Best Fixed-Gear Upgrades
Thinking of upgrading your fixed gear?
If you currently own a fixed gear, also known as a "fixie", then you know that it can be a money pit if you are always wanting to upgrade it. Or, you may be in the market to buy one, whether it be a used 70's road bike which you plan to convert, or a new bike. Whatever the case may be, there is a certain joy that overcomes us as we wait, looking out the window for a brown truck to deliver a new set of handlebars.
Do you ride a Fixed-Gear?
Let me know if you do, and if yes, what frame?
Do you ride a fixed-gear?
What Should I Upgrade First?
If you are on a tight budget, like many of us, it's always difficult to decide where to spend whatever money we have. A way to alleviate this problem is to answer the following questions:
- Do I have enough hand positions on my handlebar and are they comfortable?
- Do I have a proper foot retention system (FRS) if not running brakes?
- Is my seat comfortable as well as aesthetically pleasing?
If you answered No to any of these questions, then you've gotten your answer to what to upgrade first.
You may be thinking, "But why these things, what about an ultra-light wheelset?"
Well, first off, an ultra-light wheelset will run upwards of $600, and you are on a budget, remember? The reason why I have chosen handlebars, FRS, and saddles as primary upgrades is because these are things with which you will always have contact with unless your ride without your hands on your bars. One must be in a comfortable position if they will be doing any kind of serious riding, otherwise riding fixed may get old really fast.
Now that you've gotten the necessary upgrades and you've got a few extra bucks to spare, what should you do next?
This is where the decision is in your hands based on your goals. Ask yourself:
What do I want to achieve with this bike? Do I want to make it a ultra-light trackstar? A pothole busting tank? Or even just a bike to put in a showcase?
Of course, fixed gears can easily be made to do more than just one of the things I listed, but why not have separate ones for each category. You wouldn't mount Velocity B43's on a $1500 carbon frame that you use at the velodrome, right? Well, I hope you wouldn't because it would defeat the purpose of a carbon bike.
I Want to Make an Ultra-Light Track Bike...
...what should I do?
If you plan on going to race at a track, make sure your frame meets the regulations before you invest thousands of dollars into a potentially useless bike. Once you know that it does, let the modding begin!
The first thing to upgrade is your bike. Is it the best money can buy? Is it almost there? Whatever it is, just make sure it isn't "Walmart's $100 Fixie".
Once the frame has been picked, it's time for wheelsets. These may exceed the cost of the bike itself.
For Those of You Who'd Like to Tackle the Mean Streets of NYC...
...here's your solution.
City streets are not forgiving and neither are the drivers, so you must have a bike that can withstand the abuse. If you will be hopping curbs and riding on roads after a harsh winter, chances are your bike will really thank you if you don't have an ultra-light wheelset. Instead, you will have to sacrifice some weight for a heavier, sturdier, and overall bombproof rim.
You will have some options, but it mostly comes down to the Gold Standard in Deep V's, the Velocity B43 Bomber. I hesitate to say Gold Standard as some people despise B43's while others swear by them. It is ultimately up to the rider.
What About a Show Bike?
If you are interested in building a work of art, look no further than a well-thought-out fixed gear build, which can be hung on the wall. For this, you will need "shiny" parts that will make it stand out from the rest of the room. The picture itself does not feature a "shiny" bike, but its shows that people do hang bikes in their homes.
If "shiny" is not your cup of tea, then there are plenty of colors to choose from to fit your definition of art. Whether you want a gold crankset or purple handlebars, the possibilities are endless.
Now that you know what your options are, it is time to go buy parts and start making your fixed gear your own. The most important thing to remember is to have fun! Riding fixed must be done in a serious manner, but no one said that you can't have fun while being serious.