My Fav Fixies, Reviewed for 2023
The first time I saw a fixie, I thought, “That is one beautiful bike.” I instantly fell in love with the clean chain line and minimalist look.
Fixed gear bikes are everywhere, and they’re here to stay. I can’t remember the last time a bicycle-style hit the scene so hard. Riders everywhere are getting into the simplicity and visceral experience of riding without gears or a freewheel (or, in some cases, brakes!)
Best Fixed Gear Bikes Under $500
One gear, one speed, it’s a blast.
The good news is fixies are very affordable. The bad news is that, because they’ve become so popular, there’s a lot of cheap junk on the market—nameless brands made from garbage components.
So if you’re on a cheap budget, what are the best fixed gear bikes?
I’ve built them professionally for years now, so I feel qualified to review eight of the top, affordable fixed gear bicycles for sale today. I’ll give a brief overview of the components, build quality, and noteworthy features.
Price range? We’ll specifically look at the best fixed gear bikes below $500.
Hopefully, by listing the pros and cons of each ride, you’ll find a top-quality fixie to fit your budget. Read on!
What does a good, inexpensive fixed-gear bicycle look like?
The best budget-priced fixie bikes are simply those which are well-designed and properly fitted. They should have decent components, and the frame should be well constructed.
I mean, track bikes like this are already noticeably cheaper than their geared cousins. Less componentry means a lower cost for the manufacturer and a lower price for you. They’re similar to BMX bikes but aren’t as small since they are not trick oriented.
An affordable fixed gear bicycle is only as good as the wheelset it rolls on. You want something that rolls well, something that’s sturdy, and something that’s equipped with a high-quality cog and freewheel.
I’ve ridden on some bad cogs before; what happens is the lockring that holds the cog in place will strip. That’s bad news if it happens mid-ride.
Many fixie-style bicycles, even budget models, will come fitted with a flip-flop hub. A flip-flop has both a fixed and a freewheel cog on it. To switch, you just take your rear wheel off, flip it around, and reinstall.
The freewheel cog means you can coast and pedal backward. It’s a great feature to have if you live in a hilly spot.
A good riding experience is often determined by the quality of the cranks. They transfer all the power from your legs to the rear wheel, and you’ll want something that’s light, tough, smooth, and strong.
1) Golden Cycles: An affordable fixed gear bike for under $400
If simple is what you are after, simple is what you get with the Golden Cycles bike. You can buy it in either “Vader” or “Domino”, which means you get a white inner trim or a black one.
From looks alone, I would pick the “Domino” color. It brings the bike alive, giving it a sleek look and almost European vibe.
The frame is made of alloy for dramatic and lightweight aesthetics.
The Neco headset handlebar gives you complete control as you weave through the city. The riser bars are custom-made for the bike, and it allows you to ride comfortably.
The 700c x 25 pedals are made by Kenda and give your feet a BMX-style platform. This means you have an excellent grip from the pedals, which is exactly what you want from a fixie.
Seeing as you have no gears, you’ll lose control of your speed and even direction if your foot slips. Controlling your bike’s speed from the crank of the pedals makes grip a critical feature to look out for.
Even better, the Golden Cycle has a flip-flop hub. This means that you can simply flip the rear wheel around if you want to switch between a fixed style and a freewheeling style.
Seeing as the whole design is made to look sleek, it’s not surprising that adjustability isn’t a key feature. If you are the perfect height for this bike, then it won’t be comfortable for you.
- The Good: Sleek Design, BMX Grip Pedales, Flip Flop Hub
- The Bad: Cannot adjust the height
The 6KU is designed to be completely lightweight. The whole frame is made of aluminum, as is the fork, making it perfect for cyclists who need to climb up a couple of hills on their way to work.
Lighter also means faster, and 6KU’s main aim is to get you where you want to go as fast as they can.
The bike’s geometry is inspired by street cycling, small and lightweight, so it’s easy to move through unpredictable pedestrian traffic.
