Here are some rules I have discovered are the key to my buzz while I’m riding my fixed gear bicycle in the city. The city is Toronto, which is perfectly designed for riding such a bicyle, even if not brilliantly maintained for skinny hard tires and no suspension.

For context, I have only a front brake, clips on my pedals, and 2" risers cut as narrow as I can get them and still have a reasonably accessible brake lever.

They are written as goals. I probably achieve 100% maybe 1/10th of the time, but I’m getting better.

  • Start with a double espresso shot, preferably short.
  • Go fast.
  • Never unclip.
  • Never use the brake.
  • Never jump a red light.

That’s it. It makes for a completely engaged experience, the opposite of a commute on auto-pilot.

I recently learned to skid, which is making the no brake rule more achievable. I hope one day to ride without a brake, but I use it probably once every 5 or 6 rides at the moment, but when I do it’s usually a last resort. Clearly I’m not quite ready to ditch it.

I’m not obsessive about the road law - if I can ride up a one-way street the wrong way without getting caught, so long as it doesn’t impede legal traffic, I will (I actually think that should be legal) for example. But the red light rule makes drivers hate us less, and combined with the never unclip rule makes for excellent track stand practice. I’m not totally on top of standing for long periods though, so I am not above propping up against a lamp-post at a light.

These simple rules have motivated me to get out on my bike most days for the last 18 months or more.