Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes? 5 Types Of Gearing Systems

Many of our regulars ask us: “Can you go backwards on fixed gear bikes?” The answer is yes, but you need to understand a bit more to use it properly.

Fixed gear bicycles have become the new trend in the cycling community. They are also popularly called the “fixie.” Many users claim that it is one of the best types of bikes that allow you to perform some solid tricks and can be used in very complex maneuvers. 

But can you go backward on fixed gear bikes? To answer the question, you need to know about different gearing systems and more about fixed-gear bikes. 

So let’s learn about your bike and find out if you can ride backward on a fixie.

Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes

Different Types of Bikes

Before diving into fixed gear bikes, let’s look into different options of bikes available today. You can categorize bikes based on traits like function, style, gearing, number of wheels or riders, etc. 

Most commonly, they are categorized based on their functions: road bicycles, mountain bikes, audax bicycles, and utility bicycles. 

However, professional bikers use a different way of categorizing bikes. They put bicycles under five types based on their gearing system. 

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Derailleur Gears Bicycles

These bicycles use a gearing system consisting of sprockets and chains connected in a particular way. Some freewheel systems allow the sprocket to move even when you are not pedaling. 

Derailleur Gear is one of the most efficient gear systems, with an efficiency of 95%.

Bicycles using derailleur gearing systems can offer from five to thirty different speeds.

Such gears are present in touring and racing bicycles. 

Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes

Single Speed Bicycles and Fixed Gear Bicycles

Both these bikes use a single gear to operate. The main difference between single-speed and fixed-gear bikes is the presence of a freewheel in the single-speed bike. 

The freewheel makes the back wheel rotate even after you have stopped pedaling. As the fixed-gear bike lacks the freewheel, the cranks will start spinning if you stop pedaling. 

If you stop these cranks from rotating, you can indirectly stop the cycle without using the brakes because stopping those cranks will cease movements of the rear wheel.

For this reason, few fixed-gear bikes do not have any brake installed, while all single-speed bikes come with a brake. You can find these gearing systems in children’s bicycles and BMX ( Bicycle Motocross) bicycles.

Internal Hub Gearing Bicycles

As the name suggests, these gears are present within the hub gears. Although these are more expensive than other gears, the gear ratio system has a longer lifespan because of the shielding by hub gear.

Internal hub gearing is primarily present in European utility cycles, which provide from three to eight speeds.


Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes

Retro Direct Bicycles

Retro direct gearing consists of two sprockets present in the rear wheel and a single chain.

These bicycles provide second gear when you pedal them backward, usually engaging the lower gear. Such gearing systems were used in the early 20th century bicycles, thus giving its name “retro.” 

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Chainless Bicycles

As the name suggests, these bicycles lack chains. You have to run the bike without the use of chains. For example, a shaft-driven bicycle uses a shaft drive instead of a chain, while a belt-driven bicycle uses a belt with synchronous teeth. 

A particular type of chainless bicycle is the hydraulic bicycle. The pneumatic cycle uses a fluid that circulates between the pump and the motor. The pressure generated provides power for operating the cycle. 

Other examples include rowing bikes, string bikes, and hybrid vehicles. 

All You Need To Know About Fixed Gear Bikes

Your bike is going to give you company for a long time. It is essential to know your bike to utilize it to its full potential. If you are thinking of buying a fixed-gear bike or you have already bought it but have very little knowledge about it, the following answers are going to help you. 

Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes

How Does A Fixed-Gear Bike Work?

In a fixed-gear system, the sprocket or the cog is directly fastened to the back wheel. So, the paddle arms are linked with the wheels.

Usually, the rear wheel rotates the cranks, but when accelerating, the cranks rotate the wheels by pedaling.

The direct linking of the wheels and the cranks is responsible for two unique features of fixed-gear bicycles. 

  • Firstly, you can apply brakes using your weight by stopping the cranks from rotating.
  • Secondly, it allows you to cycle backward.

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How Can You Maintain Your Fixed-Gear Bike?

The fixed-gear bicycles are the most simple bicycles consisting of very few parts. As mentioned earlier, the gearing system has only two parts, the sprockets, and the chain. 

You would need to check the sprockets regularly, making sure that all the teeth are present. You should check for any damage to the sprockets. It would help if you cleaned it regularly to prevent objects stuck between the sprockets’ teeth.

You need to check if the chain is appropriately latched and is neither too loose nor too tight. If the bike has not been used for a while, it will be wise to oil the chain before reusing the bike. 

Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes

Is Your Fixed-Gear Bike convertible?

You can always add complex parts to an uncomplicated fixed-gear bicycle to convert it. 

You can convert your fixed-gear bike by modifying chain tension, chain line, and gear ratio. 

The advisable gear ratio is 2.75:1. You can achieve that ratio by using a chain with 44 teeth and a sprocket having 16 teeth. 

Various chain lines and tension could lead to different types of bicycles. 

What Are Possible Uses Of a Fixed-Gear? 

These simple bicycles are used in various ways. They are commonly used as track bicycles made for racing on the velodrome or any other outdoor track. 

These bicycles are also used for road racing that may last for months. The fixed gear bicycles are also used in artistic cycling and maneuver.

It is an excellent choice if you want to take cycling as your daily exercise. It is entirely in control of the cranks that are controlled by your feet. 

Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes

How Can You Go Backwards On A Fixed Gear Bike?

The main advantage of a fixed-gear bicycle over any other bicycle is that it lacks a freewheel.

A freewheel bicycle does not allow you to ride backward, even if you pedal backward. While in a standstill position, pedaling backward in a fixed-gear bike will allow you to move back. 

Although it is not as easy as it sounds, you need to use proper techniques to make it work. It also requires a lot of practice to nail the art of riding backward. Here are a few tips that could help you crack this technique.

  • Before starting, try to watch several videos of backward riding at the slowest speed. 
  • It would be best if you started by riding in circles and then tried riding sidewise.
  • You can try to maintain a low gear ratio by keeping the saddle in a stable position.
  • You should not hurry the process and slowly proceed by taking one step in one day.
  • Lastly, you should always try to keep a balanced posture.

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Answers To More Questions About Fixed Gear Bikes

Can you go backward on a bike?

All bikes do not permit riding backward. You can go backward on a fixed-gear bike, but not on freewheel bikes. 

Can You Go Backwards On Fixed Gear Bikes

What is a fixed gear bike good for?

Fixed-gear bikes are ideal for track bicycles, but you can also use them as a normal bike and for exercise. 

Are fixed gear bikes harder to ride?

In a fixed-gear bike, you need to use your body weight to slow down or cease its movements. That could make it a bit harder. It needs a little time before you get accustomed to it.

Are fixie bikes bad for your knees?

Certainly yes. If you have a knee problem, do not buy a fixie because it needs the constant movement of your knees, which could worsen your problem. Although if you do not have such a problem, it will not cause any complications.

Yes, You Can Go Backwards On Fixed-Gear Bikes!

Fixed-gear bikes might be hard to learn, but it is perfect in so many ways.

It is the only bike that allows you to ride back as the wheels are directly linked to the cranks.

It is the most low-maintenance bike that is suitable for you if you have a busy schedule.

One hour of a fixie could help you burn many calories, and you could impress your friends by learning the back riding trick. 

Happy Riding!