UPDATE: See this article for a run down of cheap fixies I’ve reviewed in the last year:
I got the following email from Noob and it got me thinking about cheap fixies:
looking on dedicated cycling forums was just full of elitists bashing anything that costs less than $1000 and isn’t hand-built and sourced entirely from garage sales…anyway, i am a 100% noob, i have never owned my own bike before, and i’m looking to buy a cheap, ready-made single speed to learn on. i had budgeted about $500 so it’s good that i found some good options on your site around that price!
so i was just curious…of the bikes you suggested on your site, which would you recommend to me as a beginner bike? i have only done very basic research but it seems the cell custom mallet is well reviewed. but i really like the design of the brown jersey bikes too! and of course, mojo and jellybean are also contenders. i don’t want to go searching for parts, mostly because i have no idea what i’m looking at. i just want a small, light, sleek, no fuss bike. which has the best quality components? which is the most comfortable to ride (for a noob)?
thanks again mate and i hope you can point me in the right direction.
I love beautiful and exotic bikes but one of the great things about fixies is that you can set yourself up with a nice bike for a decent price. Sure, half your mates will be dumbfounded by the idea of spending $500 on a bike with no gears when you can get a perfectly good bike at K-Mart for half that and it has something like 3,000 gears on it. Half your mates are halfwits though so let’s move on. Here was my reply:
Thanks for writing in.
My concern with all these bikes is of the components. I didn’t have much luck with the standard Mojo headset (went in the bin straight away) and the bottom bracket has been recently replaced. I reckon, if the frames hadn’t been a total bargain, I might have asked for a replacement headset. As it was I had one in the workshop that came off a mountain bike and looked to have a few years bashing left in it. The bottom bracket soaked up tonnes of abuse and salt water spray (gets parked at the beach a lot) and expired right on schedule. It was a VP unit and they’re very acceptable at the price. I’d bolt another one straight on (if I didn’t already have a Shimano unit handy).
The problem here is that in this market (the $500-ish fixie) you don’t often get told what’s on the bike. You get vague descriptions of “cartridge bearings” and “high flange” but you’re rarely told who made the cartridge bearing high flange hubs so you can’t get any idea of whether they might be smooth units or notchy turds.
At $500 for a complete bike you can’t expect too much but with a lot of these fixies we get much more than we bargained for. We’re not paying for gears and extraneous rubbish so we concentrate our dollars on what’s rolls and rides. So most cheapish fixies are going to roll right and give years of happy riding. Here, in my opinion, are a few standouts.
Bargain Number 1.
The Hasa from Cycling Deal. I’m very impressed with it’s Reynolds 520 frame. It’s great that so many bikes have cro-mo steel but there’s a great disparity of quality even within the confines of cro-mo and Reynolds 520 is solid old school steel. What’s more, for a measly $300, you get Weinmann rims, Joy-Tech hubs and Kenda tyres. Nothing there to set the world on fire (Google Joy-Tech and you’ll get a hundred opinions of whether they’re awesome value for money of just plain crap) but really it’s an incredible make-up for a $300 bike.
|A $300 fixie from Cycling Deal.|
I’ve contacted Cycling Deal for a chance to review this bike but unfortunately have had no response, so all I can tell you is about what we can see on the website. But it looks pretty good.
Bargain number 2.
Mojo Bike have a “Scratch and Dent” sale on. If you’re willing to put up with a few imperfection in your bike you can pick up a Mojo Bike complete for just $299. The first scratch on a new bike is always the worst. These come pre-scratched so you’re actually saving yourself some heart-ache and some money.
|A $300 fixie from Mojo’s Scratch and Dent sale.|
Bargain number 3.
I reckon if it was my money I’d be getting on a Mongoose Maurice. If you check out Bike Exchange I’m sure you’ll find a bargain in your area. I rode the 2009 version (which is hi-tensile steel, so I’m going to break my steel rule and prove I don’t really know what I’m talking about) and it was a tight and sprightly ride. The steering is spot on and all components are well up to spec. Those Formula hubs will be smooth and reliable for years.
|2011 Maurice for $399.|
Hope that helps. Can’t comment too much on Brown Jersey. They look great but again I haven’t tested them. (Brown Jersey have been approached so I can only hope they let me ride one day.)