Graeme is a Victoria-based web developer who worked as a bicycle mechanic for three years. He loves writing about bike-related topics.
My Picks: The Best Cheap Fixed Gear Bicycle Frames
If you're new to fixed gear bicycles, and you want to build your own, chances are you have a few questions about the components you should use. And if you're like me, you probably want to build your fixie as cheaply as possible.
Considering bike shops often charge $500+ for what I'd consider to be a very basic single speed, a custom build can shave some of that cost. What's more, you'll have the satisfaction that only comes from DIY. Finding a good, cheap fixie frame is the first step.
One of the most beautiful things about fixed gear bicycles is the fact that you can totally customize them, building them from the ground up. This modularity allows your ride to be totally unique, and it's a lot of fun to plan and build.
In this article, I want to look at some of the best fixie frames you can find nowadays. While technically speaking you can use almost any frame to build upon, the best way to get started is to find one that's built specifically for the riding style you're after. Finding a good, cheap fixed gear bicycle frame isn't terribly difficult, but it can be confusing.
I'm going to show you four of my favorite cheap fixie frames, and I'll review each one. I will try to look at different types and looks, so you'll have some variety to choose from. I'll look at the materials, construction, rigidity, configuration and riding style of each one. Hopefully this will help you find an inexpensive fixie frame that works for you!
Let's get started.
Fixed Gear Frame Must Haves:
What an Affordable Fixie Frame Needs To Look Like
You can find bicycle frames of all shapes and sizes just about everywhere you look. Unfortunately, not every frame is suitable for a fixed gear bike build. Pick the wrong configuration and your bike project just won't work. Seriously!
Let's take a look at a couple 'must haves' for your cheap fixed gear bicycle frame.
- Your fixie frame needs to be large enough to accommodate standard sized wheels. In most cases you won't be able to use a BMX frame or anything too small, because the forks need to be able to hold 700c wheels (the standard and common size these days).
Technically you can build a fixie on any size frame and fork, but it's impractical since the parts will be almost impossible to source.
- You need roughly horizontal dropouts or 'track fork ends'. With a fixie you'll absolutely need a nice taut chain. That means you'll need some room in the dropouts (where the rear wheel slots into place) so you can pull the whole wheel back and tighten up the chain. A loose frame seriously hinders your ability to ride.
(Not sure what a horizontal or track fork end looks like? See the picture above as a reference. Notice the long slot. You can tighten up the wheel nuts anywhere along that slot for a nice, taut chain.)
State Bicycle Co: A Cheap Fixed Gear Frame In Many Colours
A bicycle frame and fork that's affordable
State Bicycle Co. has a ton of great stuff for anyone who's into tricking out their fixie, so they're a favourite of mine. State offers a cheap fixie frame in a variety of colours and sizes, and they're pretty much perfect for a highly customized build. They are light, fast, strong and unbranded, so State is an excellent choice all in all.
They offer their frames in chromoly steel, TIG welded for accuracy and integrity. They include track style fork dropouts on the rear, and they are set up specifically for track, fixie and single speed builds in mind. The best thing about these frames is the extreme variety of colour and size. If you don't find a combination that suits your fancy, you're probably a lot pickier than I am!
They come with a seatpost clamp, forks and a headset, and nice generous track dropouts.
Like their wheels, I highly recommend these State Bicycle Co. frames for your cheap fixie build. With a price under $200 they are a great value.
Pure Fix: Cheap Fixie Frames with Excellent Build Quality
A highly affordable fixed gear bicycle frame set
Pure Fix is one of my favourite fixie brands, and their complete bikes are some of the best value items around. Similarly awesome, this Pure Fix is a solid choice for anyone seeking a great platform to built a track or fixed gear bicycle upon. It's actually shockingly inexpensive, and it's one of the cheapest fixie frames that includes forks.
The Pure Fix frameset has a high tensile steel construction, meaning it's lighter than average and extremely strong. It has 120mm rear spacing, perfect for the setup of most fixed gear wheelsets, meaning you can plug in a rear wheel and go.
Note: it comes with a fork, but not a headset and no seatpost clamp, so you'll have to source that stuff separately. Bear that in mind when you're eyeing the budget price tag here.
It's also a very attractive frame with it's aggressive lines, subtle matte paint and minimalist approach. It's a superior basis for any build you'd want to do, especially considering the price tag is often around or under $100. Definitely one of the top contenders for cheaper fixie frames you should consider.
Pure Cycles Keirin Track Fixed Gear Frame
High Quality, Strong Fixie Frame with Triple-Butted Aluminum
Not to be mistaken for Pure Fix, this gorgeous fixie frame from Pure Cycles is a unique offering. It's a track-styled platform, very affordable and pretty high quality for the price. Frankly, if you're looking for a light and modern build you'll be hard pressed to find a better deal, money wise.
It's a bit pricier than others on this list, but still very reasonable considering it's a step up in quality. At the time of this writing it's on sale for a little over $300, and you get a fully painted, hydroformed aluminum frame and forks: a difficult deal to beat!
This frame has very aerodynamic form factor and therefore it sports a very clean, sleek and minimalist look. It's a departure from the "classic" fixie look in favour of something more modern. And this cheap fixie frame includes an integrated headset and a 68mm bottom bracket ready for whatever drive system you like best.
The horizontal track dropouts make adding and removing the rear wheel and tightening the chain a very easy task.
The geometry is pretty standard for a road bike, and you'll probably find it comfortable if you prefer a mixed riding style. It's a lovely and reasonably priced fixie frame and a good canvas to work with, especially if you're hoping to a) save on weight and b) create a modern looking ride.
