Rebel Riders: The 7 Best Fixed Gear Bikes

It’s easy to discount the fixed gear(or “fixie” as they are known by street youths) craze as hipster drivel. Ok, sometimes it is, but riding a fixie can be a fun and liberating experience. If you’ve never done it, you must give it a shot. The point of these bikes is to more adroitly connect rider with machine. You don’t have cogs and shifters and all manner of hooplah between you and your fixie like you would on standard bikes. You crank the pedals and the wheel turns. It’s artful simplicity.

The advantage to this simplicity is not only do you dump off all the weight of extra kit on your bicycle, you also gain more maneuverability since you are directly connected to the drivetrain. Pedal forward, and you go forward, pedal backward and you go back, unlike traditional road bikes, where reverse pedaling just makes you look a fool. Many riders, especially those in urban environments and track riders, swear by fixie riding. Whether it looks like a novel idea or you’ve been on the bandwagon for years, you’ll find a steed for you among our 7 best fixed gear bikes.

Critical Cycles Urban Road Bike

Critical Cycles Urban Road Bike

Pro: Inexpensive
Con: Does not have larger sizes

Budget Friendly: Fixed gear bikes are pretty low cost to begin with, but we felt that the broke student living on a food card might need a little more money for books (or more likely: beer) in his or her pocket. For a fixie that will get you to and from class for your whole college career, Critical Cycles has cracked the code. Essentially a commuter bike it still uses a tig-welded steel track frame that is drop-dead sexy thanks to its horizontal dropouts. The component set is made for the stop and go movement of riding around town and the back has the flip-flop hub necessary from going freewheel to fixed on short notice. Urban riders will find the 48:16 gear ratio ideal on the highways and byways. Be aware that while the frame is straight and solid things like brakes, tires, pedals, and the brake lever are all on the cheap side and will need replacement. [Purchase: $195]

Retrospec Mantra

Retrospec Mantra

Pro: Light and nimble
Con: Parts and paint can be easily damaged

Exercise or Commute: Stepping up a notch from the most basic to something that the average person would be proud to have hanging in their garage is the Mantra. Made from tig-welded high-tensile steel, with spartan looks and versatile performance, you can use this for a little back-alley racing as easily as lazy rides around town. Flip-flop between single gear and fixie mode to make this bike do the work when you don’t want to. Sealed cartridge hubs reduce friction and debris for a smoother ride that fits with the “urban comfort” attitude that the Mantra exudes. Brakes, pedal straps, and everything else can easily be swapped out should you desire something different. [Purchase: $233+]

Pure Fix Cycles Fixed Gear Urban

Pure Fix Cycles Fixed Gear Urban

Pro: Long-lasting frame
Con: Terrible tires

Most for the Money: Don’t expect to see a lot of big brands on the parts of this fixie, but fret not, for the materials are high-quality without the added sticker shock. A flip-flop cog system on the back lets you turn this from standard runner to beach cruiser bike with ease. Pop off the lone front brake and you’re ready for action on or off the track. The geos are nice and tight, using a 44:16 ratio and 74.25 gear inches of separation. Even the biggest, baddest models weigh only about 24 lbs. so taking moderate hills isn’t too tough on your body. Tig-welded steel makes up the frame’s body, so go ahead and beat it up. [Purchase: $305+]

BAMF Piledriver

BAMF Piledriver

Pro: Can use fat tires
Con: Built for ruggedness, not speed

Big Wheel: The Piledriver can be used like any standard fixed gear bicycle, for cruising around town, going to poetry readings, and riding through the park humming a jaunty tune. Or you can slap some oversized tires and turn this into your own personal fixie fat bike. Wheel clearance will allow for up to 40c wheels on the 700c rims. A Norris steel frame gives you tons of durability should you take this out on the snow or even into the hills for a real quad-pumping workout. The 16-tooth cog connects to a heavy-duty 46-tooth chainring that offers exceptional leverage for taking on hills and making the wheels on the bike go ’round and ’round. For track riders, the rear end is 120mm while city slickers get Promax/Bengal mechanical brakes on the front for better, harder stopping power. 6 sizes let everyone get in on the fun. [Purchase: $450]

Fuji Feather

Fuji Feather

Pro: Threaded headset
Con: Handlebars can be uncomfortable

Race Pace: Kicking off with a steel body that gives you both a fixed cog and a freewheel option, there’s little to dislike about the Feather. The frame comes in just about any size that your little heart – or perhaps your oversized one – could possibly want, with an array of colors and styles to boot. On your cogs you have the standard 16 teeth while the brakes are true Tektro quality for quick stops in traffic. Ditch the brakes and you can take it out on the track as easily as tool around town. Handlebars on the feather are a comfortable drop variety that lets you get down and dirty when racing or upright for cruising or commuting. Just make sure you wrap them well or get used to gripping cold steel. [Purchase: $519]

Cinelli Mash Histogram

Cinelli Mash Histogram

Pro: Works great with bullhorn handlebars
Con: Fast, aggressive, and costly

Track Star: This is can barely qualify as a type of road bike since it is not made to stop, slow down, yield, hesitate, or do anything but send you bombing along at Kamikaze speeds. The frameset alone lands at a just under a grand, so it is not for faint hearts. Each tube is made from Columbus airplane aluminum, and couples with a 1 1/8 inch fork made of Columbus Pista carbon. Your dropouts are steel reinforced for a little more solidity should you decide to go the trickster route. It can transform from a fixed gear to a single speed if you feel like doing the work, but it is a wild animal intended to run free without brakes or freewheel cogs to slow its demonic roll. [Purchase: $925 (frameset)]

Shinola The Detroit Arrow

Shinola The Detroit Arrow

Pro: Hand-assembled and quality tested
Con: Expensive

Premium Grade: Homemade in the U.S. of A. the Arrow is a model of style and craftsmanship for the urban rider. The TrueTemper steel frame is tig-welded and assembled by hand to avoid any out-of-the-box issues. Each rear dropout is threaded to take on rear racks and fenders, which is more versatility than you’ll see in the average fixed gear. Using flat handlebars with cork grips and a leather saddle, this certainly isn’t a bike for tricks, but a more refined cruiser-esque ride that drips with style. Your fork is a Double-butted chromoly that can handle some abuse. Truly a gentleperson’s fixie. [Purchase: $1,000]

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