Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
Reload this Page >

Are Fixies Legal?

Notices
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Are Fixies Legal?

Old 05-01-19, 11:52 AM
  #1  
Blue Collar Cyclist
Thread Starter
 
ironnerd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 129

Bikes: Motobecane Gravel X1, Iron Horse Maverick 1.0

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 16 Posts
Are Fixies Legal?

In Georgia (as well as most states from what I have read) all bicycles must have at least a rear brake capable of locking the wheel and causing a skid. If bikes have a front brake, then they must also have a rear brake.

How are you fixie-riders getting around that?
ironnerd is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:01 PM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
seau grateau's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: PHL
Posts: 9,948

Bikes: Litespeed Catalyst, IRO Rob Roy, All City Big Block

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1332 Post(s)
Liked 398 Times in 194 Posts
Avoid the po-po.
seau grateau is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:09 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 4,076

Bikes: Velo Orange Piolet

Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2228 Post(s)
Liked 2,011 Times in 972 Posts
Originally Posted by ironnerd
If bikes have a front brake, then they must also have a rear brake.
Are you sure? Seems like an unusual requirement.
tyrion is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:16 PM
  #4  
Not actually Tmonk
 
TMonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 14,249

Bikes: road, track, mtb

Mentioned: 142 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2703 Post(s)
Liked 3,269 Times in 1,714 Posts
Originally Posted by ironnerd
How are you fixie-riders getting around that?
Have you considered putting brakes on your bike? I'll bet that's a reasonable solution.
__________________
"Your beauty is an aeroplane;
so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste
TMonk is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:17 PM
  #5  
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 13,463

Bikes: Stormchaser, Paramount, Tilt, Samba tandem

Mentioned: 72 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3132 Post(s)
Liked 2,114 Times in 1,377 Posts
The secret is, probably no one cares. Some places like NYC have cops out ticketing cyclists (and everyone else) in a harassing sort of way. If your town is like that, they might get you for it, but only because they were going to get you for something. My city and county will only do you for speeding on a bike trail and enforcement is like a few weekends a year. This is the kind of law that will only be enforced on you if you cause a big loss that draws the police and inspires them to throw the book at you. There are lots of laws on the books like this... the stretchy dog leashes we all like to complain about are illegal here, the law requires a <6ft lead, but they're still for sale and widely used. No one is getting cited unless their dog bites a face off. A driver who buzzes a cyclist <3ft is going to be ignored unless he buzzes the cyclist <0ft and then gets caught.
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:22 PM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,865

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 68 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2953 Post(s)
Liked 3,106 Times in 1,417 Posts
Originally Posted by ironnerd
In Georgia (as well as most states from what I have read) all bicycles must have at least a rear brake capable of locking the wheel and causing a skid. If bikes have a front brake, then they must also have a rear brake.

How are you fixie-riders getting around that?
I think you are mistaken. Here is the requirement in Georgia:

Ga. Code Ann., ß 40-6-296ß 40-6-296. Lights and other equipment on bicycles; helmets by persons under 16 years of ageCurrentness(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a light on the back which shall emit a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear. Any bicycle equipped with a red reflector on the rear that is approved by the Department of Public Safety shall not be required to have a light on the rear of the bicycle.(b) Every bicycle sold or operated shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement.(c) No bicycle shall be equipped or operated while equipped with a set of handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his or her hands above the operator’s shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.(d)(1) No person under the age of 16 years shall operate or be a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, bicycle path, bicycle lane, or sidewalk under the jurisdiction or control of this state or any local political subdivision thereof without wearing a bicycle helmet.(2) For the purposes of this subsection, the term “bicycle helmet” means a piece of protective headgear which meets or exceeds the impact standards for bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.(3) For the purposes of this subsection, a person shall be deemed to wear a bicycle helmet only if a bicycle helmet of good fit is fastened securely upon such person’s head with the straps of such bicycle helmet.(4) No bicycle without an accompanying protective bicycle helmet shall be rented or leased to or for the use of any person under the age of 16 years unless that person is in possession of a bicycle helmet at the time of the rental or lease.(5) Violation of any provision of this subsection shall not constitute negligence per se nor contributory negligence per se or be considered evidence of negligence or liability.(6) No person under the age of 16 failing to comply with any provision of this subsection shall be fined or imprisoned.Ga. Code Ann. ß 40-6-296 (West)


There does not seem to be any specific requirement that the brake be mounted on a particular wheel. And FWIW, the requirement is identical to California's.
caloso is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:41 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 12,963

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 129 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4852 Post(s)
Liked 3,989 Times in 2,588 Posts
I believe Oregon's statutes read the same. Now Portland has a lot of brakeless fix gear riders. Haven't heard of any court cases n recent years but I have not had my ears close to the ground.

