Fixed gear makes you stronger! Or does it?

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Former pro athlete, sponsored cyclist, and all-around jill-of-all-trades Juliet Elliott writes in her blog:

Incredibly in the short time I’ve not been riding fixed gear, my legs seem to have gone all weedy… It’s only when you’ve not been riding fixed gear for a while and you go back to it that you realise just how strong it makes your legs, and just how quickly that strength disappears. I actually think riding road bikes too much has made me wimpy…

It’s not for nothing that cyclists used to ride fixed in the winter to build up their fitness – the fact you can’t stop peddling [sic] coupled with the brute force required to make your way up (and down) hills mean it’s a great way to increase the power in your legs.

We didn’t set out to confirm these observations but nevertheless recently found ourselves drawing similar conclusions after not riding the ol’ fixed gear bike for awhile. Don’t get us wrong – we love all (or at least many) bikes, as evidenced by this very website – but think there may be some truth to such statements. Agree, disagree? Let us know!

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, L’Équipe article of 1902 (credit: Sheldon Brown)

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