Fixies and Singlespeed Bikes

Minimalism is just your thing? Unnecessary bits and pieces quickly end up in your bin and you want your bike to reflect this lifestyle? You want to experience the exciting mix of easy acceleration plus direct steering and you want a modern, puristic bike? Then a fixie or a singlespeed bike could be your cup of bike. Find out right here what defines a fixie and a singlespeed bike, what the differences between the two are and what you should look out for when shopping for one.

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One gear has to be enough! Buy Fixies and Singlespeeds

Fixies were invented in New York. Agile bike couriers didn't feel like locking and unlocking their bikes for every delivery. Therefore, the bikes were reduced to the absolutely necessary, so they should be unattractive for thieves. Today, fixies are absolutely "in" and are considered the cult bikes par excellence. If you have one, lock it!

The Shortcut:

What is a fixie - Things to know about fixies or singlespeeds

Fixies or singlespeed bikes are sporty bikes, you can tell right away. But what exactly makes them stand out

There are no gears

What both bikes have in common is that they only have one gear. They have no gears. The name gives that away, fixie is short for "fixed gear", for a rigid gear. Singlespeed can also be translated as "single gear". That's why in German these bikes also carry the name Eingangrad. This feature is defining, it is not only noticeable in the riding experience, but also in the appearance. 

Drop bar or flat bar?

Some fixies and singlespeed bikes have a dropbar, or road handlebar, while others have a normal straight handlebar, or flatbar. What exactly you want to ride on your fixie is a matter of taste. A race bike handlebar offers a great many grip positions. Brakes can either be on the top handlebar or on the bend. When it comes to straight handlebars, there are different shapes: A riser bar goes up slightly just after the clamp on the stem. Some also have a so-called Backsweep, so they also go slightly backwards. A straight bar is a simple, straight handlebar.

What is a SInglespeed, what is a Fixie?

So what exactly differentiates a singlespeed from a fixie? A singlespeed, like all other bikes, has a freewheel. So when you stop pedaling, you can keep your legs still and relax. On a fixie, however, the rear hub doesn't have a freewheel, it's rigid. So if you stop pedaling, it means you can't keep your legs still. In other words, if your fixie is rolling, you have to pedal too - assuming you keep your feet on the pedals. But that also means you're dealing with the only bike that can go backwards!

With a rigid hub it is also possible to brake by locking the crank (also called skidden) or by counter pedalling. With a singlespeeder, however, this possibility of braking does not exist. 

What types of fixies are there?

From radically sporty (Lo Pro) to touring-ready - the fixie comes in many varieties. You can already tell by the different handlebars that control fixies, fixies come, as I said, with road handlebars, straight bars and riser bars. The geometry also adapts to your plans, delivering good propulsion or a more maneuverable feel.

There is one difference, however, in terms of brakes. Some fixies come without mounted brakes, while others have rim brakes installed. Fixies without brakes can be braked by stepping on or blocking the pedals, but are not allowed on public roads according to StVZO. They are actually only allowed to be used on private property or closed tracks, for example at races. Nevertheless, you also see this type of fixies often, especially in big cities they are a popular means of transport.

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What are the different types of singlespeed?

The essential features of a singlespeed bike are very similar across all models. There are one or two brakes, no gears, and a sporty feel.

What is different, however, is the specific geometries of singlespeed frames. Some are extremely sporty or even can be described as aggressive . Then you sit very stretched on the bike and have a large distance between the saddle and handlebars. Other geometries, on the other hand, are more relaxed. That's why it's also worth comparing the different frame types. 

In addition, a singlespeed can also have either a road handlebar, a riser bar, or a straight bar. Since a singlespeed only has one gear, there are different combinations of sprocket and chainring teeth. Therefore, the key is to make sure you have the right balance of cranking and top speed.

No equipment worth mentioning

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Singlespeed bikes and fixies come along absolutely tidy and reduced, because apart from the gears, other components are simply not present on these bikes. Mudguards, luggage racks or a light system are usually not found on a Fixie or Singlespeed. Thus, these bikes not only look incredibly stylish, they are also very light.

