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I love riding a fixie.
There is something about the simplicity of a bike that is made to “grab and go”.
No derailleurs to worry about adjusting. Required lube is minimal. As long as you have a 15 mm wrench and a 4,5 and 6mm Allen wrench, you can pretty much do any repair these bikes would need.
There’s a reason that the bike couriers of New York ride these. For the money, it’s hard to find a lighter, more “bomb-proof” bike.
Plus, there is the social status of being a fixed-gear rider. Let’s face it, there is a tiny bit of skill involved to ride a bike that does not (cannot) coast. And that freaks a lot of people out.
The first time you ride a fixed gear, you will be struck by what a unique ride it is.
But it doesn’t take long before you get the basics of “bunny hopping” and “skidding” down and you are starting to feel like a pro
Mastering a fixed gear truly puts you in an elite class.
Their Popularity Are Driving Up Their PriceOne of the downsides of the fixie’s popularity is that many mainstream manufacturers are trying to get into the market.
They bring their “premium bike” attitude into the sport and the next thing you know, you’ve got $900+ bikes floating around with a serious identity.
And while these bikes are sweet, they steal from the simplistic heart of the fixie:
- The college kid.
- The commuter.
- The rebel.
We all need a cheap fixed-gear bike.
Tips For Buying a Cheap Fixie:
Thankfully, there are a number of companies that have heard our cry and have started manufacturing affordable, stylish, fixed-ear bikes. Here are some thoughts about buying one on the low-end
- They are meant to be customized. Even the expensive ones. Don’t like the saddle? Swap it out!
- The tires are never good enough. I like the Serfas Seca. But fixies are hard on your tires. You’ll go through them quickly.
- You’ll want to swap out the handlebars. I don’t know why. But everyone does.
#1 Pure Fix Cycles Single-Speed Urban
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Offended by the compromise of choices left by other bike companies, Pure Fix Cycles decided to offer something different. Something with style. And affordability.
They created a line of bikes that was true to the heart of single-speed cycling.
The first thing I like about this bike is the urban geometry frame. Track bikes — the original fixed gear — is one of the most “aggressive” geometries out there. you literally feel like you are being dumped on your head.
So the more “relaxed” urban geometry creates a much more comfortable ride and leaves you feeling like you have more control.
The high-tensile steel frame is super-durable. Granted, steel is heavier than carbon, but it’s also a lot cheaper. And, despite the steel frame, this bike is nothing more than a frame, handlebars, wheels, and pedals, so it is still pretty light (should be roughly 22-24 lb range, based on Amazon reviews).
The stock tires are Kenda. I like them all right, so it’s a good place to start. I typically go upgrade to 700x25c, but if you are doing a lot of urban riding and commuting you will like the wider 700x28c that comes on it.
Tired of riding a fixed gear? Decide it’s not for you? Just take the rear wheel out and turn it around. Thanks to the flip-flop hub it instantly converts to a single-speed that can coast. It also has a front brake in case you decide to mostly run it at a single speed.
Why aren’t these wheels quick-release? It’s because of all the tension you put on them, pedaling them directly. Most other bikes with quick-release wheels use derailleurs to take a lot of the pressure off the axle. Bolt-on hubs are much more secure and are ideal for this high-tension application.
There is a minimal warranty that comes with the Pure Fix bike. However, to activate the warranty, you need to have the bike assembled at a professional bike shop (typically costing about $60).
These bikes are easy to assemble, and, should you choose to assemble it yourself can expect it to take about 1 hour.
A lot of size options available and over 17 color variations.
Pure Fix Sizing:
43 cm 4’3″-4’7″
47 cm 4’8″-5’1″
50 cm 5’2″-5’6″
54 cm 5’7″-5’11”
58 cm 6′-6’3″
61 cm 6’4″
#2 Critical Cycles Pista
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Hungry for some California style? Critical Cycles offers a fresh, clean style.
The hand-built steel frame is simple and gorgeous. Drawing heavily from this history of track bikes, the Critical bike uses a truly classic style to deliver a purely gorgeous ride.
While their frame is similar to the track bikes of yore, they still are not so aggressive that it is uncomfortable to ride. If you like a racier feel to your bike, this one is probably what you are looking for.
When riding around town, durability is key. That is why you will like some of the extra features engineered in, like the double-walled wheels. These deep-v, double-walled wheels are not only quite snazzy, but they are also more resilient for surviving potholes and curbs that would warp lesser wheels.
Most of you will want to ride it in a fixed position. But, if you decide that you’d rather be able to coast along, just flip the rear wheel using the included tools. It also has a ProMax brake front brake which is actually a pretty high-quality brake for the money
If you are after a classic design, with top-notch components at an affordable price, this is the bike to go for.
#3 The Vilano Edge
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When it comes to delivering a high-quality bike for less money, Vilano is a top-notch company.
This Steel frame is not fancy. Tig-welded made to last, with a comfortable urban geometry.
