Get Your Fix
How To Build A Fixie
Fixed gear bicycles are getting really popular all over the world. Use this article to learn how to build a fixie from scratch!
Fixies are popular due to their simplicity, the appeal of the bicycle messenger aesthetic, and of course the simple beauty of a sleek, aerodynamic fixed gear frame. There are many different subsets of this style, but the idea is clean lines, few cables and a direct drivetrain (using a fixed gear)
There are many options for starting your fixie project, from spending thousands to building one for less than $20. Check out the following tips to help you get started!
Your Ideal Frame
How To Build a Fixed Gear Bicycle
In learning how to build a fixed gear bike, you'll need to start with a fixie frame. You can buy one, or you can find another bike and strip it down. Most frames will work, but one feature is required to make your project work: horizontal dropouts. If this is gibberish to you, no problem! Look at where the rear wheel attaches to the bike. There should be two slots in the frame where the wheel bolts into. Refer to the image above. These are the dropouts.
Your dropout slots need to be long, at least an inch, and they need to run more or less horizontally to the ground. Why? Because you need your chain to be nice and taut, and the only way to do this is to attach the chain and move the wheel back until it's tight.
All fixed gear bicycle builds, whether cheap or expensive, will include either horizontal dropouts or track end dropouts.
If you're planning to paint your bicycle, do so before attaching any extra parts.
Building A Fixed Gear Bike
Building a fixed gear bicycle will require a special type of rear wheel. You need one with a fixed rear hub. This includes a gear that is fixed to the hub, so you can't pedal backwards like most modern bikes.
You can find a fixed gear wheelset online, or at your local bike shop. Often you'll find what's called a 'flip-flop hub', which has a gear on each side of the wheel: one fixed, and one free. This lets you flip your wheel around and be able to pedal backwards, depending on your riding conditions.
A fixed gear wheelset is essential to building a fixie. It's not a fixie without one!
Your Chain (And Chain Line)
Build A Fixed Gear Bicycle
For your fixie bike build, you'll need to purchase a single speed chain. These chains are slightly thicker, and optimized for single speed riding. Your local bike shop should have many options for you.
Once you've got your chain, attach it to your bike and rear wheel, and then pull the wheel back until the chain is quite taut. This is all about feel: you want the chain tight so it doesn't fall off, but not too tight or it will click and bind.
You also want to make sure your chain line is straight. Look at how your chain runs from the wheel cog to the front chainring (near your pedals). Is it straight, or at a diagonal angle? You want this to be as straight as possible, and tight but not too tight, or you'll experience a lot of chain noise, and 'clicking' sensation as you pedal.
You Now Have A Fixie Bike!
Those are all the components you'll need for a basic fixed gear bicycle build. If putting it together is too challenging, a shop can easily assemble the component parts into a working bike, though you'll probably have to pay them a bit.
I strongly recommend putting a brake or two onto your new bike, it's not safe without one. Feel free to post any questions, comments or concerns, and I'll try to respond.