Hello class, my name is Ryan and I’d like to talk to y’all about the fixed gear bicycle A.K.A. a “fixie.” Do any of you know what a fixie is? Well, they’re special because they’re built in a way that sets them apart from other bicycles. They have a drivetrain with no freewheel, an unusual technique to stop, and a single speed with usually no brakes. These parts are the defining features of the fixie. They construct a bicycle whose pedals won’t stop rotating once you start moving, unless you force them to stop in rotation, causing the rear wheel to lock in place, allowing the bicycle to skid and slow down from kinetic friction. Oh and all of this makes it possible to cycle backwards, my favorite fixie attribute. In my opinion, the history of the fixie isn’t as interesting as its uses in modern day, so I won’t bore you with the details. Instead, I’ll dive deeper into their advantages and disadvantages. One of their main attractions is their low weight, thanks to the absence of added parts, which are required for a geared bicycle. It is also the more mechanically efficient bicycle with less required energy to operate because it has the most direct power transfer from rider to the wheels. Also, some believe that fixies encourage a more effective pedaling style. However, the fact that many ride without brakes is a dangerous disadvantage. And remember, don’t try coasting on a fixie, you always have to be pedaling because there is no freewheel. This is another limitation to keep in mind especially if you want to avoid receiving a “kick” to your trailing leg, or losing control. I must admit I’m not proud of how many times I’ve experienced that. Anyway, enough about me. So, I don’t have enough time to go into detail about all these countries, so I’ll just discuss their relation to legality in the United States and Hungary, where my family is from. In United States – The use of any bike without brakes on public roads is illegal in many places, but the wording is often similar to “…must be equipped with a brake that will enable the person operating the cycle to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level and clean pavement…” which some have argued allows the use of the legs and gears. The retail sale of bikes without brakes is banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission – but with an exception for the “track bicycle” (…a bicycle designed and intended for sale as a competitive machine having tubular tires, single crank-to-wheel ratio, and no free-wheeling feature between the rear wheel and the crank…). In Hungary – All bicycles are required to be equipped with two independent sets of brakes. Front and rear lamps, reflectors and a bell are also required. I should have known about this law when I first bought my fixie a few years ago, since I susceptible to a confrontation with the law and/or a ticket, but apparently I kept the radar so there’s no point in complaining now. I still have that fixie, by the way. I didn’t bring it with here, though, because of storage and practicality issues. Riding in the vast and expansive city of Los Angeles is quite different than the denser city of San Francisco. So, I decided to play it safe and leave it at home. It may have been for the best because what if my luck caught up with me and I finally had a run-in with the cops? Ok, since I’m giving a speech on fixies, I should probably talk about the fixed gear community, as it’s just as important in my eyes. Saying “the fixie community” is quite broad since there are categories within it. So, I took it upon myself to organize them into three groups (although this is my interpretation, there could be more or less). There are the riders that focus on tricks (recreational use), track-racers (exercise, career, etc.), and the urban hipster youth types. If you can’t visualize what an urban hipster youth would look like, don’t worry; I’ve got you covered. The movie Premium Rush always pops into my mind. So ya, just think of JGL in that mediocre movie. And if you were unfortunate enough to sit through that movie, maybe you’ll agree with me when I say that this community is almost like a subculture. If you want to join this community, it’s fairly easy, just buy a fixie and rethink your fashion sense. If you’re cool looking like this…then the fixie life is the life for you. Maybe, after seeing that picture, you can guess that they have a refined and specific taste in fashion. Professor Hunt wrote a piece on fixie culture where he made some keen observations. Many of which are consistent with the picture I’m about to show y’all. For the most part, this is what a stereotypical fixie rider is imagined to look like… And their image isn’t the only thing they customize either. They have a similar approach to their bicycles. The spectrum is vastly varied; some are over the top, while others are very minimalistic. From colorful to vintage, they do it all. But, not everybody is built for the fixie life. There are specific people I’d recommend it to, like, adventurous and athletic types. Mainly, people who like trying new things and are willing to deal with some scraped up calves. I’d say it’s worth it because, I mean, it’s pretty cool to ride a bicycle in reverse.