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What Is a Fixed Gear Bike?
Over the last few years, fixed-gear bicycles, or “fixies” as they’re referred to in the cycling community, have grown in popularity and are fast becoming mainstream.
Basically, the fixed-gear bicycle has a drivetrain but does not have a freewheel mechanism.
Very early on, the freewheel mechanism was designed; however, the fixed-gear bike for many years endured as the best bike for the racing track.
Of late, the fixie has garnered somewhat of a cult following among the population, particularly amongst urban cyclists commuting to and from work.
The benefit of having a freewheel is that it allows the pedals to remain stationary, which lets the rider “coast” without having to pedal; unfortunately, on a fixie, because there is no freehub, you can’t “coast.”
The vast majority of fixed-gear bikes only have one brake, and most are single-speed. Some fixed-gear bikes have no brake at all, which I must admit does take some time to get used to.
What Are Fixed Gear Bikes Good For?
One of the primary features of a fixed gear bike is that it has none of the moving parts, such as shifters, cables, chainrings, and derailleurs. This makes the bike considerably light when compared to geared versions.
Another big attraction to the fixed gear bike is that it helps smooth out your pedal stroke and promotes an excellent smooth technique. Many people choose to purchase these bikes to make a perfect training tool, particularly for newcomers to the sport.
The chain also has less wear and tear, meaning they are much easier to maintain, and you don’t need to worry about replacing or damaging expensive parts like derailleurs.
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What’s The Difference Between Fixed Gear And Single Speed Bikes?
To the untrained eye, both the fixed gear bike and the single-speed look seem very similar. Although both bikes have a single chainring up front and one on the back, some features differentiate them.
Fixed gear bikes do not have a freewheel as opposed to their single-speed counterpart, which does. This means when you stop pedaling on a single-speed bike, the cranks stop moving, whereas, on a fixie, you are practically always having to pedal as the cranks keep moving.
Single-speed bikes have brakes like a conventional bike; with fixies, though there’s quite a mixture, some have them while some do not.
Some people are very put off because fixies don’t have gears; it can be especially troublesome for a newbie to cycling.
The other downside to having no brakes is that it can put undue stress on your knees as you either need to slow down to stop by controlling the pedal stroke or put your feet out on the ground to stop.
Our Top Cheap Fixed Gear Bike under $500
1. Best Overall: Aventon Cordoba Fixed Gear Bike
- Lightweight 6061 Aluminum Alloy Frame
- Carbon Bladed Fork with Aluminum Steer Tube
- Updated Forged Dropout Allows a Wider Range of Horizontal Adjustment (Chain Tension)
- Tapered Head Tube for Improved Front-End Stiffness and Control
- Fixed or Freewheel with a Flip-Flop Hub
The Aventon Cordoba Fixed Gear Bike is by far the best fixie out on the market today. It takes time to change your perspective as a cyclist, especially as most of us are conditioned to believe that a specific bike is needed for particular activities.
One user review really stood out; here’s what he said: “This is an excellent bike, and I love every minute I spend on it. Solid build quality as well.”
With the Aventon Cordoba Fixed Gear Bike, think again; this bike can do it all. The design of this bike was yielded on the streets of the underground. The design is super clean, simple, and screams exclusiveness and quality, with the frame made from durable, high-quality materials.
The design is ergonomically correct and well thought out, with beautiful tight lines and dynamic geometry. With a size available for nearly everyone, riding the Aventon Cordoba Fixed Gear Bike is a delightful experience and jam-packed full of fun.
With a lightweight frame and carbon fork, the bike does excel in building quality. The tapered head, which drastically improves front-end performance and control, compliments the aluminum steerer tube and the forged drop out.
The Aventon Cordoba Fixed Gear Bike comes with a 30-day return policy that is stress-free.
The frame itself is made from a double-butted 6061 Aluminum Alloy, and the fork is made from carbon. The gear ratio comes in two versions, 48/15T Fixed, 48/16T Freewheel, with the chain at 1/2″ x 1/8″.
Thankfully front brakes are included, and the wheels and rims are double Wall Aluminum, 30mm Deep V Push.
The weight comes in at 18.5lbs for the 55cm version, and the saddle is a standout Aventon Aero Race model.
2. Runner-Up: 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear Single-Speed
- Lightweight Full Aluminum Frame and Fork
- 30mm Deep V Double-Walled Alloy Wheels
- Ride Fixed Gear or Freewheel with a Flip-Flop Hub
- Including front and rear brakes
- Suitable for commuters
The 6KU fixed gear bike is a practical bike that is an excellent option in the category of durable bicycles.
The bike itself is incredibly inexpensive, which most people think means the 6KU comes up short on quality, but not that’s the case. The 6KU has several different sizes; thus is adaptable to nearly every size of rider.
It’s an affordable bike, excellent for those new to the fixie scene, and its durable, high-quality frame makes it well worth the money. Being such a rigid bike, it’s great for serving several different purposes, such as riding to work, having fun on the weekend, or just cruising around with friends.
