Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best fixie bikes

The first bicycles didn’t have pedals — you pushed the ground with your feet. Then pedals were fitted directly to the front axle. When the first pedal-and-chain model appeared, toward the end of the 19th century, the fixed-gear bike was born. Gears followed shortly thereafter, and during the early 20th century, fixies started to decline in popularity. Why have just one gear when you could have 3 or 7 or 21? 

There are lots of good reasons. Depending on how you ride, you may not need gears at all. Fixies are simple, durable, and easy to maintain. They come in a range of styles from traditional to track. Fixies can make great commuter bikes. At the other end of the spectrum, many of the world’s fastest racing bikes are fixies. And enthusiasts feel that fixes make them fitter!

Once again, these bikes are extremely popular, and there’s a fixie for everyone.

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Your new fixie needs minimal assembly, which usually takes around 30 minutes. Some makers recommend that you have your bike assembled by a professional, and it could invalidate the warranty if you don’t.

Key considerations

What is a fixie bike?

For many people, a fixie is a bicycle without gears. However, strictly speaking, fixies should be divided into three groups: true fixies, single-gear bikes, and hybrids.

True fixies have a fixed gear: the drive is direct. When you pedal, the wheel goes around, but when you stop pedaling, the bike stops, too. You can’t coast or freewheel. In theory, this means you don’t need brakes (we look at that more below).

Single-gear bikes are similar, but they have the freewheel option. They are, to an extent, the lazy person’s fixie. If you’re a cycling enthusiast, a true fixie is probably the one to buy. If you’re a commuter, or you like the occasional ride on the weekend, the single-gear option might suit you better.

Hybrids have a flip-flop hub, also called a double-sided hub (and there’s a clue), with gear cogs on each side of the wheel. Generally, one is a fixed gear and the other is a freewheeling gear (on track bikes there might be two fixed gears with different numbers of teeth). To change from one to the other, you simply loosen the wheel nuts, take out the wheel, and turn it around. Quick, easy, and versatile. Bikes with a flip-flop hub do tend to be a little more expensive, but the difference isn’t extreme.

One potential problem is if you have directional tread on your tires (off-road tires are sometimes designed this way). If they run backward when you turn the wheel around, it could cause stability problems. You need to make sure the tires are non-directional, which is, unsurprisingly, common on fixie road and track bikes.

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Fixie bikes don’t just come with two wheels. There are fixie trikes as well, which are ideal for grocery shopping or other casual trips.



Getting the right size frame is just as important with a fixie as it is with any bike, perhaps more so given that riding one tends to be a more direct experience. The amount of choice you get will largely depend on how much you’re prepared to spend. It’s not unusual for cheap fixie bikes to be one size, or you might find small, medium, and large sizes. Better-quality bikes offer more choices and a better fit. If you can afford it, the latter is definitely the preferred option. Manufacturers should provide size guides, and there’s always independent help online.

You’ll soon notice that just about every fixie frame is unisex — there’s no drop-down crossbar like you find on some women’s bikes.


When it comes to frame and fork materials, you have the usual bike choices: steel, aluminum, and carbon or graphite.

Steel is strong and extremely durable but a little heavy. It’s inexpensive and perfectly all right if you’re riding mostly on flat terrain. Some very nice fixies have steel frames. Choose well and you’ll be happy with your bike.

Aluminum is considerably lighter than steel, though it may not have quite the structural strength. It depends on the type of aluminum. Some good frames use 6061, which is very close to steel in durability. The other advantage with aluminum is its natural resistance to corrosion.

Carbon (also called graphite), is the material of choice for high-end fixie bike frames. These frames are incredibly light and strong and are often handmade. You’ll need to spend quite a bit more, though.


As for the handlebars, commuter and touring bikes generally have flat handlebars, so you ride with a fairly upright, comfortable stance. Models built for speed have either Pista or pursuit handlebars. What’s the difference? You’ll find the answer in the FAQ section below.


Aside from the flip-flop hub mentioned above, you also have a choice of standard or deep-dish wheels (which have nothing to do with pizza). We look at the pros and cons in the FAQ section. However, as with other components, there’s always a question of materials and weight. 

Steel: This is a common choice.

Aluminum: This is also common, generally with steel spokes. 

