For most of us, one of our first significant, childhood accomplishments was learning how to ride a bicycle. Every year thousands of children overcome crashes, bruises and skinned knees to learn a skill that will serve them their entire life. For many adults, biking continues to be an important skill in their life as either a hobby or a main source of transportation. Many urban residents ride a bike every day for their work commute and running errands. For many of these regular bike riders, a fixed gear bike is an affordable, rugged and beautifully simplistic bicycle that brings back to a simpler time. Typical bikes possess many features that make present day designs more comfortable and practical for long-distance recreational biking, but these additional features come with a higher price tag. Best fixed gear bikes strip away many of these additional features and only leave behind the elementary facets of a bicycle. Fixed gear bike are very different from the typical bike, but this distinctive design provides a fun experience and unique benefits over a typical bike.
About Fixed Gear Bikes
Most people learn how to ride a bike on a multi-speed bike that possesses many features that a fixed gear bike will not. Modern multi-speed bikes will be able to shift gears and change the resistance of the pedals. Most people take this piece of technology for granted, but earlier types of bicycles had a much simpler design.
In a fixed gear bike, the pedals of the bike are directly connected to the wheel by the bike chain. A fixed gear bike does not possess a gear shifter and there is no ability to change the resistance of the pedals. Due to this, a fixed gear bike cannot adapt to hilly terrain and reduce or increase the resistance of the pedals. However, a fixed gear’s direct connection to the wheel of the bike makes the bike more responsive and faster. This is one reason fixed gear bikes are very popular with urban commuters who need to rapidly accelerate in traffic. Additionally, most fixed gear bikes come with an optional freehub that can be selected when desired. This adjustable freehub means that the bike can be placed either in a free or fixed position. In a free position, the cyclist can coast without the pedals turning. In a fixed position, the pedals of the bike will turn whenever the bike is in motion.
Besides differences in performance, fixed gear bikes are significantly more affordable than typical bikes due to the fewer number of parts and features. This makes an investment in a fixed gear bike must less cost prohibitive then for a typical bike.
Factors to consider when buying the best fixed gear bikes
There are dozens of major fixed gear bike brands, so let’s look at some significant factors you should consider when making your choice of which model to invest in:
- Extra Features
- Body Material
Factor #1: Extra Features
When looking at similar models of fixed gear bikes, some of the extra features that come with the bike can make the difference in your choice. Some fixed gear bikes may only come with one hand brake, while other models may come with two. Some bikes may come with spare parts, adjustable features and tools that come standard with the bike package. These extra features can significantly increase the value of your purchase and are an important factor to consider when making your choice.
Factor #2: Warranty
Most fixed gear bikes come standard with a warranty that will cover the bike in case of damage or broken parts. A good warranty can be a lifesaver to someone who accidentally runs over the bike with a car or breaks a critical part. Having a good warranty will prevent your new bike from becoming expensive garbage.
Factor #3: Body Material
Fixed gear bikes can be constructed of a variety of metal alloys. The selection of metal alloy will significantly affect the weight, durability and price of the bicycle. The body material is an important factor to weigh when selecting the model of fixed gear bike you want to purchase.
Factor #4: Affordability
Fixed gear bikes can range significantly in price and the affordability of the bike model is an important factor to consider when deciding to make an investment. This factor will be used to gauge which of the reviewed options provides the best value for your purchase.
Top 3 Fixed Gear Bike Reviews
Below are the three best fixed gear bikes that can be found at major online retailers such as Amazon. These fixed gear bikes are all excellent choices for a cycling enthusiast looking to try out fixed gear biking or an urban commuter who needs a solid transportation option.
- Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Single Speed Bike
- Critical Cycles Harper Single Speed Urban Commuter Bike
- 6KU Aluminum Single Speed Urban Track Bike
So which is the best fixed gear bike for your investment? Let’s take a look at each fixed gear option.
Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Bike
The Pure Fix Original is a versatile and highly tuned bike that comes with a cornucopia of options to tailor and tweak your bike to your heart’s content. This wide range of high-quality accessories and options means that there is a nearly limitless level of customization for the Pure Fix Original.
Feature #1: Incredibly Wide Range of Accessories/Parts/Options
The Pure Fix Original has a truly staggering array of sizes, styles, accessories and optional items that are available in the fixed gear bike line. Want to change out the standard handles with drop handles? You can do that. Want a neon orange bike? There’s a standard bike in that color. Want your bike to glow in the dark? There’s a line of Pure Fix bikes that come coated in a solar charged paint that will glow after only an hour in direct sunlight. With the standard Pure Fix lines, there are thousands of possible combinations.
Feature #2: Durable Steel Frame Design
The Pure Fix Original comes standard with a high-tensile, Tig-welded steel frame that is light, tough and simplistic. The entire design of the bike is to provide a durable frame, while also minimizing the amount of material used in the bike body. This minimalist design significantly reduces the weight of the bike compared to other steel frames and gives the Pure Fix Original a clean, uncluttered design.
