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Fixie Vs Geared: Which Bike Is Fastest For City Riding?

October 26, 2019


(whooshing) – Today we are in Bristol
to do some city riding. – Oh, hello! – Chris, what are you riding? – This is my new present from Jon Cannings and the tech drawer, Hank. It’s my new fixie. You like those, don’t you? – [James] Yeah but why are you riding it? They’re normally reserved for velodromes or closed circuits,
like the Red Hook Crit. – Don’t be silly. A fixie’s the perfect vehicle
for getting around a city, even if it’s as hilly as Bristol. – See, I disagree. So with that in mind, I’ve got some tests that will show you just why geared bikes are better for city riding. – Hmm, sounds ominous.
– You ready? A few tests. Hold, I need to get my helmet on. – See look, I’m away already. (hypnotic electronic music) – In this video, Chris
and I are going to go head-to-head on city streets. But don’t worry, we are abiding by all the laws of the road and as ex-professional riders, we are riding fully within our limits. Right, first up Chris, is one you might not like that much. It’s a climbing up and
descending down challenge. – Yeah, well you know I’m
a fan of good descents. – Well yeah, I thought
you’d like that second half. But you climb up from here
to the traffic lights, up to the top, ’round the
triangle, and descend back down, where I’ll be with the
stopwatch and I’ll time you. – Right, okay, few ground rules then. No jumping red lights and, in fact, no breaking any laws of any kind because I can’t have that
many points on my license. And since it’s your challenge,
I think you should go first. – I’ll take that, all right. You’re on. – Let me get my timer. (energetic music) – Hank’s taken his position and I reckon we have
around 15 seconds to go before the lights go green. – I’ve got to get clipped in. You don’t have to get clipped in. – Well I was going to press the start. Oh, here we go! Oh, he’s jumped the gun a little bit. He’s still not in, what is he doing? (energetic electronic music) – Another red light. Second red light and we’re off. Big gear start. Now to descend. Hope I don’t get stopped by another light. We’ve got three lights to the finish. All right Chris, you’re
up, how you feeling? – I’m a little bit nervous. Got my pedals in the right position. – I mean, if you beat me
with jeans and trainers– – It wouldn’t be the first time? (laughing) Go!
– Up, up, up! (energetic electronic music) – Right, acceleration off the line. Find a rhythm, good. It’s a quite big uphill and also you realize just how much you pull up on the pedals (panting) when you’re riding flats. First red light of the ride. Unbelievable. All right, make the light, make the light. Go, go, go, it’s green,
it’s green, it’s green! Oh yeah, it’s green! Kill your feet riding pedals, max effort, and secret weapon! Here we go! Oh yeah. It’s a fixie. – Stop at the light. (cackling) – Ooh, that was close. – We might actually draw. – [Chris] No.
– Yeah. – [Chris] Are you going to stop it? – No.
– The line is this. – No it’s not, is it? – Hey, your line was. – Test number one done and you did it in a time of
3 minutes and 26 seconds, which is awesome, seeing as you’re in a pair
of jeans and trainers. – Yeah, I could go straight
to the pub now, couldn’t I? I happen to know that was a good time but I also happen to know it wasn’t enough because you did a whopping 3:24. – Oh, thank god I beat
you just by two seconds. – I think it comes down to, though, as beautiful and nice
as that bike is to ride, it’s just going to spend just as long waiting at the traffic lights as I am on a fixie that Jon Cannings built in his spare time. I mean, I can sprint pretty quickly so the time between the lights, you’re not going to make up
that much time on me, are you? – Yeah so with that in mind, I’ve got another test then for us. – Ooh.
– Are you ready for test number two? (indie music) For test number two,
it’s a short time trial. – Oh, like a prologue? I used to enjoy those. – But a bit shorter. I’ve devised a small course for us. We’re going to head down this street, cross over the first roundabout, then go all the way around
the second roundabout, back to the first roundabout, then back the way around that one, then left at the second
roundabout and to the finish. – As you just heard Hank describe, that route sounds rather complicated so we’re going for a siting lap. – We’re quite close to each other, mate. – We’ve been friends for a long time. – We’re at the start
line of the second test. Are you ready, mate? – As ready as I’ll ever be. – Three, two, one, up, up, up! He jumped the line. Up, up! (electronic music) – Get a rhythm. Pedestrian crossing. Open maneuver. Perfect timing. Getting ready for a lunge. Final lunge to the line! (grunting) – Right Hank, you’re up next. I’ve just about recovered from my effort. I can hold a stopwatch now. We’ll wait until the
pedestrian crossing is clear. That only seem fair. Three, two, one, go! (grunting) (energetic rock music) All right, he’s coming, he’s on the way. See, he’s around the final corner. And he’s moving. He’s going properly fast but is he going to get air over the line? Yeah, of course he is. – Right, Chris, that’s the
agility test, done and dusted. And again, you surprised me on that bike. You did a time of one
minute and eleven seconds, which on that surface, on that bike, (exhaling) I doth my
cap sir, that was good. – Not going to lie, I did quite enjoy it. But as much fun as I had
and as fast as it looked, wasn’t quite enough to make up to your one minute and one
second frankly blistering time. – Thank god, I wouldn’t have lived it down if you had beat me. – No, I wouldn’t have
let you forget either. You do quickly become
aware on these bikes, you just can’t corner quite
like you can on one of those. I mean, you got your
brakes, you can freewheel, where as I might clip a
pedal if I lean too much, I can’t stop quickly if
someone steps out in the road, but the fact that you have to be more conscious of all of
this does mean, ultimately, you’re training your technique
and your skills much more. You’re becoming a more
thoughtful bike rider. – All around better bike rider, I guess. – I reckon, yup. – Right, that’s all done, yes? – No, I don’t know, it’s not quite because I think there’s somewhere I
can get my own back on you and it’s at the pub but it doesn’t involve too much drinking. Come on. – Interesting. (somber music) – I’ve quite enjoyed all this city cycling but I think it’s time for a
quick lemonade at the pub. – I’m still confused on how
you’re going to get back at me at a pub, seeing as how I’m an absolute
pro at stopping at a pub. – Don’t you worry. You’ll soon see. We’ll just leave our
bikes outside, shall we? – What, here? – Yep, here, outside. – Ah, Chris? I don’t know if I can
leave my bike out here. It’s a little bit too expensive. What if someone nicks it? Guess I’ll just wait out here. – Well it looks like Hank
isn’t joining me for a drink inside the pub. And I guess that really is the issue with an expensive race bike like James’s. You just don’t feel
comfortable locking it up outside a cafe or a shop or a pub, whereas when you have a fixie
like the one Jon built for me, it’s pretty much worry-free. I mean, I could go almost
anywhere, chain it up outside, and I wouldn’t feel too nervous
about coming back to it. And the lock wouldn’t scratch my expensive paint work either. I mean, my bike has seen 30 years of use and I just don’t need to worry about it. That’s winning for me. – So from our very scientific test, we have worked out that
road bike is faster, easier to corner, and having gears is
ideal for hilly commutes. But the fixie is a lot
cheaper, it’s low maintenance, and much easier to go from bike to desk, and it’s a lot less stressful
to leave it outside a pub if, like me, you’re riding a super bike. But what I want to know is
what would you ride in a city? Would you go for a fixie or would you go for a bike
like my Orbea over there? Let us know in the comment section below and if you really enjoyed seeing us race against each other
on those two bikes, make sure you give it a big thumbs up. And for another commuter-style video, why don’t you check out
that one down there? Ollie and I went head-to-head,
cheap bike versus super bike.

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