What's The Difference Between Fixed Gear & Single Speed Bikes?
Although they are largely the same, fixed-gear bikes differ in that they do not allow the rider to coast. The rear-cog is fixed to the rear-wheel of the bike and therefore they are unable to spin independently of each other. So, if the wheels are rotating then the pedals are too.
Single-speed bikes, on the other hand, do permit the rider to coast. In other words, the wheels can move whilst the pedals don't, allowing you to roll down a big hill, for example, without the need to use your legs. It is for this reason that the single-speed setup is the preferred option for most but there are a number of reasons why someone might opt for a fixed setup instead...
WHAT'S THE ADVANTAGE OF RIDING FIXED?
The fact that you have to pedal to move the bike means that you actually have to cycle down the hills rather than just coasting, so it's good exercise. The constant use of your legs also encourages a smoother pedal stroke, improving technique and the efficiency of your cycling.
It is also often said, and we tend to agree, that riding fixed is an altogether pleasant experience. The direct connection between the rider and the bicycle and by extension the rider and the road, not only makes cycling more fun, but it feels much safer.
And of course, you can pedal backwards. Despite not being that useful, it is quite good for performing tricks in the park!
BUT DO I HAVE TO CHOOSE?
No you don't. Thanks to the flip-flop hub, it is possible to switch from a fixed setup to a single-speed setup simply by turning the back wheel around.