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On the outside, fixed gear and single-speed bikes look pretty much the same. They both have a 1x crankset and one rear cog. However, there’s an important difference between the two.
We decided to include these two different (but similar!) types of bikes into one review because they can act as a 2 in 1 solution, as Flip-Flop Hubs are more and more popular these days.
If you don’t know what these are, then read on to find out more.
Let’s see what the best fixie and best single-speed bikes are out there!
Fixed and single-speed bikes differ in terms of mechanics, as we’ve explained at the beginning. But there are other, more obvious differences as well. Here are the biggest ones you’ll notice if you take a closer look.
To recap, the main difference between the two is in the freewheel. Fixies do not have it, whereas single-speed bikes have one. As a result, a single-speed bike allows you to coast without having to spin the pedals all the time, while a fixed bike requires you to constantly turn the pedals whenever you’re moving.
Another difference between the two is the brakes. Hardcore fixie riders do not fit brakes on their bikes. They slow down by turning the pedals backward, thus locking the rear wheel and skidding on the road. Some fixies have a rim brake on the front, though.
As a matter of fact, riding a fixie without a front brake is illegal in some countries, such as the UK.
On the other hand, single-speed bikes usually have both front and rear rim brakes. Some, however, have just the front brake and use the coaster brake on the back.
Apart from the brakes, fixed gear bikes are simplistic in other ways as well. They usually have no accessories fitted on them. Only the essentials are there — frame, fork, handlebar, saddle, wheels, and pedals. It’s almost impossible to find a fixie with fenders, racks, lights, or other addons.
Lastly, due to the fact that the rear cog is fixed to the rear hub, fixies can actually be ridden in reverse. When you spin the pedals back, the rear wheel starts spinning backward as well. That’s something you cannot do on single-speed bikes.
Fixed and single-speed bikes are quite rudimental. They generally have as few parts as possible and are quite lightweight and easy to maintain as a result of that.
Let’s take a look at the essential and most important parts you will see on these types of bicycles and learn some basic facts about them.
As a rule of thumb, the best fixed gear bikes out there usually have step-over steel frames with steel forks. The so-called “Track frame.” That’s because the idea is to make the bike as simple and as rugged as possible. However, this all depends on the owner, so some might go for aluminum or even carbon.
Single-speed bikes can be found with step-through frames as well. These are usually women’s models, but they can be very practical for older riders as well. When it comes to the materials used, there is an equal supply of steel and aluminum frames.
The rear hub is by far the most important part of a fixie/single-speed bike. As we’ve mentioned, it can come in several different versions. You can get a hub with a freewheel or a fixed cog, or you can opt for a flip-flop hub which has both.
Flip-flop hubs are a solution that allows you to have both a fixed gear and single-speed bike at the same time.
These hubs have a single cog on each side — one is a fixed cog and the other one is a freewheel. However, you’ll be using only one at any given time.
Interestingly, best fixie bikes usually don’t have quick-release levers but threaded axles instead. That’s because fixies typically have horizontal dropouts, which allow you to adjust the tension of the chain.
Wheels are the most crucial and often the most vulnerable part of fixie and single-speed bikes. These bicycles usually roll on 700c wheels, but some single-speed bikes can be seen with 26″ wheels as well.
The wheels take a beating due to the way fixies are ridden.
Skidding takes a toll on the spokes, so the wheel requires more frequent truing.
Many of the best fixed gear bikes out there also come with deep-section wheels. These wheels are usually 40+ mm deep, which significantly improves aerodynamics. They also look pretty cool, which is another big benefit.
Fixed gear and single-speed bikes often use road cycling-styled tires. That means these tires are between 23 and 28 mm wide. The thinner the tire, the faster the bike will be. However, thin tires are also much less comfortable, so 28 mm is a good compromise.
Traction is also an important factor to consider when talking about these types of bicycles. Since you’ll be braking by skidding, you need high-quality tires that grip well and don’t wear and tear too quickly.
Fixies and single-speed bikes can come with different types of handlebars. There are no rules, even though there are some preferences.
The most popular types of handlebars you’ll see on these bikes are:
In addition to these, some riders also choose to fit their bikes with aero bars which allow them to go even faster.
Some single-speed bikes are fitted with cruiser handlebars to achieve a more comfortable upright riding position.
Fixies and single-speed bikes are simple, but riding them takes some time to master. This is especially true for fixed gear bicycles. Here are our top tips to keep in mind!
