Looking for advice on getting a fixie commuter bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Looking for advice on getting a fixie commuter bike

    After spending a week in Seattle I realized that I'm missing out. I'm new to this so be gentle. I've been reading the FAQ's which have helped but I'm still not sure what to search for. I'd be using this bike mostly for Urban riding. Basically, I bike that I can lock up in a city and not be stranded because they cut my lock. It doesn't have to be terribly nice but I do suffer from upgraditis. Do I just find a frame in the trash and build it up? Do I pour over Craigslist and convert whatever I find? Do people build these up and sell them cheap?

    Keep in mind that I mountain bike 4x or more a week on a pretty beefy bike. I also have a road bike and a XC race bike and do endurance races so I'm no stranger to pedaling. I also do all my own work so I can swing a wrench.

    Any advice is appreciated.
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  2. #2
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    I have a old steel Rockhopper with semi horizontal dropouts with a used disc brake wheelset. I slapped a tomicog on it. You could also get the Surly Fixxer. Or do it on both sides and have one ratio for fixed offroad.

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  4. #4
    Monkey Junkie
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    There are plenty of different options that you could consider. Lots of people build SS/fixed conversions with old road frames. If you want to run fixed especially, just make sure it has horizontal dropouts. http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html - lots of info here. Personally, I would build one up instead of buying a cheap complete bike new. If you do it right, you will end up with a much better build for about the same price. Some people build them up and sell them on CL, but do research so you know what you're looking at.

    I've done conversions before and I enjoyed them a lot. Recently built my gf a SS with an old schwinn mixte style frame. It's a great bike and probably cost all of $200 to throw together. I now personally ride a Bianchi San Jose that I bought complete. Kind of a SS cross/commuter. Really enjoy it, and was well worth the money.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleAddict
    There are plenty of different options that you could consider. Lots of people build SS/fixed conversions with old road frames. If you want to run fixed especially, just make sure it has horizontal dropouts. http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html - lots of info here. Personally, I would build one up instead of buying a cheap complete bike new. If you do it right, you will end up with a much better build for about the same price. Some people build them up and sell them on CL, but do research so you know what you're looking at.

    I've done conversions before and I enjoyed them a lot. Recently built my gf a SS with an old schwinn mixte style frame. It's a great bike and probably cost all of $200 to throw together. I now personally ride a Bianchi San Jose that I bought complete. Kind of a SS cross/commuter. Really enjoy it, and was well worth the money.
    Thanks for the response. This process is helping me figure things out.

    Normally I'd agree with you about building it up myself but I'm pretty sure I'd build it up too nice and then I'll be too worried about it getting ripped off to use it for it's intended purpose.

    So I guess I'm looking for a decent beater bike that I can run singlespeed on and maybe a set of cheap disc brakes. I'm thinking 26" wheels because I can't resist bunny hopping and popping curbs. Maybe something nice with a beat up paint job so it looks like a POS.
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  6. #6
    Monkey Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodyak
    Thanks for the response. This process is helping me figure things out.

    Normally I'd agree with you about building it up myself but I'm pretty sure I'd build it up too nice and then I'll be too worried about it getting ripped off to use it for it's intended purpose.

    So I guess I'm looking for a decent beater bike that I can run singlespeed on and maybe a set of cheap disc brakes. I'm thinking 26" wheels because I can't resist bunny hopping and popping curbs. Maybe something nice with a beat up paint job so it looks like a POS.

    You could go with an old steel MTB. Many of them won't be disc compatible but canti's or V's work fine. If there are any used/recycled bike shops in your area, check them out. There's a bunch of them local to me, and they have TONS of old MTB's laying around in need of some love. Sheldonbrown.com has tons of info on SS/fixed conversions, always a good source to refer to when doing projects like this.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleAddict
    You could go with an old steel MTB. Many of them won't be disc compatible but canti's or V's work fine. If there are any used/recycled bike shops in your area, check them out. There's a bunch of them local to me, and they have TONS of old MTB's laying around in need of some love. Sheldonbrown.com has tons of info on SS/fixed conversions, always a good source to refer to when doing projects like this.
    Not a bad idea. I'm outside of Boston so I'm sure I can find a place in the city.
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  8. #8
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    1st generation Redline 925 is a great off the rack solution. Cheap too, especially if used. 80's road bikes are a good choice, especially if they already have 120mm spacing out back. The mtb conversion idea is a great one if you can find a frame with track or horizontal drops. A nice high bottom bracket is a helpful feature on a fixie. Whatever you decide, please think through your handlebar/brake choice and pick something practical. Also, avoid freewheel hubs. There a lot of good hub options (disc hubs with bolt on cogs are #1, track hubs with lockrings #2, ENO/Fixxer work too), but a respaced freewheel hub + track cog is a accident waiting to happen. Good luck with the project. Fixies are not just trendy, they are also a ton of fun.
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  9. #9
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    i like my kona paddy wagon. its my first and only road bike thought so i cant really compare it to anything else.

