Fixie Fever

Whether it’s to avoid the ERP rates or the thrill of speeding past rush hour traffic jams, the city’s cycling culture is in full bloom. Nowhere is this more evident than among the small but growing band of hobbyists who enjoy fixed gear riding, or “fixie riding,” as it is better known. We spoke to some of the subculture’s leading lights about the differences between this and regular cycling and how the rest of us can get involved.Get in GearA fixed gear bike is one that has no freewheel, which means as long as the bike is moving, the pedals will turn. You can neither coast nor brake on a fixed gear bike, so riding one requires a lot of skill and practice. Originally popular with bicycle messengers, the habit has been picked up by a broader crowd, who enjoy social group riding and stunt-turning on these one-speed bikes. Offbeat shopping strip Haji Lane sees a regular group of riders pulling stunts and showing off their customized bikes. “The scene here is certainly growing,” says Yasin Rahim, a member of local riding club Crank Arm Steady ( “We see new riders every Friday when we have our regular night riding session here. There are more female fixie riders, which is very good, and more expats are joining too.”Fix Up, Look Sharp Fixie rider and visual artist Luthfi Mustafah, aka The Killer Gerbil (, explains that riding a fixed gear bike involves very little maintenance cost. But he thinks it’s about more than that. “Cyclists also like that they can push their personal physical boundaries with a fixed gear bike. You can’t coast on your pedals like you would on a regular bike. While having to control your own speed will take some getting used to, it does give you immense satisfaction. It also strengthens your leg power,” he says. Mustafah also points out that riding a fixed gear bike helps increase rider mindfulness. “Not being able to coast makes you work extra hard physically and also keeps your mind alert to your surroundings. It is very easy to lose control otherwise,” he warns. Yasin Rahim says that it’s the sheer simplicity of riding without having to shift gears that attracted him to the sport: “I can’t deny the fact that the adrenaline rush from riding fixed and brakeless on a busy street is a big draw.”Pedaling ForwardThe size of the fixie riding community in Singapore continues to expand. Says Rahim, “Besides the rapid growth, the characteristics of riders have also changed. What started out as something done just for fun has turned into quite a serious hobby for many, with some riders even training to build strength, speed and stamina. Even those who are engaged in bike stunts and tricks work hard to push the envelope.” There’s also been an increase in large-scale events with the upcoming Tour of Singapore, organized by Crank Arm Steady, leading the charge. According to Mustafah, “Last year, a total of 53 riders joined the Tour, during which we rode a total of 150km along Singapore’s coastal line. This year’s edition is set to be much bigger. The total number of riders has more than doubled from last year and fixed gear enthusiasts from around the region continue to express interest.” Rahim adds that prior to the Tour, which takes place on Dec 11, Crank Arm Steady will also be giving the scene a further boost with events such as video screenings and collaborative parties.Worldwide Wheels: Fixed Gear culture elsewhereGet Your Own Fix: Source and customize your own bike at the local fixie community’s favorite stores