A bicycle without a freewheel is called a fixed gear bike. This is a bicycle on which the rear cog is fused with the rear hub, so the cog is turning whenever the wheel is turning. Therefore, the pedals are turning as well along with the rear wheel.
A single-speed bike is a bicycle with a 1x crankset and a single cog on the rear wheel. These bikes have a freewheel, so the wheel can turn independently of the cog and vice versa. That is, you can coast on these bikes, which is something you cannot do on fixies.
You should consider riding single-speed bikes because they are usually lighter and cheaper than geared bikes. They are also quite fun to ride and easy to maintain, as they do not have many moving parts that can break.
Fixed gear bikes provide a unique experience that cannot be replicated by any other type of bicycle. They are ridiculously fun to ride and cause your adrenaline to skyrocket. They also look pretty good and slick and help you move fast through traffic.
The most important part when building a single-speed bike is to choose a frame with horizontal dropouts. It will allow you to adjust the tension of the chain and prevent chain slippage. After that, determine your budget and start looking for parts. You can go for new parts, which can cost thousands of dollars if you choose high-end options, or you can go for used parts and build your bike for a few hundred bucks.
To remove a single-speed freewheel from a flip-flop hub, you need to insert a proper freewheel removal tool and turn it counterclockwise
Riding a fixed gear bike is easy, but takes some practice. You should first learn how to brake properly and track stand to improve your balance before hitting the streets. Try to avoid steep hills and descents, as fixies are much better for flat roads.
The parts you need to build a fixed gear bike include a frame with horizontal dropouts, proper wheels (deep-section in preferred) with a fixed hub, road tires, front brake, and the handlebar of your choice. Of course, you’ll need other essential parts such as chain, cranks, pedals, etc.
You can stop a fixed gear bike either by spinning the pedals backward and skidding the rear tire or by fitting front or rear rim brakes, which is a much safer option.
Yes, single-speed bikes are an excellent choice, especially for urban riders. They are lightweight, cheap, and easy to take care of. Many people use them for commuting and leisure riding around the town.
Yes, single-speed bikes can be fast. It all depends on what kind of a drivetrain the bike in question has and how many teeth the crank and the rear cog have. Generally, they can easily develop speeds of around 30 kph.
Transforming a freewheel hub into a fixed gear is not an advisable thing to do. There are many tutorials available online on how to do this, but freewheels are not built to withstand “two-way” forces like fixed hubs are.
To skid a fixed gear bike, all you need to do is develop some speed and then press backward on the pedals. The rear wheel will lock and start skidding on the road. Depending on the ground, you need lots of leg-power!
Riding a single-speed bike cannot be simpler.
All you need to do is get on and start turning the pedals. There are no shifters, derailleurs, and complicated gears to worry about. You can brake either using a coaster brake or rim brakes if you bike have them.
Single-speed, as the name implies, refers to a bicycle with just one gear. These bikes do not have multi-geared drivetrains that require derailleurs and shifters to change gears. There is just one cog in the back, one sprocket in front, and a chain between them.
Fixed gear bikes can be faster than single-speed bikes due to the fact that the pedals are always spinning. However, the speed also depends on the number of teeth on the cogs, the leg power of the rider, and their lung capacity.
Fixed-gear bikes are excellent for city riding. They require you to ride fast and stay in flow with the traffic. However, that also puts you in more danger, so don’t do it unless you have plenty of experience. Fixies are also good for doing tricks, due to the fact that you can pedal backward as well. The one thing they are absolutely best for is having ridiculous amounts of fun wherever you go.
Yes, single-speed bikes are a great choice for commuting. They are lightweight and cheap, and also very easy to maintain. This is important since commuter bikes are abused every day. They are also usually not attractive to thieves, so you don’t have to invest in very expensive locks. However, single-speed bikes are only good for commuting in flat areas, as you will struggle quite a bit riding one up a steep hill.
Single-speed bikes are one of the best choices for commuting. Apart from that, they are also great for running errands around the city, riding on bike paths, taking kids to school, doing grocery shopping, or just having a fun time outside.
Yes, fixed gear bikes are generally safe to ride, but that depends on the rider. If you take proper measures of precaution and ride responsibly, you should experience no issues on fixed gear bikes. If you want to improve safety, consider investing in a front brake, if your bike does not already have one.
And, Which One To Choose?
