Let’s be honest. Stock parts kind of suck. Most new fixed-gear and single-speed bikes come with pretty shabby everything. That’s why we believe you should upgrade as soon as possible. Upgrades aren’t just for enhancing your bike’s performance and safety; they are also for customization and expressing your individuality. But what are the most important parts to upgrade on a bicycle?
To get the most out of your new fixie bike and give it a rear upgrade, you should:
- Swap out your fixed gear saddle for more comfort.
- Buy higher-quality fixie pedals for customizability.
- Grab a new wheelset for added style and performance.
- Try out different fixie handlebars for performance.
- Upgrade your fixie’s stock brakes for safety.
But there’s a lot more to it than that, so whether you’re upgrading for comfort, style, or safety, we will show you five parts you need to upgrade right now.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 7, 2022, to include additional information regarding bike parts.
Before getting into replacing the parts of your bike, let’s first understand why you might want to replace your bike’s stock components in the first place.
Why do I need to replace my bike’s stock components?
Many factors go into making a great fixie bike, but the most important is the build quality. This includes frame material and geometry, gears, brakes, and tires. All of these play a role in how efficient your ride will be and what kind of performance you can expect.
If your bike is under $700, chances are you have very low-quality components. Low-quality components can lead to several problems, including uneven tire wear, reduced speed and range, decreased braking performance, defects in the frame or fork, and more. These problems will affect your cycling experience negatively and cause serious injury if not fixed.
Top 5 parts you should upgrade on your fixed gear bike
Here are the parts you should swap out as soon as possible on your fixie or single-speed bike.
1. Upgrade your saddle
You’re going to spend most of your time seated. So, why not make sure it’s a comfortable ride? Saddles are some of the most “swapped” parts of any bike. This is because a saddle is, by nature, very intimate and personal.
Most off-the-shelf fixie bikes come with a boring plastic black saddle. The color, material, and style of your saddle play an essential part in your bike’s overall look and feel. This is another reason riders swap out their saddles; to match the style of the bike.
You don’t need to get the best, most expensive saddle. Brooks Brothers’ saddles* might look amazing, but they are ridiculously expensive. Try out many different saddles, not just the most reputable or expensive ones you find. Who knows, you might end up loving the cheapest one they got. This is one of the most important upgrades you can make, so be sure to check out our guide to choosing the perfect bike saddle.
Make sure to try the saddle out first. Here’s a tip: buy a few saddles on Amazon, keep the one you like best, and return the others. That way, you have endless options to choose from. Below are a few popular options.
2. Grab a wheelset that fits your style
Whether it’s for performance or style, odds are you will want to grab a better wheelset (both rear and front wheels are possible). Your wheelset is one of the most expensive upgrades you will make on the bike, other than perhaps the frame. But you will find that it will be well worth the investment. Not to mention, it’s a great way to get some color on your ride. Some of these wheels look amazing.
I grabbed a pair of Deep-Vs and completely fell in love with them. Whenever I take my bike on the subway, I get tons of looks, and I know it’s because of my white deep-v rims—definitely an eye-catcher. Deep-V rims look amazing, are often double-walled, and are super thick for durability. However, they come with some drawbacks. Deep-V rims require a longer valve stem and are harder to true when they get out of whack.
When you’re ready to upgrade your fixie’s wheelset, look for something that is lightweight and will match your bike’s style. Take a look at some of the wheelsets below.
3. Try out different fixie handlebars
Almost all off-the-shelf fixie bikes will come with riser bars, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with them.
There are many different types of bike handlebars out there, including riser bars, pursuit bars, bullhorn bars, and drop bars. Consider swapping out your stock handlebars with something new when you’re ready to upgrade your fixie. There’s nothing wrong with switching it up, and you may find that you have a more enjoyable experience with a different handlebar.
This will make your bike feel new, and it’s a great way to change up the style of your bike, allowing you to grab some brand new grips and colors for your bike!