The handlebars are really fun and functional for commuting. They even ship their bars pre-wrapped so you don’t have to fight with that.
One thing that sets the Vilano Edge apart from the competition is that it has both front and rear brakes. If you are planning on doing mostly freewheel riding, this is something important to consider, and you may like the better braking power.
A lot of customers won’t like the 1 1/8″ threadless headset that comes on the Edge. This is actually a higher quality headset than the other bikes have and is considered much more durable. However, they are not very adjustable and you cannot just “raise the handlebars”. The Pure Fix bike has the same system, but it then uses flat handlebars with a little “rise” to them. Since these handlebars are more “flat”, they won’t adjust higher without using an adapter. (You can flip the stem around and bring them up a couple of cm, though)
I feel as though the Vilano is a quality bike and has a top-notch company standing behind their product. That said, for the price: value ratio, it belongs in 3rd place on our list.
Available in 7 Snazzy Colors
#4 Critical Cycles Upright Urban
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As we come towards the end of this list I wanted to put Critical Cycles in here again. Now, this bike could feasibly go up there and be in a toe-to-toe match with Pure Fix. But I like Pure Fix better. Aesthetics, I guess. (Hey, it’s my blog, I can rank ’em how I want to).
Basically, Critical said “screw this” to any sort of road bike notion. You get quite the upright position on this ride, and the riser handlebars are sure to be pleasing to every college student who gets tired of navigating campus on a road bike during class change. (not at all unlike riding in a Lamborghini in rush hour).
Critical goes all-out on this rig. KMC chain. Promax brakes. Wellgo Pedals. I’m pretty impressed that they can pull this many brands in.
Also, this setup has those double-wall rims that I feel are so, well, ‘critical’ for durability when riding in the city.
And, with over 10 color combinations, you are sure to find something that you will be proud to ride.
That said, they only have small, medium, and large sizes. So, if you are over 6’2″, you probably won’t find these bikes to be the most comfortable. (Kinda’ cramped. Hands go numb on long rides, etc).
#5 The Takara Sugiyama
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For years and years, Takara has produced the Kabuta as their offering to the single-speed world. As one of the cheapest bikes on the market, it has garnered a surprising amount of market share.
But, I’ll be honest. It always looked butt-ugly.
The Sugiyama seems to be on a much better track in the looks department. Maybe they can tone down their brand name that’s plastered all over their cool paint job a little and it will look even better. But at least it is survivable, now.
For a first-time fixed gear, this bike works. The stem is adjustable so it will match a wide range of comfort levels. The 32c wide tires are not only more pothole-resistant but are also more comfortable and cushy.
I’m not a fan of the chain guard. Never had good luck with them on any bike. I just roll up my pant legs and get along like a dork. I also wish that the bike offered double-walled rims. Just that added reassurance.
Finally, it is heavy. Just over 30 pounds.
That said, the Sugiyama gets great reviews and comes in at an affordable price point. I know that for a lot of peeps it’s this bike or nothing.
And a bike normally beats nothing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a fixie bike hard to ride?
No, on the contrary, a fixie bike is easier to balance and maintain, so you’ll find yourself getting used to it quite quickly. Moreover, it has fewer parts that you’ll need to purchase to maintain it, so fixing it in case it breaks should be a cakewalk compared to more complex bikes out there. Even better, you’re physically engaged with the bike in a way that just doesn’t happen with a freewheel.
Are fixies better than road bikes?
It depends on who you ask, but it seems that the consensus between a large number of individuals is that fixies feel much smoother to ride than regular freewheel bikes. That might be because you feel more connected to the bike itself and because there are fewer parts that can get used up and that you’ll need to change in case it will ever break down.
Why do fixies have no brakes?
Ah, there’s the charm of a fixie. It has no brakes. How so? You don’t need brakes on a fixie because you can stop it in its place by simply applying force on the pedals. Simply resist the pedal motion with your legs or skid the rear wheel, thus effectively braking. While it takes some time to get used to this type of braking, you’ll find it to be much more instinctive than pressing the brake on a regular bike. And it’s also a good way of exercising your dexterity on a bike, thus improving your skills overall.
Are fixies good for long-distance?
No, I don’t recommend riding a fixie bike long-distance. The lack of gears might drain your energy if you plan on going for a long ride, and the fact that there are no gears might also make it harder to regulate your speed when going down or uphill.
A Few Last Words…
I actually found that after several weeks of riding my fixie, I was a better all-around bike handler. Because it doesn’t let you coast, it teaches you to pedal all the time and to become more efficient at pedaling. It also helps you learn to be more comfortable with your bike in any situation and how to initiate and control skidding — skills many other riders never even think of learning.
Don’t overthink your purchase. Just find a fixed gear bike you like and go with it. And then ride every chance you get.
Remember, these bikes are about style and simplicity, and the joy of riding. Get out and have fun with yours.
Get out and have fun with yours.
(Don’t Try This At Home. Try It Somewhere You Can Receive Medical and/or Psychiatric Help)