Friday, March 14, 2008

No brakes. No gears.

"Riding a bicycle without brakes sounds like a rash move, but a wave of cyclists are eschewing traditional bikes for a stripped-down machine known as a fixed-gear.

It is one of the most basic machines you can build with two wheels. A fixed-gear bike - or fixie - has no derailleur as it has only one gear, so as long as the wheels turn, so do the pedals. Its rider can't freewheel and the only way to brake is to stand on the pedals.

The fixed-gear's renaissance supposedly stems from West Indian immigrants in New York working as cycle couriers in the Eighties. They had used them at home because they were cheap and easy to maintain, and continued using them in the US. Their light frames and speed made them perfect for work. It's popularity spread throughout the courier community, finally crossing to the UK and other countries."




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