Fixed gear bike help!
September 27, 2011 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Im looking to getting a fixie bike... How does this bike stack up against the rest of them? I really like the look of fixies, and I love the idea of the connection to the road, and the fact that they hardly break (cause i break everything)... This bike is about 25 lbs... Is that alot for a $500 bike? Please just give me all the information/tips you can! Thanks!
posted by sizzil34 to Shopping (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can only give you one data point, which is that 25lbs seems ludicrously heavy. I have a single speed (not fixie) mountain bike with a steel frame (it's a Niner SIR9), fat tires and disk brakes, and it's about 22lbs. I made no attempt to build it light apart from some nice wheels.
posted by unSane at 9:30 PM on September 27, 2011

I've never heard of that bike, which doesn't mean much, but their website is rife with typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors (mostly apostrophes). While you don't need to know shit about spelling or grammar to build decent bikes, having those kinds of errors on your outward-facing site does speak to a certain lack of attention to detail. And me, I wouldn't really want to buy a bike built by folks who demonstrate a marked lack of attention to detail.
posted by dersins at 9:39 PM on September 27, 2011

Here's a Surly Steamroller for $425.

The steamroller is a near indestructible bike that is still very fun to ride. I would take it in a second over some no-name fixie like the one you link to.
posted by 256 at 9:44 PM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

That bike is crappy. It is way too heavy. It is probably made of very low-end steel tubing.

For that kind of money you can get a fixed-gear bike from a reputable company such as Specialized.
posted by twblalock at 9:44 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

From a 30-second perusal of your link, I'd say they're really pushing the customization of their bikes at the expense of value. If two different colored wheels is important to you, make Big Shot is the place to go, but I recommend that you think about what kind of details you'd like and look for other sources. If not a local bike shop, maybe here.

If you haven't been there already, the Singlespeed/Fixed Gear forum on is invaluable.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:47 PM on September 27, 2011

Oops, here's the SS/FG forum link.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:48 PM on September 27, 2011

Nothing special. They're popular among people who just want a fixed gear with specific colors for the frame, rims, tires, saddle, etc. If that's you, great. The wheels are kinda crappy, no-name rims and hubs. Not the worst.

Their frames are hi-tensile steel, which is not what you want. If you're on steel, at least get 4130 or 4140.

When I try to customize anything on that site, all it gives me the option to do is to change the color. I can't swap a 38-tooth ring to a 44-tooth. I can't specify what length crank arms I want. I can't change the length of the stem.

Pass. Go to a bike shop, tell them that you want a single speed bike for $500, and they'll at least make sure you ride out the door on something that fits.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:50 PM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok, what about this?
posted by sizzil34 at 9:56 PM on September 27, 2011

Yeah, bigshot bikes are shit. If you really want to go the internet fixed gear cheapo route, the Kilo TT from bikesdirect is probably your best option. Or the Windsor The Hour (also a BD bike) This is the same advice you'd get from the SS/FG forum that hydrophonic mentions.

Personally I prefer being able to test ride a bike from a local bike shop, but you'll pay a little more for that service/profit margin.
posted by misskaz at 9:58 PM on September 27, 2011

Are some sort of candy-colored rims/frames/handlebars a priority for you? Serious question.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:59 PM on September 27, 2011

Link to the Kilo TT
posted by misskaz at 10:00 PM on September 27, 2011

Go to some local bike shops, tell them how much you have to spend and sit or test a few bikes. Getting properly sized is going to matter more than the looks.

Aluminum bikes like the Giant Bowery '84 that I ride may be relatively light, but will be tiring on poor roads. Steel (chromoly, not high-tensile) will last long and be more forgiving. I would check out All-City if you are OK with ordering online or buying secondhand. My buddy's Dropout is a smooth ride.
posted by Giggilituffin at 11:23 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, I paid nowhere near $1k for the Bowery, my friendly LBS was able to order it on closeout.
posted by Giggilituffin at 11:26 PM on September 27, 2011

Ok, what about this?

1. That bike is missing something: a front brake. Anybody who tells you that you don't need one on a fixie because you can skid stop is a moron giving you life-endangering advice.

2. Gear ratio is incredibly important on a single speed or fixed gear, and the optimum changes with your location and riding strength. If it's not to your liking, you'll either spend a lot of time spinning your legs comically or walking the bike up hills. I would never buy a single speed/fg that I couldn't test ride.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 2:36 AM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Fixed gear bikes require maintenance like any bikes. The brake cables and housings need to be replaced periodically. Toe-in on the brake pads needs to be maintained. Bearings need to be overhauled, and there are a lot of bearings: hubs, headset, bottom bracket, pedals, etc. Handlebar tape needs to be replaced from time to time. The chain needs to stay clean, greased, in gauge, and be properly tensioned. The bolted-on axles need to be checked for torque regularly. Tires need to be re-inflated before each ride. Etc., etc., etc.

