1:45 AM

Budget Build

I've had a lot of people ask me to help them build a fixie like the ones they see on the street.

"like this?" I say

"yea just like that! or maybe this"

"what's your budget?" I ask

"well.. I'm a college student..."

"but I do have this"

"And This"

Conversations like that usually don't end up anywhere and the person ends up walking for the rest of their lives because they don't even have enough money for the bus.

But for those of you who are DESPERATE on cash but DESPERATELY need a colorful ride that looks modern yet uses antique technology so you are willing to shell out some dough, here we go! And as a forewarning: if you aren't going to do the mechanics yourself or don't have someone to TEACH you how to do it yourself then don't try this please!

I've built a number of fixies in the past and have come to notice that there are several different levels in terms of pricing for these builds. Meaning, if you want certain things, you will not get it done for under so and so amount of money. With that in mind I have set up guidelines of what to get for different budget builds. Of course these numbers are approximates from what I've seen in my years around bikes and they are all prices that are near bottom line and are not impossible to find if you look. You can of course do better or worse depending on how frugal or patient you are.

The sub $100 build
This is the ultimate CHEAPEST way you can get on a fixie!

In order for this build to work you have to decide whether you want to take a little risk which I will talk about later. First you will find a decent bike with most of its parts if not all of it. If you're starting from zero parts, don't go and buy a frameset because single parts always cost more money and a whole lot more time. Make sure the frame is in good condition! no dents or cracks. Hopefully no major rust anywhere but usually light rust will beg for a better deal and can be cleaned off and painted over later. Make sure that the wheels are fairly straight because if you were good enough to be able to true your own wheels you wouldn't be reading this post.

Bam! say you find something like this for $60

The tires are shot, the chain is gone, but the wheels are decent and the frame is fine and true for a repaint! And dont worry, all of the rust on the components can be cleaned off with WD40 and steel wool.


Take the bike. Clean it up. paint it if you want. Get a new chain ($8) or an old used one that's clean. Also, grab a set of tires because no 60 dollar bike is going to come with new tires for you. tires ($20 for the pair) and maybe tubes if the old ones are shot too ($6 for the pair). Now drench that thing in wd40. Take everything apart and clean it to a shine. clean the rust off and buff everything up. This is your chance to show your inner painter with whatever you do with the frame color. I suggest at least leaving one front brake for safety. As for the cranks, take off as much excess as possible. if its a 3 piece crank, take the chainring that you want to use and put it on the inside so that the chain alignment is better.

Here's the scary part!!! The reason why this build is so cheap is because you are not buying any sort of fixed gear wheel. you are going to use what's called a suicide setup!!! all it is is you take the freewheel off of the rear wheel and put a single speed (track) cog on there and put a bottom bracket lockring (not the same as the track lockring) on there with loctite and lock it as tight as you can. cost of cog($8)

Of course I do not condone this and have never built one myself. BUT I have used one and it seems normal and fairly sturdy. Of course you are not to skid or do tricks on these because the forces of skidding and all that motion is enough to break regular track setups lose, not to mention these Jerry rigged suicide setups that aren't designed for it.

So there:
Bike: $60
Chain: $8
Tires: $20
Tubes: $8
cog: $8

Over the budget a bit but you'll have a healthy ride that will serve you well.

Sub $200 build
This build is much like the previous build where you buy an old bike and use most of its components but it gives you a lot of cash extra to spend on other things.

The first thing to spend on is the rear wheel. A subtle plain looking track wheel will run anywhere from $50 to $100. this will give you peace of mind along with better chain alignment.

The next thing to spend on if you have the extra cash is a set of cranks and new bottom bracket. Track cranks nowadays are rather cheap ranging from $40 to $100 a set. They also help with chain alignment and a new set will make your bike look a lot cleaner.

Or if your cranks are crapped out but you dont have the cash, look for vintage but high quality cranksets such as shimano 600 cranks or the like. They are actually higher in quality than the cheap new cranks and sometimes you can find one at a steal of a price!

If you spend $200 on a fixie setup and you've put all of the work in yourself and take heed to what I've advised and are patient with your purchases you will end up with a very solid, enjoyable, and clean bike. Here's something I cranked out for about $150

Sub $300 build
Before going into what you can build with 300 dollars I have to say first that with the learning experience and enjoyment of building your own bike neglected, for the money and for the joy of riding I would much rather spend a little bit more and get a real track bike. A lot of bike companies these days are building pretty good entry level track bikes and they are priced very well. You can grab a Mercier Kilo TT for about 350 (sometimes 300 on sale) from bikesdirect.com and that's more bike than most people will be able to handle anyways. For the price you get a track bike built with a racy geometry, track dropouts, and decent components.

Of course, stock track bikes look plain and with the money you save from building yourself a conversion along with the joys of doing so, you are ahead and can spend some on those deep V wheels. By now, everything on the bike should be new or at least a lot better than stock and everything together with the paint job looks wicked!

Also, with a $300 dollar budget something that is highly recommended is powder coating the bike. Painting it yourself has its place but for a sturdy, brilliant, and long lasting finish nothing beats powder coating. This service usually goes for $85. Or at least I know a guy in Santa Ana who does it for that much.

In closing I have to point out that people who spend upwards of 300 dollars or more on their conversions usually do so because the frame they are starting with is a particularly good one or it holds some kind of sentimental value to them (check out the Botecchia on the bottom.) Else, if you want to spend more than $300 I suggest starting with a better foundation like an actual track bike. With that said though, with the personalization, work, money, love you put into any bike, the enjoyment you get out of it is well worth any price.