How Safe Are Fixed Gear Bikes On City Streets? | GCN Show Ep. 326


– Welcome to the GCN Show,
brought to you by Wiggle. – Hopefully my sign
language is slightly better than my pronunciations,
otherwise I’ve no idea what I’ve just said. But anyway, thank you,
Kern, for your introduction. Coming up this week, are brakeless, fixed-gear bikes safe on city streets? Hank and Chris try and find out. – We’ve got news from
the Tour of Flanders. Flanders bike tech from
Lloyd, and we talk of battle for the soul of e-bikes. – Do e-bikes have a soul, James? Interesting. This week in the world of
cycling, we learned that even if you’ve never
won a pro race before, it doesn’t mean you
can’t land the big one. Step forward, Alberto Bettiol
of EF Education First, who solos to a fantastic
victory at the Tour of Flanders, his first ever win, I mean
like, first ever pro win! – Yeah, but one of many, perhaps. – Well yes, you would think so. – We also learn that Alee
Denham, who is pioneering the new sport of extreme bike packing, is swapping the cliff-side paths for… – [Simon] What is that, James? – According to Alee, that is an aqueduct on the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route and look at that, it looks insane. – It does, doesn’t it? That is one for my bucket list, for sure. Right, now, about a year
ago or so, here in the UK fixed-gear bikes were
dragged into the news after a fatal incident
involving a pedestrian. Now, riding a bike with
no brakes on the wheels is illegal, but law enforcement has tended to turn a blind eye to fixed-gear
bikes and fixie culture, with good reason, I
guess, because incidents are very few and far between, but how safe are those
bikes, really though? – Yeah, and to find out
more, Chris and I headed out armed with one fixed-gear
bike with no brakes and one bike with brakes, and we went out to do some emergency stops. For a while now we’ve been wanting to know if fixed-gear bikes without any brakes are actually safe out on the open road. – Not with us on them,
so we’ve had to find somewhere suitable to test it out. There have been a few stories in the news over recent years questioning
the safety of fixies, and we thought there’s
only one way to find out just how safe they are. – Yeah, so we got two
bikes, one with brakes and one without, and we’re
gonna put it to the test. Chris and I are gonna ride side by side and we’re gonna start of from this bend and we’re gonna end at that bench, and when we hit that
bench we’ve gotta brake, and it’s the first one to brake, I guess. – Who’s your money on? – Me. – We should mention that
in most of the world, it’s actually a legal requirement to have at least one fully-functioning
hand-operated brake. But, you do see fixies
out there quite often with no brakes on them whatsoever. – You do, but is it safe? – Well, I guess we’ll find out, at least who can stop the fastest. – Yeah, let’s do it. Okay, back a bit! – Alright. – There we go. Okay, it’s like Rad Race all over again. – It’s gonna be harder than
the Rad Race, I promise. – You’re gonna beat me. On your marks, set, go! (dramatic music) And, stop! – You’ve actually not come to a stop. – So, I guess it does
take me a little longer to stop than you. – A little bit? I reckon it’s taken you nearly
four times the distance. Look, it’s at least two and
a bit bike lengths further, which is quite a lot when you consider, you know, if that had been a
child running out in the road. – Yeah, well that’s true
but there are some pros to riding fixed-gear bikes, I
mean they’re easy to maintain, they’re cheap, and they do
make you a good bike handler. And also, you do have to
anticipate the traffic because you can’t stop on a
dime as you can with brakes. – And, in your defense,
if you were out on that in the public roads, you’d
probably adapt how you ride, knowing that you can’t
actually stop as quickly as you can when you’ve got
a really good front brake. I mean, most of the braking
force is going through the front of the bike, so you didn’t
stand a chance, did you? – No, and to be honest, it
is illegal in the majority of the countries, to
have one brake at least, and so if you’ve got
one brake and you’ve got the power of the legs,
