film explores each segment of fixed gear riding and gives the outside world a look in, I think the overall theme of Fixation and the message the cyclists want the viewer to take home is that the people are what make cycling so special. Throughout many of the interviews this concept is repeatedly addressed and reaches beyond the realm of just cycling…my brother Jeff was drawing similarities between fixed gear bikes and his world of skateboarding…it is all about the people. Whether its cycling or skateboarding, people are the common thread in what makes something defined.
Aside from being a great movie about a subject I really enjoy, it’s shot very well and the soundtrack is real tight. There’s some Explosions in the Sky in there for all you dudes who enjoy good music! Head on over to the Fixation website to find out how you can pick up a copy!