I ride fix gears with good brakes, front and rear, and have since I started 43 years ago. I enjoy passing the brakeless riders going downhill. (Still something of a kid at heart. I find downhill speed fun!) I also know well how much the old injuries of my twenties hurt now that I am in my later sixties.

Ben
79pmooney is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:52 PM
  #8  
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,760

Bikes: 32 frames + 80 wheels

Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1337 Post(s)
Liked 766 Times in 432 Posts
Here is the requirement in Texas:

"(a) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. (B) lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle."

So, you can also be ticketed for not having a tail light, but I never have been. The brake requirement is worded in such a way that it only makes sense when applied to a rear brake. Therefore, a cop could probably ticket me for only having a front brake on my fixed gear, unless I could somehow demonstrate the ability to skid my bike on dry clean pavement without high siding my bike first.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 12:56 PM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
seau grateau's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: PHL
Posts: 9,948

Bikes: Litespeed Catalyst, IRO Rob Roy, All City Big Block

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1332 Post(s)
Liked 398 Times in 194 Posts
Pretty interesting (stupid as ****) how these brake laws are so focused on making bikes skid, which is kinda the opposite of making bikes stop.
seau grateau is offline  
Likes For seau grateau:
Old 05-01-19, 01:17 PM
  #10  
aire dŪthrub
 
seamuis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: chatham-savannah
Posts: 553

Bikes: Raleigh Competition, Pashley Roadster Sovereign, Mercian Vincitore Speciale

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 259 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 55 Times in 35 Posts
As a resident of Savannah, Ga. there are plenty of fixed gear riders, even the ultra stupid brakeless riders. To my knowledge, nobody has ever been ticketed for this. Most local law enforcement is very strict on the light laws though. I would imagine a lot of police officers donít actually know what the law specifically states about this, so as long as a cyclist isnít endangering themselves or others, there wonít be an issue. As far as the lights, I have been told by more than one officer, that they look very carefully for a bike riding after dark, to have both a light and a red rear reflector. (Same requirement as car taillights, mind you). I donít know if anyone has hd issues with front lights though. Iíve shard the opinion that all bicycle front lights should have a certain output (brightness) to be road legal, but thatís another discussion. I put out 5,000 lumens, so Iím good anyway.

i donít know how the laws are enforced in Atlanta or some of the other smaller cities like Augusta, Athens, etc. But I would say you wonít have any issues riding a fixed bicycle here. Of course my city is a bit different because of the high number of bicycle commuters.

also, FYI, I only have a front brake on my SS commuter.
seamuis is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 01:41 PM
  #11  
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,865

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 68 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2953 Post(s)
Liked 3,106 Times in 1,417 Posts
I only have a front brake on my FG, but it's an ultegra caliper with koolstop pads and I can make it skid. (I'd rather not, though.)
caloso is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 04:06 PM
  #12  
Senior Member
 
wphamilton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Alpharetta, GA
Posts: 15,280

Bikes: Nashbar Road

Mentioned: 71 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2934 Post(s)
Liked 341 Times in 228 Posts
99% of my riding is in the Roswell/Alpharetta/John's Creek area. I have never seen a cop hassling a cyclist here, about anything. Except once when I was stopped entering the Greenway at night, but that wasn't traffic code related.
wphamilton is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 04:28 PM
  #13  
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 4,076

Bikes: Velo Orange Piolet

Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2228 Post(s)
Liked 2,011 Times in 972 Posts
Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie
Here is the requirement in Texas:

"(a) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. (B) lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle."

