The Short Answer is:
Yes, it is possible to turn a road bike into a fixed gear bike. The easiest way to do this is to use the original rear hub of the bike, assuming that it is made for a freewheel. The most desirable bikes for fixed-gear conversion are 1970's road bikes, which usually have horizontal dropouts and don't have unsightly shift-lever bosses. The best set-up for a road fixed-gear is to build up a new rear wheel, using either a track hub or a flip-flop hub. The cost of such a conversion varies widely, as it is largely dependent on the components that you choose for your build.
Are you a road bike enthusiast looking to switch things up? Or maybe you’re a fixed gear fanatic curious about the possibility of converting your road bike. Whatever your reason may be, the question remains: can you turn a road bike into a fixed-gear bike?
In this article, we will explore: Can You Turn A Road Bike Into A Fixed Gear Bike, the differences between road bikes and fixed-gear bikes, the pros and cons of each, and ultimately answer the question of whether or not it’s possible to make the switch.
Table of Contents
Understanding Fixed Gear Bikes
A fixed-gear bike, also known as a fixie, is a type of bicycle that has a drivetrain with no freewheel mechanism, meaning the pedals always spin together with the rear wheel. The freewheel was developed early in the history of bicycle design, but the fixed-gear bicycle remained the standard track racing design.
More recently, the “fixie” has become a popular alternative among mainly urban cyclists, offering the advantage of simplicity compared with the standard multi-geared bicycle. Fixed gear bikes are suitable for riding in the majority of weather conditions, although their thinner tires will struggle with heavy snow and ice.
They are commonly used on velodromes, which are indoor and outdoor smooth tracks. In velodromes, fixie bikes are referred to as track bikes. Fixed-gear bicycles are also used in cycle ball, bike polo, and artistic cycling. In artistic cycling, riders perform tricks that require balance and an artistic flair.
Fixed-gear bikes’ physical appearance can be quite pleasing. Many fixie bike owners take the time to build their own bikes from scratch, producing a totally unique fixie. When choosing a bike with only one gear, it is essential to consider the selection of a gear ratio.
The gear ratio is the number of teeth on the front chainring divided by the number of teeth on the rear cog. The higher the ratio, the harder it’ll be for the rider to accelerate, and the lower the cadence they’ll get. However, it’ll be much easier for them to maintain high speeds.
If you’re just starting out on your adventure on a single-speed or fixed-gear bike, a gear ratio of around 2.7-2.8 will be ideal. This is what is installed as standard on many bikes. However, if you need another ratio, it can easily be changed.
In conclusion, fixed-gear bikes are a popular alternative among mainly urban cyclists, offering the advantage of simplicity compared with the standard multi-geared bicycle. They are suitable for riding in the majority of weather conditions, commonly used on velodromes, and also used in cycle ball, bike polo, and artistic cycling. When choosing a fixed-gear bike, it is essential to consider the selection of a gear ratio.
Key Differences Between Road Bikes and Fixed Gear Bikes
When it comes to choosing a bike, there are many options available. Two popular types of bikes are road bikes and fixed-gear bikes. Here are some key differences between the two:
Road bikes have multiple gears, which allow the rider to adjust their pedaling effort to the terrain. Fixed gear bikes, on the other hand, have only one gear. This means that the rider cannot change the gear ratio and must pedal at the same cadence regardless of the terrain.
Road bikes have a freewheel mechanism that allows the rider to coast without pedaling. Fixed gear bikes do not have a freewheel mechanism, so the pedals will always turn when the bike is in motion. This means that the rider cannot coast on a fixed-gear bike and must always pedal, even when going downhill.
Road bikes typically have two brakes, one on the front wheel and one on the back wheel. Fixed gear bikes may or may not have brakes. Some fixed-gear bikes have no brakes at all, while others have a single brake on the front wheel.
Fixed gear bikes are generally lighter than road bikes. This is because fixed-gear bikes have fewer components, such as gears and derailleurs, which add weight to the bike.
