Wha...? The 63xc.com FAQ
Compiled by Will Meister


Who is 63xc.com for?
63xc.com is for everyone who likes to take their fixed gear bike offroad. (That's a pretty small group right now, but numbers are growing.) Couriers and other urban fixers will find useful info here, too, and some bits should be of interest to anyone on a bike.

What is a fixed gear bike?
A fixed gear bike lacks a freewheel, and thus denies you the opportunity to coast. As long as the rear wheel is turning, the chain and pedals go with it. Because your legs are directly connected to the wheel, you can stop just by reversing pressure on the pedals. Hell, you can ride backwards, if you have the nerve. What you can't do is change gear.

Why did you call the site 63xc.com?
Cyclists use a number expressed in 'gear inches' as a way to describe what they're pushing. Since fixed gear riders only have one gear, they find this number of considerable interest. I settled for a classic 63" gear on my own bike. 'XC' stands for 'cross country', a useful shorthand for the many kinds of offroading outside the mountainbike scene.

Why take a fixed gear bike offroad?
It's fun. Fixed gear riding is great anyhow, but offroad the silence, the amazing control and the feeling of oneness with the bike are addictive.

Why is fixed gear different from singlespeeding?
Like singlespeeders, fixers hanker after lost simplicity. But, while singlespeeders generally look back no further than the beginnings of mountainbiking, fixers claim descent from a slew of older groups, some of them half-forgotten: scorchers, cyclocrossers, pass stormers...

What does an offroad fixed gear bike look like?
Modern bikes divide into two groups: MTBs with modified transmissions, and 700c (29") lightweights with big tyres. But there are no hard and fast rules.

Who makes offroad fixed gear bikes?
A number of companies market framesets suitable for building up as offroad fixes, but we are aware of only one selling a complete bike. All these firms are listed on the Links page, along with a handful of custom framebuilders who have expressed a particular interest in offroad fixed gear projects.

How can I make my MTB/tourer/winter hack bike into an offroad fixed gear bike?
By fitting a fixed rear wheel and removing the derailleurs, shifters, and maybe the rear brake. You can find specific advice in our How To section, and further help is available via the Sheldon Brown section on the Links page. In general, the process is similar to a singlespeed conversion, but presents some special difficulties:

  • MTBs: few fixed-gear hubs are wide enough for a modern MTB
  • Roadies: You need adequate clearance for 35c or larger tyres and mudguards/fenders
  • All bikes: you can't use a singlespeed-style chain tensioner to take up chain slack, so you'll need to be able to fine-tune the position of the rear axle. This usually requires a frame with horizontal dropouts or 'track ends'.

My bike has vertical dropouts. Can it become a fix anyway?
Yes. The best solution would be to buy a hub with an eccentric axle. Learn more in our article on hub choice. Alternatively, you can contrive a so-called magic gear setup.

What would be an appropriate hub for my fix?
A true fixed gear hub differs from a singlespeed hub in that it has a left-hand-thread lockring to hold the sprocket in place. Without a lockring, a fixed setup is unsafe, no matter what anyone tells you. There are only a few true fixed gear hubs on the market. Several of them were developed for track use and seem inappropriate for the road, let alone the trail. We maintain a listing of offroad-capable fixed gear hubs, and the Links page will help you fill in the blanks.

Didn't I hear something about converting disk hubs for fixed gear use?
Yes. Jason Millington came up with a neat conversion. You'll need workshop tools and some mechanical competence, or you can buy a readymade bolt-on cog from Boone, whose details are on the Links page. If you want to go all the way, you can buy a LeVeL hub, which uses a proprietary bolt-on system called the EyE interface.

Can you help me to learn how to ride fixed?
Yes. Greg Goode wrote a great series of lessons which are widely referenced on the web.

Fixed? Fix? Scorcher? Fixie? What are all these words?
63xc.com is attempting to follow the standard practice established by Greg Goode, according to which a fix is a fixed-gear bicycle, and a fixer is a fixed-gear cyclist. The term scorcher goes back to the late 19th century, when it was applied to anyone riding a bike offroad. Wes Willits revived it a few years ago, and we use it occasionally on this site.

Will the site go on forever?
Nope. The twentieth quarterly update, which took place on June 1 2007, was the last. However, articles like 'Hub Choice' and 'Sprocket Gourmet' may get updated from time to time to keep up with market developments.

Can I take over the 63xc.com files and URL after summer 2007?
Nope. Magazines and websites get energy from a bunch of people coming together with a new idea. The core group of 63xc.com was always pretty diffuse, and it's unlikely that an outsider could make it cohere. You're much better off starting your own.


Wha...? is the 63xc.com FAQ. If you think we've missed one, drop us a line at 63xc.com.