Chris Williams

Chris Williams saw his first fixed-gear bike on a trip to Boston.

He says that although he was confused at first, he thought they looked really cool.

After the trip, Chris says he stripped everything off of his old bike and put a cog and a lock ring on the back to make his first fixed-gear.

“That thing was a death trap,” he says.

The cog wasn’t secured well, and a crash had bent his front fork. Chris says he would bring his bike into shops and the staff would beg him not to ride it anymore and offer him installment plans for a bike that was safer.

About three months later Chris used parts he had acquired from eBay and used-parts bins to build a better bike.

Much of the allure of the fixed-gear community is this do-it-yourself ethos, Chris says.

“A lot of people build everything, and that’s really exciting,” he says.

Fixed-gear bikes have simple maintenance and cheaper parts, and many people buy tools when they buy parts, he says.

“It’s generally looked down on if you have a stock bike you didn’t build yourself,” he says.

Chris says part of the attraction of fixed-gear bikes is purely aesthetic. People will go online just to look at pictures of other fixed gears.

Another large factor is the degree of control you have with these bikes, Chris says. Many riders compare it to driving a car with a manual transmission.

“You’re very intimately connected with the bike,” he says. “You can control absolutely everything with your feet.”

Riding without a brake also forces riders to pay closer attention and makes them more aware cyclists, he says.

Despite the dangers, the amount of control and personality these bikes offer make them Chris’s first choice among bikes.

“It’s more fun,” he says, “you feel bored otherwise.”

Here Chris does a wheelie on his bike, the first nice fixed that he's had, which he got about a year and a half after he started riding.