Best with Drop Bars
MSRP: $339.21 – $549.99 (Amazon)
Type: Single + Fixed
If you are looking for a fixed gear bike with drop bars that will give you a performance boost and the recognizable classic look, State Bicycle is our recommendation.
This is a fixie/freewheel single-speed bike made from the double-butted 4130-grade chromoly steel that’s known to be both extra-durable and decently lightweight for this type of material.
State Bicycle can be ordered in 11 unique and attractive colors and the frame is available in six sizes, which is remarkable in terms of freedom of choice.
This bike comes with both front and rear rim brakes, which is a big plus in terms of safety. Some fixie purists might not like that, but thanks to internal cable routing, they don’t affect the overall clean appearance.
For those of you who are wondering, State Bicycle comes with a flip-flop hub. You can easily flip the wheel and switch between the fixed and freewheel cog. The frame has horizontal dropouts, so you can always easily adjust the chain tension properly. As with all other bikes, make sure that the bolts are tight.
If you’re not obsessed with the minimalist look, it’s good to know that this State Bicycle model has numerous eyelets. These will allow you to mount a rear rack and a water bottle, so you can ride longer and carry more stuff.
This bike is also seriously fast. Thanks to drop bars, you can be in a more aerodynamic position and glide through the air more smoothly. The aesthetics are better with drop bars as well.
So, if you want the best entry-level single-speed bike to ride in the drops, State Bicycle is an attractive and affordable option.
MSRP: $279 (REI)
Are you looking to spend the least amount of money on your single-speed bike? Then Pure Cycles Coaster Bike is just the machine you’re looking for. For $279, you’ll get a good-looking and quality-built bike, and you’ll still have plenty of money left to end your rides with a cold beer.
Pure Cycles is one of the best fixie brands out there and their Coaster model is one of the best builds they have. The frame is available in four unique colors, all of which are quite retro and elegant. There are only three sizes you can choose from, though, but the bike still fits riders between 5’4″ and 6’5″.
The bikes that our fathers and grandfathers used to ride all had mustache bars. They had them for a good reason. This handlebar type is one of the most comfortable options out there and they also make you look pretty damn cool. That makes it the best fixie for commuting in a suit and tie.
Pure Cycles Coaster is one of the cheapest single-speed bikes we could find, which does not mean it is less of a reliable and practical choice.
One of the quirky things about the Pure Cycles Coaster Bike is its coaster brakes. It’s the easiest and the most intuitive way to slow down the bike. Just press the pedals backward and come to a stop. There are no rim brakes and thus no brake levers or cables.
If you want, you can always mount brakes for added braking power, along with a rear rack and water bottle cages for more storage.
Pure Cycles Coaster is the simplest bike on this list. It has no cables, no levers, no electronics, nothing of that sort. Just raw steel and rubber that guarantee a fun and worry-free ride every time.
Best Bull Horn Bars
MSRP: $299 (Amazon)
Type: Single + Fixed
Have you ever seen those daredevil bike messengers crushing it on the streets of New York and other big cities? Many of them ride bull horn bars. Just like the ones on this Big Shot Bikes Copenhagen White model. They look ridiculously good on fixed bikes because of the simplistic style, but they also provide a performance boost.
Big Shot is one of the best single-speed bikes for those who want to go fast and who cherish a clean and modern look.
Big Shot Copenhagen White is inspired by track racing but comes with a modern twist that makes it suitable to be ridden on city streets. It’s a great choice as a fast commuter or an everyday bike to ride instead of a car or public transport.
The biggest highlight on this Big Shot model is definitely the bull horn handlebar. It will put your body in a more aerodynamic position and allow you to easily squeeze through tight patches on your ride.
However, its deep-section rims also make it stand out. They will also improve your aerodynamics, so this bicycle can be seriously fast. Not only that, but they provide a more aggressive look that is recognizable for fixies.
Since Big Shot Bikes Copenhagen White is fast, it’s a good thing that comes with dual caliper brakes both front and back. You can still use the coaster brake, but it’s always a plus to have a plan B.
Best Single/Fixed-Looking Geared Bike (with a Belt)
MSRP: $650 (PriorityBicycles.com)
Type: Not single or fixed
Do you really like the minimalist look of single-speed and fixed gear bikes? But you don’t really appreciate having just one gear or not being able to coast with a fixed cog? Then the Priority Brilliant L Train is a brilliant compromise made for you. It has a carbon belt and 7 gears, but it looks like a fixie!
