I’ve been riding bikes in New York City for years. Mostly cruisers and urban hybrids, plus one racer (sans spandex). They are by far the best way to get around, easily superseding the taxis (always stuck in traffic) and subways (don’t go everywhere) I relied on in my younger days.
But as much as I loved Premium Rush (in a total guilty pleasure sort of way), I never really thought much about fixed-gear bicycles. In my mind, those rides were the exclusive domain of bike messengers and Williamsburg hipsters. Plus the pedals and wheels are in pretty much constant motion. In Manhattan traffic, that can’t be safe, can it?
Then out of the blue, the folks at Pure Fix Cycles sent a fixie rolling my way. And it was a real beauty. The Pure Fix Hotel ($399) is super black, except for the logo, brake pads and part of the hub. Oh, and the rims, which are coated with neon green, solar-activated paint that glows in the dark. It’s the kind of bike that, I soon learned, literally causes people to stop and stare—and sometimes even snap photos.
Once you get the hang of it, the bike is fun as hell to ride. Each pedal push injects more energy into the wheels, enabling spectacular speeds.
I was excited but apprehensive, and my transition to the Hotel was not exactly what you’d call “smooth.” I consider myself pretty experienced, and this bike does feature a safety hand brake, but most of the time, your best bet is to keep pedaling at all times. If you stop at high speed, you run the risk of being practically ejected off the bike as the pedals continue to turn.
So you quickly learn that the best mode of operation is to be hyper-alert and do your best to avoid stopping. In the city, that means plenty of focus, a lot of tight turns around cars and people and yes, running a few red lights (when the road is clear, of course).
The upside is that once you get the hang of it, the bike is fun as hell to ride. Each pedal push injects more energy into the wheels, enabling spectacular speeds. You can also pedal with just one foot or take both feet off and watch the pedals spin beneath you, which is pretty handy on long downhills.
Told ya it glows in the dark.
Best of all, you can actually control a lot of the bike’s speed by how fast you pump your legs, which means you can ride for long stretches without your hands. You can even lean into and make turns completely hands-free. Not that I would ever do something that silly or anything.
But here’s the moment I realized I was truly addicted: Several weeks into riding the Hotel, I picked up a flat tire. I don’t know what I ran over, but the inner tube was punctured in several places, and I had to shelve the bike for a day until I could get a new one.
So I rode one of my older bikes instead. And it got me where I was going just fine but, man, it just wasn’t nearly as fun. I could barely stand it. It just seemed so, like, pedestrian. There was no juice in the pedals, no rush of regenerative power, no challenge to get from my apartment on 15th Street to my office on 37th without my feet ever touching the ground. It felt, in a word, boring.
Thankfully I had a fresh inner tube soon and was back to zooming around like a perpetual motion maniac. Because these days, the type of bike I never dreamed of pedaling is now the only one I ache to ride.
This Pure fox is proof that chicks dig fixies. FYI, @skyisrippedopen appears to be totally taken.