A coffee-table book with a soft cover containing 144 pages and 378 color photographs that highlights the early development and evolution of the bicycle then progresses into the cultural phenomenon of the fixed gear bike around the globe.
Who is it for?
Contrary to what you might think, Fixed is actually the type of book that will likely appeal to bicyclists of all disciplines (rather than just to roadies or worse still, only those running fixed gear setups).
What is the difference between fixed gear and single speed?
Though technically a “single speed” by nature, a fixed-gear bike is one in which the front sprocket connects directly to a cog on the rear hub. No derailluers of any kind means the pedals spin any time the wheels are in motion. Additionally, pedal backward from a standstill and that’s the direction you’ll be heading.
What’s the appeal?
In a word, simplicity. In the opinion of many, the fixie is the absolute definition of the simplest machine ever created. While the mountain bike shares many of its innovations with early bicycle evolution, there are those who feel that the addition of technology along the way begins to compromise the harmonious simplicity of the machine in the process. As a result these bikes are typically set up as absolutely minimalist as possible while still being able to function. Concepts such as pricey carbon fiber bits, complicated suspension components, shifters, cables, and disc brakes are not at all what these bikes are about- in fact a majority of them don’t have brakes of any kind!
Is it just a picture book?
No. The authors (Andrew Edwards & Max Leonard) go to great lengths to provide interesting and informative editorial content to accompany the wealth of photographs contained within. There are interesting facts and stats laced on literally every page of the book and the prose begins by documenting the earliest recorded facts of the bicycle, progresses to the fixed-gear bike’s role in racing, documents the transition from the single-purpose race bike from the track to the streets, then finally demonstrates how the bicycle is considered a work of art by many.
Does it really cover the global culture?
Absolutely. By detailing the underground scene in cities all around the globe (New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo, and London), the book goes to great length to prove that the fixed-gear phenomenon is by no means a regional fad. Additionally, the pictures and text combine to paint a nice and gritty sampling of the lifestyle itself rather than the commercialism that so often accompanies trends.
Just the fact that this book was written in UK dialect, which means that though in English, the spelling of many words differs from our American interpretation. Need examples? Tire = tyre, maneuver = manoeuvr, kilometer = kilometre and so on. It’s a bit annoying but nothing that warrants passing up an otherwise solid book.
Where can I get more info?
Fixed: Global Fixed-Gear Bike Culture by Andrew Edwards and Max Leonard is published by Laurence King Publishing: http://www.laurenceking.com and is available through nearly any major book chain (Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Borders and so on) for around $17.00
What’s the final word?
While it’s true that bicycling has evolved to include dozens upon dozens of specialized disciplines over the years, Fixed is a great reminder to the fact that we bike enthusiasts actually have a lot more in common than we have differences. Rather than isolate the fixed-gear culture by putting down other disciplines, the authors approach the subject as a celebration of the bicycle for what it is in any incarnation. Mountain bikes naturally earn little more than an occasional mention here but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a fascinating and engaging look at a true cultural phenomenon from authors whose enthusiasm for the subject matter is absolutely infectious.