We are simply in love with the Brilliant L Train due to how well it mimics a fixed gear bike. It’s sleek and simple, but it’s actually packed with quality components.
The Gates carbon belt is a remarkable choice for a day-to-day bike such as the Priority Brilliant L Train, as it requires no maintenance and rides for upwards of 20,000 miles.
Priority Brilliant L Train has 7 gears that are hidden inside the rear hub. This is Shimano’s internal hub derailleur that is protected from the elements and requires no maintenance or adjustment. Water, sand, and dirt cannot get inside, so it lasts very long before you need to do any work on it.
The frame is available in three sizes that fit riders between 5’2″ and 6’2″ tall, which is a pretty good range. Two colors are available — Matte Gray and Matte Hudson Blue.
Another feature that will simplify your life is the puncture-resistant tires. They are 32 mm wide so they are quite comfortable as well.
If you want to ride the best fixed gear bikes but you’re willing to cheat with a few more gears, then Priority Brilliant L Train checks all of your boxes.
Best Selection Of Colors & Models
MSRP: $300 – $700 (Amazon)
Type: Single + Fixed
State Bicycle makes excellent bikes for all kinds of riders. That’s why we didn’t just choose one, but we present to you all of them, so you can pick your favorite. They have several models known as 4130 Chromoly Steel, Core Line, City, Black Label, etc. The prices are very affordable and there’s an excellent choice of colors, builds, accessories, and so on.
State Bicycle has been around since 2009 and they haven’t stopped growing ever since. The reason for that is that they know what their customers want and they keep offering it.
State Bicycle is known for making sleek, simple, fast, and attractive bicycles that literally anyone can make a connection to and ride every single day.
If you are an absolute beginner with fixies, we recommend you give the Core Line a try. It’s the simplest and cheapest choice that will help you get your foot in the world of fixed gear bikes. These bikes come with a 4130 chromoly steel frames, different types of bars, and some of them have brakes. They’re ideal for leisure riders who want to run errands around the city.
However, our favorite is the Black Label, which is also the most expensive model. Though, at $700 it’s still pretty cheap and belongs to the entry-level price point. It’s available in five sexy colors and with either drop bars or flat bars.
These are the only models with a 6061 aluminum frame, so they are significantly lighter than the other ones. They also feature a carbon fork, so you will be flying down the roads.
So the conclusion is that State Bicycle definitely has the best fixie bikes out there. You just need to choose your favorite.
Related: State Bicycle Core Line Test
Best Track Style Frame Fixie
MSRP: $499.99 (BrooklynBicycleCo.com)
Type: Single + Fixed
Brooklyn Bicycle is a company that specializes in making simple single-speed bikes. They have one fixie model as well, it’s called Wythe. According to them, they make just one model because they managed to do it right the first time.
Let’s see what this bike is packed with and whether or not Brooklyn is one of the best fixie brands.
Wythe features a simple track style geometry that makes it pretty lightweight thanks to narrow tubing. This is also one of the strongest shapes in cycling and provides some aerodynamic benefits as well.
Many cheap single-speed bikes cut corners in two most important areas — the rear hub and the wheels. But that’s not the case with the bicycles that we have picked out. They are made with selectively sourced components that are built to withstand thousands of miles of daily riding.
The Brooklyn Bicycle Wythe has a sealed bearing flip-flop hub that you can easily rotate to switch between fixed gear and single-speed riding. The frame is made with 4130 chromoly steel which is the most popular choice due to its performance benefits.
This bike is also quite cheap considering it comes with front and rear brakes and puncture-resistant sleek city tires.
Wythe has everything you need and nothing that you don’t in terms of components and overall build.
If you want one of the best single-speed bikes in terms of weight and components, Wythe will not disappoint you on your daily commutes.
The Best Choice of Colors
MSRP: $999 (Allcitycycles.com)
Type: Single + Fixed
The All-City Bicycles Big Block is one of the most expensive models on our list, but it is well worth the money. It is a stylish and fast fixed/single-speed bike that can be ridden on a velodrome or on the city streets. It also offers the most in terms of style and fashionable details, so it’s very easy to fall in love with it.
All-City is one of the best fixie brands out there because they pay a lot of attention to detail. They leave nothing to chance and stylize every part of the bike.
The result is a beautiful paint job with classy reinforcements on a fast and quality built bike that’s fast and made to last.
