One of the perceived main attractions of a fixed gear bike is low weight. Without the added parts required for a fully geared drive train—derailleurs, shifters, cables, cable carriers, multiple chain rings, freewheel hub, brazed-on mounting lugs—a fixed gear bicycle weighs less than its geared equivalent. The chain itself is subject to less sideways force and will not wear out as fast as on a derailleur system.Also, a fixed gear drivetrain is more mechanically efficient than any other bicycle drivetrain, with the most direct power transfer from rider to the wheels. Thus, a fixed gear requires less energy in any given gear to move than a geared bike in the same gear.
In slippery conditions some riders prefer to ride fixed gear because they believe the transmission provides increased feedback on back tire grip. However, there is also an increased risk of loss of control in such conditions. This is especially so when taking into account the large number of riders who ride brakeless. These riders must brake by stopping the motion of the pedals in mid-rotation, causing the rear wheel to lock in place, allowing the bicycle to skid and slow down from kinetic friction.
Descending any significant gradient is more difficult as the rider must spin the cranks at high speed (sometimes at 170 rpm or more), or use the brakes to slow down. Some consider that the enforced fast spin when descending increases suppleness or flexibility, which is said to improve pedaling performance on any type of bicycle; however the performance boost is negligible compared to the benefits of riding a free wheel.
Riding fixed is considered by some to encourage a more effective pedaling style, which it is claimed translates into greater efficiency and power when used on a bicycle fitted with a freewheel. It allows for the rider to engage in and practice proper cadence, which is the balanced and rhythmic flow of pedaling, enhancing performance for both cyclist and bicycle.
When first riding a fixed gear, a cyclist used to a freewheel may try to freewheel, or coast, particularly when approaching corners or obstacles. Since coasting is not possible this can lead to a “kick” to the trailing leg, and even to loss of control of the bicycle. Riding at high speed around corners can be difficult on a fixed-gear bicycle, as the pedals can strike the road, resulting in loss of control.