After exclusively riding fixed gear for about 5 years (it was my only bike), the appeal is seriously waning. My fixed gear has gone through many transformations, starting as stock 2003 fuji-track complete. I powder-coated it a lovely shade of kermit green after a year, at which point I also swapped the drop bars for straight bars, which I rode for another year or two. I went from toe clips to clipless and back to gr9s and clips. And now the bike has flat nitto promenade bars and cork grips to match the lovely nitto stem, and an excellent front basket that's large enough to accommodate a twelve pack and some groceries. And over the years I've upgraded just about all the other components too. It's a great bike and I really loved it. But then I purchased a complete Surly Cross-Check early in the summer, and now I find myself picking the Surly 9 times out of 10.
1. The ride is much smoother.
2. I'm able to ride faster. I realize that basket, promenade bars, cork, etc. won't help me set any speed records, but I can definitely push myself harder on the Surly.
3. It is far more versatile. Call me crazy, but having multiple gears make a lot of sense.
4. What about the Zen moments that supposedly come only with fixed gear riding? Bullsh!t. I find that escaping the city for a fifty or sixty mile ride through hilly farmland is far more enlightening and enjoyable than tooling around in urban traffic. (And relax, I'm not saying that people can't/don't go for long, hilly or mountainous rides on fixed gears. I am saying that for me, it's a far more enjoyable experience with gears.)
5. It's a better commuting machine in every possible way: rear rack mounts? check. full fender mounts? check? appropriate, comfortable geometry? check. multiple gears for varying conditions? check.
6. After many years of fixed-only riding, I'm always pedaling (as if there were no choice) with good rhythm and cadence, which makes me a better, stronger cyclist. But having the OPTION to coast when necessary is a great benefit too, particularly in tight situations, or on really ****ty road conditions.
7. I spend no more time maintaining the gears, brakes, and other additional components on the Surly than I did/do on the fixed gear.
Anybody else go through a similar phase or transition away from fixed? Sure, I still love the simplicity and aesthetic of my fixed gear, but I now struggle to find any other reasons to justify it. It just makes less sense to me these days.