Carbon: Racing wheels can get very exotic, and more attention is paid to streamlining. Carbon is common. These wheels can be molded in a single piece with just a few spokes or solid in some cases.


You might have noticed from pictures that some fixies appear to have only one brake or no brake at all. There are several options when it comes to brakes.

Track fixies don’t need brakes. In fact, they’re considered dangerous. Because these bikes have fixed wheels, everyone slows down at more or less the same rate. If one had brakes, there would probably be a pileup!

Road and commuter fixies usually have one or two brakes of the common caliper style. Two brakes are fitted to commuter bikes to give the rider a bit more confidence, but a lightweight single-speed bike probably only needs one. These are mostly fitted to the front, but you’ll occasionally find them in the rear. Front braking gives faster deceleration, but some claim that back braking gives better balance.

Coaster brakes, with no handlebar lever, look like no brakes at all. The apparatus is part of the rear hub, and pressure is applied by turning the pedals backward. 

Disc brakes on fixies are rare.

Pedals, chain wheels, and chains

On entry- and mid-level fixie bikes, you won’t have a choice of pedals (or chain wheel and chain, for that matter), but if you’re investing in a top bike, these things can all be tailored to your preferences. Lightweight skeletal pedals, chain wheels, and chains are another way for enthusiasts to reduce weight. They can look pretty fab, too!

If you find the saddle that comes with your bike uncomfortable, don’t worry. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest items to change.



Helmet: Smith Optics Adult Cycling Helmet
Unfortunately, head injuries from cycling are common, and they’re frequently serious. This helmet by Smith Optics has a tough polycarbonate shell and incorporates the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) usually found on more expensive models. It’s well ventilated, fully adjustable, and comes in a good range of colors so you can pick one to match your fixie.

Bike lights: Ascher Rechargeable LED Bike Light Set
If you’re a keen cyclist, you’ll probably be out after dark. These lithium-powered bike lights don’t need clunky tubular batteries, so they’re light and compact and have four settings. Just recharge via USB. They have flexible clamps to fit quickly to your seat post and handlebars without tools.

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Always wear a bicycle helmet. US statistics suggest that 70% of fatal cycling accidents would have been survived if the rider had been wearing a helmet.

Fixie bike prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest fixie bikes, usually twin-brake models with steel frames, cost around $200 to $250. These are adequate for modest trips but tend to be a little heavy.

Mid-range: There’s lots of choice between $250 and $500, including many from big-name brands. Most town and city commuters can find what they need in this bracket, as can those wanting to improve their general fitness.

Expensive: Enthusiasts looking for lightweight bikes can pay $600 and more. With fixies, less equipment often costs more money! Track bikes start at around $700, but it’s not difficult to spend $2,000 or more. In fact, at the pro level, you can pay $7,000 for a bare frame.

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Almost all fixies have a mounting point for a water bottle. Many also have room for a rack, but it’s a good idea to check before you buy.


Q. What’s the advantage of deep-dish wheels?

A. Deep-dish (or deep-section) wheels offer better aerodynamics. In theory, you either need less effort to maintain a similar pace or you’ll go faster with the same effort. However, deep-dish wheels can weigh more, which will reduce some or all of that advantage. Put them on a steel-framed bike up against an aluminum-frame model with standard alloy wheels, and the total weight might negate or even reverse the benefit. You need to take the whole package into account, not just one element.

Q. Can track fixies also be ridden on the road?

A. We wouldn’t recommend it. While you could in principle, the law in the US says that you should not ride a bicycle on a road unless it has a brake on at least one wheel. Track fixies don’t have this.

There is an argument that standing on the pedals stops the bike in much the same way (true fixies don’t freewheel), but explaining that to local law enforcement might be a challenge!

Q. What’s the difference between Pista and pursuit handlebars?

A. Pista handlebars, also known as drop handlebars, curve under themselves. You use the bottom portion for riding in the tuck position during sprinting and the top to sit upright for rest periods. Pursuit handlebars, also called bullhorn handlebars, stretch forward. Though you can take an aggressive stance, they’re better suited to gaining extra leverage (when climbing hills, for example), and they offer riders more hand positions. That said, experts frequently argue about the pros and cons. Unless the handlebars are being used for a specific type of racing, it’s largely a question of personal preference.


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