The Fixie Bike Index and hipsters

January 27, 2012  |  Statistics

Hipster places in America

Priceonomics takes the association of fixie bikes to hipsters, and creates the Fixie Bike Index. After starting with New York, they branch out to national numbers.

In short, fixed gear bikes = hipsters, and New York boroughs that have more fixies per capita should have more hipsters per capita. We sampled our data to see the number of used bikes for sale per capita in each borough with the term "fixie" or "fixed gear" in the product title to create the Fixie Index.

I don't know about these numbers. I lived in Modesto for a year and don't remember people riding bikes — or hipsters, and riding your bike in Los Angeles kind of sucks.

[Priceonomics]

18 Comments

  • Maybe it should be called the “fixie wanna-be index” since it appears to be based on the number of used bikes for sale. Better would be to calculate the number of used (and new) fixed-gear bikes *actually sold*. All this says is that a lot of people in LA bought fixed-gear bikes and don’t want them any more. Maybe because they don’t ride them?

  • Something’s wrong with that axis… 100 fixies per capita? Or is it that Orange County is taken as a reference (i.e. 100%).
    Or is it per flushing toilets?

  • Seems like it would also be correlated with mild weather and pockets of poverty, where people can’t afford cars or new bikes.

  • Some hypotheses seem not to pan out in the data. But this is interesting and worth digging into. Agree with RZ that weather and economic status are prob. important variables–would help explain Orange County. Both relate to ride safety and ease of safe bike storage, too. How much do urban commuting patterns and road availability factor in? Are city-dwellers commuting to city jobs on city streets, or does the city run on exurbs and highways? Is there a good subway system? Are there bike lanes?

    FWIW my Brooklyn workplace is maybe 45% hipster, high in cyclists, and heavy on fixies: I’ll investigate. Note that a few fixie riders commute from Manhattan.

  • I’d say this is misleading. There is a difference between a hipster “fixie” and a fixed gear beach cruiser used on the coast, or in Honolulu. I can attest firsthand knowledge that Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins should be on this list. However, there is a big difference between Denver “hipsters” and the bike friendly lifestyle in Ft. Collins where New Belgium made fixed gear cruising bikes THE bike to have in town for all lifestyles.

    • Well, fixies don’t always mean hipster. Beach cruisers are fixies, and probably explain the domiance of so many California cities on this list.

      LA and SF are absolutely dominated by fixie-hipsters, but not so much the other cities.

      (And it’s so sad to see people reveal some pretty ugly assumptions about LA on this list)

      • Beach cruisers are actually single speed bikes. With a fixed gear bike, if the bike is moving, the pedals are too. They are much harder to ride.

  • Mike Kretzler January 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

    This is bikes for sale, as mentioned. Maybe it’s not wanna-be hipsters, but sick-of hipsters.

  • Something is up with that axis.
    Either normalized (as suggested above) or inverted to mean capita per fixie

  • I think the units are wrong. Orange County appears to have 100 times more fixie bikes than people.

  • Fred Barlow January 28, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Another case of faux NY posers who want to believe no one outside of the big rat race exist, much less be as hip as them. very telling.

  • I agree with many of the others responding: this is a really poor way to read the numbers and doesn’t represent good statistical use/interpretation of the information.

    How they go from Craigslist sales to Hipster Quotient with these numbers is beyond me. I’m kind of surprised to find this promoted on flowingdata considering that this post doesn’t reflect the quality of what I’ve come to expect here.

  • ezra abrams January 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    how about the shallow kid index
    if you live in an area with hills, or even modest grades, fixed gear bikes are useless unless you want to kill your knees or are a triathlete
    fixed gear bikes are a way of being cool; kind a stupid, but kids are like that

  • I think it’s a little ridiculous that the first thing people do when they hear the term “fixie” is to associate them with hipsters. In fact I’m a little offended by it since I’ve been riding and building my own fixies for 10 years now and I would hardly consider myself a hipster. No one ever considers that maybe people own fixies because they like the way they ride. They definitely have a different feel to them and I enjoy the workout that I get when I take my bikes out for 30 to 60 mile rides.

    • You sir, are one of the few. But if you don’t want to be associated with hipsters call your bike a Track or a Pista

  • Another factor that wasn’t considered is the availability of mass transit. I’d probably get a bike, though most likely not a fixie, if not for the subway.

  • i currently live in Modesto and there are hipsters and fixies galore now a days! They’re invading!

  • There should be an adjustment for:
    - Average temperature year round and the time when the research was conducted, and;
    - Topography. Although fixies are disproportionately popular in SF, the rampant hills make them quite dangerous to ride there. I’d say there are an excessive number of hipsters, just not an excessive number of hipsters with a deathwish.

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