Buying a Bike
February 16, 2005 7:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a new fixed-gear/single speed bike in the $400-$600 range. The Bianchi Pista or Fuji Track seem to be the best bets as far as price vs. quality, but finding good reviews on the internet seems to be pretty "miss" as far as "hit or miss" goes. Does anyone have experience with or recommendations for/against either the bikes above or other similar bikes (Specialized Langster, KHS Flite 100, etc) in that price range? I'm looking for assessments for quality, durability, goodness of ride, etc. Thanks MetaCyclists!
posted by The Michael The to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) is a great resource. In their "Singlespeed & Fixed Gear" forum, there appears to be a guy with unnatural urges toward the 2005 Pista.
posted by profwhat at 8:42 AM on February 16, 2005

If you don't mind aluminum I'd go for the Langster. I was in the exact same situation as you about two months ago. I think the Langster has the best components for the price. Everything except for the saddle is pretty nice. Of course I also prefer the Langster's paint over the alternatives. The Lemond Fillmore is my favorite pre-built road SS, but I think it retails for over $900.

I finally convinced myself that I didn't need a brand new bike so I purchased a '71 Peugeot from a local shop that converts old bikes to fixie/SS. I saved myself about $500.
posted by winterdrm at 8:48 AM on February 16, 2005

I've owned a Langster and ridden the Pista and Filmore. The Langster (in my opinion) WAS the most bang for the buck. But they raised the price from '04 ($440) to '05 ($600). It really depends what your planned use is. Any one of the bikes mentioned will have the track ends instead of dropouts. But some will take brakes and some don't.

The drawback (if i remember correctly) of the Bianchi Pista is that you're locked into fixed gear riding - you can't mount brakes on it. If you plan to use it for track racing or around-town-show-boating, that's fine. But if you ever want to make it more of a commuter, it might be nice to have the ability to mount brakes. But lots of people are still riding older Pistas - they seem to last.

The Langster was a great commuter, and it comes stock with brakes and a flip flop hub in the rear so you can have fixed gear on one side and freewheel on the other. My biggest fault with it was that it feels like '64 Impalla. It's a really sluggish bike - it doesn't feel nimble like a track bike at all. And the wheels were pretty cheap. I just sold mine last week.

My good friend has a Filmore set up fixed, and it's a really beautiful bike (though higher priced than you're looking).

My personal preference: I agree with winterdrm about converting an old bike. You can find some really classy lugged steel frames around with horizontal dropouts. It will take brakes, you can run a flip flop hub, and you can always turn it back into a geared bike if you want. I just saw a converted Merckx Corsa Extra on craigslist a few weeks ago for $375, so deals are out there.
posted by monkeystronghold at 9:23 AM on February 16, 2005

The Pista has a hole in the crown for a front brake, it just doesn't come with one.

If you're looking for a commuter, you might find the new Kogswell model G frame interesting.

Alternatively, there's lots of great 70s and 80s steel road bike frames out there (with horizontal dropouts) that can make great fixie conversions and will last as good as forever. My fixie is a mid-80s Columbus SLX tubed Bianchi frame I picked up on ebay for about $300 and its a lovely ride. Fixing up an older frame is a more viable proposition, because all the perts required parts can generally be scavenged or bought for less than a derailleured bike, especially if you're not obsessive about owning the latest and greatest.
posted by normy at 9:42 AM on February 16, 2005

Real fixed gear road bikes are tough to find. Most like the Pista and Fuji are really track bikes and thus have an upright geometry optimized for sprinting not longer rides. They will work, but are not optimal. A Gunnar Street Dog would make a great fixie, but is a little pricey. Sheldon Brown's Fixed Gear Page has lots of info, and the shop he works for has a good selection of fixies.
posted by caddis at 9:58 AM on February 16, 2005

Okay, my first fixie was a Bianchi Pista. It's a piece o junk in my opinion. The tubing is Reynolds 531, which is cheap and heavy. A general lack of artistry and care is apparent in the component selection, welds, and paint job (currently a hideous chrome). Mine cracked at the seatstays and had to be waranteed, which took Bianchi almost a year. Stay away!

At the moment I have a Soma Rush. Not too expensive, though it will cost you a bit more than a Pista or a Fuji. The frame is Reynolds 631 chromoly, much stronger and lighter than the cheaper stuff. Another good, inexpensive way to go would be a Surly Steamroller. Not as light as a Soma, but bombproof.

You might also consider an Ebay special, as recommended by a previous poster. Buy a nice lugged steel frame from the 70s or 80s and convert to fixed gear. If it has vertical dropouts, an older frame will still work fine as a fixed gear provided you use something like the Surly Singleator to maintain chain tension.

I second Harris Cyclery and the inimitable Sheldon Brown as an excellent source of fixed gear information and parts. Call them and they will be happy to give you whatever advice you seek. Their prices are not the lowest, but they really know their stuff.
posted by killdevil at 11:25 AM on February 16, 2005

Did someone say fixedgear bike? Complete bike or frame and fork?

I bought a frame and fork from Saint John's Street Cycles. I wanted a fixed gear road bike, not a track bike. After logging thousands if miles on various converted track bikes I looked around for a frame built just for riding fixed on the road. This is a lugged steel, double butted frame (Tange tubing, serviceable but hardly high end) with room for fenders and a full set of braze-ons. Long wheelbase, stable ride, slacker angles than a true track frame. I've done centuries on mine.

The complete bike is about $800 plus shipping to the USA. A picture of mine is here with a close up here.

If you could spend more, a Rivendell Quickbeam is a great bike. Set it up as a single speed cyclocross bike, run it as a fixie, two speed, or four speed. I got a great deal on mine as it was their demo, but they are currently around $1,300. Pictures of mine are here and here.

Something a little less expensive would be a Milwaukee Bike from Ben's Cycle for about $750.

Kogswell is great, and I have a set of their hubs on a single speed MTB. Matt is a good guy. However, I think a great old 80's road bike with long horizontal dropouts and a nice wheel set can be the best bike going. Email if you want more, I love this stuff, fixedgear at hotmail dot com.
posted by fixedgear at 2:27 PM on February 16, 2005

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