So your folks won’t let you ride fixed. Maybe they’ve got it in their heads that it’s dangerous. Maybe they think it’ll be a bad influence on you. Maybe they’re just … square. No matter what the reason, there are plenty of misconceptions about riding fixed out there. In today’s post, we’ll address the most common ones and show just how awesome (and safe) riding actually is!
“Fixies Don’t Have Brakes”
This has to be the most common concern, and also the easiest to overcome. Of course fixed gear bikes have brakes, just look at that photo right there!
The whole no brakes thing actually goes back to track bikes. High-speed fixed-gear racing machines, designed for the steep-banked walls of the velodrome. When you’re flying around the track at 40+mph in a tight pack of riders, tapping a brake would be dangerous and it’d pile everybody up on top of you. For that reason, brakes aren’t allowed in track events – in which case the lack of brakes is actually a safety feature!
Luckily on the street, there aren’t any rules against brakes and, in fact, most legalities require you to have one! All of our bikes ship with a front brake and, because your front brake provides 90+% of your stopping power (and you can use your legs as your rear brakes riding fixed), you can ride confidently knowing you can stop whenever you need to. If you plan on riding freewheel (so you can coast), adding a rear brake is as simple as putting one in the cart. So don’t let your parents come at you with that “no brakes” noise, tell them to check their facts.
“Riding a Bike is Dangerous”
Lol, everything is “dangerous”, but riding a bike actually improves your chances of living a longer life. If your parents think it’s risky for you to ride to school, to a friend’s, etc… just be sure to point out that taking a car isn’t the safest alternative. Every year, going back to 1945, more than 30,000 people in the US die in their cars! To put that into perspective, that’s the death-toll equivalent of another 9/11, every five weeks for the last 70 years! If terrorists are a big deal, the carnage of cars is a hundred times worse. Though on a bike you’re less likely to be speeding, crashing your way through things, and getting yourself killed.
Even better is the fact that riding a bike extends your life, while motor vehicles shorten it! Even accounting for the relative handful of injuries and deaths each year to people on two wheels, science has shown that an hour on the bike adds an hour to the average person’s life. The mental and physical health benefits of exercise actually improve your likelihood of overcoming disease, staying active later in life, and just hanging out for a few more trips around the sun. On the other hand, sedentary activities and travel, like sitting in cars, have been shown to shorten lives, weaken immune systems, and just generally make life less fun. So while you can bike your way to the movies (and then happily into adulthood and old age), your friends getting rides everywhere - not so much. Even if they survive the trip.
“You’ll Run Red Lights and Stop Signs, etc...”
Those sound like the kinds of things kids without good parents would do, right? If your parents are any good, they’ll have taught you the rules of the road, how important they are, and how to stay safe. If they don’t trust you to stick to it – it sounds like they’ve got some more parenting to do.
The fact of the matter is, some people out there are dumb, some people are reckless, others are just jerks – and those people will be dumb, reckless, or jerks no matter what they’re doing: riding a bike, driving a car, throwing elbows on Black Friday. But your parents taught you not to judge everyone based on the actions of a few, and the same applies here. If you’re a good kid around the house, you’ll be a good kid on the bike. Don’t lose out on your freedom just because a few dummies ran a stop sign one time – just make sure your parents understand that you take your safety seriously and all you want to do is enjoy a healthy ride on your bike and go hang out with some friends. (And then make sure you actually stop at the stop signs and red lights.)
“You’ll Turn into a Hipster”
Plaid shirts, dark-rimmed glasses, and organic cigarettes – spooky stuff if you’re a parent, but luckily there’s almost no correlation between getting a fixed gear bike and becoming a hipster. In fact, nowadays the hipsters are all into artisanal locally-sourced fat bikes, ideally from a cage-free and pesticide-free family farm.
Go hit up your local fixed gear ride and you’ll see all kinds of people. It turns out that riding sweet bikes has a pretty wide demographic and, no matter who you are, you’ll end up making some solid friends. You may not end up “into everything before it was cool”, but you may end up everywhere before your friends do because they’re stuck in traffic.
Look, riding a bike is awesome. Having the freedom to move yourself under your own power is liberating, inspiring, and will make you a more confident person. It gets you in shape, it sharpens your mind, so sure, you’ll probably do better with your crush – but there’s no reason a bike should land you in baby-town. In fact, in terms of the risks of teenage pregnancy, there’s nowhere more dangerous than the backseat of a car. So tell your parents not to stress. If they want to re-hash the birds and the bees, let them. But, it’s just a bike ride after all, not a mating ritual. Just be sure to wear your helmet.