Fixed Gear Bike: What & How to Buy [Buyer’s Guide]

Riding a bike is always a great way to go outdoors and enjoy the pleasant air and also a way for better health. However, maybe you require a faster commute to work, with the added health benefits too. A fixed gear bike or a fixie might help you with that. 

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What is a Fix Geared Bike?

 Fixed-gear bike in short is called as a Fixie. The most love feature of this bike is that they have no freewheel mechanism, which means that you have to pedal the bicycle to move forward. However, fixed gear bikes are very reliable. They do not have multiple gears or freewheels, derailleurs, shifters, double- or triple-chainring cranksets. Regardless you can be slow down it just by resisting the pedal motion. In addition, these bikes usually come with no brakes and are used on velodromes for racing events. 

fixed gear bike
fixed gear bike

According to safety standards, if you want to use a fixie on the road, you must install at least the front brakes or both rear and front. The original goal while designing the fixed gear bike was safety rather than the mentality of the bike being a hipster thing. Anyone can ride a fixie, and you don’t need to be a hipster to ride it. 

Fixed Gear Bike: History

The production for the bike can be dated back to 1885 when big front wheel bikes dominated the market. The earliest versions of this bike go back to the first-ever ones where the freewheel was not invented, and all the early bikes used a sort of fixed gear system. They were immensely popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s when major cities like New York hosted huge track races regularly. But 136 years later, these bikes are in demand again, not for safety but for simplicity. In the mid-2000s, they were likely to be ridden by couriers and the fans of the hipster vibe. 

Why Should You Choose a Fixie? 

Fixed gear bikes are reliable and very little could go wrong with them. They are easy to maintain and are more efficient than normal bikes. As the connection between the machine and the rider is almost perfect. You can customize fixed gear bikes by adding various components and accessories. They are very durable and weather-resistant. Beginners who are new to riding bikes can go for these because of the simplicity of these bikes. Riding skills can be improved without ever worrying about the hassle of changing gears. Fixed gear bikes are long-lived and look charming, unique, and trendy. The main benefit of using a fixie over normal bikes is that no mental energy is wasted fiddling with all the shifting mechanisms, making the bike lighter with no extra parts. These bikes are used for various competitive events around the world.

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Mechanism of a Fixie

Learning a fixie takes time, though. Fixies or fixed gear bikes don’t have a free independent rear cog i.e., the rear cog is fixed to the rear wheel hub, meaning that if the rear wheel is turning, it can make the cog and crank arms turn. When riding a fixed gear bike, you cannot coast, as your legs will be pedaling the whole time you’re moving. The pedals attaches directly to the wheels. Turning the wheel turns the pedal automatically. Pedaling forward would turn the wheel forward. Similarly if you pedal backward, the wheel will turn backward. This type of riding can take some time getting used to, though, especially when going down hills, riding in traffic, or leaning into sharp corners at speed.

Types of Fixed Gear Bikes

There are different types of Fixies. Let us now look at them:

Commuting 

These types are the ones with sturdy steel frames with solid welds and thick wires. The equipments include commuting fenders and an extra rack installed for carrying your daily belongings. The most striking feature of these fixed gear bikes is a sealed bearing hub, which all the weather commuting requires. Also, the upright riding position gives better visibility in traffic.

Touring

The design is suitable for long journeys, comfort, and abilities. They have steel frames that are durable and dampen the extra vibrations during the course. As a result, they are effective in conquering the inclines with greater pedal efficiency.

touring
touring

Other distinct features of touring-fixed gear bikes to make your rides comfortable include plush handlebar tape, brake hoods, fenders, racks, and water bottle holders. 

Track

The design of these bikes is especially for competitive events and race tracks. They have a sleek body with lighter frames made of carbon fiber or aluminum alloy. The position of angles is sharper than other bikes to improve the aerodynamics of the bike and the riding position. In addition, it has a shorter wheelbase, along with the overall weight being lighter than other bikes. However, they are much more expensive than other fixed gear bikes in the market.

