Fixed gear bikes aren’t a new invention, but they are one of the fastest growing trends in biking these days. Rare just a few years ago, today most UC Davis students have probably noticed people racing around campus on these minimalist road bikes, which use only one gear and cannot coast like a standard road or mountain bike. Often fixed gear bikes can be spotted outside the ASUCD Coffee House, where dedicated riders sometimes gather to perform tricks: wheelies, track stands, skids, bar spins and so on.
As a testament to the trend’s popularity, the Macaframa fixed gear group – an outfit of fixed gear riders based in San Francisco – will be showing their new full-length film for free at 8 p.m. on Friday in Sacramento at the Crest Theatre.
The showing is presented by Lucky Lefty’s clothing store – a new Sacramento business owned and operated by fourth-year political science major Brennan Williams. Williams said that Lucky Lefty’s was looking to carry Macaframa clothing and that the conversations led to talk of a Sacramento showcase.
“I knew that they had been doing film screenings and that some of the guys in Macaframa are actually originally from Sacramento,” Williams said. “They told me that they hadn’t been able to put on a screening here so I told them we’d work on that.“
The film, which has already been showcased to large crowds in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Seattle, features Macaframa riders biking through the streets of San Francisco and performing different tricks such as skidding down hills or riding on one wheel. Viewers will recognize the cinematography style as similar to popular skateboarding videos.
Part of the appeal of riding a fixed gear bicycle is the fact that the bikes are a lot like skateboards, in that they provide both a means of transportation and the opportunity to perform various tricks, Williams said.
“One thing I’ve noticed is there are a lot of people who have kind of migrated from skate to riding track bikes,” he said. “And it’s not so much that they’ve switched, but that they’ve picked up both.“
Aaron Curtin, the owner of APEX Cycles in Davis, a bike shop that specializes in fixed gear bikes, said he sees the popularity of fixed gear riding as an interesting fad.
“It matches up with most fads in general: It starts as a counterculture thing that’s really different and then hits the mainstream and gets accepted by suburban kids who then perpetuate the market,” he said. “I have people coming in on a regular basis who probably shouldn’t be riding fixed gear bikes, but they want to because they saw a cool kid on campus or their friends have them.“
Curtin said he thinks the fad began to vigorously catch on in Davis about two years ago.
“I don’t think it’s ever really going to go away. [Fixed gear riding] has been around a long time, even since the ‘50s and ‘60s, but I don’t think the fad is going to stick around much longer,” he said.
John McMahon, a fourth-year philosophy major, has been riding a fixed gear for about four months now. He said he converted his old road bike to a fixed gear for a number of reasons.
“I got it because they are trendy and I’m sort of a wannabe hipster. And since I was making my own bike, it was the easiest bike to build,” he said. “I’m also attracted by the simplicity and elegance of its design.“
As for the Macaframa film, Curtin said the movie shows the amazing things people can do on bikes.
“For most people, fixed gear bikes are hard to ride, and for these guys to pull off the tricks they do, well, it’s some amazing stuff and you have to give them credit for it.“
For more information, visit macaframaproductions.com.
ZACK FREDERICK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.