Fixie bikes, or fixed-gear bikes, have a lot to offer for the individual who is looking for something simple. Unlike multi-gear options, these are especially well suited for urban riders and anyone else who needs a simple commuter to get from place to place.
As the name implies, they do not have the option to change gears but they do feature a cog that is threaded directly to the hub of the back wheel. These products were among some of the first modern bicycles ever developed, so they have a long history and a very loyal fan base.
In this guide, you will not only find information about what makes them so fantastic and how they differ from other models but you will also learn about some of the most popular options on the market that fellow cyclists are raving about online. Here is everything you need to know about this versatile item and how and why it can work for you.
The Basics Behind It
We have already touched briefly behind what makes a fixie, so now let’s delve a little deeper into what we mean.
Multi-gear bicycles often incorporate a free wheel which make the pedals remain stationary. This allows users to coast, and most of them will also give riders the ability to change speeds, making it possible to switch them up for a variety of different situations.
Fixed-gears on the other hand, do not have the free wheel. They have the cog threaded directly to the hub. As you can imagine, most, if not all, of these options are single speed.
These actually require a fairly high degree of skill to use versus a multi-gear, especially if you have never used a fixed style one before, and you were trained on a multi. For this reason, we recommend that beginners start on gentle terrain or keep close to home when testing it out. The reason is mainly due to the higher degree of control you will need to exert over the bike.
Many fans regularly partake in performing tricks and taking their ride out for friendly competitions. The construction of a fixed-gear makes it very simple for users, once they get the hang of riding, to perform simple tricks such as a 360-degree wheel turn and bouncing the front wheel lightly on the pavement.
Some of you may be wondering why you would ever consider this type of gear in the first place. However, as it turns out, there are a lot of reasons why you would.
Athletes often use them in order to train for competitions. It is believed that these, due to their construction and how you need to pedal, help encourage proper pedaling form, which can help cyclists understand how to ride for maximum efficiency, even if they end up using a mixed gear for competitions. Many sports also use them exclusively.
If you ever play bike polo or are considering getting into artistic cycling, you will want to consider learning how to use one of these.
You might be a fan of mixed-gear options, but you may find that the fixed ones allow you to enjoy more variety out of a daily ride and help you perform even better. They can be fantastic exercise, thanks to the pedaling form they encourage and their single-speed, making you focus harder on getting the results you want from it.
Due to their inexpensive construction and aesthetic appeal, the fixed ones are especially desirable in towns and cities. We will talk a bit more about their cost below but for fashion conscious millennials, these offer the bright colors and faint hints of nostalgia that often make them especially aesthetically appealing.
The average cost is anywhere between $100 to $500. Higher-end choices can, of course, cost a great deal more. However, these models, due to their construction, are often more affordable than many other options. This makes them an especially popular buy for riders looking for an affordable way to commute.
Also, low-cost fixies are especially desirable in the city, due to the unfortunate fact that stolen bikes are all too common in dense, urban areas. They often have to be considered disposable when you live in the city and a product averaging about $100 is an easier loss to swallow versus a $600+ multi-gear mountain beast.
Things to Consider Before You Decide to Purchase One
If you have never bought one of these before, or you want to go into buying your next one with a better idea of what to look for, here are a few things you will want to consider before purchasing it.
If you are used to using and buying multi-gears, there are plenty of special considerations that go into a fixie. You must consider the geometry, all of the features you should look for, and how you will use it. However, we will talk about that in more detail in just a few moments.
Just like a multi-gear, the purpose of the fixed style should be taken into consideration before purchasing it. Are you going to use it for sports training or use it as a commuter for getting to and from work? Different brands are more suitable for different purposes versus others.
For example, the ones that we will be comparing later in the brief reviews are best used as commuters and beaters. However, consider consulting a local shop before making a purchase if you have a specific purpose in mind for yours.
The geometry of it is very important. When we are talking about fixed-gears, this is the general shape of it and this can determine how it can be ridden and what you will use it for. A tight geometry means you will have a short wheelbase, which means it is not especially suitable for beginners. If you are a beginner or plan on using it primarily for street transportation, consider something that is a bit more relaxed to allow for a slightly longer wheelbase.[/box]
The sizing of a bike is key. If it is a multi one, it is fairly important, but if it is a fixed style, it is a key thing to consider and think about. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to size down from your multi’s size.
