The term wheel applies to the wheel size.
The term gear is a ratio.(hi wheelers had a gear)
The term freewheel applies to roller freewheel clutch.invented by J.White & G.Davis ,patent #512/1881
And a Fixed tyre is a glue on
In the early days they refered to all the parts that make up the ratio as the bicycles' "gear" . Raleigh had a devise "for the variation of gear"--that devise was the 3-pin crank.
Fixed gear is just easer to say than a hub without a roller clutch--maybe inreference to a sprocket that is "fixed " directly to the hub with no clutch inbetween.Interesting how terms originate.
>Subject: [CR]Fixed gears & track bikes
>Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2004 06:02:21 EST
>Twas me who kicked this one off, on another list.
>It is one of my most irk some missed used phrases.
>I have now been told in no uncertain terms, by Sheldon, that I am wrong.
>However I do not see it that way. Several things suggest otherwise to me.
>We (English speakers) call a freewheel a freeWHEEL, because it not a fixed
>If we were trying to distinguish a freewheel from something described as a
>fixed GEAR, a freewheel would be know as a Free GEAR. It is not.
>So despite Sheldon's posting, containing several sophistries, I believe the
>correct term to be Fixed wheel.
>I will freely accede that the term "fixed gear" is widely missed used and
>widely misunderstood. This is as much in print as in everyday verbal use.
>I once read a cycling manual that advised me to "sleep on my back, with the
>window open and wear goggles" if I wanted to be a racing cyclist. Print is not
>The term "freewheel" is not really applicable to direct drive (ordinary)
>bicycles, because in their heyday, before the common up take of the non direct
>drive (safety) bicycling, freewheels were not generally used and there was no
>need to differentiate between fixed and free wheels.
>A Sturmey Archer ASC, is a three speed hub, providing a fixed wheel in each
>gear. It is not a fixed gear.
>This may be a little off the wall, but surely a track bike is one that is
>used on the track. Irrespective of how it is constructed.
>Most tracks and indeed the UCI have rules requiring certain conditions (no
>brakes, no engine!). Incidentally this usually includes the rule: No freewheel.
>(as opposed to no free gear)
>Martin Coopland, Scotland, http://www.BatesBicycles.com