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The perfect frame for a fixie

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The basis of a fixie or singlespeeder is the frame. This is very similar to a road bike frame in construction. A sporty geometry provides a dynamic riding experience. Unlike the road bike frame, however, the dropouts are responsible for holding the rear hub and thus the rear wheel. On most fixies and singlespeed bikes, the dropouts are open to the rear or designed horizontally, so you can adjust the chain tension. On another bike, this task would be performed by the rear derailleur. 

Fixies and singlespeed bikes are always built on diamond frames. You can buy them with steel frames, carbon frames or made of aluminum. Typically, these bikes have very slim tube diameters.

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The tires of a singlespeed bike

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A fixie frame will often fit narrow tires. Often a singlespeed/fixie tire will have between 23 and 28 mm width and little tread. This also contributes to a very dynamic and agile riding experience.

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Can I convert a fixie to a singlespeed bike?

If you're still not quite sure whether a singlespeed or a fixie suits you better, that's not a problem at all, because it's possible to turn a fixie into a singlespeed bike and vice versa. Some singlespeeders and fixies have what is called a "flip-flop hub". This rear hub has a sprocket mount on both sides. One side has a freewheel, the other is rigid. So if there is a sprocket on both sides, you can easily change from freewheel (i.e. singlespeed) to rigid gear (fixie) by turning the rear wheel 180 degrees. 

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But even if you have a rear wheel with a rigid hub or freewheel, respectively, you can make a conversion by swapping the rear hub.

All in all, a fixie or singlespeed is a sporty bike with a direct feel and minimalist design. It's the right bike for anyone who likes to go fast. No matter whether you choose a fixie or singlespeed, you won't get such a direct and puristic riding experience with any other bike.

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Is a fixie the right bike for you?

If you like having the latest bells and whistles on your bike, are a tech junkie, or like to ride changing terrain, you should steer clear of a fixie. A fixie is the expression of a pared-down, urban lifestyle.Where "urban" is an important keyword. With a fixie, you can go about your daily life in the city, as long as it doesn't ambush you with any major climbs. For bike tours a fixie is best suited if there are no major hills on the way. When planning your tours, however, you should not forget that you have to keep pedalling with a real fixie (not with a singlespeed), as it does not have a freewheel! In mountainous terrain, both a fixie and a singlespeed bike tend to be no fun! For bad weather rides fixies are also only suitable to a limited extent, because without mudguards you will get wet, smooth tires are not necessarily weatherproof either.

If you want to buy alight, chic sporty bike that doesn't adorn itself with unnecessary equipment, you're absolutely in the right place. 

The features of a fixie bike:

  • No gears or other technology
  • Sporty, dynamic, direct feel
  • very lightweight
  • stylish and modern, with a pared-down look
  • cheap to buy

How does a fixie ride?

Fixie and singlespeed are somewhere in the middle between road bikes and urban bikes. They're nimble enough for city traffic and build up speed quickly. There are fixies whose geometry is modeled after a purebred road bike, putting you in a sporty, low seated position. Other fixies are more urban bike or touring bike oriented, here you sit more upright. The riding feel is direct and unadulterated, light and uncomplicated. The close relationship to the road bike brings a pleasant dynamic and ensures speed.

In addition, the frame material plays an important role. In the vast majority of cases, the frame of a singlespeed or fixie is made of aluminium or steel. Aluminum is lighter than steel, but also stiffer. Shocks from the road are not absorbed as well. Steel frames, on the other hand, absorb vibrations from the ground better, but are also heavier, which affects agility. 

The handlebars also have a big influence on the riding experience. Here you can add another jag of speed with a road handlebar, or get better control of the bike with a wide flatbar.

The fact that the ascetic equipment saves weight at all corners is of course also noticeable in the riding experience, the bikes ride light and dynamic. The low weight also makes handling the bike much easier, you can easily carry it up the stairs to your apartment or down to the subway. At around 9 kilos (depending on the model, material and size), fixies are true lightweights.

Pedaling aside, you have little to worry about on a fixie or singlespeed. You don't have to shift gears or even look ahead. Get on and ride, that's all it takes.

If you want to buy a true fixie without a freewheel, though, give yourself some time to get used to it. Chances are even your 12 inch kids bike had a freewheel, the constant pedaling takes some getting used to! You'll also have to get used to cycling without brakes slowly.

