A fixie is a single-speed bike with no freewheel mechanism, so it doesn’t coast.
You have to keep pedaling for the bike to move. In cases where you have a brakeless fixie, you will have to rely on your skills to stop or slow it down.
While you can buy one of these pretty specific yet fun bikes you can also build one from scratch if you consider yourself handy.
But building your own fixie can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never assembled a bike before.
This guide will show you exactly how to do all that in one afternoon.
- 1 Can You Save by Building Your Own Fixie?
- 2 How to Make Your Own Fixie
- 3 Step-by-Step Instructions
- 3.1 Step 1: Put the Saddle on the Seatpost
- 3.2 Step 2: Install the Fork and Headset
- 3.3 Step 3: Prepare the Wheels and Tires
- 3.4 Step 4: Install the Cog
- 3.5 Step 5: Install the Wheels
- 3.6 Step 6: Assemble the Crankset
- 3.7 Step 7: Connect the Chain
- 3.8 Step 8: Assemble the Pedals
- 3.9 Step 9: Add the Spacers, Stem, and Top Cap
- 3.10 10: Add Grips and Install the Handlebars
- 4 Advantages of Making Your Own Fixie
- 5 You Get to Choose Your Components
- 6 You Can Decide Where to Compromise
- 7 Learn a New Skill
- 8 Conclusion
Can You Save by Building Your Own Fixie?
Yes and no.
Yes, you can save money if you get cheaper components or if you are converting parts from a bike you already own.
One of the best ways to do this is buying a cheap, second-hand bike and taking it apart to build your fixed-gear bike.
However, you may end up spending more money if you opt for high-end bike parts or buy a second-hand bike with plenty of terrible components.
Whether you save money or spend more cash depends on the hardware you have.
But the bottom line is that taking the DIY route gives you the flexibility to choose whether to make a cheap or expensive fixed-gear bike.
How to Make Your Own Fixie
Building your own fixie is not difficult at all, as you’ll soon see.
You can buy basic bike components or simply convert nearly any type of bike into a fixed gear by reassembling the parts.
Tools and Equipment Needed
Here are the materials and tools you’ll need for this relatively straightforward task:
- Allen wrenches
- Several other types of wrenches, depending on the bike parts you have
- Chain tool
- Chain whip
- Grease (plenty of it!)
- Bike frame: any frame with horizontal dropouts that can admit the rear wheel axel can work, regardless of whether it is a road, mountain, or track bike.
- Fixed gear components: this includes the rear hub, chain, crank with a chain wheel, wheels, tires, saddle, handlebars, and front brake (unless if you are building a brakeless fixie).
- Hand pump with pressure gauge for pumping the tires.
You can order a ready-to-assemble fixie if you are unsure about the bike parts to buy. This way, you will have all the components and tools and also eliminate guesswork.
You might need to tweak the steps below a little bit, depending on the hardware you have. But these steps are generally how you build a fixed-gear bike.
Step 1: Put the Saddle on the Seatpost
It might seem like an odd place to start but putting the saddle on the seatpost makes it easier to work on the bike frame.
- Start by putting the bike saddle on the seat post and screwing it tight using an Allen key.
- Next, grease the seatpost and seat tube on the frame.
- Insert the seatpost into the seat tube.
- Tighten the nut and wipe off any excess grease.
Step 2: Install the Fork and Headset
- Remove the pacers and top cap from the fork
- Slide the fork into the seat tube and put the top of the headset on the other side of the fork.
- Slide on a stem and tighten the side bolts to hold the fork in place.
Step 3: Prepare the Wheels and Tires
- Grease the bolts for the wheel hubs and tighten them.
- Put half the tire on the wheel, pump a small amount of air into the tube, and put the valve into the wheel.
- Push the rest of the tube inside the tire around the wheel.
- With the tube seated in the well of the rim, pump the tire to the recommended psi.
Step 4: Install the Cog
- Grease the cog and lock ring.
- Thread the cog on the wheel hub and tighten it using a chain whip.