The 6KU is very flexible in terms of the components you can purchase to outfit your bike. The vast majority of riders settle for running the single speed with a front brake; there are many other options, but these seem to be the most popular.
Assembly is super easy, and only the most essential tools are needed to assemble the 6KU; plus, with a price tag of only a few hundred dollars is very affordable.
An amazon reviewer gave five stars and was very complimentary: “I was surprised to find zero reviews on this bike when I was shopping around, so I assume it’s relatively new to Amazon. I checked some opinions around the net for this brand and found them favorable enough when considering the price point, so I took the risk.”
Fixie bikes, in general, offer several features that other bikes don’t, and the 6KU doesn’t let you down. Brakes, in particular, are one area that riders can make their own.
Many riders use backpedaling to slow down or stop instead of using the regular rim brakes. Others like to take the rim brake off, which gives the bike a sleek look and drastically reduces the bike’s weight.
3. Best Value: Golden Cycles Single Speed Fixed Gear Bike
- FRAME: High Tensile Steel Fully Tig-Welded FORK: 1-1/8″ Steel Fork BRAKES: Front & Rear
- HEADSET: 1-1/8″ Neco Headset HANDLEBAR: Alloy Custom Riser Bars
- CHAINRING CRANK: Alloy 46T BOTTOM BRACKET: Sealed Bearing 68mm
- WHEELS: 45mm Deep Alloy Rims HUBS: 32Hole Sealed Bearing Flip Flop Hub
- TIRES: 700c x 25 Kenda PEDALS: BMX Platform
The Golden cycles fixie is one of the most popular fixed-gear bikes on the market today. The bike comes in several different sizes, from 41cm to 63cm, making it ideal for different sized riders.
Many owners of the Golden Cycles Fixie report that the bike is straightforward to assemble, making it great for those new to the sport of cycling. The bike is sleek, and the design is very well thought out, which seems to be a significant factor in people buying this bike.
The bike comes in various colors and offers excellent value for money, especially for what you get. The Golden Cycles fixie is a lightweight bike, and the brakes are second to none and provide the rider with peace of mind. The bike does offer front and rear brakes.
There are some cons to point with, the primary one being a hard saddle which is not ideal for long rides. The Kenda tires are not the best quality, if I’m honest, especially if you’re looking to go off-road.
With a 4.5 star total rating on Amazon, the bike is not letting its customers down; one reviewer said, “Spending $200 on a bicycle had me a bit worried about the quality of what I’d be getting. From the moment I opened the package, I knew I made the right choice. I couldn’t be happier with this purchase.”
Overall it’s an excellent bike that is perfect for newcomers to cycling and especially fixed gear cycles, which can take a bit of time to get used to.
4. Also Great: Retrospec Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear
- Includes a flip-flop hub so you can ride fixed or with a freewheel
- Premium hand-built, tig-welded, high-tensile strength steel frame absorbs the bumps in the road and is as durable as can be
- Comes standard with 30mm deep-v rims, Kenda Kwest 700 x 28C tires, KMC chain, VP freestyle pedals, and two sets of brakes
- All of the components required for a super smooth ride. All of our bikes have a weight limit of 220 lbs.
- Includes all the tools you need for building and maintaining your own bicycle
The Harper Fixie comes in several different colors, and they offer a large variety of combinations in terms of components and color combos. The quality of the paint is second to none and has a lovely gloss finish.
The frame is made from incredibly lightweight, durable steel, and the lack of moving parts is a massive bonus when it comes to maintaining the bike in good working order.
The Harper Single-Speed is an incredibly inexpensive bike that offers a flip-flop rear hub in both single and fixed gear style. The bike is very straightforward to assemble, and this is a feature that seems to be a standout amongst customer reviews. As a matter of fact, many customers report being able to assemble the bike in as little as 15 minutes.
The bike has a few negative points that must be addressed, such as poor brake pad quality, poor pedal quality, some people reporting loose threads, and uncomfortable seating.
There are a few negative reviews out there, but overall, the Harper Single-Speed is a good alternative; one happy customer commented, “I will rate this bike a 4 out of 5, because the price is great, the quality is overall good, but not perfect. What else would you expect from a bike priced so cheap.”
At the end of the day, the Harper Single-Speed is an excellent entry-level bike for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fixie. It’s one of those situations where you get what you pay for; the bike is good enough to get you from point A to B.
5. Also Great: Kilo TT Mercier Reynolds 520
- Single Speed Reynolds 520 Cromoly Steel Frame and Fork
- 16t 1/2 x 3/32 single speed cog
- Flip Flop Hub for Fixed Gear and Single Speed Freewheel ( freewheel not included)
- Double Walled Alloy Rims with Machined Braking Surface
- High Flange Hubs with Sealed Ball Bearing Axle
Kilo TT Mercier Reynolds 520 presents the rider/consumer with several features that make this bike one to look out for.
The bike comes equipped with quality alloy rims that are durable thanks to their double-walled design and construction. The frame build-quality is second to none and is made from a lightweight, durable 520 steel track frame. Not to be overlooked is that the bike comes with a sealed ball bearing axle and flange hubs with a nice high clearance.
