I recently got a fixed gear bike and I rode it about 5 times. I live in an urban part of the city. I've never rode a fixie before or know much about bikes in general and I knew it would be difficult to ride a fixie since it's only one single gear and you can't stop pedaling.

I did notice how hard it was to pedal at first but after a few blocks I would get so tired I'd have to get off the bike to rest, especially against the wind sometimes. Now when I ride it takes a lot of leg power to go but then I become so tired after riding for a little bit. Is this normal? Does it take getting used to riding a fixed gear? Or is there something wrong with my bike.

I just think it's not right that a bike that a lot of people claim to say that it's the best easy to ride bike can make me unbearably tired after riding it for a few blocks. I just want to know why this is happening and if it's normal.

  • 4
    How many teeth on the front (chain ring) and how many teeth on the back? You may want to do to and easier fixed gear and consider single speed over fixed if the bike has brakes.
    – paparazzo
    Nov 2, 2014 at 13:13
  • 5
    I have no experience on fixies, but I know from singlespeeds that too tight a chain can generate enough friction to be noticeable trhough the pedals, So I would recommend checking on the chain tension, but also, general bike maintenance, i.e. hubs and bottom bracket may need re-packing / adjustment. Also check air pressure and bike fit.
    – Jahaziel
    Nov 3, 2014 at 21:42

5 Answers 5


There's not really enough information in your question to tell for sure what the problem is, so let me just list a few possible explanations that come to mind:

  • As others have noted, your gear ratio might just be too high for you (since you say it takes a lot of effort to get going).

    You can take your fixie to a bike shop and have them swap the rear cog for a bigger one and see if that helps. While at it, you can also have them check for other problems, too.

  • Something (like, say, the brakes, if your fixie has them) might be dragging against the wheel(s), slowing you down and making you work hard to keep going. Or, just possibly, there might be something wrong with your wheel bearings, causing the same effect.

    There's an easy way to check for this: just flip your bike upside down, give the pedals a quick spin with your hand, and see how long it takes for the rear wheel to stop spinning. Then do the same for the front wheel, too. (You'll have to spin the front wheel by pushing on the spokes directly. Be careful not to let your fingers get caught between the spokes and the frame while doing so!)

    On a well-oiled bike with decent bearings and nothing dragging against anything, the time to stop should be measured in minutes rather than in seconds, and there should be little if any noise. (That goes especially for a fixie, where you don't even have the ratchet mechanism ticking.) Certainly, there shouldn't be any grinding or scraping noise, and the wheel should certainly not stop in less than ten seconds.

  • If you're used to freewheeling bikes, you might be unconsciously trying to slow down your pedaling after you get up to speed. On a freewheeling bike, that lets you relax and let the bike roll along — on a fixie, it brakes the bike.

    There's no simple fix to that, other than switching back to a freewheeling bike. If you want to keep riding a fixie, you'll just have to unlearn that habit. Fortunately, simply with enough practice, that will probably happen naturally.

  • More generally, you might just be unused to riding a fixie. It does require a somewhat different set of muscles and riding behaviors than a freewheeling bike, and so you might initially find yourself putting a lot of stress on muscles you're not used to using so hard. Your description sounds a bit extreme for just plain unfamiliarity, but it certainly might contribute, perhaps together with an excessive gear ratio and/or poor riding position.

    Again, this is something that will only be fixed by practice. After ruling out (or fixing, if necessary) all the other issues, just keep riding regularly and see if it starts feeling any easier. If yes, you're making progress, and should keep practicing until you can ride your bike comfortably.

  • Also, make sure to check your riding posture. A poor posture can make riding a lot harder than it needs to be. This is true also for freewheeling bikes, but it's particularly true for a fixie, since there you can't just stop pedaling to rest your legs.

    In particular, check that your saddle is not too low, as that seems to be a common error. Ideally, when sitting on the bike with the pedal is at its lowest position (i.e. pointing at 6 o'clock), your knee should be just slightly bent. (An angle of about 25° short of straight seems to be commonly recommended.) If your seat is too low, you get less power on the downstroke, and have to expend extra energy to lift your leg on the upstroke, making your legs tire faster.

  • 1
    Another thing to check is that the rear wheel is properly aligned in the horizontal dropouts and not rubbing against the frame
    – Paul H
    Sep 16, 2020 at 0:09
  • Also check (or pump up) the tires, soft tires = heavy going.
    – Willeke
    Sep 17, 2020 at 7:01

You may want to check your chain tension too. This answer has a lot of information you could use: How tight should a fixie's chain be?

  • Unless the gear is ridiculously high, it really sounds like the chain is too tight. Nov 4, 2014 at 19:11

If you have brakes, make sure they're not dragging on the wheels. Also, make sure (if you have quick release) that you haven't tightened the wheels in too much.

Fixed gear bikes are not easy -- they're primarily fashion statements at this point, and fashion statements often are not comfortable. You're stuck with one gear combination, and you can't freewheel (i.e. coast) when you want to. Also, for many people, resisting the turning of the wheels (rather than applying something like a v-brake) is the primary method of braking, which does take energy. A lot of fixed gear bikes ship with too high gear combination for many riders, so you may want to try getting a lower gear combination by replacing the rear fixed cog, or if you have a flip-flop hub, use the other side (and take advantage of freewheeling).

It is something you have to get used to, but its impossible to say over SE if it is normal or not [for example, if you're very not fit, you may have trouble on any bike]. It is also harder in an urban area since you have to start and stop a lot.

  • 9
    Yep, a fixie is like high-heel shoes. Stylish but not always real practical. Nov 2, 2014 at 12:50
  • 2
    Well, high heels at least have some added functionality. Fixed gear is pretty much only necessary on a velodrome.
    – Batman
    Nov 2, 2014 at 23:49
  • 1
    What's with the fixie hate? Just because you don't enjoy it doesn't mean nobody else does or that you have to be rude and dismissive.
    – Mac
    Nov 2, 2014 at 23:51
  • 1
    @DanielRHicks Speaking from experience? :-)
    – andy256
    Nov 2, 2014 at 23:59
  • 3
    @andy256 - Yeah, I find it especially hard to pedal in high-heels. (Though I once knew a guy with high-heel bike shoes.) Nov 3, 2014 at 1:09

The most likely explanation is too high of a gear ratio. Your local bike shop can swap out your rear cog for a larger /easier one. They can also check to make sure everything is running smoothly ( bottom bracket, hubs, brakes).


I have been riding a Fixie for years. My bike has a gear on each side of the hub. (One poster called it "a flip-flop hub"} One gear is fixed (no coasting or pedalling backwards) and the other gear is not fixed (allows coasting and pedalling backwards). It is easy to turn the wheel around. Just loosen two nuts, move forward to create slack and take the chain off the gear. Be aware that some tires have a rotation indicator and in that case you would have to deflate the tire and take it off the rim to turn it in the proper direction.

  • How does that make it easier to pedal? A freewheel makes it easier to ride, but OP was specifically asking about pedalling effort.
    – Criggie
    Sep 16, 2017 at 22:53
  • You can ignore rotation markers without issue.
    – Batman
    Sep 20, 2017 at 8:05

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