flip flop hub installation

Flip Flop Hub: Fixed vs Freewheel the Battle Continues!

What is Flip Flop Hub?

These days, a lot of riders are talking about the bicycle flip flop hub, standard fixed gear hub, or single speed commuter bike hub, which lets you choose between fixed gear rear hub or freewheel hub riding. If you want to know the difference between fixed gear and freewheel, we've designed this guide for you.

Die-hard fixie riders swear by the fixed wheel, while hybrid riders are fans of the freewheel. Just like some riders prefer different type of fixie handlebars like bullhorn and flat bars.

In the simplest terms the fixed wheel version will require your feet to always be moving with the pedals and the freewheel version will let your feet stay constant while the bike is moving. 

There is nothing wrong with either type of wheel option, and each of our fixie bikes comes with a flip flop hub wheelset, but each comes with its own set of unique advantages and disadvantages. This hub is also the biggest difference between fixies and road bikes.

Peace Fixie Bikes all come with a Flip Flop Hub standard as well as rear rack, front and rear lights, double kickstand, and bell. 

The Fixed Gear Wheel

flip flop hub black

Image via Paul Component Engineering.

If you are a purist, the fixed gear wheel is as traditional as it gets for fixie bike parts. In this setup, the cog on the rear wheel is fixed in place with a lock ring. If you stop pedaling and are still in motion, the pedals will continue to rotate.

Pros:

  • Provides a good workout
  • Allows you to pedal forwards and backwards
  • You can stop your bike by jamming the pedals
  • Can control the speed of the bike by controlling the tempo of your pedaling
  • Less maintenance due to fewer parts

Cons:

  • Rear wheel braking can be dangerous
  • No coasting
  • Tough to use SPD pedals since your pedals constantly turn while riding
  • Have to be aware of your surroundings
  • Difficult to ride on rough or bumpy terrain

Fixed gear wheels are the best option if you want to be completely in sync with your fixie. The way you pedal on a fixed gear wheel allows you to control the way your ride reacts. You will not experience this type of riding if you decide to ride a freewheel bicycle.

The Freewheel

free wheel hub

Image via Fixed Gear Frenzy.

Most road bikes and mountain bikes come equipped with a freewheel. A freewheel cog is still attached to the rear wheel through a set of bearings, but it moves independently from the cog and allows the rider to coast with ease.

Pros:

  • You can coast
  • Your pedals will not smack you in the back of the legs
  • Better for long rides because you will not wear down as quick
  • Handles rougher roads and trails better

Cons:

  • Less effort = less exercise
  • You will need to install brakes
  • Doesn’t embody the true fixie experience
  • Higher maintenance costs

If you plan to coast, want to stand up on your pedals, or are looking for a casual ride, the freewheel is a great choice for you.

The Flip Flop Hub

flip flop hub

Photo via Ali Express.

Are you afraid to commit to either option? That’s fine, because the flip flop hub like this Black Ops Mx-1100 Rear Flip-Flop was invented with you in mind and also bicycle messenger cycling movies with high speed bike deliveries!

Remember, a flip flop hub  allows a fixie rider to alternate between fixed and freewheel styles by simply flipping their rear wheel around.

Pros:

  • Can alternate between fixed and freewheel
  • Perfect if your commute involves a mix of smooth and rough terrain

Cons:

  • You have to flip the wheel around to alternate between styles
  • Heavier than a traditional fixed or freewheel setup
  • More expensive to maintain should it break
  • Brakes are highly recommended for this build

Installing a Flip Flop Hub

There are many things you should consider before installing your flip flop hub.

First, you will first need to determine what type of dropouts your bike has. Are they horizontal or vertical? It is important that you pick a fixie flip flop hub that fits your dropouts.

Once you have determined the direction of your dropouts, you can begin installing your flip flop hub.

Installing the Fixed Wheel

  1. Identify which side is the fixed gear hub and which one is the freewheel. The fixed side usually is longer and has two grooves, one for the fixed gear cog and another for the lockring.
  2. Grease your fixed gear cog and lockring and place them on the fixed gear side of your flip flop hub.
  3. Turn the cog to the right and lock it into place. Make sure that you twist it as tight as possible.
  4. Next, take the lockring and place it up against the fixed gear cog. Tighten the lockring so that it will hold the cog in place.
  5. The final step is to take a chisel-like object and to slightly hit it until the lockring is tightly in place.
  6. At this point, your fixed gear cog should be properly in place and ready to accept your bikes chain.

Installing the Freewheel Cog

  1. The process for installing your freewheel cog is similar to your fixed gear cog. Start by greasing the cog and placing it on the appropriate side of the flip flop hub.
  2. Tighten the cog once it is in place and ensure that it is firmly locked in place.
  3. Once tightened, the cog should be ready to accept your bikes chain.

Remember, you will need to make sure that your chain is the right length for your gear ratio. If your chain is too long, you may need to change or alter it.

Changing Between Freewheel and Fixed Wheel

The beauty of a flip flop hub is that it allows you to switch between a fixed and freewheel setup. If you want to change your wheel hub assembly during a ride, here is what you need to do:

  1. Take the chain off of the cog and loosen the bolts holding your dropouts in place.
  2. Remove the wheel from the dropouts and flip it around to the desired wheel hub that you want.
  3. Take your chain and pop it back on the cog.
  4. Put your dropouts back on the hub and lock it back into place.
  5. Test your chain before riding to make sure that everything is locked in place.

Fixed vs. Free vs. Flip Flop Hub

fixie flip flop hub

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

If you want the traditional fixie experience, a fixed gear wheel may be the right option for you, while a freewheel is more suited for riders that want to coast.

There is no wrong choice here, but it is important for you to understand how each of the different wheel types perform. When choosing between fixed gear wheel and freewheels, you have to decide between tradition, comfort, performance, and versatility.

A freewheel provides a lot of comfort and versatility, but it is less traditional in the fixie community and performs a bit worse.

Likewise, a fixed gear wheel is as traditional as it gets, and it boosts your performance by allowing you to “feel” and “control” the cadence of your ride as you pedal.

If the choice still seems difficult, just purchase a flip flop hub and experiment with both styles until you discover which one suits your needs.

Overall, finding the right rear wheel arrangement isn’t easy, but Peace Bicycles is here to help you. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or to contact us. We want you to enjoy your bike and a flip flop hub is a great way to do that.

Eric Carriere

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