Fixies for kids aren’t really so cute.

Outside Holland, bikes were classified as cars and forced onto the road instead of the footpath, which frightened off all but the most suicidal bike riders. And suicidal cyclists have been allowed to define the image of cycling ever since. To the suicidal cyclist, the track bike fixie is an emblem of fearlessness and defiance, even in death. And now those suicidal spokesmen for cycling are playing God, sending their sons to die for their cause. No, I do not think kids’ fixies are cute.

About Steven

I'm on a mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, urban designers and fellow academics, who see the potential for bicycles to change cities and buildings. My PhD is in architectural history and my interdisciplinary research spans art theory, philosophy and cultural studies. I teach architectural history and theory and design studio at The University of Tasmania, Australia, and formerly worked as an architect designing large public housing projects in Singapore.
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6 Responses to Fixies for kids aren’t really so cute.

  1. Gusto says:

    Spoken like a man who never learned to Fixie skid.

    • Steven says:

      okay okay, I’m venting my anger at myself for missing the fixie fad, by bad mouthing cute kids and their fun loving dads :)

  2. DB says:

    I agree that fixies are questionable outside the velodrome (though obviously a fair few people can make it work). However, the cute kid? Looks like he’s posing by the banked finish line of a track, with the appropriate equipment (though someone should really get him a better-fitting helmet).

    • Steven says:

      I’m all for diversity in cycling. I know though, that many people looking at bikes like these would risk their sons lives for a misguided cause.
      I know you’re being rhetorical, and I’m being prickly, but I’ll boorishly say too that a fixie with clincher tires and a flip flop rear hub is not the same as a track bike actually used on the velodrome. And I fully support junior track racing.

  3. kfg says:

    I have been riding fixies for over half a century now. Why? Because all small children’s learner trikes and bikes are fixies. Always have been. Small children do not have the muscular coordination or strength to operate seperate mechanical brake systems. They may also lack the abstract reasoning to even reallty understand seperate brake systems. Fixied is intuitive even to a toddler.

    I broke my collar bone on a derailler, hand braaked road racing bike. I remain uninjured (knock on Columbus steel) on my fixies.

    You also make the common mistake of equating fixiess with track bikes (despite your attempt to imply otherwise) and track bikes as “brakeless.” There is no such thing as a brakeless fixie, they have a brake by definition. With a low gear it is in most respects superior to a coaster brake. Many fixies are road racing or touring bikes. Some of my fixies have three brakes. The bike in the ad you link to does. Four is possible if you want to go for the ultimate in redundency.

    This kid is young enough to remember learning on a “brakeless” fiixie,” even if you have become to old to remember the time when you crashed your first coasty bike because it wasn’t a fixie. If you learned to pedal as a small child you did that. We all did. Hand brakes are counter intuitive and coaster brakes lock up unpredicably.

    His gear is also low enough (remember that the wheel is one of the “gears”) to provide good leverage.

    I don’t know what put this particular bee in your bonnet, but it is not one of your better pieces.

    P.S. Bicycles were classified as road vehicles before the arrival of motor cars. Road vehicle does not equal “car.” Many road vehciles are not cars. For that matter many cars are not motors.

    • Steven says:

      Thanks KPG. It is a bee in my bonnet. Now, I’m not a fixie rider myself, and I’ve never raced track, and quite possibly I would see an ideal kids bike in this picture if I could empathise the way you do.
      What I don’t like is the myth of the bike messenger who nimbly dances between all the cars, believing his skill and ideological right to the road will protect him. The fact is that in 9 collision of 10 between cars and bikes, the driver did not see the cyclist, even if they were looking right at them (reference below, curtesy of my colleague Dr. Anne Lusk). By contrast, cyclists don’t see the car in only 4 out of 10 crashes. I fear that a lot of the parents (dads mostly) who would think that it’s cute to see their kids riding fixies, suffer from the bike fakenger’s dilutions and are giving their kids those dilutions as well.

      Herslund MB, Jorgensen NO. Looked-but-failed-to-see-errors in traffic. Accid Anal Prev 2003;35(6):885-91. Koustanai A, Boloix E, Van Elslande P, Bastien C. Statistical analysis of “looked-but-failed-to see” accidents: highlighting the involvement of two distinct mechanisms. Accid Anal Prev 2008;40(2):461-9.

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