How to Convert a Fixed Gear Bike to Variable Speed

How to Convert a Fixed Gear Bike to Variable Speed
Riding a fixed-gear bicycle on varying types of terrain requires physical strength surpassing that many cycling enthusiasts do not possess. Changing your bike to variable speed allows you to maneuver the same varying terrain with much less effort. Variable speed multi-gear drive systems help you achieve increased efficiency by changing your rate of pedal revolutions. Changing your rear single gear to a multi-speed cassette and adding a shifter pod will convert your bike to a variable-speed cycle.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Variable-speed cog set
  • Rear derailleur
  • Shifter pod
  • Shifter cable
  • Assortment of allen wrenches
  • Pliers
Step 1
Secure the bicycle in a bike stand, or balance it upside down on the handlebars and seat. Take off the chain and lay it aside. Let all of the air out of your rear tire. Release the brakes if you are using center pull or v-brakes. Remove the rear wheel by loosening the quick-release lever. Bikes without quick release require a wrench to loosen the nuts on each side of the axle.
Step 2
Remove the rear-wheel fixed-gear cog by loosening the lock-ring on the outside of the cog set. Slide the fixed gear cog set off the hub. Line the new variable-speed cog set up with the splines on the hub. Push the cog set against the wall of the hub. Apply a thin layer of grease to the threads on the lock-ring. Tighten the lock-ring securing the cog set in place. Note that bikes with coaster brakes will require a new hub or wheel-and-hub combination.
Step 3
Place the wheel back in the rear chain stays and tighten the quick-release or axle nuts. Air up the tire and connect center pull or v-brakes if your bike has them.
Step 4
Remove the grip from the right side of your handlebars. Slide the shifter pod onto the bars with cable facing to the left. Place the grip back on your bars. Route the shifter cable down the frame of your bike to the left side of the rear axle.
Step 5
Attach the rear derailleur to the frame or hanger using an allen wrench. Route the shifter cable through the cable slot on the rear derailleur and gently tighten the bolt on the cable. Place your chain back on the bike. Shift the pod to the center position and place the chain in the middle rear cog. Loosen the bolt holding the shifter cable, and use pliers to loosen or tighten the shifter cable while lining up the derailleur and the middle cog.
Step 6
Remove the bike from the stand. Flip the bike back onto the wheels. Gently sit on the bike and inspect movement and parts before taking your initial ride.

Tips & Warnings

Before reassembly, lightly grease threaded parts
Do not over-tighten bolts and lock-rings. Consult your manual for specific pressure standards

Article Written By Jeremy Slaughter

Jeremy Slaughter is a tax, accounting and small business expert. After completing his master's degree in accounting at Keller Graduate School of Management, Slaughter co-founded an accounting and tax firm where writing plays a daily role.

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