Five Good, Cheap Fixie Bikes for Under $300, Reviewed
My 5 Picks: Best Fixed Gear Bikes for Below $300
I love riding and building fixed gears. They are tons of fun to ride, super responsive and quick, and when you're riding one there's a sense of road feel and simple joy that's hard to describe.
I also believe that this kind of riding should be inexpensive and easy to get into. Fortunately, there are many capable, cheap fixie bikes under $300 for sale out there today; by merit of their simplicity, a little goes a long way.
I'm writing this article to help anyone who is brand new to track and fixed gear bicycles and wants to get into riding one on the cheaper end of things. I'm going to take a look at a few of my favorites for under $300, and rate them based on their brand, ride-ability, materials and components involved, and overall ride experience.
This is not an exhaustive list, but if you're new to fixies in general it's a good place for you to start. I'll do my best to explain the components and what the terminology means. If I've lost you at any point, please leave me a comment and I'll respond to any questions you might have.
Additionally, if you're looking at one under $300 that's not on this list and you want my opinion, leave a comment and I'll give you my honest opinion. Let's get started!
What Makes Up an Inexpensive Fixie
If you're new to fixed gear bikes, here's a primer. You don't need to know every component on the bike and how it all works, but it's good to know the basic components and difference from traditional bicycles.
- Fixed Rear Wheel: The primary different between a conventional freewheeled bike and a fixie is the fixed rear wheel. This means that the rear cog where the chain attaches doesn't spin backwards, but is fixed to the wheel. All fixed gears have this feature.
- Flip-Flop Hub: Many of these bikes, including many priced under $300, have a flip-flop hub. This means that there is a fixed gear cog on one side of the wheel, and the option for a freewheel on the other side. If you want to be able to pedal backwards (and coast), you just flip the wheel around.
- Track Style Dropouts: In order to adjust the chain to the right level of tautness, even a cheaper fixed gear bike must have track friendly rear dropouts. These are the slots into which the wheel sits. As long as there is some room to move the wheel back and forth in the slots, it should work.
Critical Cycles Harper: A quintessential cheap single speed / fixed gear bike
When it comes to that sweet spot where affordability meets utility and good looks, . The Harper has some excellent features, and suits an adventurous rider. Critical Cycles is in the center of that nexus; they make an awesome fixed gear bike
The TIG welded steel frame is strong and quite light, and the bike itself comes with a flip-flop hub, so you can easily flip the wheel to the side with the Sunrun freewheel for coasting. This flexibility makes it an excellent city rider. If you're looking for an urban warrior, this is a great option to look at.
This is probably the ideal cheap starter bike for anyone looking to get into fixie tricks and stunts, since it has components set up perfectly for that style of riding. It has a sealed bottom bracket for smooth pedalling and low maintenance, a set of BMX style riser bars with excellent spin clearance, and Promax brakes for extra stopping power. The rims are deep V and are double walled for added strength and rigidity. It's available in small, medium and large, and in lots of different color schemes.
Did I mention it even comes with a cone wrench and 3 allen wrenches so you can do some maintenance?
Long story short, you get a lot for your money with this bike, and for well under $300 it's basically a great bargain.
Vilano Rampage: A good, affordable fixed gear that's well under $300
When you find a great brand name for a decent price, it's an easy decision to make. However, when you find an unbelievable price with an unknown brand, it's a bit of a tougher call to make. I can understand your trepidation.
Vilano is relatively unknown brand when compared to the bigger ones, but it's one I'm familiar with and I've been very impressed. And their stunningly beautiful Rampage fixie bicycle is an awesome choice for a new rider.
This bike has a TIG-welded steel frame for superior strength, rigidity and dependability. It has a forged alloy Tec9 crankset with a 46 tooth chainring on the front, and a 16 tooth freewheel on the back. The gearing is great for all-around riding styles, and you can even tackle a hill or two. It has a flip-flop rear hub, and it comes with a freewheel attached to the other side, a nice bonus! Wide, BMX-style platform pedals are in style at the moment and offer nice support.
This fixie is also nice to look at and would make a good basis for a further buildup over time, since it has a very subtle frame and little overt branding on it. Check it out, you might be impressed by Vilano; I certainly am.
Takara Sugiyama: A low-cost fixie bike well under $300
I'm not sure why this bike has such a hold on me. It's very inexpensive and looks pretty wild compared to others on this list, and it's just plain fun to ride. In any event, the Takara Sugiyama is an uber-cheap fixie that's worth taking a look at.