Feature #3: Kenda Bike Tires
The Pure Fix Original comes standard with Kenda Bike tires, which are prized for their durability and high performance. The Kenda Tire Corporation produces many models of automobile tires and their experience designing tires that can last thousands of miles translates well into their bike tires. These high quality bike tires are a great addition to the other durable features of the Pure Fix Original and mean that this fixed gear bike should last over years of hard use.
Real User Feedback
The Pure Fix Original has overall high reviewers, with many fixed gear cyclists appreciating the ruggedness of the frame, the simplicity of the design and the overall excellent aesthetics. Most reviewers use the bike for commuting to work and traveling to errands. Many of these cyclists valued the affordability of the bike and the dependability of the tires, pedals and chain. One reviewer stated that he put over 500 miles on his Pure Fix Original in three months and did not have any issues with parts failing or wearing out. Overall, most reviewers agreed that the Pure Fix Original is a solid choice for a fixed gear bike and is a great value for the price. The Pure Fix Original provides far superior performance then a department store bike and still comes at a reasonable price tag.
However, many Pure Fix Original reviews did note some specific flaws in the bike that should be considered. Some reviewers noted that there is a design flaw in the freehub mounted on the bike wheel. This design flaw can cause a rattling noise. Several reviewers also noted that the brake one the bike is mediocre at best and many reviewers expressed concern that the bike only comes with a front brake.
Pros of Pure Fix Original
- Incredible array of customization options
- Durable and lightweight bike body
Cons of Pure Fix Original
- Higher price than other fixed gear bike options
- Only comes with standard options, so parts for customization must be purchased
Critical Cycles Harper Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike
The Critical Cycles Harper is a highly rated commuter bike that comes in at a very low price compared to other fixed gear bike competitors. The Critical Cycles Harper is designed to be a comfortable commuter bike and contains several features designed to absorb the bumps and shocks you may encounter on your ride. The Critical Cycles Harper comes with a competitive price tag, but there does appear to be a tradeoff between quality and price. Several purchasers of the bike noted quality issues in the bike parts.
Feature #1: Deep V Tire Rims
The Critical Cycle Harper comes standard with Deep V tire rims that create more space in the tire body for the tire inner tube. This extra space allows the inner tube to expand further and absorb more shock during the ride. This design feature translates into greater comfort for the rider and will reduce the wear on the cyclist’s body over a long ride.
Feature #2: Wanda Tires
The Harper fixed gear bike comes with Wanda commuter tires that are designed for the cyclist who will be putting in many miles on their bike. Wanda commuter tires are wider and thicker than most bike tires, meaning they are more puncture resistant and will absorb more shock. These tires are ideal for the regular urban commuter and will last for hundreds of daily commutes.
Feature #3: Affordable Price
The Critical Cycles Harper consistently beats its competitors on prices and is definitely an affordable option. The price ranges from 15-20% lower than competitor’s price, which can be a big bonus for a money conscious consumer. Fixed gear bikes are significant investment, so potential savings are a significant factor to consider.
Real User Feedback
Many customers were pleased with the affordability and overall value of the Critical Cycles Harper. The fixed gear bike is delivered with very little assembly required and is ready to go in about 30 minutes. Most people who purchased this bike used the bike for commuting and they noted that the bike provides a very smooth, easy ride compared to other bikes. These customers also enjoyed the low price tag for the bike and stated that the bike was an excellent purchase for the value.
Criticial reviews of the Critical Cycles Harper focused on the durability of the parts, damage present on parts delivered and some manufacturing defects. Many reviewers noted that the Wanda tires provided a smooth ride, but the extra shock absorbance seems to translate into the tires wearing out faster. Other reviewers were critical of the pedals and one reviewer stated that the pedal popped off the bike mid ride after being ridden for about 6 months. Several reviewers indicated that they received damaged parts and there seems to be a common issue with packaging handling across the spectrum of reviewers. Most reviewers were able to secure replacement parts once they contact customer service, but the delay in getting a new part prevented them from immediately assembling the bike. These critical reviews were coupled with reviewers that indicated some customers received parts with manufacturing defects that prevented them from being able to assemble their bike. Most customers who encountered these issues were able to secure free replacement parts once they contact customer service, but this again caused a delay before they could begin assembling their bike.
Overall, customer reviews indicated that the Critical Cycles Harper is a great buy for the value, but there are quality tradeoffs with the cheaper price.
Pros of Critical Cycles Harper
- Competitive price
- Comes with all tools needed for assembly and maintenance
- Comfortable commuter bike intended for heavy use
Cons of Critical Cycles Harper
- Part durability issues
- Some parts were damaged during delivery
6KU Aluminum Single Speed Urban Track Bike
The 6KU Urban Track is an affordable fixed gear bike option that is designed, manufactured and sold in the United States. This model of bike features an aluminum frame that makes the bike lighter than competing fixed gear bike models. The use of aluminum for the bike body also helps reduce the costs compared to a steel frame bike.
Feature #1: Aluminum Frame
The 6KU Urban Track Bike comes standard with a smooth welded aluminum frame that is designed to be the lightest on the market. This light frame increases the overall speed of the bike and means the 6KU Urban Track Bike is a fast and responsive choice.