For example, if you regularly ride a 58cm multi-gear, consider a 56cm fixed-gear. However, test out models at your local shop to find out the best size for you before you order one of them online. It is better to be absolutely sure about what you are getting before you invest in a new one, especially when you are ordering it online and do not have to have to deal with trying to sell it on Craigslist or returning it to the vendor.
Looks are highly important when it comes to buying your dream form of transportation. They often come in a wide variety of colors. From bubble gum pink to coffee brown, there is a look for everyone. These products are every bit a way to get around town as they are a fashion statement.
Frame Material[box]The frame material matters as well, at least if you are a heavy rider. In general, stick with safe stand-byes such as aluminum, but keep in mind that aluminum has a tendency to get dented fairly easily. Carbon fiber does not tend to be the best material for most users, due to its high cost and high learning curve, although many athletes swear by it.[/box]
High quality components are key. Thankfully, there is one very, very nice thing about these particular models. They are often easily customizable. If you buy one of them and discover that the hub is cheap or the brakes are awful or non-existent, you can usually buy a new set aftermarket.
Brakes or No Brakes
Some fixed-gear models do not actually come with brakes and many users believe that they detract from the purpose and look of the vehicle. It is up to you whether or not you should go brake free but just keep in mind that doing this is often illegal in certain jurisdictions and harder to ride, especially if you are a beginner when it comes to these styles. Proceed with caution if you find yourself lured by the mystic of going without brakes.
With all of that in mind, let’s talk about some of the most popular choices on the market. Decide whether these popular options are right for you with our quick and easy reviews. If any of them sound like something you would consider buying, click any of the links below for the full, in-depth reviews of each product.
Brief Review of the Critical Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Urban
The Critical Cycle is, hands down, one of the best choices to pick from. It has all the perks you would expect to have. It includes a steel, single-track frame, boasts a dependable construction, and comes in a variety of colors and sizes.
While not the most incredible or best single-speeder on the market, this entry is definitely a decent everyday commuter.
Brief Review of the Vilano Fixed Gear Fixie Single Speed
What this misses in flash or shiny features, it more than makes up for with its inexpensive price and no-nonsense design. This is what makes this Vilano worthy of the number two spot on our list. An urban saddle and ergonomic handles add to an already surprisingly pleasant riding experience. A 700cc gear frame ensures for a smooth ride and easy handling.
This is well suited to work double duty as a commuter and a beginner’s first bike. Overall, check this one out if you need something simple. While we wish some of the parts on this model were a little higher quality, overall, we highly recommend it. You have options to customize as needed and it works well for the low price.
Brief Review of the 6KU Aluminum Single Speed Fixie Urban Track
While we wish this model came with a better cog and a kickstand right out of the box, the 6KU is able to be ridden virtually right after purchase and assembly is minimal. The manufacturers are amazing and their attention to detail and quality customer service makes them a company worth watching out for. Overall, this item is one that is guaranteed to last. Read our full review here to find out more.Out of all of the ones we have discussed, the 6KU Aluminum Single Speed Urban Track Bike is the one we whole-heartedly endorse and recommend. For a budget single-speeder, you really cannot go wrong with this one. Between its great price of $249, its durable aluminum frame and quality parts, and its versatile handling, this one is especially suitable for beginners and anyone looking for a durable commuter. It rides well on all urban terrain, handling potholes with ease.
Now that you know almost everything you need to know about single-speeders, what are you waiting for? Get biking!
Consider the purpose, size, and geometry of the fixed-gear. These models, while different from multi-gears in a variety of ways, offer an enjoyable riding experience and have plenty of positive reviews from past and current consumers. Do plenty of additional research, consult your local bicycle shop or expert, and consider what you are personally looking for. With the right amount of research, you are sure to find a fixed-gear bike that works well for you.
By considering our reviews, we hope that you will get a better sense of the wide variety of models out there and will be able to find a single-speeder that works for you. With all that said and done, get riding.