I’ve been noticing a lot of “fixed-gear” bikes around San Jose in recent months. In my bike racing days I set up a fixed-gear bike and tooled around town, even riding up and down Old La Honda Road. After I got over the fear of having to make a sudden stop, it turned out to be a fun way to ride.
I’ve read that the fixed-gear bike has become popular lately thanks to bike messengers, who have been known to ride fixed-gear bikes.
I think renewed popularity is also a matter of economics and simplicity. Fixed-gear or single-speed bikes are typically less expensive than geared road bikes and easier to maintain. Most of the fixed-gear bikes I’ve seen are steel frames with standard-spoke wheels.
Fixed-gear bikes are probably best suited for younger riders living on a budget who have some athletic ability. Single-speed bikes that look like fixed-gear bikes are more appropriate for a wider audience.
If you’re looking for a single-speed or fixed-gear bike, I’m impressed by what Bianchi offers. The San Jose Flat Bar single-speed looks like it would be an ideal bike for riding around town on flat roads. Bianchi also sells genuine fixed-gear bikes, and track bikes.
If you want to convert a standard 10-speed to fixed-gear, which is what I did, check out the Sheldon Brown website.