My first week on a fixed-gear bike

The Pista[Click above for more pictures]

I got my Pista a little over a week ago and I have been riding it ever since. These are my experiences so far:

It is a beautiful, retro-looking bike and people ask all sorts of questions about where I got it and why on earth it has no gears.

Not being able to coast is much more difficult than first anticipated, which means I still find myself cautious – bordering panicking – when going fast downhill or having to negotiate bumps in the road. Not being able to keep your feet in a level position can be a little nerve wrecking. On the other hand, once you get used to pedaling non-stop, you do notice an emerging symbiotic relationship between the bike, the road and your body. It requires a lot of energy, though, in the beginning I felt exhausted after spinning around for a mere 20 minutes.

The second major difference, having ridden only crap bikes for the past five years, mind you everything gets stolen around here, the drive-train efficiency is absolutely shocking. In addition to this, the stiff frame and the race geometry make for a virtual speed-machine, and a silent one at that. I am used to bikes making a lot of noise, clonk! clonk!, but this is like a stealth fighter in comparison. Nevertheless, this is also a cause of some anxiety since you only realise how fast you are actually going once you start overtaking cars, even before rush hour kicks in.

In conclusion, it has been a bit of a mixed experience to date, but I am sure that another couple of months in the saddle will make my initial fears go away. There is a much more appreciative essay on riding fixies here.

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  1. How do you brake with it? Do you just pedal backwards?

  2. Christian Toennesen

    I capitulated and had it equipped with a front brake. Part of getting to know the bike is about learning when and how to use the pedals to lower the speed, resorting only to the brake in ‘emergencies.’ This calls for an increased spatial awareness and results in some rather sore legs…

  3. Christian Toennesen

    Also, it is possible to reduce the speed by skidding, i.e. bringing the rear wheel to a complete standstill, which I have yet to try.

  4. Hi Christian!

    any further success in cycling without gears?

    by the way, I learned to cycle on such a gearless bike as a child and never thought that it could be otherwise!!!

    (new is reinvented old) but I can really imagine that it is much easier to shift from a gearless cycle to a geared one than the other way around.

  5. i’m in love with your bike.
    i want one.

  6. […] [Update] I opted for the latter. Here is how I felt after riding the Pista for a week. […]

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