Fixie bikes for cheap are an interesting category of bikes. In their most hardcore variant, they're often without brakes, (one of the biggest differences between fixie bikes and road bikes) which also makes them somewhat dangerous if you aren't well versed with one. Another issue is that they're usually very uncomfortable and you really do get what you pay for as far as parts. If you're looking to get a fixie bike, there are a few choices to consider:
- In the market you'll find tons and we mean tons of cheap fixie bikes, also known as single speed commuter bikes which boast practically the same spec including no name parts and usually pretty bad reviews. Chances are they'll have a budget-oriented model that does the job in their fixie bikes for sale lineup.
- There are also more expensive and better spec bikes that come curated from makers and can save you the time and the headache of having to go back and improve on parts that are sub par.
- The other choice is a bit more complicated - you can build your own fixie. Both of these methods have their pros and cons, and depending on your budget and skills, one may be better than the other.
If you find yourself considering fixie bikes for cheap, and don't know whether to buy or increase your budget or build, read on. We'll try to make things simple. First, we'll discuss fixie bikes in general and how they're different from regular bikes, and in the end we'll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of both options.
What's the difference between fixie bikes for cheap, and regular bikes?
What we're going to discuss below doesn't only apply to fixie bikes for cheap, but to all fixie bikes in general, including fixie bikes for commuting. How do you recognize one, and how are they different from your regular, run-of-the-mill bikes that you can get in a shop? You may think that they're similar to the beautiful retro bicycles, or that they can be used as a great lightweight commuter bike, but how do cheap fixie bikes for sale differ? And one key question, how much are fixie bikes? How cheap are the best cheap fixie bikes? Can you find cheap fixie bikes under 100? For a fixie bikes buy, can you find fixie bikes for sale under 100 and still have them be worth it? Are there fixie bikes for sale near me?
Well, first things first, there's the "fixed" portion of the bike. With a regular bike, you have a sprocket or a cassette mounted on a freehub. When you stop pedaling, that freehub allows the wheel to continue spinning. However, your pedals don't. This is known as coasting, and it allows you to rest your legs on downhills or when you've picked up a bit of speed. With a fixie, things are different. There's no freehub. Instead, the sprocket is "fixed" to the rear hub. If the rear wheel spins, so does the sprocket. Consequently, so do the pedals. This means you can't rest your legs by coasting. Another thing is that when you pedal backwards, the rear wheel spins backwards as well. With a regular bike, the rear wheel doesn't spin. This does makes fixie bikes for beginners a bit tricky, since you'll need to know what you're doing.
How do you recognize a fixie bike? Well, usually, you'll find that fixie bikes don't have any brakes. That's because you brake by slowing down your rear wheel, or by causing it to come to a complete stop. However, if you're only starting off with fixie bikes for cheap, we'd advise that you keep the brakes on or get some added on. If you try to spin the pedals backwards, that's another easy giveaway that you're dealing with a fixie. Last but not least, many of them have a flip-flop hub. This hub has two sprockets on each side. One is fixed, and the other one has a freehub. This lets you choose between a fixie, and a regular single speed bike, and we've got a bit more info on them in our flip-flop hub guide.
What do you get with buying fixie bikes for cheap?
Considering that many of the fixie bikes on the market are actually pretty pricey, you wouldn't be wrong to think that fixie bikes for cheap often come with some kind of a compromise. So, where are those compromises and how do you stay away from the bad cheap fixies?
The first, and most important area where you'll find a compromise is the frame. Most of the cheaper bikes opt for a steel frame. This, by itself, isn't that much of an issue. Steel may be heavier than chromoly or aluminum, but the vibration absorption makes it more than worth it if you want a comfortable ride. You'll find the entire bike being more forgiving. However, it's the frame design that's not that good. We aren't only talking about the looks. It's the geometry and the way the frame is made that could be an issue. Fixie bikes for cheap often don't pay that much attention to welding and the tubes themselves. This may be an issue in the long term. The geometry is also a weak point - the bike may be uncomfortable and add stress to your body in areas where stress is unwanted.