Additionally, you can liven up an old bike by getting a different style of handlebars. This will make your old bike feel like new. So, if your bike came with riser bars, give drop bars a chance. Or a pursuit bar if you’re feeling extra adventurous.
Be advised—most bars will not come with handlebar tape. You will want to pick up some while you are at it. Bar tape comes in many colors and is yet another great way to add some individuality to your ride. Below are a few bar tape options to consider when upgrading your fixie.
4. Upgrade your fixie’s pedals
Why are pedals so important? A few years ago, I was biking down a steep hill when suddenly my pedals came loose, I lost complete control and tumbled to the ground like a rag doll, and I still have the scars to prove it. You need a good, strong pedal, which is why the price is often justifiable. After my unfortunate incident, I have stayed away from the cheap stuff.
When it comes to fixie pedals, you have many options to choose from, like toe clips, pedal straps, and clipless pedals. Your riding style should dictate what kind of pedals are right for you, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Like new handlebars, adopting a clipless pedal set upright to make that old bike feel brand new makes it a great way to upgrade your fixie or even a road bike.
Like saddles, pedals are a matter of preference, not just for how they feel but for how they look. Shopping for a pair of pedals is a great opportunity to add some color and character to your fixie. Below are a few pedals that might fit your needs when you’re ready to upgrade your fixie.
5. Switch out your brakes
When you upgrade your fixie, don’t overlook the brakes. Even if you’ve been riding track bikes for years and know how to stop dead in your tracks using nothing but the power of your legs, you are still going to want a powerful front brake. Some states even require you to have brakes for your bike to be considered street legal.
A lousy brake pad will make it easier for tiny metal shards to get trapped inside. These shards will scratch your rims with every squeeze of the lever. This can be especially bad if you have a wheel with colored rims, as the tiny pebbles and glass bits can easily get stuck on the brake pad and will scratch and eventually wear out the paint entirely.
There are a few different types to choose from when it comes to fixie brakes. However, the simplest and most common by far are the caliper brakes.
SRAM makes some of the best caliper brakes on the market. They are as sturdy as all hell and very well-reviewed. Take a look at the SRAM rival 22 caliper brakes. If the SRAMs are a bit outside of your budget, check out a few other options below.
What parts should I upgrade if I’m on a tight budget?
If you are on a budget, focus on the things that cost less, like pedals. Take a look at this video from Zach Gallardo as he goes over the top 9 budget-friendly options to consider when you upgrade your fixie. We’re talking $20 or less! Definitely a must-watch.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about cycling upgrades.
What should I upgrade on my fixie?
One option is to invest in a better frame. You may also want to upgrade your parts, such as the brakes and gears. For wheels, you can get something that’s lighter. You might also want to consider upgrading your saddle or handlebar pads.
How do you choose which parts to buy when you want to upgrade your fixie?
When you’re looking to upgrade your fixie, one of the first things that you’ll need to do is decide which parts are required. After that, make sure that the part is within your budget. Try to get new parts, not used parts. (however, very high-end used parts can be a great buy). And never forget to read the user reviews.
What is the most critical component of a fixed gear bike?
The drivetrain is the most crucial part of a fixed-gear bike. The gearbox, gears, and chain are all included. It’s critical to choose the appropriate gear for the terrain you’re riding in and keep your chain tight so your bike doesn’t get thrown out of gear.
To be fair, not all stock bike parts are crap. Custom builds don’t require you to upgrade your fixie at all. And some manufacturers use top-quality components in their builds. So, if you like the way your bike was set up, then more power to you. After all, cycling, like most hobbies, is largely about finding what works for you. But you will eventually have to replace some of the parts on your bike. When you do, we hope you remember some of these tips.
This article covered the top five things you should upgrade on your new bike. Here are some key takeaways:
- Swap out your fixed gear saddle.
- Buy higher-quality fixie pedals.
- Grab a fixed gear wheelset that fits your style.
- Try out different fixie handlebars.
- Upgrade your fixie’s stock brakes.
Are you thinking about new parts to upgrade your fixie with any of these parts and accessories? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.