The welded frame and thin tubing maximize the swift reaction of movements, to the point where you wonder how they have kept their price so low!
The 6KU comes with a flip-flop hub so that you can choose between a fixed ride or a free one, but what I really like about the 6KU is the riser handlebars.
Lightweight brings you speed, but speed is nothing if you have no control, and this is where the handlebars come in.
While most of the bike has been stripped down to bring you the best speed they can, 6KU had a different idea for the handles. Control and comfort were still in their mind, and you can tell when you look at the riders.
With the wide and low 31.8mm oversized handlebars, coupled with the casual riding position, you can steer comfortably, and handle nimbly as you speed to your destination.
- The Good: Light frame, Flip Flop Hub, Comfortable handlebars
- The Bad: Cheap Breaks
3) Retrospec Harper: A cheap fixed gear bike for well under $300
Retrospec Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike
If you’re hoping to find a truly affordable fixie bike, less than $300 bucks, Retrospec Cycles has a good model called the Harper that might fit the bill.
Costing just $199, these are about as affordable as you’ll find.
These are urban-ready bicycles with good looks and excellent reviews. Are they feature-packed? No. But they perform admirably, and that’s the most important thing.
The whole frame is designed to give the rider an upright stance and good visibility for city riding. It’s not aggressive at all, very comfortable, laid back, and versatile.
The steel construction of the frame itself is basic and machine-welded, but strong. Paint is decent for such a budget-friendly price tag.
Wide, BMX-style bars offer control, and give the whole ride a ‘city’ look.
Retrospec has outfitted this bike with basic but well-made equipment. The fixie wheelset features a flip-flop rear (16t) with a freewheel cog attached. The wheels are double-walled alloy, and moderately deep V (colorful too!)
I’m thrilled to see they’ve finally opted for two sets of brakes on this bike. They are dual-caliper Promax brakes that do the job.
The Protek crankset is basic (46t), but provides good gearing for flats and mild hills.
With a nearly unbeatable price tag and a dazzling array of colors, this capable little fixed-gear bike is one of the best and cheapest options at just $200.
- The Good: Great price, good looks, dual brakes, upright stance for city riding
- The Bad: Basic components
4) Priority Coast
For many cyclists, function comes first, and aesthetics comes second. They want a bike they don’t have to worry about and also fits their style.
If you are looking for a single-speed bike, then you are probably one of these people. The Priority Coast is a beautiful bike that sings of nostalgia and grace.
You can buy it in a funky purple, yellow or turquoise, or a classic navy, black or white. In my opinion, the navy color gives a fun but sophisticated vibe, perfect for your commute to work.
The bike was built for the coast, so the salty sea air won’t damage it. The foundation of the bike is built from the Gates Carbon Drive Belt with an additional lightweight and rustproof frame and fork.
The sealed bearings mean you won’t have a rattly drive, and the salty air has nowhere to get stuck on your priority coast.
The grips of the handle and the seat are made of wood and vegan leather, but that doesn’t mean that the moisture of the seaside will wear them down. These components are weather-resistant.
The tires are puncture-resistant, so stray and sharp stones on a pebble beach won’t be an issue for you, either. And the extra study double kickstand means you don’t have to lay your bike against a wall causing dirt and scratches.
- The Good: Beautiful Design, Ultra Lightweight, Weather and Rust Resistant
- The Bad: Expensive compared to others on this list
5) Priority ACE
The Ace focuses on speed over anything else and I’d like to shake the maker’s hand because they have done it. Single speed bikes are meant to be nimble and quick anyway, but the Priority Ace has raised the bar.
The Ace comes in two types, the Ace of Clubs, which is great for a simple and fun ride, and the Ace of Spades for those who want the maximum responsiveness they can get on their journey.
Whichever frm you go with, they are both made from 6061 Alloy, but the Ace of Clubs also has some cromoly in the fork, whereas the Ace of Spades has a carbon fiber fork.
