Are Single Speed and Fixie The Same Thing?
Many people use the term “Fixed Gear (Fixie)” and Single Speed interchangeably when discussing city commuting bikes. These people would be wrong.
The main difference is that with Fixed Gear (Fixie), the rider cannot stop pedalling unless the bicycle is stationary. A single speed bike lets the rider stop pedalling and “coast” at any point in time, regardless of whether the bike is stopped.
As usual, there are pros and cons to both of these systems.
Above we have our bike with the single speed sprocket installed. With this configuration it is possible to “coast”. As we see above, when I stop turning the pedals, the wheels continue to rotate meaning that the bike will continue moving.
Keep in mind, this means that to stop the bike, there will have to be a braking system installed as you cannot stop this configuration without a braking system.
This is the setup that most riders coming from road bikes, hybrid bikes, and mountain bikes will be used to, and often think is the only configuration possible.
Fixed Gear (Fixie)
Here we see the same bike but configured as a Fixed gear. Notice here that when I stop pedalling, the pedals will try to continue rotating as long as the bike is in motion.
The positives to this configuration is that it will help you improve your efficiency of your pedal stroke especially for new riders. Also, as your feet are directly connected to the rear wheel, you can slow down the bike simply by slowing the speed of your pedal stroke rather than relying solely on a braking system.
Lastly, you will notice I turn the pedals backward and the wheel will actually rotate backward as well. this can be beneficial if you are at a stand still but do not want to take your feet off the pedals. Simply pedal your bike slightly forward and then slightly backward to maintain your balance. This maneuver is a bit tricky and will take some practice to master though.
The Negatives to this configuration are not to be ignored, unfortunately, this setup can be dangerous, especially to newer riders. So much so that we at Butter Bikes actually do not offer this configuration to be directly purchased. Only through special order.
First, on downhills you will notice the bike trying to increase speed as bikes normally do when going downhill. With a Fixed Gear setup, your pedals will also try to increase speed beneath you feet. this occasionally will lead to the pedal slipping out from below your foot and create a difficult situation for you to get your foot back onto the pedals as they will still be rotating without your foot on them.
Secondly, many people remove the rear braking system when riding Fixie as you can slow and stop the bike by reducing your pedal speed. Although this works, it creates a safety hazard as you are relying on your chain to slow the bike and if the chain falls off or breaks, you will have a rapid loss of braking power which could catch the rider off guard and lead to a collision.
We never recommend removing the braking system when riding fixed gear.
We offer services to install a fixed gear but if you prefer to do it yourself, this fixed gear cog will do. it’s not a complex part so you don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money on it.
Although Fixed Gear (Fixie) and Single Speed may look similar to most, they are quite different. The difference may be dangerous to those who get on a fixed gear bike assuming it is a single speed so always check before riding. If you walk the bike forward and the pedals start rotating, that is a Fixed Gear (Fixie) bike and must be approached with caution.