  10. #10
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    buying a cheapish new bike is a better value... in the long run.
    just get cartridge bearing hubs, almost everyone uses formula's or something the exact same anyway, and a cartridge bottom bracket. set.

  11. #11
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    I found a Trek Soho S on Craigslist for $300 in new condition. I see them on Ebay for $300 all the time. Very smooth ride, silent, and nice relaxed, upright geometry. Good for keeping your head up in traffic. And it's quite nimble too. Oh, and it's painted all flat black and you can hardly see the Trek logo. Not flashy at all, so it won't draw attention from theives. It's not a high end bike, but damn, it just works really great. I've been riding the piss out of it and haven't had any trouble. It's my go to city bike. I built up a really nice vintage road bike with top end parts that looks really cool, but I never ride it because this one just feels right. It's got 700c wheels and 25c tires so I wouldn't bunny hop curbs with it or anything, but it rolls fast.

  12. #12
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    I commute on a Wabi http://www.wabicycles.com/classic_bi...apphire10.html and love it- I commute about 22 miles each way on it and it is a blast to ride. The price is worth it and working with them is great. I know this advice is a little different than others are offering but what the heck.

    I priced out building one up and it just isn't worth it.
    I ride a singlespeed because it's harder.

  13. #13
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    two things to consider based on my experiences with fixed-gear bikes:

    1. fixies are not really all that practical. a single-speed bicycle is practical. a fixie is fun, but not practical for commuting. i don't see any advantages to riding fixed over riding a SS with a freewheel.

    2. be sure to use a proper track hub that has a left-hand threaded lock ring, not a modified freewheel hub with a bottom bracket lock ring on it. this is called a suicide hub for the reason you might suspect: it WILL fail at the most inopportune time. i tried this using Loc-tite, i roto-fixed the cog and tightened the hell out of the lock ring and it still came loose. if you're going to ride fixed either way, run a front brake. a bike with a suicide hub and no brakes is not a bicycle at all, it's a death trap.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    two things to consider based on my experiences with fixed-gear bikes:

    1. fixies are not really all that practical. a single-speed bicycle is practical. a fixie is fun, but not practical for commuting. i don't see any advantages to riding fixed over riding a SS with a freewheel.

    2. be sure to use a proper track hub that has a left-hand threaded lock ring, not a modified freewheel hub with a bottom bracket lock ring on it. this is called a suicide hub for the reason you might suspect: it WILL fail at the most inopportune time. i tried this using Loc-tite, i roto-fixed the cog and tightened the hell out of the lock ring and it still came loose. if you're going to ride fixed either way, run a front brake. a bike with a suicide hub and no brakes is not a bicycle at all, it's a death trap.
    This must be the one of the most uneducated, inaccurate, and false posts on these forums. I hope people just ignore it and do their own search.

  15. #15
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    I was going to get an older frame and fix it up, but instead decided to get a new frame and build that up. I guess I just didn't want to risk frame failures (I know I may be paranoid, but just for my peace of mind, I went with new). Mine has track ends and is made to be a SS-only. It can also fit 38's on there, which is nice. Most of the older frames are limited to 28? 32? It's pretty fun to zip around, though I do not live in an urban city, but still fun for training and rides for various errands.

  16. #16
    MONKEYMAN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfchild
    This must be the one of the most uneducated, inaccurate, and false posts on these forums. I hope people just ignore it and do their own search.
    And this is another example of a a post which calls out another but provides no factual evidence to support why they think it is twaddle.

    example:
    this posting is uneducated, inaccurate and false because ________ ...