- Put the lock ring on the wheel and tighten it counterclockwise. A lock ring prevents the cog from coming off when you backpedal.
- Use a locking wrench to firmly secure the cog in place.
Step 5: Install the Wheels
- Place the wheels on the axels and tighten them, making sure they are not too tight. Later when you finish your assembly, you can go over the entire bolts and nuts to tighten them one final time.
Step 6: Assemble the Crankset
- Put the chainring on the crank arm of the drive side.
- Put the male bolt on the front side of the crankset and the female bolt on the rear.
- Bolt both the drive side and non-drive side of the crank into the bottom bracket.
Note: Do not grease the spindle of the bottom bracket or else you might over-tighten and damage the crank.
Step 7: Connect the Chain
- Shorten the chain to fit.
- Loop the chain around the cog and let it come out over the chainstay.
- Link the ends of the chain together using a chain breaker.
- Put the chain on your drivetrain and tension it.
Step 8: Assemble the Pedals
- Grease all the bolts and screw the toe clips in place.
- Slide the toe strap through the pedal slots.
- Install the pedals onto the spindle and back backpedal a few times to tighten the pedal.
- Use an Allen key to tighten the pedal.
Step 9: Add the Spacers, Stem, and Top Cap
- Slide the spacers, stem, and top cap onto the top of the headset.
- Align the stem and the front wheel and tighten it nicely.
10: Add Grips and Install the Handlebars
- Grips can be difficult to put on the handlebars. To make things, a lot easier, spray a little bit of hairspray inside both grips and the handlebars. This will allow the grips to slide in nicely.
- Remove the clamp on the handlebars.
- Position the handlebars and put the clamp back on using the provided bolts.
Note: Add brake levers before adding grips if you want your fixie to have brakes.
Advantages of Making Your Own Fixie
Buying a fixie saves you a lot of time, especially if you have the budget to afford high-quality models.
But if you’re like most cyclists, budget is not the main reason for going through the hassles of piecing your bike together from scratch.
You may have plenty of cash to throw around but a lack of options with bought-bikes may limit your choices.
So, while it may be simpler to walk into a bike shop and walk out with a brand new fixed-gear bike, here are some reasons building your own fixie might be worth it:
You Get to Choose Your Components
Building your own fixie means you are not limited to what a manufacturer puts on their bike.
You have complete freedom to pick the exact bike parts you like. You can pick and choose the frame, brakes, wheels, and practically every other component you like.
It even gets better if your budget for your fixie has plenty of legroom.
That means you can end up with a great bike that’s uniquely yours and doesn’t compromise on quality.
You Can Decide Where to Compromise
Even when you have a limited budget, building your bike allows you to decide where to use cheaper parts and where to stick with high-end components.
In other words, you get to treat your fixie like an ongoing project or a platform.
You could start by spending more on a quality frameset, higher-end wheelset, and excellent front brakes.
These are some of the major bike components, so it makes sense to spend your limited budget on good-quality parts.
With the major components out of the way, you can compromise on other parts that are cheaper and easy to replace.
This could mean buying a more durable and comfortable saddle a few months down the line or upgrading to high-end handlebars and stem after a couple of weeks or whenever you can afford them.
Learn a New Skill
One of the best ways to learn something is by doing it yourself.
Of course, you will make mistakes – a ton of them – and may even experience some level of frustration along the way.
But by rolling up your sleeves, you will gain practical knowledge and learn a skill that will serve you for a long time.
Although fixed-gear bikes don’t require frequent maintenance, building yours allows you to quickly figure out how to fix a problem should they ever occur.
The hardest part about building your own fixie is finding the right bike components.
With the correct hardware, all you need to do is follow the simple instructions in this guide.
You can also attach a flip-flop hub that allows you to switch to a freewheel setting if you plan to coast once in a while.
If you follow the instructions in this guide correctly, your newly assembled fixed-gear bike should be up and running in a few hours.
Last Updated on January 24, 2022 by Editor