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Fixed Gear Bikes are very simple bikes. They don’t have the extra gears or mechanical systems that make bike maintenance and construction difficult. Since they’re very simple many people decide to build their own fixed gear bikes or even convert another bike into a fixed gear bike.
While fixed gear bikes are relatively simple, you still want to make sure you know what you’re doing before building your own bike so that you don’t have any issues when riding that could cause an accident. Improper construction of a bike can be very dangerous. If you would like to buy a complete bike, check out our list of the best fixies by clicking the button below.
Table of Contents
The Bike Frame
The most obvious part of the bike that you’ll need is the frame, the frame is what connects all the other parts together. A bike frame can be made of a number of different materials including steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Steel is the heaviest, aluminum is a bit lighter and carbon fiber is very light but as the material gets lighter the price of the frame tends to increase.
Other than the material of the frame there are a number of different frames that you can use when building a fixed gear bike. The different frames that can be modified to accommodate a fixed gear bike include road, mountain, track, and normal single speed bike frames.
The main requirement for these frames to be compatible with a fixed gear is that they have horizontal dropouts on the back wheel to allow for tension to be added to the chain. If you don’t have horizontal dropouts it would be very hard to adjust the chain tension to the exact degree needed.
Crank and Chainring
When choosing your chainring make sure you take into account the gearing ratio that fits the terrain you’ll be riding. You don’t want to have too high of a gearing ratio if you live in a hilly area and you don’t want to low of a gearing ration if you live in a flat area.
Handlebars come in 3 main types. These include drop bars, bullhorns and straight bars.
Drop bars (pictured below) are the ones that you typically see on a road bike where the handlebars go forward and then curve down. Drop bars are great for long rides and when you want to be more aerodynamic.
Bullhorns (pictured below) are similar to drop bars but they don’t curve down, instead, they curve up. These are one of the more versatile sets of handlebars. They aren’t as aerodynamic as the drop bars but they allow you to lean forward into the bars if needed and have multiple places to position your hands for a comfortable ride.
Straight bars (pictured below) are what people typically think of when they think of handlebars. They are just the handlebars that go straight across.
When it comes to fixed gear bikes, it’s very common for experienced riders to not ride with brakes but for most riders this is unsafe, so you’ll want to get a set of brakes to add to your fixed gear.
The chain is a crucial element in making your wheel spin. Having a good well-lubed chain is important for the smooth operation of your fixie. The number of links in your chain will depend on other features of your bike such as the number of teeth on your cog and the teeth on your chainring. So, make sure you understand how to adjust the number of links in your chain and how to figure out the correct chain tension.
There are a few different types of pedals you can put on your fixed gear bike. If you’re an avid cyclist you’ll probably already have a pair of clipless shoes, so, it would make sense to add clipless pedals to your fixie.
I personally don’t ride clipless on my fixie yet but I know many people that do. Some people are hesitant to ride clipless because they’ve heard of horror stories of the shoes coming unclipped in an emergency slide leaving them with no way to stop.
This is why I’ve been hesitant to ride clipless on my fixie, so I currently use pedal straps but I plan on at least trying clipless pedals on my fixie very soon.
Another major part of a fixed gear bike is the rear hub. Depending on the hub, you’ll either be making a single speed or a fixed gear. The rear hub and cog are what allow you to have a fixed rotation rear wheel.
Cog and Lockring
The Cog and lock ring are what lock the rotation of the wheel to the pedaling. You could also install a freewheel cog and this would let you coast but the goal of this article is building a fixed gear bike. So, you’ll want a fixed gear cog that doesn’t have a freewheel.
It’s also important to note that the lock ring is reversely threaded so that it doesn’t come off while you’re riding. So to loosen the lock ring you have to turn to the right (clockwise) and to tighten it you turn to the left (counter-clockwise)
Wheels can vary in sizes, it really depends on the goals of your fixed gear bike and the frame that you chose to use on what size wheels you need. You’ll have to do some research on the frame to know what size will fit on your frame.
You want to make sure the wheel is compatible with the rear hub you plan on using for your fixed gear. When working on my fixed gear I didn’t realize that the hub of a fixed gear and a single speed was different. I wanted to put 2 fixed gear cogs on my bike on the flip flop hub but I couldn’t because it didn’t fit.
For a typical road or fixed gear bike your tire size will typically be 700 by some other number. The other number depends on the clearance of your frame. Road bikes usually have a max clearance of around 25-28 while mountain bikes can handle way bigger wheels and tires. So, you will need to choose this based on the frame you decided to use for your fixie.
In addition to tires, you’ll need to get tubes to go in the tires unless you have tubeless tires.
There are many types of seats out there and there’s not really one type of seat that beats the others, it really depends on what’s comfortable for you but if you’re riding long distances, you don’t really want a cushiony seat. I currently have a Fizik seat on my fixie. Fizik is a well-known seat brand and they make great seats.
In addition to all the parts you’ll need for building a fixed gear bike, there are a number of nonstandard tools that you’ll need. These tools include a chain whip, lockring tool, Allen keys, open wrenches, cone wrenches, and potentially other specialty wrenches for fixed gears.
Although it is simple to build a fixed gear you should have a certified bike mechanic look over your work to ensure safety.