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
This was the first wheelset I owned, and they are awesome. These Vuelta Zerolites are a cheap fixed gear wheelset with a really great look to them. With a traditional rim depth for 700c wheels, these will look great on almost any bike. They're stealthy and perfect for vintage frames.
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 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 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 fixie wheels are popular, highly deep-V wheelsets for the stealthy, "I want brakes" crowd; they are a fantastic choice if you're going that route (linear pull / v-brakes.)
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.
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.
Pure Fix has a ridiculously affordable set of fixed gear wheels that offer both the slick look of high profile rims, 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.
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 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.
© 2012 Graeme
Questions or comments?
Steven Tan on September 21, 2018:
I have a 2009 KHS Flite 100 urban soul single speed bicycle with flip flop hub in real wheel, 120mm frame spacing and 100mm fork spacing (front wheel.) Crankset of 170mm; 44T ring, freewheel cog of 16T. KMC Z30 chain. Now, both wheels got stolen. What's your recommendation for wheelsets replacement that fit this particular bike which requires a 3/32" 16T freewheel cog. I believe that the chain is a 3/32" size chain. Please help! Thanks.
Graeme (author) on July 30, 2013:
@anonymous: Hi Bob, a 1/8" chain like your 10 speed uses should work fine with a fixed gear cog (usually 3/32"). You can't go the other way though (single speed chain won't work on a derailleur bike). And yes you can probably get your existing chainring to work, just make sure that the chain is reasonably straight as you say.
The bit about the guard is very tricky, I'd avoid. Chainring bolt spacing varies from bike to bike, could be an exercise in frustration! Hope that helps.
Graeme (author) on July 30, 2013:
@anonymous: Under 40 for a set? You won't find any, unless you're looking on Craigslist for a used set, and even that will be tough to find. The ones listed above are about as cheap as you should safely go.
anonymous on July 28, 2013:
what are some fixie wheel sets that are under 40 bucks if there are any, but still look cool on an all black 1973 nishiki roadbike frame
anonymous on July 13, 2013:
Hey thanks for the great info...good of you post this stuff.
I am getting ready to convert my Schwinn Tempo 10 speed into a fixie. It has horizontal drop outs so it should be pretty straight forward. I think I'm about ready but still not clear about a couple things;
Size of the chain.
Will I be able to use my original chain ring? Can I get a rear cog that takes the same chain size? If so may I use either the small or the large chain ring and get a straight chain line?
Also, I have seen a non toothed rim that is made to replace the large chain ring in one of the You Tube clips. This part allows you to have a chain guard in front and use the original chain ring bolts. (really not sure about this one??)
anonymous on May 10, 2013:
@anonymous: b43s are really heavy
if your going to put brakes on your bike make sure you get machined wall rims or else the paint will strip and look ugly
if your intending on spending around 300$ go for mavic ellipses
anonymous on May 10, 2013:
I'm not very familiar with wheels, and I have a low budget and live in the Netherlands. Would you recommend me these: www.bikester.nl/fietsonderdelen/fietswielen-naven/velgen-fiets/5135.html ?
I plan on putting them on my peugeot frame converted from the '80's.
anonymous on May 08, 2013:
Out of all the wheelsets mentioned above which set would you ultimately recommend and or purchase
anonymous on April 25, 2013:
i'am planning to buy some B43 velocity wheels, but i don't know if i can get brakes on them (in the way of the paint coming of or something )
if know please reply fast!!!
anonymous on April 13, 2013:
@BikePro: Yeah it's an old road bike that I'm converting to a fixie. I went with the vuelta wheel set. Thanks !
Graeme (author) on April 13, 2013:
@anonymous: Actually yes, I wrote one on affordable cranksets not too long ago! https://skyaboveus.com/cycling/the-best-single-spe...
Graeme (author) on April 13, 2013:
@anonymous: Is this for an older road bike? 27 inch is slightly bigger in diameter than 700c. So if you're switching to 700c, go for brakes that have around 4mm more reach. Your brakes may have 4mm of room to play with already, some older road bikes have adjustable pads.
anonymous on April 12, 2013:
good stuff! do you have a list like this for cranksets ?
anonymous on April 11, 2013:
Hi, thanks for the info! If I go from a 27in to a 700c will I not be able to have brakes at all ? or could I just get a long reach one for the front wheel?
Graeme (author) on April 10, 2013:
@anonymous: Hi Jesse, yeah it's tough, deep V is really popular. Try Ebay, search for the Mavic CXP22 track or H Plus Son track wheelsets. Alex ACE-19 is semi-deep v but probably fits the look and it's inexpensive. Hope that helps!
anonymous on April 10, 2013:
I'm looking for a classic aluminum, non deep v fixed gear wheelset and can not seem to find them ANYWHERE! Do you have any recommendations?
Graeme (author) on April 02, 2013:
@anonymous: They're all solid. I'd base your choice on the look you're going for. Vuelta is a great starting point. :)
anonymous on April 02, 2013:
So which is the best of the five, i like eightinch and vuelta.
Graeme (author) on March 20, 2013:
@anonymous: Yeah, from what I read about the Gipiemme Pista wheelset their non sealed bearings are horrible, I would avoid. I strongly recommend a wheelset with a sealed bearing set, it's much better. Sorry, most of my reviews are North American based! Have you checked out Planet X? They ship to the EU and have a good set of Weinmann wheels available.
anonymous on March 15, 2013:
I ment gipiemme pista A40
anonymous on March 15, 2013:
thanks a lot for your post! As I am living in the Netherlands and face some difficulties or extra expenses ordering from the USA, have you heard about the Gipiemme Pista R40? Are they worth the money? I read something about problems with their bearings etc. but also good stuff, and the style fits perfectly to my Classic Peugeot!
I am thinking of the silver unmachined version
imxta2 on February 26, 2013:
I love this post thank you!
cargoliftken on February 16, 2013:
Nice lens. Thanks for sharing.
CoolFool83 on September 02, 2012:
These can help save people a lot of money.