Mont d’Arbres Neuf on a fixie

2009-06-25, Comments

I’ve written before about the rising popularity of the fixed-wheel bike here in Bristol. Spend a few minutes on the street somewhere central and you’re bound to see a few fly by. Maybe it’s a reaction against the over-engineered mountain bikes which have become mainstream. You don’t need front-and-rear suspension, disk brakes and tractor tyres when all you want to do is zip to the shops and back. Or maybe it’s just fashion.

One feature you probably do want, though, is the range of low gears which comes as standard on a mountain bike. Bristol is a hilly city.


My folding bike isn’t a true fixed wheel. It freewheels. But it does have just a single gear. Here’s a film taken using my bikecam at 9 o’clock this morning, showing my ascent of one of Bristol’s steepest hills, the notorious Mont d’Arbres Neuf — a climb more than twice as steep as the one @lancearmstrong reckons the toughest in the tour.


Ninetree Hill is straight up and down but as you can see I had to attack it in a zig-zag fashion. The painful clicking noise is the sound of the belt drive slipping across the teeth of the rear sprocket — the difficulty is not so much in getting up the hill but in doing it without causing the total collapse of the transmission system. I also had to avoid a taxi and a smart car parked on a double yellow line.

Belt driveMe and RenéSummit