Road bikes are designed for longer rides and are often used for racing or touring. Fixed gear bikes are often used for commuting or urban riding, as they are simpler and more efficient.
In summary, road bikes are designed for longer rides and have multiple gears, a freewheel mechanism, and two brakes. Fixed gear bikes are simpler and more efficient, with only one gear and no freewheel mechanism, and may or may not have brakes.
Conversion Process: Turning a Road Bike into a Fixed Gear Bike
Converting a road bike into a fixed-gear bike can be a fun and rewarding project for bike enthusiasts. Here are the steps to follow:
- Get the necessary equipment: You will need a fixie cog and a lock ring for the back wheel. These can be purchased online or at your local bike shop. If you’re not comfortable installing them yourself, you can have your local bike shop do it for you.
- Remove the rear wheel: To install the fixie cog and lock ring, you will need to remove the rear wheel from your road bike. This can be done by loosening the quick-release lever or removing the nuts that hold the wheel in place.
- Install the fixie cog and lock ring: Once the rear wheel is removed, you can install the fixie cog and lock ring. This involves using a chain whip and lock ring tool to secure the cog and lock ring to the hub.
- Shorten the chain: With the fixie cog and lock ring installed, you will need to shorten the chain to fit it. This can be done by removing the master link and adjusting the length to fit. Take up play on the chain by sliding the wheel back in.
- Mount the wheel: Once the chain is the correct length, you can mount the rear wheel back onto the bike frame. Make sure it is tightened securely.
- Adjust the chain tension: With the wheel mounted, you will need to adjust the chain tension. This can be done by sliding the wheel back and forth until the chain is tight, but not too tight.
- Test ride: With the conversion complete, take your fixed-gear bike for a test ride. Make sure everything is working properly and adjust as needed.
It’s important to note that not all road bike frames are suitable for conversion to a fixed-gear bike. Make sure to do your research and consult with a professional if you’re unsure. Additionally, converting a bike to a fixed gear can be dangerous if not done properly. Always wear a helmet and exercise caution when riding.
Considerations and Challenges
Converting a road bike to a fixed-gear bike can be a fun and rewarding project, but there are some considerations and challenges to keep in mind. Here are some things to consider:
- Equipment: To convert a road bike to a fixed-gear bike, you will need a fixie cog, a lock ring, and a new wheelset. Installing these parts requires specific equipment, so you may prefer to have your local bike shop construct them for you.
- Chain Length: You will need to shorten the chain to fit the new wheelset by removing the master link and adjusting the length.
- Hubs: There are four types of hubs to choose from: track hub, flip-flop hub, freewheel hub, or cassette hub. The best set-up for a road fixed-gear is to build up a new rear wheel, using either a track hub or a flip-flop hub. Track hubs have a stepped thread. The main thread that the sprocket screws onto is the same as that of a normal freewheel hub. Outboard of this, is another threaded section of slightly smaller diameter. This thread is a left (reverse) thread, and a special lockring screws onto it.
- Dropouts: The most desirable bikes for fixed-gear conversion are 1970’s road bikes. These usually have horizontal dropouts, which make the conversion easier than if you try to convert a newer bike with vertical dropouts. Newer bikes with vertical dropouts can be converted, but it may require additional equipment.
- Safety: It is important to ensure that the bike is safe to ride after the conversion. Make sure that the chain is properly tensioned and that the brakes are in good working order. It is also a good idea to wear a helmet and other safety gear when riding a fixed-gear bike.
In conclusion, converting a road bike to a fixed-gear bike can be a fun and rewarding project, but it requires some specific equipment and knowledge. It is important to consider safety and to ensure that the bike is properly set up before riding.
Pros and Cons of Converting a Road Bike to Fixed Gear
Converting a road bike to a fixed gear can have both pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages:
- A fixed-gear bike can help improve your fitness level. Riding a fixed gear bike requires more effort than riding a geared bike because you can’t use the mechanical advantage of different gear ratios to climb or cruise at different speeds.
