Riding at its most simplified form is riding a bike with just one gear. That’s what the first Tour de France riders did in 1903 and that what people still today whether they are riding to work on a single speed bike or blitzing round a velodrome on a fixed gear bike.
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Our guide will clarify what it means to ride a fixie or single speed and offer the best singlespeed and fixed gear bikes on the market.
Best singlespeed bikes
A single speed bike does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a bike with just one gear. It still has a front and a back brake like any other bike but just fewer gears.
Not usually built for racing, these bikes sometimes house mudguard and pannier mounts making them ideal commuting bikes.
The lack of cassette, derailleur and cables mean that the need for maintenance and cleaning is low. Turning one gear also helps you to learn to use your cadence to moderate your effort and speed – something that’s easy to forget when always riding a geared bike. For these reasons, some riders choose a singlespeed as a winter bike.
Some singlespeed bikes come with a ‘flip flop’ hub – that means the hub is double sided. Swapping between the two allows the rider to choose between a freewheeled singlespeed, and a fixed gear (explained below).
State Bicycle Core-Line £299.99
There are three bikes in the Core-Line range, Rigby (as pictured above), Wulf (Matte Black) and Pigeon (high gloss ‘asphalt’ grey), all of which keep the same steel frame and flip-flop hub for either freewheel or fixed geared riding.
The range was developed to break down barriers to bike ownership, and as such has been build with a price point in mind. One thing that does stand out is the a 44/16t gearing, which works out at nearly 73inch, which is pretty big, so you might want to consider a bigger sprocket and longer chain if your rides contain hills.
That said, the range has a lot of fans and almost a cult-like following, which can make it tricky to get hold of at times, and with a five year manufacturer warranty, it’s an impressive and attractive bike offering.
Vitus Vee29 City Bike £299.99
With rugged 2.1 mountain bike tyres and an 18T freewheel, the Vitus Vee29 City bike is more of a off roading machine than a dainty city riding bike.
The aluminium frame and fork has recently undergone a updated frame and fork design for a more comfortable ride over any terrain, and flat bars will help with climbing and navigating more technical terrain.
No mudguards or panniers mounts won’t be ideal for all, but going direct from office to trail is what this bike is all about and if you ride the dirt, you know to expect to get covered in it!
A great price for an adventure / off road style bike
Buy now US: Vitus Vee29 City bike from Wiggle for $349.99
Fabricbike Light £449.90
Coming with a flip-flop hub, the Fabricbike Light allows you to choose between at 16T singlespeed or fixed gear. The aluminium frameset has been designed to combine both aerodynamics and comfort with deep section 43mm whees an 25c Kenda tyres.
The lighteweight aspect comes from it’s claimed frameset weight of just 2.45kg, and a total bike weight of just 9.45kg for a size medium, around a kilo lighter than other options on the market.
The bullhorn handle bars are a great option for getting low and aero, as well as having something to pull on for the climbs, but not as good for frequent turns, making this the FabricLight ideal for longer distances, when you want to cover ground swiftly, but probably not one for inner city riding.
Available in four colours, including a polished and clear lacquer version.
Creme Vinyl Uno Bike £449.99
The Dutch brand has been designing city bikes for just over ten years, with the Vinyl Uno one of it’s single speed offerings.
A steel frame and fork is teamed with rim brakes, a riser flat bar and a 46/17T flip flop gear. As with the State Bicycle Core-Line bike above, this is pretty big, so worth adding a bigger sprocket and longer chain to the shopping basket if you’re planning to ride somewhere with a few hills.
Buy now US: Creme Vinyl Uno bike at Wiggle for $429.99
Fuji Feather 2020 singlespeed bike £529.99
A lovely looking bike from Fuji, the Feather is available in black, as above, or white, with fetching hot pink decals, and a bike perfect for those pining for a blend of retro and modern. The chromoly steel frame and fork means the bike should be hardy but also comfortable to ride.
With removable cable clips and a flip flop hub fitted with a 16T cog and freewheel at the rear you could even take it to the track for a fixed wheel spin, or keep it singlespeed with brakes for the road.
The dropped keirin-style handle bars and geometry make this a great option for nimble city riding, but with no mudguard mounts it’s probably best for dry days only.
