Fixed-gear bicycles are more than just an essential hipster accessory; they’re also the best way to feel “at one” with your bicycle. Minimal moving parts means that maintenance is a breeze; the ride, however, isn’t always so easy: a fixed-gear bike means no coasting – even downhill. What’s more is that converting your old beater bike into a slick, smooth-riding fixie isn’t rocket science. Here’s how to do it.
First things first, it’s important to start with the right bicycle. You want a frame with horizontal rear dropouts – pictured here – because they make for easy chain tensioning. The lighter the frame the better, of course.
Remove all gear cables, shifters and even the back brake. Leaving useless parts on is unattractive – and it adds unnecessary weight. We recommend that you leave the front brake intact. Fixed-gear purists may frown on it, but being slightly uncool is better than being slightly critically injured.
The Rear Wheel
The key step is switching out the rear wheel, including the hub – that thing in the middle that holds all the spokes. To find a fixed back wheel, check Craigslist or a bike shop. Look for a wheel with a flip-flop hub; this allows for easy conversion to a traditional single speed bike (you simply flip the wheel around). When you install the wheel, ensure the chain is tight – tighter than a regular bike, which has chain tensioners – with no slack and the tiniest bit of give. For more info, visit SheldonBrown.com. For inspiration visit FixedGearGallery.com.
Image courtesy of brettohland.