Curious about dipping your toes into the world of sleek and simplistic cycling? Ever pondered what a fixed gear conversion is? If you’ve spied a mesmerizing fixed gear bike whizzing by, you might be considering a conversion for your old steed. You’ll come away from this post with a handle on converting your trusty ride into a fixie worthy of any New York street.
Prep your toolbox and check out some of the best fixie bikes to get inspired.
- Fixed gear conversion simplifies your bike and connects you directly with the ride.
- Select the right components and gear ratio for a satisfying fixed gear experience.
- Transformation requires basic mechanical skills and a willingness to learn through trial and error.
What is a fixed gear conversion?
A fixed gear conversion transforms a multi-speed bicycle into a fixed gear bike, which involves ditching components like derailleurs and freewheels, conjuring up a one-speed wonder that’s connected and responsive. Billowing down the avenues with a keen sense of control, riders revel in the direct connection between pedal stroke and rear wheel movement. It’s your bike, simplified to its essence.
So, how do you start this metamorphosis? First off, you need a donor bike, preferably an old road bike, as they are akin to the geometry of a track bike. They share the fire but differ in the flow.
Here are some fixed gear conversion essentials:
- Swap out the rear wheel for a track wheel, or rework your existing wheel with a fixed gear hub
- Remove the rear derailleur and shifter — they won’t be joining us on this journey
- Choose a track chainring up front; the teeth profile helps keep the chain where it belongs
- Consider best bike multi-tools for your bike-building adventures
Personal preference plays a chief role here. You might wax poetic about the quiet roads at dawn when it’s just you, your fixie, and the hum of the city waking up. But you’ve got to consider that a fixed gear bike holds no quarter.
Miss your mark on that pedal stroke, and she’ll remind you who’s boss. That being said, there’s an honesty in riding fixie; it’s raw and unadulterated, like steering a ship by reading the stars.
In my view, there’s something singular about the track bike experience. It’s not for everyone — and don’t let anyone tell you different! A buddy once confessed he thought going fixie would feel like that scene in “The Italian Job” — total precision and urban nimbleness.
Instead, he got a workout that left him feeling like he’d gone ten rounds with the city. But hey, he loved it! Riders don’t convert to fixed gear for convenience; they yearn for the dance of man and machine, spinning as one.
When you propel through Brooklyn’s heartbeat, you just know: you’re not just riding; you’re performing a limitless ballet on asphalt. Check out common mistakes made when building a fixie, so your ballet doesn’t turn into a comedy of errors!
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
Fixed gear conversion explained
Converting a bike to a fixie means transforming your multi-gear bicycle into a fixed gear, single-speed machine. This straightforward transformation involves removing parts that are non-essential to a fixed gear setup, such as the freewheel mechanism and derailleur, and replacing them with fixie-specific components.
What parts do I need?
A few key parts are essential for the conversion: a fixed gear rear hub or wheel, a compatible chain, and sometimes a new crankset or chainring. You might also want to invest in some quality fixie bike handlebars to complete your setup.
- Choose compatible components: Ensure your new parts fit your bike frame and are suitable for fixed gear riding.
- Simplicity is key: A fixed gear bike reduces maintenance and emphasizes a direct riding experience.
How do I choose the right gear ratio?
Getting the gear ratio right is critical for a comfortable ride:
- Think about your terrain: A lower ratio eases climbing hills, while a higher ratio optimizes speed on flats.
- It’s about balance: Find a middle ground that allows for efficient riding in your most common conditions.
- Test and adjust: Experiment with different ratios to find what works best for you.
Building your fixie
Building up a new fixie or converting an existing bike is an opportunity to learn more about your ride.
Step-by-step guide to conversion
Follow a structured approach to avoid common pitfalls — peep the common mistakes people make when converting to a fixie, and steer clear of potential frustrations.
- Find the right frame: Road bike frames are ideal due to their geometry that closely matches track bikes.
- Get the right tools: A solid set of tools, including a chain whip and spanners, is indispensable.
