For a fresh-faced convert to the big ol’ world of bicycles, the decision to purchase can definitely be daunting.

BMX, velo, hybrid, messenger, racing bike, randonneur, cyclo-cross, mountain bike, touring bike, flat bar road bike, cruiser… 

For a whip that’s essentially just two wheels connected to a pair of pedals, slung with chain, spanned by frame and garnished by saddle — there sure seems like an unreasonable number of names for it.

Perhaps most confusing is the distinction between fixed gear and single speed. They look the same, they’re priced the same, but boy do they ride different. More importantly — the judgement fellow bike-folk cast on your choice. But, with only the hub to hint at their pedigree — how’s a rookie to tell the difference? 

Relax, friend — come let us share a method guaranteed to determine the breed of your potential stainless steed:

1. Find the biggest hill you can. Steep, too. The bigger and steeper it is — the better.
2. Saddle up.
3. Deep breath. Descend hill.

Now, what just happened? Logic dictates one of two possible outcomes.

If you simply placed hands on handlebars, kicks on peddles, and proceeded to coast the slope all the way to a civilised dismount — you just experienced the relaxing ride of a single speed bicycle. 

Ahhh, but the alternative?

If you were unfortunate enough to be perched on a fixie — you’re probably still quite fragile, and apologies are due. Let us guess: The first sniff of trouble came with the introduction of speed — a slow but dreadful realisation that the faster the wheels spun, the quicker the peddles pumped, and to the tune of Newton’s Law your quads drummed a furious and helpless beat. Wide eyes, white knuckles, and the clenching of hindquarters. You’re still several hundred miles from home, where you finally ran out of momentum.

So there you go — the subtle (but oh so important) difference between single and fixie. 

Ride the pretty pony — 
or
Two wheels, one dream —