Fixies on Film — Bristol's spirited fixed gear scene gets the star treatment in this rad mini doc.

Fixed bikes seem to generate a lot of confusion among the unacquainted. People often don’t understand how you can ride a bike with one gear and no brakes – least of all why everyone who does seems to get so excited about it. For the ignorant, the unconcerned (and all the haters), BÖIKZMÖIND gives Bristol’s vibrant fixed gear community the chance to explain their love for these one gear machines and dispel some myths along the way: “You’re not riding an alligator with wheels.”

The awesome mini doc was made by Gavin Strange, a self described “creative idiot.” Gavin works as a Senior Designer for Aardman Animations by day, but by night turns his hand to everything from photography to toy design to filmmaking, under the alias JamFactory.

So what’s Boikzmoind all about?
I think the fixed gear culture can look like a very closed group but I’m really not into cliques. I wanted to show the normal every day people behind these bikes, not some too-cool-for-school group of individuals. All types of people ride fixed gear bikes for all sorts of reasons so I wanted to show a cross section of that culture.

The name is a little tongue-in-cheek nod to Bristol. The South West accent is a funny thing, and anyone that lives here gently pokes fun at the Bristolian accent. People here seem to add ‘mind’ onto the end of sentences, so if you were discussing bikes you’d hear, “That’s a nice bike, innit mind”. If you say “boikz moind” it’s phonetic Bristolian. I thought if you change the letters around and throw in some umlauts, everyone will think it’s some sort of avant garde european cinema classic. But it’s really a film about people with funny accents and funny bikes!

How did you end up making a film about fixies in Bristol?
I started riding fixed with a few friends and started to document it with a basic camera. I used to make little skate films and stuff with friends, so it felt exactly the same. Somewhere along the line I purchased a new DSLR and it looked so cinematic that it made me want to make something worthy of the lovely 1080p video. I was fascinated about why people rode bikes with no gears in a city full of hills. So, the film started taking shape and it ended up being a 30 minute documentary that took 3 years to make.

With so many hills about, Bristol seems like the worst place to ride a fixie. How did the city end up with such a big and lively community of fixie riders?
It was exactly that question that pushed the film along really, asking WHY! People seem to like the challenge: there’s nothing like getting to the top of the hill, you feel like a champion! Bristol’s got a big student population and a big art, design and culture vibe, which are a big factor I think, as fixed gear bikes tend to be so visually appealing.

Could you tell me about some of the fun events that go down?
Like any subculture, individuals take a hold of it and put on all sorts of fun things for like-minded people. I’m not one for blasting up the hills and getting competitive so I organised a slow weekly ride around the city that ended up at a local chip shop to eat and chat. That grew into Fixed ‘n Chips, an alley cat race around the city, with five checkpoints that you have to visit before you return to the start/finish. Because I’m a big advocate of having fun rather than being physically competitive, I made it so the race is won on points, not speed. If you weren’t a fast rider then that was ok, because at each checkpoint anyone could elect to eat a battered sausage or pot of mushy peas and they’d be awarded 5 bonus points.

I had no idea how it would turn out but the race became a tactical play between racing around each checkpoint fast or taking it slowly and scoffing lots of battered sausages to rack up points. The guy who won raced around to each chip shop as fast as he could and then doubled back on himself to eat the mushy peas and get the points. He was one of the last riders back but because he scoffed so much food he had the most points overall. It was genius!

What are your plans for the future?
I was all set for Fixed ‘n’ Chips 2: Bigger & Batter last year until I was contacted by the police a week before the event. They had found out about it and were questioning its safety and legality so I had to postpone the race. I’m hoping to run it this year but I’ve got to work with the police and council to keep everyone happy. I’m not sure if the fun spirit will be lost, so we’ll have to see if Fixed ‘n’ Chips ever happens again.

I’ve definitely got the filming bug now so I’m carrying on making films on a variety of subjects and even planning to write my first bit of fiction. The Fixed ‘n’ Chips cancellation really put a downer on bikes for me but I’m hoping the spring and summer weather will rekindle my excitement for all things two-wheeled. I’m looking forward to riding more and meeting new people when the weather gets better, there’s nothing better than just hopping on a bike and heading somewhere to hang out with people.

I was in Amsterdam recently and got blown away by their cycling culture. Bikes are part of the fabric of the city, which is fantastic. The Dutch are a nation of bike riders, not cyclists. That’s something that really resonated with me and I’d love for the UK to move in that direction.

Head over to the BÖIKZMÖIND website to find out more or watch the full film for free online.