Fixed Gear Wheelsets

Fixie Bike Wheels

fixed gear wheelset with cog and lockringCredit:

The most important component of a good fixed gear buildup is finding an excellent fixed gear wheelset. Fixie bike wheels are essential for the project to work, and a good set of fixie wheels with great rims and hubs is worth it's weight in gold (figuratively, and subject to personal bias, of course)!

In this article I'll talk a bit about what fixed gear wheelsets are, and what you should look for if you're looking to buy some for yourself. I'll talk about the different elements of a good wheelset, and what to avoid. Hopefully you can use this information to make educated decisions and choose a good set of fixed gear wheels that will last you a long time!

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Fixie Wheelsets: What Makes Them Different?

Fixed Gear Wheelset Components

fixie wheelsets, fixed gear wheels fixed gear wheelsets, fixie wheels

Fixie bike wheels are different from regular wheelsets in a few very specific ways. A fixie wheelset typically consists of 700c rims laced to a fixed gear or flip-flop hub. They are not always 700c, sometimes you can find 26 inch rims with a fixed flip-flop hub attached, but those are generally less common. 

Fixed gear wheels are 'fixed', meaning that the cog does not move, ratchet or freewheel. This means, in practical terms, you cannot pedal backwards or coast down a hill. You have a very direct drivetrain, and a lot of feel for the road. 

Fixed gear wheelsets have a cog, usually around 16 or 17 tooth, which is attached to the hub and held in place with a fixed gear lockring. This lockring is essential; without one the cog will quickly work its way off the hub and you'll lose the ability to pedal the bike. 

These fixie wheels typically contain 32 spokes, though 36 is also common. Occasionally, you'll run across a set of fixie wheels with very few spokes in them, sometimes as few as 14. This may seem like a higher quality wheelset, but that's not always the case: fewer spokes always means a weaker wheel. 

Occasionally you'll see spoke-less fixie wheelsets out there. These wheels have three to six plastic or metal supports, which essentially function as spokes holding the fixie wheels together.

Fixie Wheels: What To Look For, What To Avoid

Cheap Fixie Wheelsets

Phil Wood Flip Flop Hub for Fixed Gear WheelsetCredit:

With fixed gear wheelsets, you'll want to look for wheels made of high quality material. Aluminum alloy is a great material, as is carbon fibre and steel. You want to look for a wheelset from a reputable brand. Some great names for hubs are Formula and Phil Wood hubs. A few great brands for rims are Mavic and Araya. Brand names are important. 

There are various quality levels in fixed gear wheelsets, and you'll need to do some review searching for the specific wheels you're looking at. 

You want to avoid no-name fixie wheels. Typical problems with these wheels includes stripped lockring threads (effectively ruins the wheel), a lockring that can't fasten on all the way (not enough room on the threads, very dangerous), bad fixie hubs (doesn't spin very well, 'crunching sound' when you pedal), and bad rims (cracked, bad material, improperly trued, warped). Fixie wheels have to take a lot more punishment than typical bike rims, especially the rear hub. You'll want to be careful and buy quality components. 

You can find great sets of fixed gear wheels on Amazon or Ebay for pretty reasonable prices. Some fixie wheel sets even include the cog and lockring. Just be certain to do your homework and read the customer reviews.

Good Luck! 

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