Originally Posted by Taxman
A hipster fad....... since the developemnt of brakes and gears, the only place for a fixie is on the track.
Uh oh, someone's got a different opinion than me on the internet. Have you ever ridden one? Not just tried it in the parking lot, or for a day or two, but really committed to it for awhile?
IMHO after fifteen months of riding a fixed gear road bike for a 27 mile r/t commute around twice a week, I've found at least a few benefits:
1) it makes a routine ride more interesting and more of a challenge;
2) simpler, easier maintenance;
3) the feeling of "direct connection" to the machine and the road is a pleasure - pedal fast, go fast, pedal slow, go slow;
4) better bike control in wet or icey conditions from back pressure on pedals (yes I use brakes too but backpedalling adds control);
5) improved form at high RPM; and
6) improved climbing strength and tactics.
Both 5 and 6 directly improve my road bike performance - sprinting and climbing are not noticeably stronger.
No doubt it IS a hipster fad, but take away the skinny jeans and stupid fedoras, and fixed gear still would serve some riders well. Not others - YMMV, as with most things. But it's not just a pointless fashion statement.
And to bring this back to the OP's point, the hipster / retro fad has certainly mucked up the market for old bikes and there's a lot of delusional sellers AND buyers. Considering cheap functional new bikes on bikesdirect.com; reasonably priced retail stuff from Surly, Salsa, Kona, or whatever you like; and the cost of parts and time to upgrade old stuff, and yup, new makes sense. Don't tell my wife but when I converted a beloved old road bike into a fixed gear, it cost at least $700 - new wheels (swapped 27" to 700c, for clearance and to enter the 21st century), new brakes (wheel swap required longer reach), chain, crankset, fenders, winter tires, summer tires, and a rack. Happened to be a frame I've owned for 30 years that fits perfectly and rides like a dream so for me it made sense, but why do that with someone's project on craigslist?