Fixie Maintenance

Why go fixed or single speed? Apart from, you know, everyone else is doing it? The big reason is often maintenance.  Maintenance is the reasons the couriers of fixie mythology first rode off the track and onto the street of Gothem City (or wherever it was) and started risking their lives for the sake of delivering a few documents they neither owned nor cared about.

If you weren’t a courier the fixie was a way of showing your hardcore credentials by flaunting the fact that a) you racked up so many city miles in fair weather and foul that a normal drivetrain wouldn’t cope, and b) you were doing it all without brakes. Of course, some people still didn’t get it, so you got yourself some knuckle tattoos:

Like all good ideas, the fixie idea was slow to catch on. And then suddenly there was a fixie explosion. Fixies were beautiful and vaguely dangerous and suddenly extremely fashionable and everyone wanted one. And they wanted the skinny jeans, the funny mustache and haircut to go with it. A fully fledged sub-culture had flourished to annoy and dismay anyone who wasn’t involved in it.

But at the bottom of all this fixie craze was the idea of having cheap and reliable transport. Bikes in themselves weren’t cheap and reliable enough for some people. A fixie was. That’s why so many people like myself ride them and don’t even have a cheesy mustache. Many people are now riding them with brakes. (Jelly Bean Bikes says that the majority of bikes they see post-sale still have brakes on them.)

So lemme come back to this idea of maintenance. Some people rather like tinkering with their bikes but I’m happy to keep out of the shed on the weekends. The great thing about a fixie (or in my case, a single speed, because I’m not actually hardcore and have real fondness for real brakes with actual stopping power) is that it will, if not thrive, then at least survive on very little maintenance. But even the simplest of mechanical contrivances still need some TLC sometimes. A drop of oil perhaps.

To wit I have in the last year replaced the chain, the front and rear rings, the headset and bottom bracket and a sundry other items (such as grips twice). Shit wears out. And when shit wears out you make a show of it because you wore out that shit and that shit isn’t like wearing out the chain on a 50-speed bike, which just kinda happens with no real effort required. And when shit wears out it’s a great excuse to get new shiny, CNC bling or multi-coloured shit, as fashion dictates:

Someone shoulda stopped me.
I keep the maintenance up to my bike because the perfect mechanical bliss of a well oiled single speed can loll me into bicycle meditative bliss but a rattle or squeak can drive me crazy. I suffer sympathy pains for poorly maintained bikes. When weekend riders are near me with their gears rattling away halfway between about three different gears I have to move away for the sake of my own health and well-being. When they shift gears it sounds like the death rattle of a dying bike.
This all brings me to the three fixie riders I sometimes encounter on their ride as I jog laboriously along the Broadwater foreshore with my dogs. My first feeling is one of jealousy. I don’t like jogging but it’s the best way of exercising both dogs and myself simultaneously. I feel okay about it and hide the painful knees and burning chest from myself until I see these three gliding along chatting happily among themselves. At such times I let the dogs know that they better love me back heaps because I could so easily be rolling along on my bicycle.  But as the fixie riding trio draw closer and ride past I really have a strong urge to do something that I’m going to exercise here instead. I want to yell out to these fixie fuckers:
Oil your stupid chain!

Because riding a fixie is a great lifestyle choice and it requires very little maintenance and you can look cool and make new friends…but you’re not exactly racking up 8hr days riding through the mean streets of Gothem City like our couriers of auld. Your bike is not suffering the perils of all-weather day-long grinds. Your bike requires little more than a drop of oil between sporadic bouts of maintenance (which are just opportunities for bling anyway), so please, oblige it every now and then and get rid of that unholy squeaking.

** disclaimer: if you’ve read through this entire article looking for actual advise on maintaining your bike then you really need to go get a life. Really. The point of a fixie is to avoid maintenance and here you are surfing the net looking  for cues on how to tinker with your bike! If you can’t tell by now when your chain and chain rings are worn beyond help, or your bottom bracket is stuffed, then pack the bikes into the car, drive down the shops and join those other fat fools who know little to nothing about cycles and cycling. Have the bike properly maintained and then get it out on the weekend, when it’s not too hot or too cold or threatening to rain, and ride carefully up and down the local cycle path with your new friends.


  1. jachmilli

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Anonymous

    hahaha this is gold!

  3. Anonymous

    Awesome! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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