Evans Cycles
Evans Cycles

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Single Speed Road Bikes
Single speed road bikes have long been a popular choice with riders particularly for winter training and for bike couriers. A fixed wheel bike has one gear and a 'fixed' hub so that you are unable to free-wheel forcing you to pedal down as well as up every hill you come to. You cannot coast, and you cannot rotate the pedals without rotating the wheel in the same direction. The pedals are literally chained to the wheel. This means that you can use the pedals to control your speed and to stop by resisting the pedals or back pedalling as on a coaster brake bike. Some fixed wheel riders do away with the back brake altogether.

Fans of the fixie, as they are affectionately termed, benefit from a lighter bike that needs significantly less maintenance and has less working parts to replace or go wrong. Fixed wheel riding develops a smooth even pedal stroke; many claim a winter of riding fixed significantly improves their fitness. As you are unable to coast every pedal stroke counts. Fast spinning down hill increases your ability to maintain a high, efficient cadence and the slower pedalling on climbs offers some useful resistance work. It can also improve your bike handling skill and confidence.

You don't have to run fixed all the time. Sometimes it is not practical because of hill gradients or because you are simply too knackered to keep pedalling. The solution to this is a flip-flop hub which offers the choice of fixed or free. A free wheel is a ratcheting device allowing the rear wheel to roll forward without the cranks turning.

There are several brands offering ready to ride fixed wheel bikes. This is the easiest way to get started. These bikes offer good value for money and are significantly cheaper than their geared counterparts. With the current trend for retro bike fashion and courier chic there is plenty of styles to choose from. Alternatively you can convert a geared bike. To convert a geared bike you need to find one with horizontal drop outs. These are the slots in the frame that the rear axle slides through, and hold the wheel to the bike. This is needed to help maintain chain tension without the use of a rear mech. To get started you'll also need a new rear wheel, cog and a lock ring. The difference between a fixed gear wheel and a regular wheel is that the fixed gear wheel has no freewheel. The rear sprocket basically just screws onto the hub of the wheel and is held in place with a lock ring. Your next challenge will be to get your chain line between the rear sprocket and your single front chain ring right. This may require you to space your chain ring or get a new bottom bracket with different spindle length. If you are planning to do this build yourself it requires you to have some mechanical knowledge and skill as well as correct tools.
This story was last updated on 17/01/2012