Got a Single Speed Project? We Review 4 Good, Fixed Gear Bike Wheels for 2017
If you live in any major city, you’ve seen them. They’re fast, fun and beautiful. Fixed gear bikes are a ‘back to the basics’ concept that has caught on in a major way.
The idea is really simple: rather than having gears, derailleurs and a freewheel, these bikes have only one speed. In addition, the cog is fixed to the rear wheel.
That means it turns at the same speed as the wheel… and no coasting!
The result is a visceral feeling of control. It’s hard to describe until you give it a whirl.
One reason why fixed gears are so popular is the accessible price point. You can either pick up a whole bike for a song, or you can find a sturdy vintage frame and do your own conversion. I’ve done a few of these myself, and it’s a blast. There’s no better way to know your ride inside and out.
If you’re going to convert, you’ll need some good wheels to work with. This piece reviews a handful of the best affordable fixed gear wheelsets around. I hope it helps! Let’s get started.
Track Wheelsets VS. Fixed: What’s the Difference?
You’ll see wheels of this type described as both track and fixed gear sets. That can lead to some confusion. Ultimately, they are almost identical.
The main difference is that track wheelsets are generally intended for a velodrome (race) setting, and aren’t really designed for pavement riding. True track wheel sets will be far more expensive and feather light, with no machined braking surface.
Also, fixie wheels tend to come with a flip-flop hub. That means they have a fixed cog on one side, and a freewheel cog on the other. That way, you can flip the whole wheel and switch between the two styles. Very handy!
A flip-flop hub is useless in a track race setting, so you won’t see them equipped as such. It’s just extra weight.
All this said, you’ll see the two terms thrown about interchangeably.
Pure Fix: A good, stealthy fixie wheel set for well under $200
If you’re looking for something clean, simple and effective, and you want something cheap to buy, consider Pure Fix. They have a number of different track style wheelsets in various configurations, from classic stealth to super deep-V.
I like this particular set because it’s available at a very attractive price point, and it comes with a lot.
First off, the hubs are sealed and spin really well. When it first arrives be sure to hold each wheel by the axle and spin to test. It should be smooth and silky.
The rims are twin walled aluminum alloy, and they offer a sophisticated style with moderate rim depth of 30mm. That makes them slick and stylish without being flashy or over-the-top.
The sidewalls are machined, meaning you can use standard V-brakes without any issues. There are a healthy 32 spokes, making for a strong and durable wheel.
Hub Spacing & Configuration: 100mm front, 120mm rear. Bolt on (no skewer.)
Flip-Flop Hub: Yes, with a 16T fixed and a 16t free side.
Tires & Tubes: No, but the rim does come pre-taped. Be sure to pick up a couple of tubes and tires between 23c and 32c.
Overall, this is one of the top options for a cheap set of fixed gear wheels.
State Bicycle Co.: Quality set of affordable fixed gear wheels
I’m a pretty big fan of State Bicycle Co. They are almost exclusively dedicated to track and fixie stuff, and they’re a notch above industry average in quality.
These 700c wheels roll really well on sealed Quando hubs. They’ve got 32 spokes per, which ensures enough strength and rigidity for a versatile ride.
The rims are lightweight allow, and the sides are machined to facilitate brake pads. You’ll probably notice a more profound rim profile. With 43mm depth, these deep-v fixie wheels will make any bike pop.
Hub Spacing & Configuration: 100mm front, 120mm on the rear. Bolt on.
Flip-Flop Hub: Yes, but comes with only a fixed cog (16t). You’ll need to purchase a coaster cog separately.
Tires & Tubes: None, but comes with rim tape installed.
As cheap track wheels go, the State Bicycle Co. set is worth considering.
Fyxation Pusher: Stylish deep-V fixie wheelset with good quality & looks
As you can probably glean from the name, Fyxation is pretty much all about fixie stuff. So it comes as no surprise that one of their products hit this list.
The Pusher is a truly deep-V set of wheels. Their rim depth is actually only 40mm, but the mono-colour look ensures that these guys look deeper than they are.
The rim material is alloy, and they’re double-walled for strength. Because of the full colour metal, it’s hard to see that the rims are machined to accept calliper V-brakes. They’re reasonably light in weight too.
The hubs feature the same colour as the rims, and the matching hues make any bike look like a million bucks, even if your frame is a beater. Certainly not stealth, but where’s the fun in that?
Hub Spacing & Configuration: 100mm front, 120mm on the rear. Bolt on axle.
Flip-Flop Hub: Yes, but doesn’t come with any cogs. Be sure to pick up a cog and lock ring (and freewheel, if you like.)
Tires & Tubes: None.
The price tag is slightly higher, but the quality is there, and the visual impact is what you pay a premium for. It’s still a great, cheap fixie wheel set for under $200, so check it out.
Vuelta Zerolite Track: One of the best wheelsets with great reviews
You might recognize the name Vuelta. They’re a well known brand in the bicycle wheel industry, and they’re not just restricted to fixies. They’ve got something for just about every riding style and budget.
The Zerolite line has been adapted to fixed use, and it’s a great single speed wheel set with stealthy looks, excellent build quality and plenty of positive reviews.
The rims look professional, with a 30mm depth and aluminum construction. They look more at home on a road bike than a hipster ride with the rim stickers.
Sidewalls are CNC machined for excellent grip should you decide to run brakes. It features 32 spokes, and the wheel-build quality is excellent: it should arrive mostly in true.
This was the first set of track / fixed wheels I owned, and I consider it one of the best options for a newbie rider. Because of the simple looks, they’ll match perfectly on anything from gorgeous track bike to a quirky urban warrior.
Hub Spacing & Configuration: 100mm front, 120mm on the rear. Bolt on axle.
Flip-Flop Hub: Yes, with 16t fixed cog and lock ring. No freewheel included.
Tires & Tubes: None, but comes with urethane rim tape pre-installed.
In addition to all the fine features listed above, the Vuelta Zerolite reviews really nicely, and they happen to be the least expensive fixed gear wheels in this list.
Can’t I just get a fixed gear rear wheel? Pros and Cons
To save money, you might consider just changing the rear wheel for your fixie conversion. This makes sense if, for example, you have a frame complete with 700c or 27 inch wheels.
- You save money. Two wheels is almost always more expensive than one.
- Less work overall. Less fitting, brake adjustment, etc. A fixed gear rear wheel can be swapped in pretty easily.
- A smaller front wheel is an advantage if you want to do tricks like bar spins, etc.
- You’ll have a frankenbike. If you’re very big into symmetry, this will bother you. The front and rear wheels not matching could be a dealbreaker.
- Older wheels might not be as strong. Sometimes it’s a good practice to upgrade everything, especially if there’s rust, or if the spokes aren’t in great shape.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a post in the space provided below. Thanks for reading and happy trails!