Fixed Logic

I’ve proved it.Fixed gear bikes won’t coast. It might already seem obvious but I can’t stop myself from re-testing the theory periodically.

I’ve been riding nothing but fixed for a month of so now. The YES bike I reviewed recently shined in fixed mode and the Brown Jersey Divvy Van has been riding fixed for mostly aesthetic reasons for a while now. (To be honest, two brake levers on the new wooden bars was just too cluttered. I may yet die plummeting downhill unable to stop the bike but at least I’ll go out in style.)

(Now that’s style.)

So you have to wonder then why, just because I was on my other bike, the mongrel Mojo-framed knock-about commuter, my brain suddenly thinks it can freewheel. To be fair to my brain, I only just flip flopped the flip floppy rear wheel on the day of the ride. I’ve hardly ridden the mongrel bike for weeks because I just can’t resist the call of the beautiful Brown Jersey. I’ve been loving riding fixed on the Jersey so thought I’d fix the mongrel before riding it to watch the Suns flog GWS.

When learning to ride fixed there are always moments where old habits take over. You get to the top of a hill and try to coast down the other side. The bike responds by trying to buck you off. You get better at remembering you’re fixed and eventually think you’re over the hump until the next moment it catches you off guard, like a wily horse who has waited his moment. You stop to wave at friends and your bike humiliates you by by nearly throwing you over the bars. Then you get past these moments of embarrassment and your mind and body accept the consequences of being fixed. Your body expects you to be fixed and riding with a freewheels seems weird and disconcerting. Your conversion is complete.

(I wouldn’t trust that horse if I was him.)

Apparently though, this conversion is bike specific. As soon as I got on the mongrel my brain and body conspired to embarrass me again. I sprinted for a green light and made it through late in the amber and then decided to reward myself with a bit of coasting. I was going full sprint just before I stopped pedalling so I had considerable momentum. My right foot kicked off the pedal and my left did a full rotation with my weight standing on it before I regained control. Fucking fixies.

It wasn’t the last moment I had either. Despite months of riding nothing but fixed for months my body expected to coast on this particular bike. Not the other bike mind you, even though they’re so very very similar. Just on this bike. And I couldn’t stop it. I took it home and converted it back to freewheel.

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