then I’m gonna stop. – You’d stop just as fast,
yeah, it would be no difference. Maybe we should try that next time. – Well, there you have it, are they safe? Probably they aren’t as safe as those, but if you had a brake on then
they’re at least as good, eh? – So, in conclusion then, James, if the bike is legal, it’s probably safe. – Yes. – Okay, there we go. – Yes, saying that though, I’m
probably not the best person to be testing fixed-gear bikes. – Why’s that, mate? Because you seemed pretty
adept at fixed-gear racing, fourth in Rad Race,
thirty-something in Red Hook Crit, that’s pretty good in my book. – Yeah, I think I did well in those, just because, well, I couldn’t
stop, I was committed. (laughing) – Right, well, fair enough, anyway, let us know what you think in the comment section down below. Are brakeless bikes actually okay to ride? You know what to do, let
us know your thoughts. It’s time now for your weekly inspiration. Now, part of the show where we get to show three of your amazing photos,
and you get the chance to get your hands on three vouchers from our mates over at Wiggle. 50 quid for third, 75 quid for second, and £100 for first. Who’s in third, James, this week? – Third place, we’ve got
a picture in from Henry in Melbourne, Australia,
of his son, Peter, riding a balance bike, and he says “Passing on the passion for
cycling to the next generation.” I’ll get there in the end,
I’ll get there in the end. And he’s also a GCN addict, preferring to watch GCN than cartoons. – That’s cool man, that’s
a great photo, nicely done. Right, a deserved third place there. Next up, we’ve got this from Meirmarcus. Now, that is not how I feel when I sprint, Meir, but there we go. – Sky’s the limit for you, Simon. – No, no, 100 watts is the limit. No, anyway, that is a
fantastic shot, I love that, really, really cool… – How long must it have taken for him to line up so perfectly like that? – Well, yeah, he’s got 75 quid though, coming over from our mates at Wiggle, so that’s it, worth the
second place, there. Right, who’s the winner this week? – Right, this week we’ve got a cold one in from Michal in Poland,
look at that for a photo. – Wow! – I have to say, that has
to be a really cool photo, but I would be quite nervous
going through that tunnel. – Yeah, that’s like something out of Indiana Jones, isn’t it? You know what they say about icicles, it’s the perfect murder weapon, if one of those drops on your
head, no one is gonna know how you died, you’d just
have a puncture wound and a puddle of water next to you. – Yeah, and on that note,
well done for winning! (laughing) – If you wanna get involved
with GCN Inspiration next week, then you can either submit your
photo via the GCN uploader, the link to it is in the description, or use the hashtag
#GCNinspiration on Instagram. And we enjoy looking
at those, so make sure you keep them coming in. – It’s now time for Cycling Shorts. – Cycling Shorts now, and
while we’ve already mentioned that for the men’s winner
of Tour of Flanders, Alberto Bettiol, it was
his first ever pro win, the same cannot be said for fellow Italian and winner of the women’s
event, Marta Bastianelli, because she is the European champ, but it was still, however, her
first ever Flanders victory, and what a victory it was. She got into that final selection and then made the sprint
look like a formality. – Yeah, what a ride! And in second place was
Annemiek van Vleuten, and in third place was
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, with also a really good
ride in third place. – Absolutely, right, now the
dust is beginning to settle from Flanders, but apart from the winners, one name has stood out
among all others, hasn’t it? Mathieu van der Poel, who
put in an incredible ride. The Corendon-Circus rider punctured, then crashed whilst riding
along waiting for a spare, managed to re-join the
Peloton, not only do that, get to the front, then get in the split, then get fourth place,
second in that group, full of the best riders in the world. – Absolutely incredible
ride by the young Dutchman, in only his third ever World Tour race. – Yeah, we do have words to say about his choice of white shorts. – You say that, Si, I
am actually a big fan, and I’m gonna be honest,
