Fixed Gear Bicycles Buying Guide

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Fixed-gear bikes  have a sort of cult following.  It takes practice and patience to adapt from riding a free-wheel bike  to riding a fixed-gear bike (or "fixie" if you're really cool).  They are the most basic of bicycles : two wheels, pedals and a seat; no gears and sometimes no brakes. People who like fixed-gear bikes say they are simple to ride since there are no gears to figure out; they're simple to maintain; and there are few parts to break. 

An Overview

A fixed-gear bicycle  is a single-gear bike  that cannot coast.  The wheels  move only when the bike is being pedalled. 

  • Many fitness enthusiasts enjoy the fixed gear bike, as it provides for a more intense work-out.  There is no resting and there are no gears to assist with an uphill ride.
  • Riders sometimes prefer fixed-gears because of their traction; they allow the rider to feel the surface below them and are excellent in poor weather conditions.
  • Track bikes  are also fixed-gears, though they are designed especially for use on a velodrome track.  However, track bikes don't have brakes, whereas road fixed-gears do.  
  • Many fixed-gear bikes have only front brakes, since the rear wheel  can be stopped by your legs when you stop pedalling.
  • Fixed-gear bikes should be used with toe-clips  and straps to prevent your feet from flying off the pedals. Riding without straps is for advanced riders only.
  • Fixed-gears are often made of recycled parts.  It is very easy to convert an old 10-speed  into a new fixed-gear bicycle. 

Key Components

There's three ways to get rolling on a fixed gear bike: buy a pre-assembled track bike , get yourself some track hubs  for a road bike conversion , or buy the components and a track frame  and build one up yourself.

Track Hubs

  • Track hubs come in high flange  or low flange  and are the key component to fixed-gear bicycles.
  • Some hubs are double-sided , meaning you can use one side with a fixed-wheel cog and one side with a free-wheel. 

Cranks

  • Fixed-gear cranks are generally shorter than road bike cranks, at about 165mm . 
  • Some cranks come with a chain-ring mounted , though these models are often more expensive. 

Cogs and Chain-rings

  • Cogs  come in 13-22 teeth -- the chain ring/cog gear ratio will depend on your strength and typical area surface (hilly areas use a lower gear).
  • Use a single chain-ring  on a fixed-gear bike!  And make sure that it is straight!

Related Guides

Check out some of these other guides to complete the details of your cycling expeditions. 

Road Bicycle Frames

Bike Pedals

Bike Shoes

Bicycle Helmets