If you’re considering ditching your conventional bike for something more minimalist, there’s a good chance you’ve contemplated building your own fixie, also known as a fixed-gear bicycle. But you might be wondering, “What are the necessary components to build one?”
Why Build a Fixie?
Building a fixie is not just about embracing a uniquely tailored riding experience, but also about creating a bike that speaks to your style and preferences.
Green converts often appreciate the reduction in moving parts that can break or malfunction, which makes a fixie a considerably more reliable option.
Furthermore, many riders enjoy the completely different riding style that a fixie provides, feeling more connected to their bike and the road due to its unique mechanism.
What You Need to Build a Fixed Gear Bike
#1- Frame and Forks
One of the most crucial components to consider when building a fixie, is the frame and fork of the bike.
Fixed-gear bikes often utilize three main types of frames:
- Steel: Traditional material due to its strength, flexibility and ease of repair.
- Aluminum: Commonly used, it offers corrosion resistance, lightness, affordability, but less comfort due to its stiffness.
- Carbon Fiber: High-end choice due to its lightness, comfort, the ability to mold complex shapes and aerodynamics.
You can dig deeper into these materials in this Wikipedia article.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Frame
The size and geometry of a frame should align with your riding style, size, and budget. Here are some features to consider:
- Frame Size: Measured by the top tube length, compatible with your height and reach.
- Geometry: This refers to the frame’s structural design which affects the bike’s maneuverability.
- Budget: Balance between desired features and affordability.
Remember, the right frame forms the backbone of your bike!
#2- Wheels and Tires
A pivotal factor in constructing a fixie lies in the selection of the right wheelset and tires. The right choice guarantees a smoother ride, enhanced cycle control, and longevity of your fixie.
Choosing the perfect wheels for a fixed-gear bike directly impacts the bike’s performance and rider experience. To secure the lightest, most resilient wheels, lookout for:
- Material Quality: Seek high-quality material wheels capable of bearing heavy loads.
- Diameter: They should match your bike and tire size. Smaller diameter wheels are preferable for their lightweight and robustness.
Understanding Tire Sizes for Fixies
Tire size directly influences the comfort and speed of your ride.
Tire width influences the ride’s comfort. Wider tires contribute to ride smoothness and control, especially on rugged terrains.
Tire diameter greatly affects the speed of your bike. Smaller diameters are optimal for their agility and quick responsiveness. However, larger diameters roll more effectively over obstructions and are better for long rides.
#3- Drivetrain Components
To build your fixie, paying attention to even the smallest details such as drivetrain components is crucial.
Single-Speed Cogs and Chainrings
The power of your legs on a fixie is transmitted via the chain and bicycle sprockets – the front (also called a chainring) and rear (cog).
The size of these two bicycle sprockets is the main factor influencing your cadence, how fast you accelerate, and the highest speed you attain.
Furthermore, they affect the comfort of your ride, meaning picking the right sprockets is paramount.
Selecting the Right Gear Ratio for Your Fixie
The gear ratio is determined by dividing the number of chainring teeth by the cog’s teeth, and it controls how many times the wheel turns during one turn of the crank.
For instance, a 48 teeth chainring combined with a 16 teeth rear sprocket gives a ratio of 3.0. This essentially means, the bigger the front sprocket and the smaller the rear sprocket, the higher the ratio.
A higher ratio, while tough for accelerating, makes it easier to maintain top speeds. Conversely, a lower ratio means easier acceleration but a higher pedaling rate. So, it’s really all about balance!
#4- Brakes and Handlebars
Whether you’re a novice (fixed gear bikes newbie) or an experienced fixie rider, you have different customization options to enhance your unique riding style.
Options for Braking on a Fixie
Fixie brakes significantly enhance your bike’s safety. Traditional fixies are brakeless due to original track bikes’ design, making it dangerous for riders in a competitive setting.
However, urban settings are different; riding without brakes is risky. Noteworthy, no brakes is considered illegal in some states and countries.
You can consider adding a front and rear brake on your fixed gear bike, which wouldn’t be overly expensive.
Some kinds of brake sets for fixed gear bicycles encompass coaster brakes, bullhorn brakes, and drop bar brakes, with calipers or v-brakes being particularly suggested.
Types of Handlebars for Fixie Riders
To stylize your bike and tailor your riding posture, you may choose from different handlebars, including drop bars, riser bars, bullhorn bars, and pursuit bars.
Your choice depends on your preference for comfort, looks, or practicality.
#5- Seat and Pedals
The saddle, known more commonly as the bike seat, is essential for a comfortable ride. Saddle comfort is very subjective and largely depends on individual body mechanics and the type of riding. Here are a few things to consider:
Biking activities: Select a saddle based on your biking activities. For instance, road cycling saddles are long and narrow with minimal padding, ensuring the best power transfer while pedaling.
Conversely, cruiser, urban, or commuter bike saddles are wide and cushy, suitable for short, leisurely rides.
Cushioning types: The two most common types of cushioning in bike saddles are gel and foam.
Gel offers plush comfort, molding to your body, while foam provides a spring that returns to shape, preferred by road riders for longer rides.
Options for Pedals and Foot Retention Systems
When considering pedals and foot retention systems, consider control and comfort. Choices include platform pedals, clip-in (clipless) pedals, or cage (toe-clip) pedals.
It’s vital to choose pedals and straps that provide the control you need for a fixie. The decision should be based on your biking activities and preferences.
#6- Tools and Accessories
The Essential Tools for Building a Fixie are as follows:
Chain Whip: This tool holds the cog in place while you tighten or loosen the lockring.
Lockring Tool: A required tool to install or remove the lockring that holds the cog to the wheel.
Allen Keys: They are crucial for adjusting and securing bike parts, such as the seat, handlebars, and brakes.
Open Wrenches and Cone Wrenches: These tools are used for tightening and adjusting nuts and bolts on your bike.
Additional Accessories for Customization and Safety
Helmet: A must-have for safety, choose one that fits comfortably and securely.
Customizable Parts: Consider handlebars, saddles, pedals and straps based on your comfort, control needs and personal style.
Remember, building your own bike not only offers a sense of accomplishment but also the freedom to truly make it your own. Happy building!
Steps to Assembling a Fixie
To kick off your fixie assembly:
- Attach your chosen saddle to the seatpost. Ensure it is secure and comfortably adjusted.
- Install the fork and headset. Pay attention to thread types and sizes for a smooth operation.
- Prepare the wheels and tires. Insert cog on the rear wheel hub making sure the chain line is straight and that there is tension on the chain.
- Install the cog. A fixed-gear bike is identified by the cog, which is connected to the pedals via the chain.
Tips for Fine-Tuning and Adjustments
Don’t forget to fine-tune your new fixie after assembly. Adjust the bottom bracket and headset using your wrenches, ensuring they are snug but spin smoothly. Also, tune up the brakes for safety and control.
Remember, building your fixie is a personal journey. Explore different parts and methods until you find what suits you best. Enjoy your new fixie!