Maintenance tips for your converted bike
Your converted fixie will require less maintenance than a geared bike, but there are still key areas to concentrate on:
- Regular chain tension checks: To avoid slipping and potential accidents.
- Brake assessment: Even if riding brakeless is your jam, make sure your bike is street legal and safe.
The joys and challenges of riding fixed
Fixed gear cycling offers a unique ride quality and an intimate connection with your bike, but it’s not without its challenges.
Why riding fixed is rewarding
When you ride fixed, you’re in complete control:
- Direct power transfer: Every ounce of energy you put in directly drives you forward.
- Skilled riding: Fixed gear riders usually develop a greater skill set, including track stands and skid stops.
Common challenges and how to overcome them
Expect a learning curve when transitioning to fixed gear riding:
- Knee strain: Initially, you may experience some discomfort; focus on form and fit to alleviate this.
- Urban riding awareness: Increased vigilance is necessary due to the constant pedaling nature of fixies.
In summary, this table captures the essential steps and considerations for a successful fixed gear conversion:
|Remove multi-speed components
|Freewheel, derailleur, shifters
|Install fixed-gear hub/wheel
|May require a new or re-spoked wheel
|Select and fix new gear ratio
|Consider terrain and personal comfort
|Adjust chain tension
|Ensure optimal performance and safety
|Test different setups for the best experience
When venturing into the realm of fixed gear conversion, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and make some quick decisions that you might regret later. To steer clear of these pitfalls, check out these dos and don’ts that will guide you through the process smoothly and ensure your fixie conversion is a roaring success.
|Research your frame compatibility
|Rush the process without proper tools
|Use a track chainring for better chain retention
|Skimp on key components like the hub
|Test different gear ratios for optimal performance
|Forget to regularly check chain tension
|Maintain your bike with regular inspections
|Overlook local cycling laws, especially for brakes
More fixed gear conversion tips
When you’ve got all the technical details hashed out, there’s always room for that extra sprinkle of know-how to elevate your conversion project:
- Regularly inspect your cog and lockring for tightness.
- If you’re keeping a front brake, ensure the brake pads are high quality for reliable stopping power.
- Incorporate foot retention for better control and efficiency—learn about your options for foot retention in cycling.
- Invest in a quality saddle to improve your ride comfort—find insights on how to choose a bike saddle.
- Custom grips or bar tape can provide better handle comfort and personal flair.
- Keep a close eye on your tire pressure; fixies can be sensitive to underinflation during skid stops.
- Engage with the cycling community; fellow fixie aficionados offer a wealth of knowledge and experience.
If you are a visual learner, check out this video titled ‘How Cheaply Can You Build A Fixed Gear Bike? | Cheap Bike To Fixie Ep.1’
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Can fixed gear bikes go uphill?
Absolutely! While it’s trickier due to the constant pedal rotation, a well-chosen gear ratio can make climbing hills doable. You’ll rely on momentum and a bit of grit, but over time your strength and technique will improve, making those hills seem less intimidating.
Is it expensive to convert to a fixed gear?
It doesn’t have to be. If you start with your existing bike and shop smart for parts, it can be quite affordable. The key is to invest in quality components where it matters, such as the rear hub and chain, to avoid higher costs down the line due to replacements or repairs.
How do I know if my frame is suitable for a fixed gear conversion?
Look for a frame with horizontal dropouts as they allow for proper chain tension adjustment — crucial for fixed gear setups. Most old road bike frames are suitable candidates. It’s less so about the brand and more about the frame’s structural design and your ability to tweak it.
Converting your ride to a fixed gear setup breathes new life into an old bike and can offer a transformative cycling experience. It’s a journey that combines mechanical know-how with the physical joy of cycling in its purest form. Whether you’re in it to tweak, toil, or simply take to the streets with a new kind of freedom, remember that your fixie is a reflection of your creativity and zest for the ride.
What’s been your biggest challenge or triumph in the world of fixed gear conversions? Did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed gear and track bikes.
Thanks for reading and keep those cranks turning—smooth, stylish, and synchronized with your city’s pulse.