Carbon fibre is ultra lightweight, which is why the responsiveness of the overall bike is so much better that the Ace of Clubs.
The athletic geometry of both bikes comes from the wide and flat bars which gives you strong leverage.
They both have Gates Carbon Drive Belts which creates a clean and smooth ride, and they both have flip flop hubs so you have a choice of fixed or free cycling.
The dual hand brakes are pretty standard in a single speed bike, but the priority’s signature racing seat is perfect for anyone who is on a long and fast journey.
- The Good: Athletic Geometry, Flip Flop Hub, Fast Speed.
- The Bad: Standard Breaks.
6) Schwinn Kedzie
The Schwinn Kedzie is perfectly designed for city riding. It has precise movements and a bright but subdued color design so cars can see you but your office won’t judge you.
You might be thinking that ‘Schwinn’ sounds familiar, and that’s because Schwinn is an American icon of a company. Every bike they make is designed to make people confident when they ride, and the Kedzie is no different!
The racing-style frame is made of steel, which isn’t the most lightweight of structures, but the alloy front and rear caliper brakes mean you still have a precise stopping system and a comfortable bike.
You might think that the pedals would be enough to stop your bike, but when you are driving in the city you want to have every ounce of control to stop your movement when you need to.
The Kedzie comes with a flip-flop hub, but you can buy a fixed cog separately if you want. A fixed cog will mean you’ll lose the benefits of a single-speed bike, but the option is yours.
The wheels are 700c and they have 32h alloy rims protecting them. This means that your bike will be solid and robust as you commute to work.
The look is super clean as there are no dangling cables or messy looking designer labels on the paintwork. And the seat post is adjustable so you can give yourself the perfect fit.
- The Good: Flip Flop Hub, Caliper Handbrake, Comfortable
- The Bad: Steel Frame
7) Takara Oni
The Takara Oni is the only single-speed bike on our list which has a drop bar, bringing a racing edge to the fixed-speed community.
Drop bars bring your back into a more controlled and more aerodynamic position when you ride. This means atomically, your speed will be faster, but it might make seeing ahead on a busy city road more difficult.
The frame is made of steel, and the design is more strong than swift, which makes the bike great for a more country or urban ride, rather than the inner city dash.
Like most of the others, the Takara Oni has seen the benefits of a flip flop hub. Coupled with the drop bar, you can swap between a leisurely ride to work in the week and a more daring climb on the weekends.
This might sound complicated, but the Oni was built for simplicity and practicality. So you can have one bike for a rougher trip and the same bike for your urban life.
There are bolt-on hubs available too, which is important if you are worried about thieves. Bolt-on means it’s hard to get off, so any potential robber would aim for an easier bike to nick.
Of course, that isn’t something most of us worry about, but the added touch can give you a breath of relaxation.
- The Good: Flip Flop Hub, Drop Bar, Urban Bike
- The Bad: Low Vision Design
8) Takara Sugiyama: Proof that a cheap fixed gear bicycle can still be fun to ride
Of all the fixed gear bikes I’ve reviewed here, this is the only sub-$200 offering. It’s rare that I’d recommend something that inexpensive, to be honest, but the Takara Sugiyama is a surprising bike in more than one way.
First, the looks are atypical. It has an odd blend of colors and a very upright frame. The whole ensemble almost reminds me of a mountain bike.
Secondly, it’s incredibly affordable. It’s almost impossible to find a good fixie bike for less than $200, but here we are.
As you’d expect at this price point, the Sugiyama has a steel frame and fork. It’s durable and strong, though not the lightest.
Unexpectedly, it comes with both a front and a rear brake. They’re basic, but they do the job when properly tuned (though admittedly it would be the first part I’d upgrade).
The wheelset is alloy and the rear wheel comes with a flip-flop hub and both a fixed and free cog. The tires are wide at 700 x 32, making this a capable bike for city riding. I’d expect to change the tubes pretty soon after the purchase, they’re not very good quality.