However, the bike is limited in its production, making it hard to get and difficult to find new parts if something breaks on your existing bike. The brake quality is somewhat poor, and I recommend changing them for some brakes specifically designed for the road.
The bottom line is the Kilo TT Mercier Reynolds 520 is an excellent bike for the real hardcore fixie nerds out there, and the ability to fit riders everywhere from 5’3″ to 6’6″ makes it extremely versatile.
What To Look For When Buying A Budget Fixed Gear Bike
Whether you’re new to fixed gear bikes or an experienced rider, many factors need to be considered before spending your hard-earned cash.
Fixed gear bikes are straightforward to maintain due to the limited number of expensive moving parts such as derailleurs, gear shifters, twin cranks, and even brakes in many cases. But in saying that, you need to look for a bike manufacturer that offers the best quality in terms of moving components and brakes.
Brakes are a vital feature to consider, and obviously, they offer an amount of safety and peace of mind for the rider. Many fixed-gear riders stop by using their feet to drag along the ground. I suggest looking for a fixie that comes equipped with either one or two brakes.
Fun And Fitness
What is the primary reason most people out there ride a bike?. The first thing that comes to mind for most people is fitness, but most people ride their bikes because it’s fun. Fixies are great fun and are often designed with bright colors and outlandish stylish designs, making them a real standout on the streets.
A Great Training Tool
Fixies are an excellent training tool, and if you’re a rider who is struggling with an imperfect technical pedaling stroke, then the fixie is for you. The reason being is that your pedal stroke combines directly to the rear wheel, so feedback is instant and smooth.
Your ability to “spin” is vastly improved because of the need to pedal continuously. “Spinning” refers to pedaling at high revolutions, generally between 85-100 rpm; spinning is a much more efficient way to ride when compared to grinding in lower gears.
Track Bike Or Fixie?
One factor about the fixed gear bike genre that almost everyone seems to get wrong think that track bikes and fixed gear bikes are the same; they’re not. Track bikes are obviously designed and manufactured for the “track” and or “indoor use.”
The primary reason track bikes don’t use or need brakes is because they are really only riding in one direction on a closed track.
Track bikes are also designed to be incredibly lightweight and aero for maximum speed and efficiency. Most governing bodies prohibit using brakes for indoor track bikes because the races are fast and the surfaces are smooth, which helps encourage more exciting races.
Choosing the correct gear ratio is of paramount importance; you want to find a balance that allows you to get up the hills easily enough and enable you to control your descent back down.
When it comes to choosing cranksets, it’s always best to select cranks that are a little bit shorter in length than ones you’re typically used to.
The reason for this is quite simple; the shorter the crank arm is, the faster you can spin, and as mentioned above, spinning is an incredibly effective way to cycle for long distances.
Other Important Factors
As the name suggests, fixies only come equipped with one gear, so when it comes time to purchase your fixie, choosing the best components is essential.
Factors that you must take into consideration are:
- Where you intend to ride your bike
- How long will you be riding
- What kinds of distances will be you riding
- How often you plan to ride your fixie
- The terrain; is it flat or hilly?
- What are your current fitness levels?
- Are you an experienced “fixie” rider or a newbie to the sport
As we’ve mentioned, earlier fixies are an excellent way for newbies to get into the sport of cycling, and because the bikes offer stylish designs, they are fun to ride. I love the fact that you can upgrade nearly every component on a fixed gear bike, which goes a long way to make the bike your own.
The only thing that will hold you back is your imagination; the sky’s the limit when it comes to transforming your fixie into a beast that separates your bike from the rest of the bunch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Fixies Bad For Your Knees?
Riding a fixed-gear bike can put a lot of stress on the knees, especially if the fixie you are riding does not have brakes.
This forces you to use your legs to stop the bike, putting a tremendous amount of stress on your knees. However, in saying this, once you are used to riding a fixie, braking becomes much easier.
Are Fixies Good For Beginners?
Most cycling experts and coaches recommend a bike that allows you to change gears for a beginner.
Having gears is more comfortable to brake and slow down, but it also allows you to ride much further, increasing not only your fitness but your riding experience too. Once comfortable on a geared bike, then a fixie can be a lot of fun.
How Fast Can You Go On A Fixed Gear Bike?
The vast majority of fixed gear bikes are built to a higher gear ratio, such as 3:1. This is because it’s tough to “coast” on the downhills; the downside is it’s much tougher heading back up. Your average speed is probably going to be somewhere around 10-15mph.
Can Fixie Bikes Go Up Hills?
Yes and no; Although you can pedal uphill, fixed gear bikes are not ideal. They are used on the track because of their simplicity and the fact you can produce high speeds with fixies. Overall I’d steer clear of the hills if I were you.
Overall, fixies are a fun way of riding a bike, and over time the more confident you become, the more enjoyable the riding experience is.
I would highly recommend outfitting your fixie with at least one set of brakes; it’s better to be safe than sorry, and after all riding, your bike is meant to be fun.
Fixies are an inexpensive way to get into cycling and promote a smoother pedal stroke and provide a fun, energetic workout.