I think they look great, especially when you’re well
tanned and you’re a class rider. I think, van der Poel, you keep
up those white shorts, mate. – I’m sorry, mate, you think
that white shorts are okay? – Yes, they can be a
little dodgy in the rain, but they look great, they’re classy, white, crystal-clear,
yeah I’m gonna stop there. – Yeah, crystal-clear, that’s
the bit that no one wants. Anyway, van der Poel is
young, he will hopefully learn in time, technically
you’re still kinda young. You might learn as well. – He’s that good, mate, I don’t
think he does need to learn. I mean, he is a two-times
world champion on cross, he’s an absolute hitter
on the mountain bike, and he’s one of the strongest riders on the road at the moment. – If not the strongest, yeah. – Exactly, and this Canyon
video really does sum it all up. (upbeat music) Right, before we leave
the Tour of Flanders, we should probably have a
look at our predictions. – Hang on a minute, mate,
yeah, we haven’t got time. We haven’t got time this year. – No, I’m afraid we have,
and we’re gonna look at, well Lloydy’s, all three of them. – Three? – Yeah. – My personal bet is Wout van Aert. Mathieu van der Poel. Bob Jungels. – Nope, and Marty? – [Marty] Oliver Naesen. – And, Si? – [Si] It’s Mathieu van der Poel. – Not just wrong, but you also put a curse on my favorite rider,
poor Mathieu van der Poel. – Mate, I don’t think
that was the curse of GCN, I think that was his shorts,
that were his undoing, if I’m honest, but anyway. – Now, from racing we all know and love, to one we all know, but few
of us love at the moment. And that is e-bikes. – Yes, that’s right, but while the jury might be out among you lot, the battle for who controls
e-bike racing is hotting up. So, the UCI, the
International Cycling Union, have organized the first ever e-bike world championships this year, but so too have the FIM, the International
Federation of Motorcycles. – What is it with these federations and their mixed up acronyms? – Yeah, that’s true, not
exactly intuitive, is it? But anyway, I’ll be honest,
James, I don’t really care who controls e-bike racing, but I do think this is quite important for the wider fight for
the soul of e-bikes. I mean, you think it
might have ramifications for the law, for access, things like that, because if it’s controlled
by the motorbike federation, then you’d think it would
be a motorbike, you know, whereas if it’s controlled by the International Cycling Union, then it’s like a bicycle with a motor. – Yeah, I would agree with you there, but if I was a betting
man, I’m not gonna bet past the FIM because FIM, UCI… – Yeah, that’s right,
bunch of skinny cyclists versus a motorbike gang,
yes I think I would agree with you there, I know
who’s gonna win that one. Right, now, over on Twitter,
Cycling Science once again linked to an absolute pearler
of a piece of research. This time, it was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. Now, I will refrain from
saying it’s my favorite. I’ll be honest, I’ve never
heard of that one before, but, anyway, this is all about how to find smooth roads using science. – This is totally bonkers
and, so, for that I’m gonna bring in my laptop, right. “A total of 19 pavement
sections were scanned using a 3D digital camera,
these 3D models were then 3D printed, which are used to conduct the pressure film test
using a self-developed pavement-tire interface test system… … maximum peak spacing,
radius ratio and fractal dimension, in consideration
of the area characteristics, pressure amplitude, peak
spacing and interface.” – Wow, that is great,
Hank, what did it show? – Well, Si, it basically
showed that dense asphalt is far more comfortable for
cycling than the gap graded one. – Ah, and that is peer-reviewed science. – That is, Si, yeah. – They should have just
asked my butt cheeks, they know a lot about asphalt. Ass-phalt, in fact. – Yeah, I hope that’s all they know, Si. – Pretty much. – And moving swiftly on from
that, I think we should mention that our Cobbled Classics
limited edition t-shirts, which were actually my
favorites, were also yours too, seems we’ve only got 20 left in stock. – Yeah, when we say limited