Cost of a Fixed Gear Bike

One can easily get a quality fixed gear bike for around 300$ that includes some extra features and a sturdy frame. You can also find the mikes for a much cheaper price with minimal or no accessories included. You can buy other expensive models including all the accessories for about 1000$.

Check out the best price offered for a fixie!

Guidelines for Buyers

The following are some aspects worth noticing. 

Simplicity of Fixed Gear Bikes

  • If you are searching for a lightweight bicycle with good efficiency, a fixed gear bike is to top your list. It weighs much less than its geared equivalents for the parts such as freewheel hub, shifters, cables, derailleurs, and many more remain absent in a fixie. With a linear frame and a shorter chain, the bike is simple in outlook. There are no pulleys or multiple gears. It is easy to maintain.
  • It is right to say that simplicity is the utmost sophistication. There are neither real brakes nor gears in fixed gear bikes, but multipurpose pedals to raise, shed speed, and stop. You can spin them hard, slow down, and lock them. 

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Manual Effort

  • The whole movement of a fixed gear bike is dependent on the rider’s manual effort, be it in pedaling or braking. A fixie would offer you the best pedaling efficacy and a steady cadence that can lead to improved muscular flexibility and coordination.
  • Since it is the rider’s direct power that transfers to the wheels, ensure that your physical stamina equals it to contest the need. 
  • Amateurs may take much time, practice, and effort to ride a fixie in comfort. There is no way for coasting or switching to easy gear on a long ride. But the extra traction and the smooth glide on its flip side can make an easy win over. 

Things You Should Consider

A related concern with fixed gear is to set the right gear that suits you. It could be determined by weighing down how you pedal (slow or fast), the terrain you ride (on or off-road), and finally how to fit you are (based on health) – stronger riders can handle higher gears and vice-versa.

In general, you can get away with a gear higher than your capacity, since the momentum of the rear wheel would keep the pedals turn around. Or you could even go for an in-between, i.e., one that is easy to get you going yet. 

Hub Of a Fixed Gear Bike

The rear hub of a fixie, being a significant part of the bike, is available in different modes. Usually, it grips two opposing sets of threads on the right side, one of the fixed cog and the other of the lock ring preventing the former from coming off during backpedaling.

fixed gear bike-hub
fixed gear bike-hub

However, some hubs, specifically known as ‘flip-flop hubs,’ have two sets of the opposing threads on the left side such that with another cog installed on the other side, it allows gear change and coasting. It makes sure that these hubs feature threaded axles and high-quality axle nuts to avoid quick release or related dangers. 

Chains Used In A Fixed Gear Bike

The bicycle chains commonly used in fixed gear bikes are either 1/8 inch or 3/32 inch. Most track fixies use the former as wider and heavier, while the street models rely on the more flexible chains and chainrings of the latter type for easier pedaling. Here you should note that you can go for a crankset with shorter arms since it would add smoothness to the ride. 

Top Fixed Gear Bike Brands 

The most prominent brands that produce fixed gear bikes are:

Schwinn

Founded in 1895, Schwinn is one of the oldest bicycle companies in the world. The brand’s popularity has been consistent for decades because of its commitment to quality manufacturing and innovative developments. 

Golden Cycles

Founded in 2014, this company aims to get more people to ride bikes. They manufacture sturdy bikes for daily commuting. The company is manufacturing affordable bikes for everyone. 

Retrospec

Founded in 2008, this company aims to raise the popularity of fixed-gear bikes and for more people to try them as they are easy to maintain and use.

6KU

6KU is a California-based bike manufacturing company that produces mostly commuter, road, and fixie bikes. 

Conclusion

Fixed gear bikes are no longer just a hipster thing. It was a trend that developed into a bike that has low cost and simple maintenance. They give us a different riding experience and the benefits it comes with. Riding a fixie was an act of rebellion. So, if it is all a good match for you, perhaps it’s the season to give a cheer and head starts at a ‘fixed gear.’

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