So, you can also be ticketed for not having a tail light, but I never have been. The brake requirement is worded in such a way that it only makes sense when applied to a rear brake. Therefore, a cop could probably ticket me for only having a front brake on my fixed gear, unless I could somehow demonstrate the ability to skid my bike on dry clean pavement without high siding my bike first.
With a fixie you could ride backwards to skid the front wheel. If you can't ride backwards, I guess you're in violation.
tyrion is offline  
Likes For tyrion:
Old 05-01-19, 06:45 PM
  #14  
Blue Collar Cyclist
Thread Starter
 
ironnerd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 129

Bikes: Motobecane Gravel X1, Iron Horse Maverick 1.0

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 16 Posts
Ok... A lot of fun answers. It was kind of a "hmmm...." question, so don't take it too seriously. Still... If they don't have a brake, they're not actually legal.

I don't think a cop is ever going to hassle a cyclist on a fixie - unless he plows into someone. I also don't think any bike shops will get raided for selling non-compliant bicycles.
For the most part I figure it's just a law that does not get enforced much, if at all. And let's be honest... we get away with stuff because we are on bikes. I've been known to exceed the posted speed limit, maybe not come to a COMPLETE stop at a stop sign, and I may have passed a cop...on the outside of the lane...while exceeding the speed limit by quite a bit (not ticket... he just laughed). These are all things we could get a ticket for, but we kinda get a pass because we're on a bike.

And skidding the rear wheel is from Uniform Vehicle Code, not Georgia. Muh bad, y'all.
And I'm not actually a fixed-gear cyclist (clutch the pearls), I'm just reading a book on Bicycles and he Law, and the question popped into my head, so I asked it here.
ironnerd is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 07:14 PM
  #15  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,446
Mentioned: 37 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 750 Post(s)
Liked 90 Times in 70 Posts
Originally Posted by seamuis
As a resident of Savannah, Ga. there are plenty of fixed gear riders, even the ultra stupid brakeless riders. To my knowledge, nobody has ever been ticketed for this. Most local law enforcement is very strict on the light laws though. I would imagine a lot of police officers donít actually know what the law specifically states about this, so as long as a cyclist isnít endangering themselves or others, there wonít be an issue. As far as the lights, I have been told by more than one officer, that they look very carefully for a bike riding after dark, to have both a light and a red rear reflector. (Same requirement as car taillights, mind you). I donít know if anyone has hd issues with front lights though. Iíve shard the opinion that all bicycle front lights should have a certain output (brightness) to be road legal, but thatís another discussion. I put out 5,000 lumens, so Iím good anyway.

i donít know how the laws are enforced in Atlanta or some of the other smaller cities like Augusta, Athens, etc. But I would say you wonít have any issues riding a fixed bicycle here. Of course my city is a bit different because of the high number of bicycle commuters.

also, FYI, I only have a front brake on my SS commuter.
No issue in Atlanta. I have a front brake only and have been riding fixed here for almost 3 years. As others have stated before, my gut feeling is that as long as you have lights and turn them on at night, you are good. The Silver Comet Trail is a popular spot for cyclists, and is also aggressively patrolled by Police in Paulding county. They don't seem to notice or care that I only have a front brake. As long as you aren't a danger to others, chances are, you are good.

Dave
bonsai171 is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 07:34 PM
  #16  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: South FL
Posts: 324
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 155 Post(s)
Liked 55 Times in 31 Posts
Originally Posted by seau grateau
Pretty interesting (stupid as ****) how these brake laws are so focused on making bikes skid, which is kinda the opposite of making bikes stop.
The OP's example just says the brake must be capable of making the rear skid, as a minimum standard of performance. If you're writing a law that says a rear brake is the minimum, that seems like a reasonable way to ensure it's functional.

In other news:
phobus is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 07:39 PM
  #17  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: South FL
Posts: 324
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 155 Post(s)
Liked 55 Times in 31 Posts
Also, I think you could argue that any fixed gear bike, by its nature, has a rear brake. It probably won't get you out of a ticket (let's face it, if a cop wants to write you a ticket, they're going to write you a ticket) but I think it's a valid argument.
phobus is offline  
Likes For phobus:
Old 05-01-19, 08:38 PM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
t_e_r_r_y's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: oregon coast
Posts: 235
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 76 Post(s)
Liked 76 Times in 44 Posts
i once got pulled over in seattle on my brakeless fixie for running a red light. the cop was mostly focused on my bike rather than the law i actually broke (running the light) and was sweating me for not having brakes. i told him i did, in fact, have a rear brake. it was a foot brake. he asked me to demonstrate, so i did a couple skids for his entertainment and he let me go.