Another newer brand (you're probably seeing a pattern here), Takara is nevertheless gaining a good reputation for producing excellent road bicycles, fixie bikes and components. Just check out the reviews: price notwithstanding, these are nice bikes and the owners are noticing. I really dig the flat bars and 'custom' style look this one has.
The Takara Sugiyama is an attractive and basic single speed bike that is perfect for a newer rider. It comes with a fixed cog rear wheel and a freewheel (rare to get both out of the box) so it's a good deal for you if you want to try out both styles. The wheels are 700c alloy and very light, and the brakes (front and rear) are pretty effective, so no compromise on quality there! Getting all these nice, high quality components on a fixie costing under $300 is pretty rare.
Takara is worth a shot.. Check it out, and check out the next listing by the same company if you want something with a little bit of a different flavor.
Retrospec Mars: Fixed gear bike style without the pedal hassle
Retrospec is another newer name to the game, but they're quickly gaining a positive reputation, and I particularly appreciate that they like to do things a little bit differently. The Retrospec Marsis a retro, fixie-inspired single speed that looks great and performs well in most riding situations. It's one of my new favorites.
Why would pedaling be a problem? On a fixed gear, your pedals never stop moving. No coasting allowed. So while you might really love the aesthetic, a single speed is often a better compromise to make.
The Mars has a single speed rear hub for a mixed riding style, and the 16 tooth cog matches well with the 48 tooth chainring, best suited for flats and lighter hills. The frame is steel and is built for the perfect mix of fun and comfort. I like it because you won't be in pain but you won't look goofy either. The moustache handlebars give it a good retro French appeal.
Accessories include a lamp, fenders, a chain guard, a bike rack and dual brakes.
What I like best about the Retrospec Mars is that it's a fantastic platform for almost any build. The classic look frame is perfect for a wide variety of styles. You can buy this bike and add better parts and components as you can afford them.
If you're interested in a slightly more comfortable single speed experience, this is definitely a nice bicycle to check out.
Framed Lifted: A budget-priced, 'BMX styled' fixed gear bicycle
This bike has a bit of a different flavour than the other ones we've been looking at so far. . It has a more BMX styled stance than normal, but it doesn't skimp on the many desirable properties of a fixie either. The Framed Lifted is neat because in both style and function it effectively combines the best of two worlds: BMX and fixed gear styles
Framed is known for their BMX bikes, and you can see that inspiration in the high tension steel frame here. It has deep dish 700c wheels with fully machined sidewalls. It has BMX-inspired riser bars, which aren't always seen on single speeds. Front and rear brakes are a nice addition, as are the generous platform pedals.
The riding position and stance is crafted with urban riding in mind; you'll find yourself positioning your weight right over the pedals, not the handlebars. It's an agile ride.
It's actually lacking a fixed cog, so if you're dead set on riding a fixed drivechain this isn't the ride for you (or you'd need to upgrade the rear wheel to a 700c fixie hub version.)
It's unconventional, but you'll stand out. Check out the Framed Lifted, one of the nicest and most unique offerings on this list.
Brakes or No Brakes?
Planning to ride your cheap fixie bike without brakes?
If you're shopping around for an affordable fixed gear bike, you're probably also aware that many riders eschew brakes on their rides. The idea is that with a fixed gear bicycle, you can always lock up the rear wheel to 'skid stop'.
I get the trick factor, and it's fun to play around with, but I implore you to always ride with at least a single brake on your bike! Traffic is unpredictable, skid stops don't always work well on gravel or wet pavement, and frankly, it's bad on your knees to be skidding all the time. Not to mention, in many municipalities it's illegal to ride a bicycle with no brakes, so you'd be risking a ticket or fine.
All of the inexpensive fixie bikes reviewed here have brakes, and any manufacturer worth their salt will offer them as standard equipment. Get them, they're worth it.
Things To Watch Out For:
In any cheaper fixed gears, you should be wary of cheap parts. Avoid anything that you're iffy about. I know that a lot of people don't put much stock in brand names, but the fact is they are a good sign of the overall quality of the product. No-name brands are dangerous, and you should avoid them for the most part.
Also, before you take your first ride, make sure your fixie has been inspected and put together properly by a bike shop or trained professional. Every component should be right and tight, and the chain should be straight and properly taut.
You don't want to be riding on something half-baked. On fixed gears in particular, flaws in the drivetrain can be very dangerous and can lead to accidents.
I hope my list of low cost fixies helps you out. Good luck!