    I agree with mack_turtle, riding a fixie with no brakes in an urban commute environment is ill-advised to say the least. 99.9% of cyclists out on the road today WILL have better control over their bikes with freewheel and F&R brakes.

    Wolfchild very likely THINKS he is that .1% and can control his fixie commuter better than a freewheel bike with F&R brakes. But the reality is that not everyone out there can control their bike as well as Wolfchild thinks he can.

    There is a reason these bikes are called 'Track Bikes'. No one is going to pull a hard right hook into you without signalling first on a track. No one is going to be turning left in front of you from the opposite direction on a track.

    It is my opinion that this is where brakeless fixies belong:


    OR POSSIBLY



    But not:
    Last edited by finger51; 04-16-2010 at 03:26 PM.
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  17. #17
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    Whatever, finger51. Brakes are over-rated. I can stop just fine on my fixie using the ultra-hip skid technique. Looks cool, too. Because that's what it's about.




  18. #18
    MONKEYMAN
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    Quote Originally Posted by p nut
    Whatever, finger51. Brakes are over-rated. I can stop just fine on my fixie using the ultra-hip skid technique. Looks cool, too. Because that's what it's about.
    LOL. That never would have happened if the guy on the bike had been wearing a twead cap rakishly askew.
    What a poseur.
    Last edited by finger51; 04-16-2010 at 03:25 PM.
    “I don't like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there”

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfchild
    This must be the one of the most uneducated, inaccurate, and false posts on these forums. I hope people just ignore it and do their own search.
    please substantiate your claim. how is a fixed-gear bike that was made to be ridden on a velodrome track "practical" for commuting several miles in urban traffic?

    have you ever built a suicide hub? have you seen a hipster with one eat **** in traffic? i have, it's not pretty. i am trying to save some people some bloodshed by exposing this idea for the horrible tragedy waiting to happen that it is.

  20. #20
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    This is gone AWOL.

    Go fixed gear, please run a front brake. Simple physics supports the idea.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    please substantiate your claim. how is a fixed-gear bike that was made to be ridden on a velodrome track "practical" for commuting several miles in urban traffic?

    have you ever built a suicide hub? have you seen a hipster with one eat **** in traffic? i have, it's not pretty. i am trying to save some people some bloodshed by exposing this idea for the horrible tragedy waiting to happen that it is.
    OP has asked a question about a fixed gear commuter... and not a brakelss track bike.
    There is a big difference between a fixie commuter vs a track bike. My experience has been that fixed gear drivetrain is very practical for commuting, and yes I do have F and R brakes just in case I need to make a quick emergency stop. But most of the time I don't use my brakes I love to control my bikes speed via the drivetrain using my legs. I prefer using proper track hubs with reverse threaded lockring, but I also have build suicide hubs and so far never had any failures. The thing about suicide hubs is you have to make sure that the threads are 100% clean, and then if you rotofixit with red locktite and then let the locktite cure for 24 hours it becomes a very solid set up. Like I said before if you ride in traffic then run brakes.

  22. #22
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    i ride a fixie commuter with a front brake and i do find in some situations that my fixed drivetrain is superior that a freewheel. commuting in traffic for me is not bobbing and weaving thru cars... its riding with them, along side them, with them stopped at a traffic light. sometimes that leaves you riding at very slow speeds until you have the chance to get moving and there is no better solution in that situation than having full control with a fixed drivetrain. there is no having to put my foot down in the most inopportune time only to have traffic to start moving and some jackarse in a hummer pissed at me because i have to get back on my pedals and start again. i can stay on my pedals at slow speeds and at a complete stop and that is much harder to control with a freewheel.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwcart10
    i ride a fixie commuter with a front brake and i do find in some situations that my fixed drivetrain is superior that a freewheel. commuting in traffic for me is not bobbing and weaving thru cars... its riding with them, along side them, with them stopped at a traffic light. sometimes that leaves you riding at very slow speeds until you have the chance to get moving and there is no better solution in that situation than having full control with a fixed drivetrain. there is no having to put my foot down in the most inopportune time only to have traffic to start moving and some jackarse in a hummer pissed at me because i have to get back on my pedals and start again. i can stay on my pedals at slow speeds and at a complete stop and that is much harder to control with a freewheel.
    I'm not understanding what you mean by having to put your feet down at slower speeds? I can ride just as slow on my FW bikes vs. fixed. And starting and stopping? Not sure how long it takes you to get started, but I'm up and going in no time. Never had anyone honk at me for not taking off quick enough. Also, I find it easier to get going on a FW, since I can back pedal and push off.