Mercier Kilo TT: A Good, Inexpensive Track Bike Frame
A fixed gear / track bike frame that's affordable and strong
Ah, the Mercier Kilo TT. This is a venerable frame from an absolute fan favourite fixed gear bicycle company. It is a little higher in price than the previous couple of frames we've looked at, but it's also a step above in terms of quality and construction, and perhaps most important of all, it's proven. You can see by checking out the photos that these frames are well built and pretty slick looking. Notice those amazing forks! Beautiful.
Built with Reynolds 520 chromoly steel, the frame is extremely strong and light, the most durable you're likely to find. It's pre-drilled for front and rear brakes, so if you prefer riding with a brake setup (my recommendation!) this is a good platform to start with. The wider set of the forks can also accept fairly large tires if you prefer a bit more traction, up to 700x28 in clearance room.
If you're hoping for an unconventional colour, consider picking up the raw, unpainted frame. Mercier offers this with nothing but a clear coat, which you can ride as-is, or strip it to add your own paint job.
Like most track frames it has track fork end dropouts making it ready for a fixed gear wheel setup out of the box. Overall the Mercier Kilo is a beautiful frame, available in black, white, orange and raw metal, and it's a good choice for a cheap fixie frame.
Other Recommendations for finding a budget fixed gear frame:
The above is only a list of frames that I've had a great experience with. It's by no means exclusive. I do have a few more tips when it comes to tracking down cheaper fixed gear bike frames online. You want to protect yourself and avoid buying junk (and yes, there are some real junk frames available out there, made of pot metal. It's atrocious and pretty scary.)
Cheaper fixie frames generally contain shoddy paint, poor metal quality and sub-par craftsmanship. The tubes will be misaligned, covered in burrs or simply not welded well. The welds are often incomplete, allowing water and grime to enter the tubing and reducing the overal structural integrity.
It's worth your time to do a bit of research and go for quality. All my recommendations are excellent quality, so consider taking a look at a few of them first.
- Avoid any 'no-name' brands, or any brands you've never heard of. If all else fails, try to find a review of the one you're looking at. If there are virtually no reviews, it's probably pretty untested. Cheap-yet-reliable fixed gear frames exist, even ones with brands, so is it really worth compromising on this to save a couple of bucks? I don't believe so.
- Beware of shipping costs. Some online retailers will offer a super low rate, but make up the difference in shipping. Realistically, your frame shouldn't cost more than $30 to ship within the continental US. Anything beyond that and they're probably making up their costs with inflated freight.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
What do you think of these fixie frames?
anonymous on March 27, 2013:
@anonymous: Just built a fixie from scratch last summer on a TF-B 56 Frame, it's wonderful. I've put about 1K on that thing and it's given me no trouble it's some of the other components that I used that are pissing me off
anonymous on January 18, 2013:
Thanks for advice. One more question- found a deal for a used Felt TK3 for about 1/2 price. Would this be worth it? Thanks again.
Graeme (author) on January 01, 2013:
@anonymous: The TF-B welds probably won't be any cleaner. Aluminum frames tend to have big welds, and most aero frames in this price range will be aluminum. The welds won't be very noticeable, especially if you choose matte paint. I've never seen a TF-B frame up close, but they look pretty decent. You should pick frames in the 52 - 54 range, 50 would be too small.
anonymous on January 01, 2013:
@BikePro: Also just saw on eBay TF-B frames, track fixed road bike for pretty good price including headset and bb- made of alloy but welds look cleaner. Have you seem these? Thanks for patience and advice! Also, if you know I usually ride a 52 frame, am 5'6" with a 30 inseam, they have either 50 or 53. Which do you advise to choose?
anonymous on January 01, 2013:
@BikePro: Def helps, I was looking for a track bike for the velo and thought the cut out was more "aero" and was visually more appealing too. And cheap to build
Graeme (author) on December 31, 2012:
@anonymous: Hi! Toto frames are factory made in China. They're good quality. Aluminum frames like that tend to have big weld beads on the joints, just a cosmetic thing. Personally I prefer steel frames like the State Bicycle ones above, but the Fresco would be nice and light. Hope that helps.
anonymous on December 30, 2012:
Any opinions on the toto frames, fresco single speed frames on eBay?
Graeme (author) on September 29, 2012:
@anonymous: I like Pake frames quite a bit. That rum runner frame is chromoly, which is my favorite frame material (strong, light). Really well priced too. Toto is ok, they're basically factory bikes, not terrible but not my first choice. Ozotw looks really nice, but I have no first hand experience with them, same with Strada.
anonymous on September 28, 2012:
What's your thoughts on pake frames? pakebikes dot com.
Thanks for this article. I've been looking online for cheap frames to start with and, as you noted, bumped into multiple companies totocycling, ozotw and stradacustoms to name a few.
hamstring on August 14, 2012:
Love your lens theme.
I think the one thing about track frames (besides the fact that it lacks cable stops) is that it tends to have a lot steeper geometry -- meaning that it can leave you feeling like you are riding on your nose.
I always preferred a more classic geometry since it sat me a little more upright where I could watch traffic.
Long live Fixie's!
LusUfo LM on July 16, 2012:
Great lens, a lot of useful information.
Beverly Lemley from Raleigh, NC on July 01, 2012:
Boy, you know a LOT about all types of bikes and what makes them run and how to keep them running! I admire your wealth of information. You will become a reference guide for bike enthusiasts, for sure! B : )
Graeme (author) on June 29, 2012:
Thank you both!
orange3 lm on June 26, 2012:
Great information and tip about shipping costs.
WriterJanis2 on June 25, 2012:
Great tips and advice.