Last Updated on December 17, 2020 by Johannes Kristjansson
Whether you are an avid commuter or a road bike racer, this article is for you. Choosing between a single speed road bike and a fixed gear “fixie” road bike can be confusing and frustrating. Let me take your hand, walk you through it, and share my favorite picks for this year.
What is a single speed road bike?
The most basic definition is that a single speed road bike has only one gear or speed. You probably could have figured that one out for yourself. The more technical definition is a single speed road bike that has a single gear ratio and a freewheel mechanism.
What does that mean? Basically, the single speed road bike has only one gear and the freewheel mechanism allows you to coast instead of constantly pedaling. That seems like a lot of jargon but what does that mean for performance?
A single speed road bike is going to be lighter, quicker, and more efficient. You aren’t trying to blaze through muddy trails or hop over obstacles. Instead, it is a streamlined version of a bicycle that gets you where you want to go without all the extra gear. It is a very popular choice for a commuter.
What is a fixed gear road bike?
A fixed gear road bike, or a fixie road bike as cycling enthusiasts affectionately call it, is very similar to the single speed road bike except there is no freewheel mechanism. The wheel is “fixed” or bolted into place. What does this accomplish?
Well, for one thing, there is no coasting with a fixie road bike. Another difference is that you have to constantly pedal. Now, that may seem not ideal, but in reality it offers you more control of your bicycle. Some cycling enthusiasts would even say that you are going to pedal better and ride better because of this. It is a popular choice for racing and commuting.
Top 3 Picks for both Single Speed Road Bikes and Fixed Gear Road Bikes
Now that we know the differences between the two types of bikes, we can talk about what a flip-flop hub is and why you want it. You can get the best of both worlds with a single speed road bike or fixed gear road bike with a flip-flop hub.
All of my picks ended up being a flip-flop hub because you can make it either a single speed road bike or a fixed gear road bike. Let’s go over my hot picks for 2018.
6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear Single-Speed Fixie Urban Track Bike
The 6KU Aluminum bike is both a single speed road bike and a fixed gear road bike. It is a quality, sturdy bike and one I would highly recommend if you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg. Let’s go over all of its attributes.
- 32 H F/R Flip-Flop Hub
Has the ability to change from a single speed to a fixed gear bike
- 30mm deep V Double Wall Alloy Wheels
- Removable Front and Rear Brakes
If you want to go brakes-free (WEAR A HELMET)
- 1 1/8 inch Alloy Fork
Sturdy and lightweight
- Multiple Color Selections
- Various Sizes Available
47cm, 49cm, 52cm, 55cm, 58cm, 61 cm
- 700x25c Tires
Durable and lightweight for maximum efficiency
After getting through the nitty gritty, just tell me what I need to know, right? Here you go.
About 20 lbs depending on what size you pick
Surprisingly affordable for the quality
Flip-flop hub allows you to choose between single speed or fixed gear bike
Welding is impeccable and just has that sturdy feel without the weight
Coloring and design make this bike look a few hundred more expensive than it really is. It’s sure to impress.
- No cage mounting points
Not ideal because it makes it almost impossible to attach reflectors and water bottle cages.
- Brake pads are cheap
Will most likely need to be monitored and replaced after a while
- Large pedals
Inconvenient when it comes to turning. Can drag or hit the pavement.
- Bottom bracket creaks
Seems like this is a common complaint among buyers. Will need to replace after excessive use.
In my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons on the 6KU. It is lightweight, affordable, and well-made. To top it all off, it just looks darn right pretty. I think it’s a solid choice and a versatile one at that with the flip-flop hub.
Prime Line Big Shot Bike
Here’s another flip-flop hub to add some versatility to your bike with the Big Shot Bikes Prime Line Bike. This is more of a mid level range of a bike, and therefore, the cost is going to go up a little. However, so is the quality. Let’s check it out.
- Track bike with city capability
Made for the track but more than capable to handle your morning commute
- Industrial frame
Steel frame built to last
- Bullhorn handlebars
True race style
- Name brand recognition
Can trust Big Shot to make it right
- Variety of colors
Dublin Matte Black
- Multiple sizing available
Small, medium, or large
23-25 pounds based on what size you choose
Unique colors and style is sure to turn heads
- Mid-level Expense
$300+ price range but still under $500
Flip-flop hub that’s easy to switch around
- True Fit
Get the right fit for your body with the 3 different sizing options so you have the most comfortable ride
- More pricey
It’s still under $500, but it’s going to be more than your cheap-o beginner bike
- Need proper tools and lube for assembly
Shouldn’t be a big deal if you are an avid cyclist, but if not, it’s an extra purchase.
- True Racer Style
You are definitely put in an aggressive racer stance. If you don’t want that feel, I would suggest a different style bicycle.
The Prime Line Big Shot Bike is an excellent dual single speed and fixed gear bicycle. I love how durable it is and it’s design. It really is worth the extra $100+ to get the quality bike you want.
Pure Fix Premium
The Pure Fix Premium bike is certainly premium. It’s a little bit more than the other two bike choices and a little more luxurious. If you are more of an expert or intermediate road cyclist, this bike should peak your interest.
- Professional Chromoly Frame
Well built to last
- Flip-flop Hub
Switch back and forth between single speed and fixed gear
- 700 x 28C Thickslick 30mm Tires
Durable and worry free
- Drop Handlebars
Pre-wrapped and ready for action
- Lifetime Warranty
Frame has lifetime warranty giving you some serious peace of mind
- Multiple Sizes
50cm, 54cm, 58cm
- Two Styles
Kennedy Gloss Black
Jefferson Aqua, Silver, Gold
About 20 pounds depending on the size you pick
Made for intermediate or expert cyclists
- Flip-Flop Hub
Can pick either single speed or fixed gear
Multiple sizing and adjustments available for the right fit
- Smooth Ride
Durable and well made frame with quality tires
- Built for Speed
Streamlined and made to make you fly like the wind
More pricey than the other two bikes but you are getting a higher quality more expert level bike
- Bland Look
Not very exciting style but if that doesn’t matter to you, you are good to go
- Lack of Brand Name Recognition
You aren’t getting the brand name peace of mind but the lifetime warranty for the frame is a nice touch
The Pure Fix Premium bike is both a single speed bike and a fixie road bike. I like the versatility, the stout build, streamlined efficiency, and ability for max speed. If you are a novice, this one probably isn’t for you. However, if you have been around the block a time or two, I would definitely give this bad boy a whirl.
Which Bike Should I Pick?
Like any decision, it depends on a few different categories: expertise level, budget, and use.
What expertise level are you? If you are a beginner, I would choose the 6KU or the Prime Line Big Shot. If you are either intermediate or expert, I would choose the Pure Fix Premium.
What’s your budget look like? If you don’t have too much to spend, I would pick the 6KU. You are going to get the most bang for your buck with that one. If you have a little more to spend, you could get the Prime Line Big Shot. It has a little more quality for a little more money. Finally, if you have a good chunk of money to spend, I would pick the Pure Fix Premium.
Lastly, what kind of performance are you looking to get out of your bike? If you are doing a commute every day that isn’t incredibly far, I’d choose the 6KU. If you are looking to either race or commute or both, the Prime Line Big Shot is a great pick. Are you a road bike racer? The Pure Fix Premium is for you.
All of these single speed road bikes and fixed gear road bikes are excellent choices. I don’t think you can wrong with a single one of them. However, there is definitely a right choice for everyone. Using my guide, hopefully you were able to find the right bike for you and are feeling confident in your choice. Keep on keeping on fellow cycler.