The only thing that a fixed gear saves you is from lubricating a freewheel/freehub and from having to replace shift cables when you replace the brake cables. And, you don't have to worry about knocking your derailer on anything, or paying for shift levers (expensive!) when buying the bike. Other than that, no difference.

I own many bikes, including a 10-speed racing bike and a single speed commuting bike (freewheel in the summer, fixed in the winter). I spend about as much time maintaining both, as they are really not much different from each other.
posted by jrockway at 5:23 AM on September 28, 2011

Yes to test-ride. Yes to reputable brand. (Fortunately, those tend to be the brands that LBSes stock.) You want the "urban" model from a company that makes all sorts of bikes. Fuji has several models (and I own one of them). Specialized has its "Globe" sub-brand. Bianchi's Pista is a classic. Surly Steamrollers are great, and if it snows where you live, you'll love the "Fatties Fit Fine" tire clearance.

Make sure you know what you want to do with it before you buy. Want to run fenders for when it's raining? Make sure the frame and fork have eyelets. Want to be able to add a freewheel? You need a flip-flop hub. A LBS is really the best place to sort all this out, and if possible, you should visit a few, because for a good (small, non-chain, not snotty) shop, buying a bike from them is like an entry fee in an exclusive club that definitely has its perks.
posted by supercres at 5:23 AM on September 28, 2011

Have you ever ridden a fixie before? Serious question. If you haven't you may want to ride one around to see if you like riding a fixie before buying one.
posted by Anonymous at 6:00 AM on September 28, 2011

You really need to go to a bike shop and test a lot of different options before spending this kind of money on a fixie.

How much will you be riding? What city do you live in/what's the terrain like? What do you like about fixies?
posted by Think_Long at 6:02 AM on September 28, 2011

Chromoly frames are plenty of strong enough with a hell of a lot less weight. Competent brazing will make any frame indestructable unless you get run over by a cement truck.
posted by JJ86 at 6:22 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just echoing previous commenters here, beware the torque-tastic implications of riding a fixie. I can imagine some of my fixie contemporaries walking at a 90° angle by the time they hit 40. It's hell on your knees and lumbar, but when has earning cool points even been sensible?

Without a geotag in your profile, I can't tell where you intend to ride the bike...but I live in flat-as-a-board Illinois, and still use all 9 of my gears (and jam on BOTH brakes) almost every time I ride. Admittedly, fixies do have that certain je ne sais quoi, but that could partially be the je ne brake pas aspect.
posted by obscurator at 6:25 AM on September 28, 2011

Gear ratio and fixed/free is not a big deal. If you don't like fixed, you can get a hub (or built wheel) that accepts a freewheel instead. If you don't like the gear ratio, you can get a new cog or chainring and adjust as necessary.

I run 42/16 and 42/18 on a flip/flop hub. This is an easier gear than most people recommend, but it saves my knees and has gotten me used to maintaining a high cadence (which is essential for road racing).
posted by jrockway at 6:26 AM on September 28, 2011

25 pounds is not a lot for a $500 bike, but it's a lot for a fixed-gear road bike.

As others have said, the Big Shot bike (and others of its online-only pick-your-colorways ilk) isn't really a good choice for anybody. The frame's heavy and the parts aren't that great--neither are at the level you'd get in a comparably-priced major bike company bike (or a bikesdirect one), especially if you look out for last years floor model or whatever.

And if your goal is to impress bike nerds with your brightly-colored components, geek cred and individualistic design sense, well, you really can't do that with a Chinese hi-ten frame you picked out on a website (though you could probably do it with a Surly or IRO or something).
posted by box at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2011