Once you move past the frame, you've got the choice of components. This is the second major area where fixie bikes for cheap tend to compromise. While you may get decent brakes, you're more often than not left with a bad wheelset. The tires also tend to be cheap, and the handlebars, stem and seatpost are also pretty bad more often than not. Sure, you can change them - we've got a handy fixie handlebars guide, but that's spending more money. Then you've got the saddle and grips. Even though they may look nice, and feel comfortable at first, that won't last. It's just the "honeymoon" phase. Once you ride the bike for a bit, the materials will show their quality, or lack thereof. You could switch them out for other comfortable seats you'll find in our seats guide, but that's beyond the point.
What's the benefit of building your own fixie bikes for cheap?
When you're building, you're choosing your own components. If you do the math, you may see that buying fixie bikes for cheap is cheaper than building them with the exact same components. But the lack of choice is a major issue. When you're building yourself, you're the one that decides where to compromise.
This gives you an interesting option. You could look at your first fixie bike as a platform. If you're limited with your budget, get quality components for those that are expensive. Get a quality frameset such as the Mash Steel SS, a quality wheelset from some of the best fixie bike brands, good brakes. The other things you can compromise on. Those "other things" are also fairly cheap to replace. If they do go bad, you can easily get new ones. Sure, you can still get fixie bike parts cheap, but you have much more potential to end up with a great bike like this.
However, since you have a platform with the "big" parts being good, you can slowly replace the other components over time. Buy a higher end stem and handlebars in a week, or get a more comfortable, durable saddle in a month. Compared to the prices of a frame or a wheelset, these are pretty cheap to upgrade. And while yes, you could get fixie bike reams cheap, or a cheap frame, it's usually worth it to invest a bit more in these "big" components from the get go. This gives you the option to end up with the bike just how you like it down the road.
Oh, and there's always the freedom of choice. You can pick the frame you like, the wheels you like, the brakes you like - you aren't limited to what the manufacturers give you. You can pick and choose any and all components, provided they're within your budget. This is very often the main reason why many people opt for a built, rather than bought bike.
So, cheap fixie bikes - do you buy, trade up, or do you build?
While we did discuss the benefits of both buying, and building fixie bikes, we didn't arrive to a clear conclusion as to which is better. And the thing is, there is no clear conclusion. All three options have their pros and cons, and each are suitable for different kinds of shoppers.
Buying a cheap fixie bike? $100 - $300
Buying fixie bikes for cheap makes things simple. It's very likely that you'll end up with a bike that's decent in some areas, and just plain bad in others. It all depends on where the manufacturer decided to cut corners. However, you'll save some money so this is a good option if you're not going to put much use into the bike. Sooner or later you will have problems as do all products that are cheap and have cheaper parts.
Trade up bike budget? $400-$800
Trading up to a bike with better components is a time save and you'll be able to leave the curation of the parts to the pro's. There will be less headache and you'll buy something that's quality from day one. We all have those experiences where we regretted getting the cheap version only to return it or have to spend more money and time to get it up to par. So You don't have to look for components. You don't have to worry about components compatibility. You don't have to worry about putting things together. And this is an extra cost if you don't have the tools and knowledge and have to go to your local bike shop. If you're just venturing into fixies, and don't want too much stress when shopping for fixie bikes for cheap, buying one that's nicer is the way to go.
Custom Build? $100 - ?
On the other hand, what if you've dabbed in bikes before? What if you're well versed with components, their quality, and their compatibility? And, what if you have the time and patience to pick and choose the right components for you? Well, if this is the case, you're well past the issues of building fixie bikes for cheap. You'll just need to spend a bit more time compared to buying them built. However, you'll eventually end up with a bike you love because you built it yourself, and you'll know exactly where you cut corners to stay within the budget, if anywhere, and what cheap fixie bike parts are still a good buy.
Wrapping things up
At the end of the day, whether you find a cheap fixie bike, trade up your budget and get something nice or build your own fixie, they're a very interesting bike category. They're pretty specific, and once you get the hang of riding them, you'll have a lot of fun. It's no surprise that they're some of the most popular bikes for street riding all around the world. All that's left is for you to determine which way is better - buying cheap, more expensive or building, and then go and get yourself a new bike!