i don't recall what the actual brake laws were up there, but i remember seeing a few fellow fixies running brakes that weren't even hooked up. iirc, the law just stated you must have a brake, and didn't go into where it had to be located or if it actually functioned as a brake.
t_e_r_r_y is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 09:02 PM
  #19  
Pirate/Smuggler
 
jlafitte's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Marigny/Leucadia
Posts: 1,184
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked 7 Times in 7 Posts
I kinda remember discussion about a guy that went to court, told the judge that he could use his legs to skid therefore they qualified as brakes.
jlafitte is offline  
Old 05-01-19, 10:04 PM
  #20  
- Soli Deo Gloria -
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Northwest Georgia
Posts: 14,779

Bikes: 2018 Rodriguez Custom Fixed Gear, 2017 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2015 Bianchi Pista, 2002 Fuji Robaix

Mentioned: 235 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6844 Post(s)
Liked 736 Times in 469 Posts
The problem with not running a brake relative to the law happens after you get hit or run over.

No brake means that you broke the law - the guys insurance doesn't pay for your injuries or bike, you get ticketed, a motorist could have run you over from behind but you don't have a brake and so the whole thing is your fault, etc.


-Tim-
TimothyH is offline  
Old 05-02-19, 06:07 AM
  #21  
bill nyecycles
 
the sci guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Houston TX
Posts: 3,328
Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 789 Post(s)
Liked 350 Times in 190 Posts
Originally Posted by jlafitte
I kinda remember discussion about a guy that went to court, told the judge that he could use his legs to skid therefore they qualified as brakes.
And what was the outcome to this?
__________________
Twitter@theSurlyBiker
Instagram @yankee.velo.foxtrot
the sci guy is offline  
Old 05-02-19, 07:39 AM
  #22  
Not actually Tmonk
 
TMonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 14,249

Bikes: road, track, mtb

Mentioned: 142 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2703 Post(s)
Liked 3,269 Times in 1,714 Posts
Originally Posted by TimothyH
The problem with not running a brake relative to the law happens after you get hit or run over.

No brake means that you broke the law - the guys insurance doesn't pay for your injuries or bike, you get ticketed, a motorist could have run you over from behind but you don't have a brake and so the whole thing is your fault, etc.


-Tim-
This is a very good argument for riding with a brake people!!!
__________________
"Your beauty is an aeroplane;
so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste
TMonk is offline  
Likes For TMonk:
Old 05-02-19, 07:48 AM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Greenwood SC USA
Posts: 2,254

Bikes: 2002 Mercian Vincitore, 1982 Mercian Colorado, 1976 Puch Royal X, 1973 Raleigh Competition, 1971 Gitane Tour de France and others

Mentioned: 55 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 823 Post(s)
Liked 1,396 Times in 694 Posts
FWIW, British cycling regulations for bicycles ridden on the road have required a brake on both front and rear wheels on all bicycles, including childrens' bikes, since the early '30s; British law also regards a fixed-wheel/fixed-gear with a lockring as a sufficient rear brake. They still require a front brake, though, and a cyclist was convicted and sentenced to 18 months after killing a pedestrian while riding a brakeless fixed-gear in 2016. Here's the link.
rustystrings61 is offline  
Old 05-02-19, 09:16 AM
  #24  
Senior Member
 
REDMASTA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Traveling through time, will return last week.
Posts: 730

Bikes: Bare Rum Sword Knuckle Runner

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 278 Post(s)
Liked 122 Times in 64 Posts
never had an issue, don't think they give a flip long as you aren't weaving through traffic or blasting red lights. they must have more important things to worry about.
REDMASTA is offline  
Likes For REDMASTA:
Old 05-02-19, 09:28 AM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
REDMASTA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Traveling through time, will return last week.
Posts: 730

Bikes: Bare Rum Sword Knuckle Runner

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 278 Post(s)
Liked 122 Times in 64 Posts
if i ever manage to catch a ticket for riding brakeless i'll blow it up and hang it in my garage.
REDMASTA is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.