The All-City Big Block comes with Vittoria Zaffiro tires that are 28 mm wide, so they can go quite fast on the track if you have one nearby. They are an excellent choice for smooth roads as well as they offer a good compromise between speed and comfort.
The reason why this is one of the best fixed gear bikes is all of the signature details you can spot. These include a lugged fork crown, a signature seat collar, custom horizontal dropouts, reinforced bottle bosses, and a liquid paint job with an E.D. coat.
If you’re not worried about spending a bit more to get the best of the best in terms of appearance and performance, the All-City Big Block meets all of your needs.
Best Fitness Single-Speed
MSRP: $341.99 (was $450) (Specialized.com)
Type: Single + Fixed
Specialized is one of the most prestigious bicycle manufacturers in the world right now. Luckily for us, they decided to enter the fixie playground as well. Their entry ticket is the Specialized Sirrus which is both a freewheel single-speed and a fixed gear bike. It has an all-black color scheme and five diverse sizes to pick from.
Specialized Sirrus is not an ordinary fixie. It is one of the best single-speed bikes for fitness riders who are looking the get the most performance out of their bikes.
However, it does not sacrifice everyday efficiency either, which is one of the things that set Specialized bikes apart.
Specialized’s A1 SL Premium Aluminum frame is built with special body geometry touchpoints which makes Sirrus one of the most comfortable bikes on this list. If you choose the right size, it’s guaranteed to save you from pains and aches even after long rides.
To make the long rides possible, you have several eyelets that you can use to fit this bike with a rear rack and water bottle cages. No need to carry your stuff in a backpack and soak your shirt in sweat.
The fork is made from steel, which makes Sirrus even comfier, and it’s fitted with a V-brake. The same one that can be found on the back as well.
The main takeaway is that Specialized Sirrus is a bike for those who plan to commute every day and want a maintenance-free choice from a reputable source.
Our Top Pick – Coolest Design
MSRP: $290 – $325 (REI)
Type: Single Speed
Electra Cruisers are our top pick of all the best single speed bikes that we’ve looked at out there. The main reasons are that they have the coolest design and you get the most for your money — very little money, it’s important to stress.
These are bikes built for everyday city commuters and experienced riders with comfort on their mind. It will allow you to ride it every day and get a good workout.
Electra is a simple and straightforward bike built with a high tensile steel frame and a steel fork. Both are fully tig welded, which goes far both in terms of appearance and in terms of strength and durability. This structure is bulletproof. The frame is available in different colors and the selection includes both adult and kids’ models.
The handlebar is comfortably swept back and puts the rider in a comfortable riding position. The chainguard will protect you from getting smeared with grease and ruining your pants.
The 26″ rims on adult bikes are wrapped with 2.125″ tires that roll smoothly on tarmac and dirt roads. Kids’ models come with either 16″, 20″, or 24″ wheels.
If you want the most bang for your buck in terms of build quality, materials, and looks, Electra Cruisers offer the golden middle of all these characteristics!
Best Retro Fixed Bike Under $200
MSRP: $199.99 (Amazon.com)
Type: Single + Fixed
We’ve already shown you one Retrospec model, but this company has such good fixies that it would not be fair to stop at that one. We’re also showing you the Retrospec Critical, which is one of the best single-speed bikes under $200 that you can find on the market.
Retrospec Critical is our favorite retro model on this list. That’s why we like the Sage Green color, but the other four are sleek as well, even though they are a bit more modern. Whichever you choose, it will come with a high-quality and hand-built, tig-welded steel frame that’s compliant and very strong.
If you have just $200 to spend on the fixed bike of your dream, then Retrospec Critical is the one. I mean, most of us spend that much money on a month’s worth of coffee at Starbucks, so it’s really a no-brainer.
Retrospec Critical is a fixie with an everlasting design that our grandpa would have picked in the store without any second-thoughts.
Critical comes with old-school riser bars and comfy grips. The saddle is quite plush as well, so your bum won’t be sore after a day’s worth of commuting or riding around the city with your friends.
It also has deep-section rims and 28c Kenda tires, so it can be pretty fast when you want it to. Of course, that depends on your legs. You can easily switch between a fixed and a free cob thanks to the flip-flop hub so you can choose your style of riding.
Most importantly, Critical comes with a toolkit that you can use to maintain it, even though maintenance is ridiculously easy.
Get it if you want a cheap, reliable, and stylish option.