Feature #2: In-House Manufacturing
6KU prides itself in designing, manufacturing and quality testing all of its fixed gear bikes at its California facility. The company minimizes outsourcing of the components for the Urban Track Bike and performs most of the bike assembly in the main 6KU shop. Each bicycle produced by the company is subjected to rigorous quality testing before leaving the shop. This attention to details means that 6KU consistently delivers quality products to their customer the first time.
Feature #3: Easy Assembly
The 6KU Urban Track Bike comes close to 90% complete and only requires a minimum amount of assembly one received by the customer. 6KU performs a significant amount of the assembly internally in order to help the customer get onto the road as quickly as possible. This also prevents customers from having to purchase additional tools to complete the assembly and reduces the chances that the customer may inadvertently break one of the bike pieces.
Real User Feedback
The majority of customer reviews on the 6KU Urban Track Bike were positive and complimentary of the overall quality of the bike. Many purchasers were surprised at the lightweight body and appreciated the tidiness of the body construction. Several reviewers appreciated the speed of the bike and stated that they could almost challenge high-end road bikes with the 6KU Track Bike. It also appears that the quality department at 6KU effectively screens all outgoing bike. There were no customer complaints around manufacturing defects or the customer receiving broken parts that required replacement.
Many reviewers also praised the ease of assembly. Right out of the box, the bike chains were appropriately lubricated, the brakes were calibrated and the customer only had to install a few pieces to make the bike road worthy. The bike was very easy to assemble and put together in less than 30 minutes.
Most customers also appreciated the competitive price point of the bike. Several reviewers and were pleasantly surprised at the high quality offered by an affordable bike. Many reviewers lived in urban areas where bike theft was common and the lower price and simplicity of the bike prevented the bike from becoming a target for thieves. Overall, Most reviewers considered the 6KU Urban Track Bike a worthwhile investment that provided high value for the price.
Negative reviews around the 6KU Urban Track Bike focused on the quality of the pedals, handlebars and brake pads. Some customers stated that the pedals and handlebars seemed very cheap and low quality, but these same customers also noted that they had not any parts break, yet. Other customers noted that the brake pads wore out faster than expected and required replacing. However, other reviews noted that the parts look cheap because the price is cheap. While a customer may want the best material for their bike, upgrading the pedals and handlebars would most likely drive up the price. In addition, parts that would wear quickly, like the brakes and tires, can easily be replaced at a low cost.
Pros of 6KU Urban Track Bike
- Very light bike body
- Excellent quality control and customer service
- Easy to assemble
Cons of 6KU Urban Track Bike
- Secondary parts are constructed of cheaper material
- More frequent part replacement compared to competitors
Comparison Between all 3 Models
So which bike is best to get on the road? Let’s compare these models using the four factors listed at the beginning of the review.
Factor #1: Extra Features
When comparing these bikes, each package comes with some extras that increase the overall value of the purchase. Both the Critical Cycles Harper and the 6KU Urban Track Bike come with both front and rear brakes and the Critical Cycles Harper even comes with free tools for the assembly and maintenance of their bike. However, the Pure Fix Original only comes with a front brake and does not include any extras that increase the value of the bike. Based on this, the Critical Cycles Harper clearly comes with the best extra features.
Factor #2: Warranty
When looking at the different warranties for the bikes, each bike has a lifetime warranty on the body of the bike. However, the Critical Cycles Harper only covers the warranty if the bike was assembled by a professional and proof of the professional assembly is provided to the Critical Cycles customer service. In contrast, both 6KU and Pure Fix provide lifetime warranties on the bike body regardless of who assembled it. In addition, both companies provide a limited 1-year warranty on secondary pieces like pedals, chains, etc. Lastly, Pure Fix also offers a 7-day return policy if you decide you do not want the bike and have not assembled the bike yet. Clearly, Pure Fix provides the best warranty and customer support policies.
Factor #3: Body Material
The 6KU Urban Track Bike is unique in that it is constructed from aluminum, but aluminum is often seen as an inferior body material. This is due to the low strength and brittleness of the material, which can cause the bike body to snap in a crash. The other two bike models, the Critical Cycles Harper and the Pure Fix Original, are both manufactured from welded steel, which is much tougher and flexible then aluminum. Welded steel frames are more likely to withstand a crash. Between the Critical Cycles and Pure Fix models, customer reviews indicate that the Pure Fix Original has a higher quality of steel and fewer manufacturing defects were seen in the Pure Fix model. The Pure Fix Original has the best body material.
Factor #4: Affordability
Based on prices provided on Amazon, the Critical Cycles Harper is the most affordable bike, with the 6KU Urban Track Bike being the slightly more expensive and the Pure Fix Original. All prices are relatively comparable, but the Critical Cycles Harper is the most affordable.
Based on all the factors, the Pure Fix Original is the best model of fixed gear bike reviewed. The Pure Fix Original clearly has the best features and is sure to be an excellent investment for any biking commuter. The Pure Fix Original can be found on Amazon for only $299.99 and is an excellent choice for a biker. Good luck to all of the new cyclists out there and happy riding!