At the risk of getting flamed by big shot critics..... I actually OWN a Big Shot Cycle and LOVE IT! Yes, that's right. I LOVE IT!
Its's the best -500$ I have ever spent. I commute on it to work daily and simply love it. I have had it a year and the parts on it are just fine so far. I have replaced the seat, brake pads, pedals, freewheel and fix gear(smaller) and tires (fyxation). I got hit by a car 2 weeks ago (I'm fine) wheels are still true, frame is perfect.
They take a hit because of the marketing I guess. They focus on the choice of color and coordination and people are turned off by it. They STILL make a nice ride for the money. I had a choice of a cheap UGLY bike or a cheap Gorgeous bike and I chose cheap and GORGEOUS and love that I did. I also wanted a ride that I wouldn't flip about if stolen off the street. This fits the bill.
I commuted to work for 2 years on an inexpensive TREK mountain bike that I rode on the hardest gear daily (even uphill) so the single gear attracted me. I like my bike hard to pedal and fast so I dropped the rear gearing one tooth on the fix and freewheel for the Big Shot. The difference in this bike and my TREK are night and day. this bike FLYS comparitively. i have knocked 30% off my commute time.
I ride the (track) in Central Park NYC every weekend and ALWAYS hang with the 3,000$ bike club with relative ease. They routinely ask me what that gorgeous bike is and I proudly say "it's a 500$ big shot (that has been kickin' yo butt)".
Yes, you cal likely get a bike with slightly better parts for the money. You still may not like it as much as your Big Shot bike.
Try to find people who have actually ridden one. I'll tell you now, Bike shops HATE them. I had a shop owner start DISSING the bike when I took it in for service. I laughed and went on with it. He later admitted that he hated them because I would NEVER be able to offer a bike like this for the price and it looked great.
Another shop owner said the parts were garbage. I asked him what I should logically replace that would significantly help improve it and he had NOTHING to offer.
I would SURELY buy another if it was stolen. IF I ever step up, I will step up significantly. We often trade bikes for rides around Central Park and I don't start REALL feeling a serious difference until we get up into a 1500$ bike or better.

Oh, and mine seems to be about 23lbs.

PS: go to your local bike shop and ride a 500$ bike and a 2000$ dollar bike. if you rant about the 500$ bike like i am ranting. Buy it....
Not So much?
Get the big shot.
posted by Studiogeek at 7:47 AM on September 28, 2011

Yes, don't buy anything without a test ride. Even bikes of the same size will fit differently. And if you've never actually ridden fixed before, that's even more of a reason to test it out first.

I would suggest getting a bike with a flip-flop hub. That means you can flip the back wheel from fixed to a freewheel (so you can coast) if you decide that fixed just is not for you. I have friends with Fuji & Redline bikes that are really nice and affordable that have this option.

PS - another +1 for the Surly Steamroller as well. I don't know if that comes with a flip-flop hub, though.
posted by Windigo at 7:50 AM on September 28, 2011

If you are in NYC, PM me. You can come ride mine. ;-)
posted by Studiogeek at 8:06 AM on September 28, 2011

+1 for the steamroller

Also, it's worth looking around at used fixed gears as well. I found a bike that a guy really needed to sell, and paid about half of what it was worth. Only after a test ride though.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:08 AM on September 28, 2011

PS: Learn to ride a fix OFF the street. It takes a while to get used to. Having the proper instincts on Auto Pilot that respect the differences of a fix take a long time. HAVE BRAKES!
posted by Studiogeek at 8:21 AM on September 28, 2011

+1 for testable, used, local fix (flip-Flop) bikes.
posted by Studiogeek at 8:23 AM on September 28, 2011

For $500 you could also look at SE bikes. They have a little bit of a bad rep depending who you talk to but you can get a much better bike at that price point than the one you linked.

Also, some people are being a little negative in here. Yes that bike you linked kinda sucks, but don't let people discourage you from getting a fixed bike. It can be bad for your knees, I suppose, if you push too high a gear up hills all day, but if you pick a ratio that works for you I don't think it's necessarily bad for your knees to ride fixed. Everyone is right about the brake - you absolutely need a front brake. I can skid stop fine but there is no way I would entrust my safety entirely to that move. I commute 30 miles per day on my fixie and at least a few times a year I get into a situation in which I would totally wipe out and probably suffer pretty serious injury if not for my brake.

It'll feel really weird at first, but you will get used to it fast and if you're like me, you'll pretty soon refuse to ride anything without a fixed gear. Go for it.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 8:33 AM on September 28, 2011

So.....I now work in a bike shop. Yay!

A couple of days ago a customer brought in a bike like this (not from BigShot, but from a competitor, and priced almost exactly the same). Same setup: you can pick the color of the components but customization really ends there.

After disassembling one and putting it back together, my recommendation is this: it's an OK bike, nothing special, and you can certainly do worse. For just riding around town it'll be fine, but you should REALLY take it to a shop and have them inspect it after you receive it.

None of the bolts were greased. The bolts in the stem squeaked so bad we thought we were going to shear the heads off them. The bottom bracket shell wasn't chased or faced. It even had paint in the threads. The wheels arrived out of the box so out of true we had to have the customer sign an statement saying that they're aware of the issue and that we were unable to fix that particular problem. There was rust on the cog. The rear axle was bent! and gave us some serious issues in getting the wheel aligned.

The bike left our shop in better shape than it came in. It'll be fine for riding around town every now and then. As it stood, it wasn't going to last long before parts start to break. Now that everything is appropriately lubed and torqued, things will last longer, but it's just a matter of time. Still better than not having a bike, or having a crappy WalMart/Target bike.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:54 AM on December 16, 2011

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