- Fixed gear bikes give you more feedback from the road. You can feel the terrain under you better because the rear wheel can drive the cranks.
- Fixed gear bikes promote a better pedal stroke. Since you can’t coast, you have to keep pedaling all the time, which can help improve your pedal stroke.
- Converting a road bike to a fixed gear can be a fun project and a way to customize your bike.
- Riding a fixed-gear bike can take some getting used to. Fixed gear bikes force you to ride at cadences that you may not be used to or comfortable with, and you must learn how to ride at different cadences.
- There will be times when you want to coast but can’t. This can be annoying, and it may take some time to get used to not being able to coast.
- Converting a road bike to a fixed gear requires you to make some adjustments, which can be time-consuming and may require some mechanical knowledge.
- Riding a fixed-gear bike can be less comfortable than riding a geared bike because you can’t change gears to adjust to different terrain or riding conditions.
In summary, converting a road bike to a fixed gear can be a fun project and a way to customize your bike, but it also has some drawbacks, such as the need to get used to riding without the ability to coast and the lack of comfort compared to a geared bike.
Safety and Legal Considerations
When considering turning a road bike into a fixed-gear bike, there are several safety and legal considerations to keep in mind:
- Riding a fixed-gear bike without brakes can be unsafe.
- The proper mounting technique is required when riding a fixed-gear bike.
- Converting a bike to a fixed gear may require modifications to the frame or components, which should be done carefully to ensure the bike is safe to ride.
- In some places, it is illegal to ride a fixed-gear bike without a front brake.
When converting a road bike to a fixed-gear bike, it is important to use the proper components and techniques to ensure the bike is safe to ride. Sheldon Brown recommends using a track hub or flip-flop hub for the best set-up on a road fixed-gear bike.
Additionally, it may be easier to convert an older bike with horizontal dropouts than a newer bike with vertical dropouts. It is also important to keep in mind that conversions may require chain tugs to be skid-able and prevent the chain from loosening with every skid.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to the Topic:
Can I easily convert a road bike back to its original gears after turning it into a fixed-gear bike?
Yes, it is possible to convert a fixed-gear bike back to its original gears. However, it may require some work and specific equipment. The process involves removing the fixed-gear cog and lock ring and replacing them with the original gears and freewheel hub.
The chain may also need to be adjusted to fit the new gears. It is recommended to have a local bike shop construct the original gears for you.
Do I need to purchase a new bike frame or parts to convert my road bike into a fixed gear?
It depends on the current state of your bike. You may not need to purchase a new bike frame or parts to convert your road bike into a fixed gear. You can convert a conventional road or mountain bike into a fixed gear by building up a new rear wheel using either a track hub or a flip-flop hub.
Are there any specific tools or skills required for converting a road bike into a fixed-gear bike?
Yes, there are specific tools and skills required for converting a road bike into a fixed-gear bike. The process involves changing the rear wheel, removing the freewheel or cassette, and installing a fixed cog.
The best set-up for a road fixed-gear is to build up a new rear wheel, using either a track hub or a flip-flop hub. Some of the tools required include a chain whip, a lockring tool, a bottom bracket tool, and cone wrenches.
Conclusion: Can You Turn A Road Bike Into A Fixed Gear Bike?
In conclusion, it is possible to turn a road bike into a fixed-gear bike. However, it requires some modifications and adjustments to the bike. The pedals of a fixed-gear bike are directly attached to the rear wheel hub, which means that if the wheel turns, so will the pedals.
This makes it impossible to freewheel, but it also means that the pedals can be used as brakes to slow the bike down. Fixed gear bikes only have one gear, which makes them lighter and less expensive than road bikes.
While there are some differences between fixed-gear and road bikes, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the decision to convert a road bike into a fixed-gear bike depends on personal preference and the intended use of the bike.