    I have a fixed gear (Surly Steamroller), but I'm just as at home on a geared roadie or FW SS. For strictly efficient commuting, I'll take the geared roadie. For some challenge and fun--Steamer.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by p nut
    I'm not understanding what you mean by having to put your feet down at slower speeds? I can ride just as slow on my FW bikes vs. fixed. And starting and stopping? Not sure how long it takes you to get started, but I'm up and going in no time. Never had anyone honk at me for not taking off quick enough. Also, I find it easier to get going on a FW, since I can back pedal and push off.

    I have a fixed gear (Surly Steamroller), but I'm just as at home on a geared roadie or FW SS. For strictly efficient commuting, I'll take the geared roadie. For some challenge and fun--Steamer.
    i guess i am more referring to the ability to do a track stand at an intersection puts me at an advantage in getting as quick of a start as possible imo. the slower speed thing is more about how traffic can have a slow start when a light turns green and sometimes can even force you to have to stop and being able to do that and not have to take my feet off the pedals, unclip, etc... i live in an area that there are almost no bike commuters at all and there is a general atmosphere that bikes dont belong on the road. i have even had a cop tell me to get onto the sidewalk and i had to tell him that it was illegal! i dont take issue with you for riding fw... the op was looking for advice on fixies and i told him why i liked them over fw's for commuting. in the end its just my opinion. i think fixies get a bad wrap because of trendiness and they can be built up unsafely. i really like them and they make me want to commute to work by bike instead of car because its fun to ride and i do think they can be practical if geared right, have at least one brake and have bars that are longer than my pinky finger.

  25. #25
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    I am having fun on my cheap 2008 SE Draft I bought this year new for $175. A few cheap parts on her but you said you did not want to worry about theft. Upgraditis can be solved with a crank and a seatpost. I plan on these 2 upgrades. Already added a 32T cog, chopped the bar and removed the rear brake.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwcart10
    i guess i am more referring to the ability to do a track stand at an intersection puts me at an advantage in getting as quick of a start as possible imo. the slower speed thing is more about how traffic can have a slow start when a light turns green and sometimes can even force you to have to stop and being able to do that and not have to take my feet off the pedals, unclip, etc... i live in an area that there are almost no bike commuters at all and there is a general atmosphere that bikes dont belong on the road. i have even had a cop tell me to get onto the sidewalk and i had to tell him that it was illegal! i dont take issue with you for riding fw... the op was looking for advice on fixies and i told him why i liked them over fw's for commuting. in the end its just my opinion. i think fixies get a bad wrap because of trendiness and they can be built up unsafely. i really like them and they make me want to commute to work by bike instead of car because its fun to ride and i do think they can be practical if geared right, have at least one brake and have bars that are longer than my pinky finger.
    FWIW, I can track stand just fine on both FW and fixed. Maybe a little harder on the FW, since you can't back pedal to regain balance, but instead a quick jerk back with your body. Still not that hard to do. Sucks about your town not being bike friendly. That cop needs to stop talking and shove another donut in his face.

  27. #27
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    Just read a bunch more of this thread. I agree that since I built my first Fixie I have gotten better at track standing. I find the new purchased fixie with straight bars has seen me get even slightly better also. Always ride the built one on the bottom of the drops. The thing that it did was to make me comfortable while stopped to play with tension and bar quiver to increase my balance. When I transitioned back to my SS MTB I found it was a load easier to track stand than it ever was before. Actually even easier than on the fixie. I just did not pay as much attention to the attempt before I was on a fixed toy. I think I have become a smarter rider since I built my first fixed because of the inherent issues these toys bring. I see much more of what is around me on-road and off. Oh and it helps in off-road rides and races too. I just seem to pedal more!!! You kind of forget that coasting is an option.

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