Looking Out To Sea

Celebrating new bike day with a Fuji Track Classic

It’s been a long time coming but the combination of new city, new routines and a bike shop sale was enough for me to pull the trigger on a new bike — a fixed gear Fuji Track Classic. The alternative was a Charge Plug which was over £100 dearer and I didn’t think an experiment like this warranted the extra money. (Besides, I have heard more positive, or fewer negative, things said about the Fuji than the Charge bike.)

This is my first time with a fixed gear bike, which has been both an alarming, eye-opening, surprising and incredibly gratifying experience. I rode it (mostly) home from the shop on Monday night, which was a daunting first ride. I admit to stopping and walking it on a few of the downhill stretches because I wasn’t feeling so confident.

Geometrically it’s a lot more aggressive than my Ridgeback hybrid. Getting down into the drops does feel very exciting and provides an extra impression of speed. The ride is also pretty silent with no chain rattle, no jockey wheels, no creaking of mudguards or rack. For the first time I could just hear the rubber of the tyres on the road… how odd! On top of that the ride is buttery smooth. Is this the wheels, the frame design, the steel? I don’t know but I really like it.

Riding is a more measured and considered affair than the hybrid — getting up to speed takes longer and once you’re at speed it feels like the bike wants to stay there. The lack of coasting gives you a more nuanced impression of what the bike is doing — it is easy for bike and rider to unsynchronise when you’re pedalling through a freewheel.

(I am conscious that I’m anthropomorphising here. The bike does this, the bike wants that. I think because it feels wilful in its awkwardness sometimes. If you don’t settle right then you can dislodge yourself — that feels very much like you’ve just been thrown from the back of an animal. It looks like a bike but it doesn’t behave like a bike ought to, so clearly it’s being deliberately unco-operative.)

So how does the continual pedal pedal pedal actually feel? So far it has not been the difficult part of adjusting. As I increase the distance covered that might change. Finishing a ride feels fantastic which might be down to the endorphin buzz of the non-stop pushing; it’s not something I am conscious of when cycling with a freewheel.

The single gear has also not been too much of a problem. I am slowly adjusting to new personal guidelines, the most important of which is “don’t stop halfway up”. Hill climbing — particularly long steady hills — seem easier (or certainly no harder) but starting on a hill is much less fun!

My only regret is the colour! It’s a great looking bike but it’s gonna really show up the road dirt soon enough. I will need to have baby wipes to hand at all times. Happy riding!