I ride road and mountain bikes and have been riding consistantly for about 7 years now. But today was the first time I ever really noticed these purist bikes. I spent the better part of the day reading up on them and then when I went to the post office I saw a track bike on a bike rack in the parking lot. (Is'nt it funny how we don't notice details until we know the details. I would have normally seen that as "some kind of road bike".) Anyway, I am really excited about the idea of a clean, light single speed road style bike that I can 'Purely' enjoy! So today, just to try and get an idea, I took my Trek road bike out and made myself stay in a gear that would be common on a SS. I instanly found myself focusing on making the bike go instead of "what would be the best gear right now". Some hills were a little tougher and some downhills I found myself wishing I could gear up and go faster but overall I felt more focussed on the ride itself and less on gadgets on the bike. Now don't get me wrong, I know the gears were'nt fixed (which of course would feel completely different) but it's all I had to work with. The main thing I wanted to figure out was wheather or not I would get frustrated not being able to use different gears. And I must say that overall I enjoyed the ride very much.
But here's my question. Should I go fixed or SS. (I am assuming that Single Speed implies coasting ability). Now I know that many in here are purists and would say that fixed is the only way to go. But my concern is that I would miss being able to coast down a big hill (my reward for rocking up it) and just enjoying the wind in my face. I would think that having to pedal REALLY fast down the hill would be distracting from the pure enjoyment from the decent. But at the same time it seems like SS is just that one step away from being a PURE bike and that might feel lacking. (Aleast that's the sense I get from reading other posts). I guess I'm getting this from the fact that it seems that fixed gears are 99% of what's talked about here. And since I haven't actually tried it I have to assume that becuase it's the way to go. But I also understand that everybody's different so I just want YOUR opinion.
And the other question is if I did go with a fixie, should I have a front brake or not. I live in a hilly town and can't imagine trying to stop at the bottom of a hill with just my leg power. And yet the bike I was in the parking lot today didn't have any breaks and I am sure that person rides around here. So my question is, can you ride safely in a hilly area without a front brake? And will I miss coasting if I go all the way with a fixie?
Thanks for any input, Eric.