Most of the components are very basic, and you should be aware of that going in.
The colour combination isn’t for everyone. The non-matching tires and the use of black, white and blue make this a very ‘loud’ bike, but it’s one of the best cheap fixed gear bicycles you’ll find for such a low price, and the customer reviews are very positive. Personally, I think it looks great!
- The Good: Super cheap fixed gear bike, durable frame, funky good looks
- The Bad: Cheap components, particularly the brakes
What else is out there?
You’ll find a dizzying array of single-speed bikes nowadays. They’re no longer a niche market and literally every major outfit I know of has jumped on board.
Frankly, the bigger brands will charge a significant premium for basically the same materials and componentry. That’s not necessarily bad; they’ll come with robust warranties and standardized parts, so fit and finish will be premium.
Where I find they fall short is in aesthetics and risk. The latter, in particular, is something they’re allergic to. It’s up to you whether that’s a tradeoff worth taking.
Some others to consider include our favorite road bikes under $1000.
What to avoid. Seriously
Don’t make the mistake of opting for no name bikes. Honestly, would you buy a car from a dealership selling Toyondas?
This is different from purchasing a tablet or something. A bike is a machine that can end your life. In my work as a bike mechanic, I have seen cheapo bicycles come in with the frames literally split in half. Imagine if that happened while you were flying down a hill.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them below. Thanks for reading!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are fixed gear bikes good for?
Fixed gear bikes are good for riding in the winter, as well as on urban terrain that remains relatively flat. Without the necessity to continually alter your gears, you can focus more on the ride and control your speed better through your pedaling performance.
2. Is a fixie bike dangerous?
Fixie bikes do take some time to get used to, but once you have, they are not considered dangerous. Once you’ve mastered the fact that you cannot coast on this type of bike, they are no more dangerous than a single-speed bike.
Some fixie bikes do not come with brakes and this makes them much more dangerous than the alternatives that do. So, as long as your fixed gear bike does have brakes, it wouldn’t be considered dangerous.
3. Are fixed gear bikes illegal?
No, as long as your bike has brakes then it is not illegal to ride. However, the issue is that some fixed gear bikes do not come with brakes and therefore would be deemed illegal.
If your fixie has a front brake it is legal as long as these brakes are effective with enough stopping power. However, with only a rear brake, the fixie is considered illegal as there needs to be a front-wheel brake.
Different areas of the world have opposing laws on this, so you will need to research the laws in your own country before taking out advice here.
4. Can you ride a fixie uphill?
Yes, you can ride fixie bikes uphills. However, it shouldn’t be a long and steep hill as this can get tiresome very quickly. A short hill should be fine with a fixed gear bike, although any hill longer than one mile will be a struggle without being able to change the gears up.
You should be able to ride any bike uphill, the absence of gears will simply make your leg workout that much harder.
5. Are fixies faster than road bikes?
Road bikes have multiple gears, but this is where the difference often stops between road bikes and fixies. A fixed-gear bike will be on the same gear as your road bike will have, so riding both bikes in the same gear will make them ride at the same speed.
Other factors of the bikes will determine the speed of your bike rather than the number of gears. These could be the size and width of the tires, the material of your bike frame, and the overall weight of your bike.
6. Does riding a fixie burn more calories?
Riding on flat terrain will lead you to burn the same number of calories as you would if you were using a road bike. However, fixies stop you from coasting, so you’re continuously pedaling meaning that you’re exercising non-stop without breaks.
Riding uphill can also be more difficult and cause you to pedal harder. These two factors do suggest that you will burn more calories with a fixed gear bike rather than a road bike.
Steve Beck is a passionate cyclist and experienced writer covering the cycling industry for over a decade. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in all bike-related things, from the latest products and technologies to the best routes and trails. His articles are well-researched, informative, and engaging, and he has a talent for explaining complex cycling concepts in a way that is easy to understand. Steve can be found on the road when he’s not writing about bikes, putting his knowledge and skills to the test.