(We did not know about these, either...until we discovered these videos.)
The fixed gear bike, also called a fixie, was designed for track racing in the velodrome. Working bike messengers brought them to the NYC, Tokyo, SF, London streets on account the cycles gave them far more control to maneuver the urban jungle. The Chinese acrobat peddling a bike with 18 contortionists wrapped around him, must have a fixie.
VIDEO ONE: To get your palate wet, we're showcasing a trailer from a 2007 documentary. This is an inside view of their wild rides through the streets (literally in traffic, slapping buses) of San Francisco. Watch especially when they bomb down the hills with no brakes. No brakes: they have to skid out the back tire to slow down. Not easy.
VIDEO TWO: (click Video Chapter 2)Bre Pettis shows you how to build one yourself!
Take any beat up Huffy. Strip it down. Hack it apart. You don't need those fancy brakes, shocks, or derailleurs.
Fixed gear bikes are simple machines.
When the back wheel moves, so do the pedals. No freewheeling. You can't stop pedaling. Stop pedaling and you'll stop the back tire. That simple.
Bre gives you a good overview, but we suggest you download the schematics so you can better follow along while you hack it out in the garage.
Download the schematics at:http://cachefly.oreilly.com/make/wp_bike.pdf