Denise Mosbach, Monday, May 6, 2013 , 716 Views
They’re cool, lean and super hip with fixed gears, which is why the in crowd call them ‘fixies’. However, what few people know is that fixies are really quite ‘old school’. ‘The first bike was invented 100 years ago and also didn’t have a back-pedal brake, gears or other technical novelties’, says Sammy Dirksz, owner of Pristine, the first Dutch ‘fixie-store’. For those who have no idea what a fixie is: fixie is short for ‘fixed gear’, in other words, the cog is directly attached to the rear hub. It’s a bit of a modern version of an indoor track bike.
The fixie trend blew over from the US where they have the most beautiful specimens. The riders have hugely varying backgrounds, from solicitors and city traders to artists and students. Everyone wants one. Europe soon followed with London, Stockholm and Berlin leading the pack. And the Netherlands now also appear to be infected with the fixie-virus, particularly Amsterdam where more and more hip people can be spotted riding one.
Riding a fixie is an experience that takes some time getting used to as officially, the bike doesn’t have brakes. That’s right: no brakes. ‘You reduce speed by simply applying counter-pressure on the pedals’, says Sammy. ‘And by skidding, you can completely block the rear wheel and quickly bring the bike to a full stop, although this technique requires quite a bit of practice’. As an inexperienced bike tourist, it might be useful to know that this modern version of the ultra-Dutch bicycle, cool as it may be, is perhaps not be the best option for exploring the country. The old-fashioned city bike is still best placed for that.
In case of the latter, you have two options: renting a proper tourist bike (with due color and stickers) so everyone instantly knows you’re not a local. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but still.... The alternative is renting an undercover model with which you can cruise the canals like a true Amsterdammer. You can rent the latter at WorkCycles where they also have great tandems and carrier bikes. If you want to discover the ‘Venice of the North’ Italian style, you can cruise the canals by scooter. At Scooterverhuur 020 they rent great Vespa’s. Still, it feels a bit like cheating, doesn’t it?