Category: seo

“Fixed gear” ebikes are apparently a thing

Whilst reading my Mastodon feed, I ran across mention of a “fixed gear ebike.” This piqued my interest: can such a thing really exist?

The top results when I google “fixed gear ebike” include a blog post on the “Best Fixed Gear Electric Bikes,” which begins with a description of this weird, nonsensical chimera.

What is an “Electric Fixie”?
Electric fixies are simply electric bikes without a freewheel on the rear hub. It might sound like a minor difference, but the freewheel allows the wheel to keep turning while the pedals are still (when you’re coasting, for example).

This gives fixies a unique feel. Whenever the bike is moving, your legs will be moving too. It can take a bit of getting used to, but fixies build fitness, are generally faster and fun to ride. Contrary to what you might have heard, fixies are safe (although it’s advisable to get a bit of practice in before navigating traffic) and road legal as long as they have a front brake.

Fixie E-Bikes vs Single Speed E-Bikes
Single speed e-bikes are already extremely popular and it’s easy to see why. They’re the ultimate in accessibility; you simply hop on and pedal. Fixies are a little more complex. They take some getting used to but can help you to perfect your peddling technique and can give you a fitness boost.

While reading this gibberish, it occurred to me that people now use the ChatGPT artificial intelligence chatbot to generate links for search optimization. I asked the ChatGPT bot, “What is a fixed gear ebike?”

A fixed gear ebike, also known as a single speed ebike, is a type of electric bike that does not have a freewheel mechanism, meaning that the pedals are always turning whenever the bike is in motion. This means that the rider cannot coast on a fixed gear ebike, but must continuously pedal to move the bike.

Fixed gear ebikes are similar to traditional fixed gear bikes, which are popular among urban commuters and track cyclists. The main difference is that fixed gear ebikes have an electric motor to assist the rider, making them easier to pedal and allowing the rider to go longer distances without getting tired.

Fixed gear ebikes typically have a simple, minimalist design and are lightweight, making them easy to maneuver and handle. They are also known for their durability and low maintenance requirements, as they have fewer moving parts compared to traditional derailleur-equipped bikes.

Some riders enjoy the simplicity and the unique riding experience of fixed gear ebikes, while others may prefer the versatility and ease of use of a bike with multiple gears. Ultimately, the choice between a fixed gear ebike and a traditional geared ebike comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the rider.

Maybe you disagree, but to me this looks similar enough to be suspicious. In both examples, the writer (an AI? somebody from Fiverr?) obviously cribs boilerplate info about fixies, then replaces “bike” with “ebike” in the discussion.

Fixed gear ebikes?

And yet, I find real product pages for fixed gear ebikes. See, for example, this Luna “Fixed Stealth Ebike,” this “Fixie” from Rize, the “Fixie” from Valk, or the “New York Fixie” from Watt. The product names all imply they’re fixed gear bicycles, but are they?

Luna, to their, credit, includes this text in their description: “IT IS NOT a fixie bike… it does freewheel.” Weirdly enough, they put a 3-speed hub in their bike they call the “Fixed.” For the other bikes, you have to hunt through the product specs to verify these are normal singlespeeds with hub motors. These are not fixed gear bicycles.

The challenges of mating an electric motor to a fixed gear makes this seem unlikely as a product, but surely a modern day Prometheus somewhere has married their junk bin of electromagnetism to a 1985 Fuji fixie conversion to create this mad scientist mashup, but my google-fu fails me, and my Twitter inquiries resulted in a handful of “this is a horrible idea” responses.

How about it, you bike nerds: Has anyone built on an electric fixed gear bicycles?

What does “Critical Mass” mean to you?

If you played word association with Joe and Jane Random, how would they respond to Critical Mass?

In 1934, Hungarian phycisist Leó Szilárd filed his patent for a neutron-induced nuclear chain reaction and introduced the concept of “critical mass.” The critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction.

Nearly 60 years later, bike designer George Bliss remarked in a documentary that bicycles would queue up at intersections in large Chinese cities until they built up to a “critical mass,” when they would proceed safely across en masse. San Francisco cyclists soon applied that name for their monthly “Commute Clog” ride.

More recently, other large spontaneous group rides began to appear. “Bike Party” is among the more popular of these offshoots from Critical Mass. How do the two compare in Google Trends over the past nine years?

Google Trends: Critical Mass, etc

The problem with my quick comparison: We really don’t know the context when people search for “Critical Mass.” Do they want an online guide to building weapons of mass destruction? Do they mean “critical mass” in terms of a tipping point? Or do they look for information on the monthly bike rides? All I know is that incognito search on Google results mostly in bike ride results.

You’ll see I’ve compared against “Bike Party” and “Martyn Ashton.” To me, Bike Party is the monthly celebration of cycling that now occurs in several cities around the world. Martyn Ashton’s “Road Bike Party” trials riding video skewed the search results late in 2012. We can see significantly more interest in his sequel video, represented by the yellow line going sharply up at the right side of the above graph.

Something else interesting: We have searches for “critical mass” (in English) in Leó Szilárd’s home country of Hungary at 10 times the levels we see in America. Furthermore, we see this interest peaks suddenly and dramatically every April and September.

Google Trends: Critical Mass, etc

What is going on? Do Hungarian children learn about their countryman’s role in developing nuclear physics? Do they test on the topic every Spring and Autumn?

I dug around and learned Hungary claims the world’s largest Critical Mass ride with tens of thousands of riders. Interest and participation is very high.

Digging more, this Hungarian Critical Mass is an organized biannual ride with official road closures. It seems akin to something like Chicago’s Bike the Drive, the Five Boro Tour in New York City, or even a bike-centric Ciclovia type of event.

What does Critical Mass mean to you?

Americans variously see Critical Mass as a spontaneous celebration of bikes, a protest against automotive culture, or a group of scofflaws on bikes causing trouble and giving cyclists a bad name. In Hungary — the country of the nuclear physicist who invented the term — Critical Mass is an organized celebration of bikes on roads officially closed from traffic.

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What is the #bikecommutercabal?

A couple of Fridays ago, a loose confederation of cyclists worked to game Google’s social media site and get the hashtag ‘#purple’ trending.

Today, we’re using our mad skills for a better purpose: we want to encourage cycling for transportation by promiting our secret handshake: the hashtag #bikecommutercabal.  Here’s how you can help.