5 of the Best Budget Fixed Gear Wheelsets for 2018: Reviewed
Looking for a Good, Inexpensive Fixed Gear Wheelset?
Fixed gear bikes are thrilling to ride, and they're even more fun to build. If you want to build a fixie of your own from the ground up (or upgrade your existing ride), you'll need a good fixed gear wheelset to get started.
These wheels have a specialized cog that is fixed in place (so no back-pedaling), which requires a unique hub design and lockring. The first bicycles ever built were all fixed gears; they are back into fashion because they are a blast to ride.
There are lots of wheels out there these days. Still, it can be a confusing process: different sets range greatly, from very inexpensive to ridiculously overpriced. What's worth buying?
If you're looking for a good fixed gear wheelset on the cheap, it's important to find one with sturdy construction and great, long-lasting components.
This article is intended for someone relatively new to fixed gears. I aim to narrow your search by suggesting a few of my favourite options. All of the wheelsets listed here will cost you less than $200, and each one includes quality components, solid construction and great reviews.
With each set of fixie wheels, I'll look at the quality of the components (including the rims, hubs, cog and lockrings), the materials used (carbon fibre, aluminum, steel), the experience buyers have had, and the overall price point.
I'll also try to cover a few different 'looks', since everyone's taste is unique. Whether you're after standard-style wheelsets, 'deep V' wheels, or even coloured options, I've got you covered.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message and I'll try to respond. Let's get started!
Vuelta Zerolite Comp: Budget-priced fixed gear wheels with great quality
This was the first wheelset I owned, and they are awesome. . With a traditional rim depth for 700c wheels, these will look great on almost any bike. They're stealthy and perfect for vintage frames. These Vuelta Zerolites are a cheap fixed gear wheelset with a really great look to them
The rim decals can easily be removed if you want an 'unbranded' look if that's your preference. Either way, they look slick.
As for components, this is the ideal bang for your buck. This affordable fixie wheel set is really nicely put together. CNC machined sidewalls are suited for brake setups, and the sealed cartridge bearing hubs spin freely.
Speaking of the hubs, the rear is a flip-flop, meaning you have the option of both a fixed cog and a freewheel side, though it only comes with one or the other.
All of this is great, but when you consider the low price tag it's a total steal. Most shops will charge at least twice what you see here. So this is an ideal starting point for any fixed gear bike build project.
Note: I've been asked many times which of the many wheelsets I've listed here is the best. If you're starting fresh, I recommend the Vuelta Zerolite first; they're durable, light, and looks great on any frame.
State Bicycle: An affordable, good-looking, deep-V fixed gear wheelset
State Bicycle fixed gear wheelsets are available in lots of colour options, and their components are top notch. It's no surprise they have a huge customer following. If you're wanting to build a ride that turns heads, State Bicycle is a good brand to build your ride around.
These reasonably-priced fixed gear wheelsets are stunning due to a very 'deep V' profile. Typically, deep V wheels designed for a fixie will be quite expensive, but they've managed to keep these sets rather cheap, with smart choices and component flexibility.
Not only do they come in many colors, they arrive totally unbranded, so you can keep your bike looking clean and custom. They're really well built and they spin true.
Another bonus: these wheels also come with a flip-flop hub built-in. As usual, you have two ride options: one side is standard fixed gear with cog and lock ring, while the other is threaded to hold a freewheel. If you want to coast, just flip your wheel around and you'll be flying down the hills in style. (You'll need to pick up the freewheel separately.)
If you're putting together something special, State Bicycle Co. fixie wheels stand out from the crowd, and their prices are simply great.
Retrospec Mantra: Among the best fixed gear wheelsets for brakeless builds
Retrospec is fairly new to the fixed gear scene, but they're putting out a ton of quality components for fixie enthusiasts, including tons of very popular coloured gear. Their Mantra brand represents a cheaper fixed gear wheelset that is aimed at inexpensive, eye-catching track builds.
With mostly deep V rims and tons of componentry, they are really worth considering. They're one of the least expensive sets of fixie wheels on this list.
These wheels include Kenda Kwest tires, and proprietary Retrospec high flange hubs, which are of reasonably good quality and have sealed bearings.
The sidewalls on most of these are not machined. If you're building a bike with brakes (which I recommend), they won't have as much purchase on non-machined rims, so do keep that in mind..
Given their low prices and options for colour (both the rims and the hubs themselves) Retrospec Mantra wheelsets are really nice for a totally custom setup. I also think their understated branding is gorgeous, but that's just my subjective view.
Stars Rim: Stealthy yet inexpensive fixie wheels, fully machined
They are an extremely good looking wheel, which is a bonus. The color choices are limited, but they come in a mostly neutral palette that matches almost any ride, and their branding is subdued so you won't feel like a billboard. You can peel off the stickers for a brandless vibe.
They do have a machined sidewall surface, so these are well suited for brakes. They come with KT Quando sealed hubs, and like others here most come with flip-flop hubs and a sprocket on each side. The rims themselves are triple walled, meaning they are tough and very durable. They're relatively light, and the few stickers the wheels come with are removable if you want to be 'badge-less'.
One major caveat is the spoke count. Don't get me wrong, it looks great! But with just 24 spokes in an irregular pattern, their rigidity will suffer. That means you may need to true them more regularly.
Overall this is an unbelievable price, at any shop a custom wheelset with these components would run you at least double, so this cheap fixed gear wheel set is certainly worth a hard look.
Pure Fix: A top choice wheelset for fixed gears with brakes
If you're not actually riding on the velodrome, I don't recommend going without brakes. I always suggest attaching at least one set on the front wheel. If so, a machined rim is what you probably want.
, while giving your brakes a good surface to land on. They also carry non-machined sets with deep-dish rims if that's more your speed. Pure Fix has a ridiculously affordable set of fixed gear wheels that offer both the slick look of high profile rims
This set comes in a variety of colours, and the rims are double-walled aluminum with a healthy 32 spokes each. Another advantage is the flip-flop hub: unlike many competitors, Pure Fix includes both a fixed and a free cog, each 16t. Considering they're among the cheapest fixie wheelsets reviewed here, that's really nice addition to see.
The hubs are KT Quando, which is a cheaper manufacturer, but I've had plenty of them before and I had no issues whatsoever.
I'm not surprised that these guys have quickly become one of the biggest brands around, their wheels look awesome and their cost is very accessible. Check them out.
Building a fixie on the cheap? How much should you expect to spend?
Building a custom, cheap fixed gear bicycle is getting easier, and parts are more readily available today than ever before. It is super satisfying building something from scratch, and I've built quite a few myself.
The nice thing is that you can get rolling with little more than a frame, a set of wheels and a brake. It can be done for remarkably little money. But I don't recommend dipping below $100 for your wheelset.
Whether you opt for a good, budget deep V wheelset or want something more clean and classic, be sure to place build quality above looks. Your wheels will be carrying all your weight while you travel at high speed across pavement; that's not something you can afford to compromise on too much.
I love to help people out, so if you have any questions about any of the wheel sets here, or just plain fixie building queries in general, please leave a comment.