edition we mean limited edition. Some sizes have already gone,
so make sure you head over to the GCN Shop to get
your hands on what is left. Now some better news, though,
when it comes to availability, is we’ve got some
just-announced events coming up. That’s right, fresh off
the back of the success of GCN Mallorca, and it was
absolutely mega, wasn’t it? We’ve launched two more,
taking place this summer. – Yes, we have, and I’ve
only just got my voice back from GCN Mallorca, and I’ve
got three months to get ready for the next one, which is in
Avoriaz in the French Alps, which is on the 1st to the 5th of August, and then we go into Saalbach,
which is in Austria, which is on the 22nd
to the 26th of August. So, I’m very much
looking forward to those. – Absolutely, some great riding,
questionable entertainment because it kind of comes
down to us, doesn’t it? But a lot of grade A socializing, that might have been
where you lost your voice. – On that note, mate, did we show people the pics from our holiday? – Holiday snaps? No we didn’t. – Well, here’s a rundown. (dramatic music) – It is a shame, isn’t it, that
Lloydy’s late-night karaoke didn’t make the director’s cut? – Yeah, he does have a voice. – He does, indeed, yeah, not
after that many mineral waters. Anyway, over to Jon. – We’ve got two pairs of Elite
Nero Smart Rollers to be won. Now these, I reckon, are a
certain viable alternative to a direct drive turbo trainer, because they can be linked
up to any virtual world and training platform,
so you can undertake even the most grueling training session. And, ultimately, they
are also gonna teach you the art of souplesse,
that’s the really cool, smooth pedaling style that you
always see the pros having. So, to get involved, click on
the link in the description down below and, well, good luck! – How cool does this bike look? This is, of course, the
Canyon Aeroad CF SLX, of Dutch national road
champion, Mathieu van der Poel. As well as being a Dutch road champion, he’s also the champion of the Netherlands in cycle-cross and mountain
biking too, as well as being the current word cycle-cross champion. So, he’s used to the rough
stuff, bit of bling for you now. This is, of course, Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet’s bike, the Giant TCR which he’ll be using at the
Tour of Flanders this year. Not much difference versus
his standard set-up, I have to say, the tires
are reasonably narrow, I think they are 26mm but they look even slightly narrower than that. The bike of three-time
world cycle-cross champion, Wout van Aert, this, of
course, is Bianchi Oltre XR4. No major modifications versus
what he would normally use, I have noticed that he’s
got shifters just underneath the tops there, so that he’s
able to change gears here at the back when he’s
going over the cobblestones when he’s riding on the tops. Apart from that, though,
it’s all fairly standard and what you would see
on a normal road bike that he’s using during the year. – Now it’s time for Hack/Bodge. – That’s right, and first
of all, it’s a bodge of our very own making. Last week, Lloydy and I said how amazing this Cog Hog hack was and you
guys didn’t get to see it. So, here it is, this is Andrew’s hack on a SRAM Force 1 Rear Derailleur. So, there you go, that’s
what you’ve been waiting all week for, and to my mind,
that still looks like a hack. – Right, Si, onto this week’s. What’s coming in first? – Wow, so this is from
Vladimir, he says that’s the first time he’s seen a
wooden block as a bike seat. And, you know what, that’s
the first time I’ve seen a log as a bike seat as well. – That looks incredible uncomfortable and I wouldn’t recommend it,
because splinters are not nice. – Teach your butt cheeks a thing or two about asphalt
though, and it would also save your prostate, there’s not, you know. – [James] Yeah, we’ll
leave that one there, Si. – [Si] Alright, just putting it out there, it’s still a bodge, but, you
know, I can see the merit. – [James] Pawley from
Newton, Massachusetts, in his pain cave. “I needed to get my phone
out of the sweat-spray zone in my Zwift set-up, so I
put it on a music stand by drilling a hole in a cork. Stays solid and I can pick it up and move it around while I’m cycling.” That’s quite a good idea, that. – [Si] That is quite
