How to Convert a Bike to a Fixed Gear

How to Convert a Bike to a Fixed Gear
Fixed gear bikes are increasingly popular among bicycle commuters and as a training tool for road racers. On a fixed gear bike the rear cog is connected directly to the rear wheel so that anytime the bike moves the pedals move. There is no coasting on a fixed gear bike and the pedals move in proportion to the speed of the bike--when the bike is moving fast the pedals are moving very fast. Fixed gear bikes are simpler than geared bikes and can be easily converted from most older styled 10-speed bikes.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Old bike frame with horizontal dropout
  • Rear wheel with track or flip-flop hub
  • Assorted wrench sizes
  • Bike multi-tool
Step 1
Scour the classifieds, thrift stores, or rummage sales for an old bike frame. Older road bikes are typically great candidates for fixed gear conversion because they tend to have horizontal dropouts, the slit in the frame to which the rear axel attaches. A horizontal dropout makes it easier to switch out a variety of cog sizes and allows for greater chain tension adjustment. Most modern bikes come equipped with a vertical dropout, which makes fixed gear conversion more difficult.
Step 2
Strip off all non-essential parts from the bike. Remove both the front and rear derailleurs, strip off the rear brake, cables, and levers and take off all but one chain ring. This would be the best time to paint the bike if you would like to give the bike a new look.
Step 3
Attach a new rear hub. You will need to purchase a new back wheel that contains a track or flip-flop hub. Install the new wheel on the frame.
Step 4
Decide on a new chain length and attach the chain around the new cog. The chain needs to be tight but not binding at any point. Adjust the chain length by moving the rear axel back and forth at the ends of the fork.
Step 5
Screw on the lock ring until it is tight and then use a lock ring spanner or screwdriver to tighten further, and then you are ready to ride.

Tips & Warnings

Appropriate chain tension is critical on a fixed gear bike. For your first fixed gear conversion, consider taking your bike to a shop or neighborhood bike collective to learn the proper way to set chain tension.
Many fixed gear enthusiasts ride without a front brake and stop by applying backwards pressure to the pedals or by skid stopping. Consider keeping the front brake for safety reasons and also because riding without brakes is illegal in many states.
Use extra caution when the bike is in the repair position. Keep your fingers and clothing away from the chain when hand pedaling the bike. Since the drive train keeps moving regardless if you are pedaling enough, it is easy to get injured by coming in contact with the chain.

Article Written By Wren Mcilroy

Based out of Salt Lake City, Wren Mcilroy has been writing outdoor recreation and travel-related articles for 3 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and biology from Winona State University in Minnesota.

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