How to Convert to a Fixed Gear Bike

How to Convert to a Fixed Gear Bike
Fixed-gear bikes bring design to a simple form. Subtracting gears takes away the need for derailleurs. A wheel that spins the pedals makes it possible to stop without a rear brake. Fewer parts require less maintenance, making a fixed-gear bike a no-hassle transportation choice. You can purchase a fixed-gear bike, but it's also possible to convert your current ride into a fixie.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Set of hex wrenches
  • Fixed-gear hub
  • Rear sprocket
  • Chain
Step 1
Remove the parts you won't use on your fixed-gear bike. Use a hex wrench to remove both front and rear derailleurs. Thread the cables from both derailleurs through the cable housing and out the shift levers. Use a hex wrench to remove the shift levers.
Step 2
Purchase a fixed-gear hub. To make the easiest conversion, buy a fixed-gear hub designed specifically for vertical dropouts. Fixed-gear bikes require the ability to adjust chain tension by moving the rear wheel back and forth. Older bikes had horizontal dropouts, making this adjustment possible. New bikes with vertical dropouts cannot do this. The eccentric axle in fixed-gear hubs allow 15 mm of adjustment to ensure proper chain tension. Make sure to buy the hub with the right spacing to fit your bike.
Step 3
Choose a sprocket for your new hub. Many fixed-gear bikes come with a a 42-tooth chainring and a 17-tooth rear sprocket. When deciding on a sprocket size, consider the terrain where you ride, your fitness level and the distance you plan to ride. There isn't a set formula to match these criteria to a certain sprocket size. Every rider has a personal preference. If you don't know what to choose, try starting with the 42/17 setup and you'll learn your preference over time.
Step 4
Select a chain that fits your new sprocket. Chains on multispeed bicycles have a 3/32-inch width. Track bikes and bicycles sold as single-speeds usually come with a 1/8-inch chain. The wider size weighs more but should hold up and perform better under the loads put on a fixed-gear bike. You can use either size, but make sure your sprocket was designed for the width you choose.
Step 5
Decide if you want to make the conversion yourself. Remember that the changes you make require more skill than basic tuning. For example, to install your new hub, you need to know how to build a wheel. To properly align your front chainring with your rear sprocket, you need to understand chainline. If these are new concepts, consider taking your bike to the shop or finding a class where you can learn the skills you need.

Article Written By Kathrine Cole

Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

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