a good idea, actually. Yeah, I’ve got to say, I
think that’s probably a hack. – [James] I reckon
that’s a hack too, yeah. – Yeah, as two sweaty
dudes that know what it is to get your phone wet. – You do not want that,
and then phones don’t work and you miss your power ups. – Yeah, exactly, right,
next up we’ve got this one from Reece, he said his shifter broke but he still found a way
to actually change it, and look at that, he’s
got two what look like in-line barrel adjusters. So yeah, admittedly that would be shifting when you have to get off and
then twiddle them a little bit. – Can you twiddle it, like
lean back and twiddle? – That’s a big lean, I wouldn’t
twiddle those whilst riding. – Don’t twiddle when riding. – I mean, technically,
he might have had those on his cables anyway, so
I think that’s a hack. That could be a get you
home hack, so there we go. – [James] Hack for you then. Next up, we’ve got a picture from Jeremy from Fredericksburg in Virginia, the US, and he travels with work and
he brought his bike along but he needed some way of cleaning it. – [Si] That looks pretty
neat to me, nothing like cleaning your bike in a hotel room, is it? – [James] It’s quite
clever, that, actually. – [Si] It’s very clever,
I’m gonna use that, that is full on traveling hack. – Yes it is. – Good work, good work. Right, next up, we’ve got this from RJ. This is kind of almost
from the travel hack to the actual hack hack, this
is his homemade work stand he’s made out of an old computer chair and fitted a roller from
a trainer so that you can leave a rear wheel on whilst washing, and pedal at the same time, I’m sorry but that’s amazing! – [James] And also, the
picture’s phenomenal and the bike looks awesome too. That does look absolutely insane. – [Si] 100% hack, the
only thing I would ask is, is there enough resistance
in the twizzly bit, because you don’t want
it to spin too much. – You’d be flanneling
it and it’d be spinning. – But I notice you have taken the casters, the caster wheels off that
chair, so it’s not going to be- – [James] Rolling down the driveway. – You get your jet wash out
and suddenly your bike just disappears off down the road. – Get the lasso out, I’m coming! – Yeah, okay, anyway, that’s
a hack, full-on hack from me. – [James] We’ve got one in from
Jon in Compton, California. “I like to flex on my
friends who don’t have a custom bike like me, I
also get a lot of street cred from riding this to school,
the female organisms love it.” – Wow, well, he doesn’t stipulate
what species of organisms but, anyway, there we go,
what a low rider, Jon. – [James] Arms in the air
like I just don’t care. – On that note, we should probably end Hack or Bodge here for this week. If you’ve got something to
rival Jon’s organism magnet, then make sure you submit it
using the hashtag #GCNhack on Instagram or on Facebook
or on Twitter, of course. Or, using the uploader, the link to which is in the description,
but you already knew that. – Yeah, they do, Si. Now time for the Caption
Competition and your chance to win one of these GCN
Camelbak water bottle. And if we remind ourselves of last week’s, which was Nico Denz and Stijn Vandenbergh changing a rear wheel. – Well, we think that’s
what they’re doing, James, we didn’t know, Lloydy suggested it had something to do with a big ring. – And who was the winner, Si? – Well, we stayed well
away from any captions about big rings, but Pierre Oliver Proulx has suggested this, a new prototype of a biomechanical groupset from Shimano. See, I like what you did
there, kept it clean, but it was also insightful, all-knowing. – And well done to you,
Pierre, because you’ve got one of these winging it’s way over to you so do get in contact over
on our Facebook page. – Right then, this is this week’s photo for you to get your teeth stuck into. This is Peter Sagan, can
I get started, James? – You may, Si. – In the absence of
Lloydy, brace yourselves. Peter Sagan, unfortunately
didn’t bring his wattage bazooka to Tour of Flanders, but he
did have a bazooka of sorts. – Yeah, he did. – It’s like a t-shirt bazooka, I think, that’s what he’s doing. – Yeah. – Yeah, okay, well,
