In the world today, we are obliged to conform with what society tells us. Like slacks is to leather, streets is to vehicles, and bikes are to brakes. But there will always be a set of non-conforming individuals who wear sneakers with slacks, walk in the middle of the street, and ride wheels without brakes – on purpose!
This Photo Essay aims to show such here. The Essay is about fixed gear bikes, bikes that purposely have no brake lines attached to it and its current state in society today.
Since childhood, people are instructed to ride bikes with brakes for one major reason, safety. But despite these instructions, there are people who purposely ride bikes with no brakes. Fixed gear bikes. Considered as one of the primitive types of bicycles, fixed gears or “fixies” have been used since the birth of bicycles. With pedals directly attached to the wheel, the rotation varies with the strength of the rider’s legs. With the force generated to counter the rotation’s momentum through the legs, it reverses the force of the non-coasting hub (the center of the wheel where the spokes are attached) to stop the rotation and slow the bike down until it comes to a halt. The same principle applies with modern fixies, but they differ on where the pedals are directly attached. Today, the pedals are in the bike frame (body)’s low-middle area and a chain is attached to its chain ring that connects it to the hub. Primarily, it’s designed for comfort.
Fixies are frowned upon today. Stereotyping riders with what they typically see – usually a hipster-looking guy or gal that appears to have a death-wish. But it’s more than that… to some it is a lifestyle that represents who they are, a mode of transportation, and even a hobby!
Skidding, mashing, lifestyle and travelling are the topics of this project that shows the different uses of fixies. Skidding is one of the brake forms of a fixie bike. There are numerous forms and processes in performing skids. One example would be the normal skid where the rider leans their crotch areas to the stem (the part that holds the handle bars of the bike) and lock their knees to forcefully stop the rear wheel’s rotation, thus making the rear wheel skid on the ground. Another example is what others call the “Suicide skid” where the same principles are applied except that when the knees are locked, the rider removes his/her hands from the handles and raise it in a manner that looks like a suicide jump – hence the name. Mashing on the other hand is much simpler. It’s simply the ride speed and style itself. If a bike race is observed in such aspects, that’s what mashing is. There are a number of mashing forms too! There is the Spider mash, road mash, etc. that all differs in technicality. Lifestyle and travel fixie riders are amongst the few commonly seen by the mundane eye. They are the ones who ride to their jobs and/or use it in their jobs, some are the riders who seek an eco-friendly way to get from one place to another and every rider in between. Those are things that define a fixie rider’s ride.
This topic was specifically chosen because of its different functions for different people. Not only for travelling, but also a lifestyle – a lifestyle that takes back the streets. Whether rich or poor, fixed gear is a way of life that unites cyclists.
Geo and Vince of Sloth Squad riding alongside each other in Sta. Ana, Manila.
Three fixies parked on a sidewalk in Ayala ave., Makati City.
An Eco-pro bicycling sign hanging in a pub in Cubao Expo, Cubao, Quezon City.
A French Baker employee taking a break from riding in Manga rd., corner Aurora blvd., Quezon City.
A Bullhorn-handled fixie parked in front of Slick Barbers Co. in Yague st., Makati City.
A 50-18 fixed gear ratio of a bike lying on the grass grounds of Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
A fixie rider with front wheel brakes flipping off while resting on the Seaside walls of SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.
Two dropbar-handled fixie riders posing while waiting for the traffic signal to turn green in España, Manila.
Wheels of one classic rim and one wide-wall rim fixies outside Saguijo bar, Makati City.
Rider Kier from Sloth Squad skidding in the middle of Ayala bridge, Manila.