You can also influence the handling characteristics of your fixie with a set of new tires. Wider or slimmer, more or less tread, or winter tires for the colder months - there's a lot of wiggle room here.

The driving experience at a glance:

  • Dynamic, sporty handling
  • Direct, unadulterated driving feel
  • rides easy and uncomplicated
  • a fixie without freewheel and brake takes some getting used to!

What are the advantages of a fixie or singlespeed bike?

A singlespeed and a fixie are actually different bikes, but in the fabric of bike types they are quite similar. Why should you get one, though? If you're looking for a minimalist bike that can build up decent speed and is stylish at the same time, then you should go for it. Basically, a singlespeed or fixie only has the bare essentials that a bike needs. That's why it offers a direct riding experience without frills and gimmicks

The parts it doesn't have can't break, get stolen, or wear out. Therefore, a fixie scores with less maintenance than a regular city bike or urban bike. Another advantage: what's not there, you don't have to pay for, so fixies are comparativelycheap to buy! In addition, the bikes are so light, that you can easily take them into your home.

The advantages of a fixie or singlespeed bike:

  • Favourable purchase price
  • underscores a stylish lifestyle
  • delivers a direct, dynamic ride
  • lightweight, therefore easy to handle

How much does a fixie or singlespeed bike cost?

As with all other bikes, there is scope in the price range of singlespeed bikes and fixies. Here, however, it does not turn out too large, because as mentioned above - what is not on the bike also costs nothing!

For just under 300 euros to about 700 euros you get a beginner model. If you only want to ride it from time to time, a bike from the cheapest category is certainly enough. It has simple and robust attachments. A bike in the entry-level category likes to weigh a little more.

From 700 euros begins directly the upper class. The frames are lightweight and made of aluminum or steel. The attachments are not only extremely chic, but also offer optimal performance. A singlespeed or fixie from the top price category therefore also weighs less and is the right thing for anyone who sits on their bike several times a day or wants to tour for longer.

The costs at a glance:

  • Enterprise class from 300 euros to 700 euros
  • the fixie upper class is available from 700 euros

What to look for when buying a fixie or singlespeed bike

  • Especially if you are still unsure whether a singlespeed or a fixie is right for you, you should make sure to buy a bike with a flip-flop hub. This way you can test at your leisure what suits you better.

  • Besides that you also have to pay attention to the right size of the frame. We have a buying guide for you on our blog that will help you choose the right frame size.

  • You should pay attention to the transmission ratio of the fixie, or singlespeed when buying. Since you only have one gear, it should suit you and your environment. The further the sprocket and chainring are apart in size, or the greater the difference in the teeth, the harder it is to accelerate the bike from a standstill, but the greater the maximum possible speed. Of course, you can also adjust the gear ratio later by replacing the sprocket or chainring.
  • Brake or no brake...Because of the lighter weight, rim brakes are found on many singlespeeds. V-brakes are also less noticeable in appearance, a huge advantage in fixie rider eyes. However, the bikes are also available with disc brakes. Or without them at all. The classic New York fixies didn't have brakes, you can find those bikes here too. BUT...they are totally illegal. If a cop catches you without the mandatory bell, he might turn a blind eye. You'll pay a few euros fine for a missing light. What the authorities say about a bike without brakes, you'll have to find out for yourself.

Overall, a fixie or a singlespeed is certainly not a bike for everyone. Whether you want to buy a clean bike for aesthetic reasons, or you don't want to spend a lot of time on maintenance, whether you appreciate the extraordinary riding experience or the low price, with such a bike you can count yourself to a small but very special community of bike nerds.

Buy a fixie or singlespeed from the best manufacturer!

Here at BMO Onlineshop you'll find fixies from exclusive manufacturers like 6KU, All-City, Creme Cycles, Octane One. The value for money is right, the quality is excellent, you can just go for it!

Normally, we'd mention the accessories to your bike here. You probably don't want to, do you? But at least a bicycle helmet we'd like to recommend.

Not sure which type of bike is right for you? Here at BMO, you can easily compare. We explain what mountain bikes, urban and city bikes, trekking bikes, dirt bikes, race bikes, and E-bikes can do. Plus, we'll help you buy a cool kids bike for your little one. Just read our buying guides and you'll know which bike you'll be happy with!