The Classic Fixie

My friend, Ben, has what I consider to be the “classic” fixie.

Ben’s Fixie

The classic fixie is a type of fixie that is made from an older-style frame that used to be a multi-speed bike, and was converted into a fixed gear bike.

Part of the fun of building a classic fixie is taking an old and rusty frame, and making it look new again. I have to imagine that it would be very similar to the allure of refurbishing a car from 50 years ago. Plus, older bikes often have extremely intricate design (lugged), usually with more detail than modern bikes have. Put all these factors together and your left with one elegant looking bike.

Ben makes use of an old Takara frame from the 80’s. He chose to paint the frame blue, with white accents on the lugs, and red accents on the seat and handlebars. The blue, white and red theme expresses a clean and sophisticated style.

With a seat tube length of 59 cm, this bike is not for anyone below 5’8” or so. Furthmore, the wheels are 27 inches, making the stand-over height pretty high.

Now, although the appearance of the bike is important, nothing is more important than how the bike rides. And Ben’s bike does not fail on this front either: his bike provides a smooth, powerful ride. The gear ratiois 53 (front chainring) to 16 (rear cog). This is a pretty steep ratio, and although it might take a bit of muscle to accelerate quickly, it also allows for extremely high speeds (20-30 mph) while not having to spin (pedal) extremely fast. In Houston, where the whole city is essentially flat, this seems to be a pretty sensible gear ratio.


Ben’s bike has tires of width 28 mm. These provide a good balance between low friction and decent amount of cushion over the rough roads of Houston.

My favorite part of Ben’s bike is his bullhorn handlebars. These are simply a great addition to an already great bike.

So there it is: the summary of Ben’s classic fixie.

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7 Responses to The Classic Fixie

  1. Ben says:

    Very well put. Classic is exactly what I was going for. Like an old blue and white chevy.

  2. fun bike! How tall is Ben? I couldn’t even get my 5’4″ frame up on the seat!

  3. Bryan says:

    I was under the impression that fixed-gear bicycles weren’t as safe as normal bikes?

    • I’d been wondering about this, too. What happens if you need to stop really fast? Can the legs stop the bike as fast as a hand break would?

      • ricefixie says:

        So this issue can get pretty complicated. I’m inclined to say that “how safe a bike is” really depends more on the rider than the bike itself. But it is true that fixies are more difficult to ride, and consequently, if you are not used to riding a fixie, it would definitely be more dangerous riding it. Once you get used to riding a fixie, I don’t think its really any more dangerous than riding a regular bike (as long as you are riding brakeless). If you ride a fixie without brakes (and solely depending on apply negative force against the pedals to brake), then it is a bit more dangerous.

      • ricefixie says:

        Dr. Messmer,
        Your question has a yes and no answer. Yes, there is a way to lock up the drivetrain and come to a skidding stop. It is a little tricky to do, but with the right technique and a little practice, I’m pretty sure anyone can do it. However, its not actually the fastest way to stop (for a fixie or a regular bike). When you lock up the drivetrain (on a fixie), or slam on the rear brakes (on a regular bike), cause the rear wheel to lock and skid, the maximum braking power is dependent on the magnitude of the downward force the rear wheel applies to ground. Since you are slowing down, there is actually a lot more downward force being applied by the front wheel than the rear wheel. So that means that you can come to a stop quickest by using the front brake, because it takes a lot more braking power to get the front wheel to skid. So ultimately, the quickest way to stop on either a fixie or a regular bike is to use front brake. Back to Bryan’s question: since almost all fixies have front brakes, fixies have pretty comparable braking abilities to a standard bike. So in terms of braking, fixies are “technically” just as good as regular bikes.

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