Volume 17, Number 52 | May 20 - 26, 2005

More are now riding brakeless track bikes

Brandon Neubauer, a member of Time’s Up!, said track bikes, like the one Brandie Bailey was riding the night she was killed in a traffic accident on Avenue A, are definitely in vogue, and that in addition to an East Village bike store devoted to the bikes, there is also a popular magazine, called Fixed. He rides one himself.

“It’s a big part of the bicycle community, here and in San Francisco and around the world wherever there is a Critical Mass movement,” he said. “They were initially made to ride on tracks without brakes. You’d have to know about her bike —some fixed gears have brakes on the front wheel.”

There are two ways to stop on a fixed-gear bike. Because the pedals don’t coast, but are constantly turning with the wheel, one can either use his or her back leg to resist the turning of the wheel, or push his or her weight onto the front wheel to keep the rear wheel from skidding, with the rider sometimes even standing on the pedals to add to the stopping power.

“You can stop relatively quickly that way,” Neubauer said, though adding, “In general, fixed-gear riders tend to ride more conservatively because of the limitations of the machine. In my opinion, fixed-gear riders are the best riders in the city.”

Neubauer said only practiced bikers make the leap from free-wheel bikes to track bikes, and that track bikes offer a purer riding experience because one is really in touch with the machine.

“In my opinion, fixed-gear riders are probably the best riders in the city,” he said.

Lincoln Anderson

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