anyway, if you want to win a GCN Camelbak water bottle,
then put your caption entries in the comments section down below and we will, as ever, pick
our favorite for next week. Before we get on to
what is coming up on GCN over the next seven days,
we will look our customary look back through some
of the amazing comments you’ve been leaving
under last week’s videos, starting with these
underneath the GCN Show, where we unfortunately
broke the news that Emma would be doing fewer GCN videos. – Yeah, and on that note,
Dan Lazaro comes in with “Matt does cycle-cross, Matt leaves GCN, Emma does cycle-cross, Emma leaves GCN, and who’s next?” – That is a very good point, who knew that cycle-cross was such
a powerful discipline? – No. – Well, that’s what you think, mate. Right, Dan Bisgrove, in
reference to the Hack/Bodge of drying your shoes in
your lizard’s terrarium, has pointed out that,
actually, this “isn’t a lizard, it’s a dragon, a bearded dragon, to be a little bit more precise (Pogona), and if it sh**s in your
shoes, they will come out smelling worse than when they went in. Believe me, how do I know this? Let’s just say, don’t smell my shoes!” Dan, why did you let your
lizard poo in your shoes, why would you do that, man? – That is a great sentence. Right, we got one under the GCN Epic Ride, “the only American Tea Protocol is to dump it in the harbor.” – Wow, very true, slightly
contentious, that one as well. Not quite as contentious as, well, the British Tea Protocol, it turns out. Jeremy made all kinds of mistakes there. He angered people from
Cornwall, he angered people from the upper class, the
lower class, worst of all, he angered everyone with
the weakness of the brew. Anyway, don’t judge him. – It did look like water. – Yeah, it did, didn’t it? It wasn’t, I don’t know, anyway, I think it was a herbal brew or something. Right, we also had lots of
comments under the video about the route that we
took, so a quick reminder, GCN has a page profile over on Komoot, so it’s definitely worth a
follow because all of our routes that we do in videos go up
there, so you get a nice little bit of insight as
well as getting your hands on some cheeky little GPXs. Anyway, one last one from that video, this was sent from a
Hans Mandelholm, he says “Boohoo, England, oh let’s
talk about rain, rain, misery, rain, wind, cold, blah blah
blah. Welcome to Sweden.” (censored expletive) Can’t fault Hans, he’s got
his head around the lingo, yeah, absolutely, right,
anyway, what is coming up on the channel this week? – Right, Wednesday we’ve got how to boost your five-minute power,
Thursday we’ve got the Piro Bay preview show. – With added beer. – Yeah, Friday we’ve got Ask GCN Anything. – And then on Saturday, we’ve
got Lloydy’s amazing video that he shot over in Flanders,
where he was allowed access behind-the-scenes at Team
Sky, where he was confined to the road sides holding
up billons and spare wheels, which I can’t wait to see. And then on Sunday,
we’ve got another amazing behind-the-scenes access,
this is to bore a handsgrower, how does Peter Sagan’s bike get prepared for the Cobbled Classics? – Quite interesting, that one. – Yeah, Monday, the GCN Race News Show will undoubtedly be dissecting
Piro Bay, how does it unfold? And then Tuesday is the GCN Show again! – Yes it is, quick week flies by. Right, it’s coming to the end of the show, but we have got time for Extreme Corner. And this one comes in from
our mates over at GMBN, who did an amazing piece on Greg Minnaar, the three-time world champion and all-time mountain bike legend. Check out this. (energetic rock music) – Oh, smooth! Smoother, even, than Lloydy doing karaoke at the end of a big night in GCM Mallorca. Do make sure you check that
full video out over on GMBN. Also, give this video a big
thumbs up if you’ve enjoyed it and if you wanna watch
some riding that’s not even on the same spectrum of smooth, you can watch me and
Jeremy Powers rattling down some epic English gravel in that video we’ve just been talking about. – And if you wanna learn
how to have a proper English cream tea, then
you should probably check out that video as well. – I’m afraid we gave more
questions than answers, James. – Oh. – But, anyway.