Commuting on your bicycle is one of the best parts about riding! When you are commuting, rather than just riding for fun or sport, you are contributing to a healthier planet and a healthier YOU! Although fixed gear bikes may not be the number one choice for most commuters out there, a great deal of cyclists still choose to commute here and there via the fixed gear. According to many cyclists out there who are riding fixed, this specific style is actually easier and more enjoyable on the daily commute…it just takes some time getting used to it. But once comfortable with the lack of a freewheel cog, there can be many advantages to riding fixed.
1) Wear your helmet! people drive like maniacs! You never know when some dude is gonna pull out in front of you or merge into you…protect ya dome!
2) Plan your route! Know where you are going ahead of time…find the way with the least amount of traffic and best bicycle lanes.
3) Give yourself time to get there so you aren’t rushing and making dangerous mistakes!
4) Be visible! Early morning and late nights can make it pretty hard for motorists to see you sometimes; make sure to have bike lights or some type of reflective clothing or vest!
5) Ride defensively! Be aware of what other people are doing and assume they are horrible drivers.
Advantages of Commuting on a Fixed Gear
One of the main arguments I have heard (and agree with) in my years of riding and commuting fixed gear is the amount of control you have over the bike. Many people unfamiliar with fixed gears just see the style for what it is: difficult to control because of the lack of brakes and constant pedaling. However, with adequate practice and skill, fixed gear bikes exhibit more precise control and braking ability through skid stopping. There is a reason a majority of bicycle messengers in large metropolitan areas choose to ride brakeless fixed gear, it is easier to control and maneuver through busy streets. Also, commuting on a much more simple bicycle setup, you are less likely to run into maintenance problems to and from your destination.
Disadvantages of Commuting on a Fixed Gear
If you are not completely 100% comfortable riding a fixed gear bicycle with traffic on the busy city streets, don’t even attempt it. A split second of brain freeze and forgetting what you are doing can result in a nice little accident. Beginners, wait a few months and get comfortable on that pony before you attempt to win the rodeo.
Regardless of the bike and style you are commuting on, pat yourself on the back for even commuting in the first place! It’s awesome to see societies like Copenhagen who have fully committed to bicycles and a better way of life; they even went as far as to construct bicycle superhighways for their commuters! Slowly but surely I think we might be getting the hint over here in the states with people making points about stupid bike lane laws.
If you are thinking about taking the right step and commuting to work, check out commuting 101!