Philosophy of the Fixie

Yesterday was the day I rode my new fixie for the first time. Now I get it.

I bought the jet black Felt Brougham in a crime of passion at the Madison Bike-O-Rama a couple of weeks ago. Since then the weather has not cooperated so much. But this morning, with temperatures soaring into the 40’s and most of the ice gone, I pulled my new bike out of my basement. And in an act of supreme optimism for a guy who has spent his entire life in Wisconsin and understands the cruelty of April, I hung up my sturdy winter ride, a mountain bike with fenders and studded tires.

I was a little concerned about how the fixie (and my knees) would perform on the slight hills between my house and the UW campus, where I was headed today. But it was no problem.

Compared to the winter monster, my fixie flies like the wind. But that’s not what’s cool about it. It’s the simplicity that I love. At first I kept looking for the gear shifters, but once I convinced myself that they weren’t there I forgot about it. And just rode

And that’s it. The fixie is about just riding. No worries. No decisions to make. The simple joy of moving yourself forward. It’s not so much a bike as a philosophy. It makes little sense from a practical standpoint and it makes all the sense in the world to a person’s soul.

Happy spring. Just ride.

About Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

One thought on “Philosophy of the Fixie

  1. I totally get what you are saying Mayor Dave. The simplicity really is a beautiful thing. I really enjoy riding all my bikes for whatever purpose I bought them for (to justify the purchase), However, my Stray Cat – Sasha single speed puts the biggest smile on my face. Just got to do about 30 miles on her last night going around the Cap City Loop and Lake Monona and the nimbleness and simplicity were an absolute pleasure. Nothing wrong with hearing my riding buddies shifting their gears, but when I see the upcoming hill, you attack a little sooner and then just get up out the seat to shift them thigh muscles. There seems to be more of a connection, a oneness with the bike on a fixie type ride. I had this bike on Craigslist as I had my eye on another (Bamboo single speed), but after last nights ride on Sasha, she will stay and I like you, may have to commit a similar crime of passion and just dig in and add the Bamboo one to my stable anyway.

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