Octane One Kode Commuter £699.99
The steel frame and fork comes with plenty of bottle, mud-guards and pannier mounts making it a great option for daily riding in all weather.
The mechanical disc brakes are a great addition to this singlespeed, which also comes with a flipflop 14t hub, enabling you to ride fixed gear too. With rugged 40c Kenda Kwik tyres and the ability to switch to a drivetrain (purchased separately) it’s a pretty versatile offering.
A good allrounder, but you might want to swop the gearing if your planning on more than flat rides.
Buy now US: Octane One Kode Commuter at Wiggle for $749.00
Genesis Day One 10 £749.99
Aimed at the urban commuter, the Genesis Day One 10 is great all rounder with it’s mechanical disc brakes, 35c tyres, full length mudguards, and mounts for panniers too.
The 42T chain ring and 17T sprocket single speed (67inch) is a great gear for balancing speed and climbs, meaning even if you don’t live and commute to the flattest areas, you should be able to ride rather than walk the climbs.
With added reflective decals, the Cromoly (steel) frame and fork should offer great durability, making this a perfect long term workhorse.
Genesis Flyer £749.99
Sharing the same tubing spec and geometry as the Genesis Equilibrium, the Flyer is aimed at a all season riding, with the benefits of a cadence-friendly 42/17t combo and a a flip-flop hub for both freewheel and fixed riding, so great for both undulating and flatter riding.
The Cromoly (Steel) frame and carbon fork set come with ProMax rim brakes and custom extra long Chromplastic mudguards to provide plenty of protection in wet weather.
A great low maintenance ready ride out the box option.
Best fixed gear bikes
A fixed gear bike, or fixie, is exactly like a singlespeed bike in that it has only one gear. So what makes a fixed gear bike different? As the name suggests, the drive train is ‘fixed’ meaning there is no ability to coast as the cranks turn as the bike moves, regardless whether you are pedalling or not.
Usually reserved for the velodrome, track and fixed gear bikes have seen a resurgence in urban riding for their mechanical simplicity thanks to a bike courier cult following. They’re also used in the growing discipline that is fixed gear crit racing – as seen in the Red Hook series.
If you’re riding on the road, it is important to remember that it’s a legal requirement that you fit a working front break to your machine.
Cinelli Tipo Pista Track bike £849.99
With brakes on board, the Cinelli Tips Pista track bike allows you to take fixed gear riding out of the velodrome/ crit races and on to the streets.
An aluminium frame and carbon fork help keep the bike down to a claimed 7.8kg, which is impressively about three kilos lighter than most of the single speed bikes at this price point.
Caliper rim brakes front and rear are easily removable thanks to external cable routing, meaning you can go straight from work to the track no problems.
Fuji track road bike £444.60
An entry level track bike, built from bombproof Reynolds 520 CrMo steel, promising comfort and a responsive ride.
The robust material will work well for someone planning to dip their toe into their first fixed crits. Front and rear brakes come fitted if you’re riding on the road, but can be removed for events.
Choosing a gear for your singlespeed or fixed gear bike
Since you’ve only got one gear, it’s pretty important that it’s the right one. Too much resistance, and you’ll come to a stop at every hill. Choose too little, and you’ll be spinning your legs like a hamster in a ball.
The gear is created by the ration between the front and rear chainring, which is measured in inches. The ideal gear varies a lot between riders. For commuters, often something in the region of 65 to 75 inches is about right.
Track riders will go for a much higher gear, since the only hills involved are the banking.
Here’s a look at the gear rations you’d get with various different chainring and rear cog combinations. A wider tyre will very slightly increase the gear inches, and vice versa:
Things to remember when riding fixed gear
- Be sure to practice on a quiet road if it’s your first time riding a fixed gear bike or better yet, take to your local velodrome. They are usually filled with classes for beginners and have a great sense of community for fixed gear riders.
- Both singlespeed bikes and fixed gear bikes use nuts to secure their wheels, unlike road bikes and quick release skewers you will need to carry a small wrench of some kind to be able to fix any punctures.
- If you’re riding on the road, you must have a working front brake
- Finally, if you’re riding fixed, DON’T forget to pedal. Otherwise you may find your bike doing its best bucking bronco impersonation.