How to build a low-buck Fixie

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i don't ride with brakes on my fixed gear currently, but that's because my current handlebars have not been conducive to adding a front brake since i retaped them for aesthetic purposes.

the disadvantage of not having front brakes is that if you're a cautious-type (which i tend to be around cars) you don't really ride as fast as you could with the mental reassurance of a brake. skid stopping is fun, but it's more fun than practical. having a front brake dramatically decreases your stopping distance, and relying only on your leg power to make sudden stops all the time makes your knees sore.
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I've ridden with and without a handbrake on the street, and there is a difference in how you ride. You definitely have to have some bike skills and pay attention when riding without a handbrake. I don't think it's any more dangerous than depending on a 40 year old coasterbrake to stop you. All you do is resist the forward motion of the pedals to slow down, or shift your weight forward and skid, although skidding is more of a style move. As far as pedaling all the time goes, a lot of the time you are just letting your legs go around, and not really putting pressure on the pedals and exerting yourself. Up hills it really helps out, but down hills it can be a drag because you end up spinning like a madman. If you live where there are hills a front brake is a very good idea. As far as gearing goes, in between 69 and 72 gear inches works well on the street. Most conversions, you end up keeping the small ring which is usually a 40 or a 42 so a 15 or a 16 cog is good.

It's fairly easy to respace the rear hub and re-dish the wheel to get a better chainline. First you get 2 spacers the same size that are half as thick as the big one on the drive side. Put one on each side. Then loosen the spokes about 1 turn on the drive side, and tighten them one turn on the non-drive side. It may need to go over more, so you just repeat the process of loosening the drive side and tightening the non-drive side until the wheel is centered.
Aug 14, 2008
Atlanta, GA
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i use the skip stop on my no brakes fixie.
hop the back wheel as you lock up....stops faster and doesnt wear down tread as much.
i ride a 48/15 ratio. i like it.

i would add a front brake to my bike but my white deep vs dont have a machined braking surface. dont want to scuff em too bad.
Nov 15, 2008
Minneapolis, MN
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I would add that running a "suicide hub" set-up on a fixed gear bike with no brakes is CRAZY. If you are going to use the suicide hub, make sure your track cog is narrow enough to allow threads for the lock ring. I use bottom bracket lock rings and Schwinn exercise cogs. The exercise cogs are narrower and a lot cheaper. And last, run an 1/8" chain and cog. The added strength is worth it. Breaking a chain during a skid is a bad thing.
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Here's a tip.....some but not all Schwinn (and some other) exercise bikes use a track cog on the flywheel. Don't ever walk past one at a yard sale without checking, some even have nice unrusted one piece cranks,spring saddles, schwinn grips and rubber pedals. Here's the one I built, I flipped the rear axle and redished the wheel.

Jan 21, 2009
Mililani, Hawaii
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It looks good.
I've got an extra pair of alloy bars I may do that with my newly found Trek. I had that idea, but wondered what it would look like. Later it may become a fixie.
Mar 30, 2009
New Zealand
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I'd say from experience, that re- spacing and re- dishing is pretty much the only way you can go with getting your chainline right. often swapping BB is also involved. There are many Very Scary Pitfalls with spacing chainring bolts, if you don't know what you're doing. Also readers, Make sure you get your cog and lockring on REALLY Tight but don't strip anything! some hubs don't have enough thread on them to do this safely. Locktite and denting the freewheel threads after assembly are also potential safety ideas. good luck!
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I just bought my first single speed. I'm not digging the idea of the fixed gear thing, though someday out of curiosity and boredom I may flip the rear wheel and try it. For now I'm running the front and rear brakes it came with because, well, I'm old and careful. The 48x16 gearing is too much for me; I like spinning. I might go as low as a 39 chain ring. There is a wall of a hill on way home from work and I need something easier to pedal up it, and won't mind spinning like crazy elsewhere in town.

I got this on Ebay for $250 plus shipping on a whim. I had contemplated building my own but couldn't resist the easy way out with this cheapy. So far so good. It's fast, rides nice, ergos are perfect for me. I'll replace cheap components one by one as time goes on, but will be keeping the black out look.

crappy phone picture at work:

Aug 25, 2008
isle of wight
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followed the ratrod guide to make a fixie, this is how i ended up

first time i have ever ridden a fixie and i think i may be hooked, still too scared to go fast :)