TUTORIAL: Parts needed to convert a bicycle from geared to fixed gear or single speed

By Ben Butterfield • Mechanics • 16 Nov 2011

If this is your first time building a fixed gear or single speed bike, then you may be a bit confused about what parts you need to build a fixed gear or single speed bicycle. Whilst this isn’t a comprehensive guide, hopefully it will give you enough knowledge to work out the rest.


First, you’ll need to find a suitable frame. In order to avoid any issues with chain tensioning, it’s highly advisable to use something with horizontal dropouts. Here’s some photos to help you recognise what you are after:

Horizontal (good) Vertical (bad)

If you can afford it, a frame with track ends is preferable in most cases. However, it’s worth mentioning that track frames often suffer from “toe-verlap” when riden on the road. “Toe-verlap” is when your toes hit the front wheel when turning. Track ends look like this:

If you haven’t already got a suitable frame, here are a few that would work well:

Charge Scissor 2011

One of the most popular fixed frames out there and for good reason too!

Identiti Persona Frame

A great all rounder which could be built up either classic or modern style. The reinforcements might even make it strong enough for a trick bike.

Pro-Lite Trentino 2010 Frame

An aero style frame – perfect alongside very deep section wheels.

Pro-Lite Trentino 2011 Frame

As above, but the latest version

BeOne Scratch Frame

A more understated frame than the Trentino, but still light and fast.

Charge Plug Ti Frame

This is the titanium version of the iconic Charge Plug.

Lynskey Fixie Titanium Frame

If you have a larger budget, this titanium frame would be really nice!


Now we need a set of wheels for our fixed gear or single speed conversion and the first thing to worry about is the rear hub. Most front wheels have 100mm spacing and are symetrically dished, so you can probably use the one you got with the frame or something off Gumtree. The rear hub is more important.

There are three types of rear hub –

Cassette type hub Screw on type hub Screw on type hub with lockring thread

The cassette type hub is easily recognisable by it’s splined body. Most geared rear hubs made after the late 90′s have a cassette type hub.

The difference between the screw on type hubs is that one of them has a little step in the thread where the cassette screws on. This is needed to attach a lockring – an essential piece of kit if you are going for a fixed gear build. Most old wheels do not have a lockring thread, so you will probably need to buy a set of track specific wheels or rebuild the rear wheel with a track hub if you want fixed.

If you are going for a single speed build, you might be able to use some old screw on hub wheels. However, it’s important to consider the wheel dishing. Because these old wheels probably used to be on a geared bike, they will have been asymmetrically dished to make room for the gears. You should be able to see what I mean from the below:

Asymmetrically dished Symmetrically dished

Although it’s often still possible to use an asymmetrically dished wheel, you should be aware of where it could go wrong. The chainline might be so far off perfect that the chain skips off. In order to fix this, you will need to respace the rear wheel with spacers which could lead to the tyre rubbing on the chainstays of the frame.

If you can find a happy middle point, then you could get away with it. If not, you could either re-dish the rear wheel or buy a set of wheels that comes set up and ready to go. Here are a few that I would be happy to recommend:

Charge Dish Wheelset

Solid deep V wheelset for not a lot of money. Sure, you can get lighter wheels but you will have to pay a fair bit more.

Mavic Ellipse 2012 Track Wheelset

Arguably the best fixed wheels you can buy!

Miche Pistard Track Wheelset

Hugely popular wheelset from a respected brand.

Halo Aerorage Wheels

One of the most popular wheelsets around.

Halo Aerotrack Wheels

As above.

Token Track Wheelset

Cheap and solid with deep V rims and a range of colours.


The next thing to think about is the chainset. If a chainset came with your frame, it’s likely to be an old geared chainset. In which case, it will look something like this:

Although it’s not ideal, you can often modify an old geared chainset to run just one chainring. You will probably want to use the inner chainring, as this is most likely to have the sort of teeth numbers and therefore diameter that you want. Most outer chainrings are around the 52 teeth mark, which will make it very hard to pedal!

If you are lucky, you will be able to undo the chainring bolts and remove the outer chainring altogether. Because you are going to put the chainset back together without the outer chainring, you will need to use shorter chainring bolts or file down the collars of the ones you have. Here are some single chainring bolts that seem pretty good to me:

Brand X Chainring Bolts

Brev M Chainring Bolts

ID Chainring Bolts


If you can’t take your chainset apart or you haven’t got one, it’s probably best to choose a single speed specific chainset. There are a huge range of single speed chainsets on the market, but is a small selection of what I consider to be the best ones:

SRAM S100 1.1 Chainset

FSA Gimondi Chainset

SRAM S300 1.1 Chainset

Raceface Decadence Chainset

Pro-Lite Sondrio Chainset

Campagnolo Record Pista Chainset

FSA Track ISIS Chainset


If you want to run your bike fixed gear, you will need a track cog and lockring. The lockring is a really important component as it stops the cog from unwinding when you are skidding or slowing down with your legs. Don’t buy a cheap lockring (!!!!) as it could strip your hub and render it (and probably your rear wheel) useless.

Here are some cogs I recommend:

System EX Cog and Lockring

Shimano Dura Ace Track Cog

FFWD Track Lockring

Shimano Freewheel


Most fixed gear or single speed bikes run a 1/8″ chain, just like most BMX bikes. You can run a 3/32″ chain if you like but it’s harder to find chainrings and cogs to match. Here are some 1/8″ chains that I would recommend:

KMC Kool Chain

KMC K710SL Chain


Assuming you are converting a geared bike to run single speed, you will probably have the rest of the parts you need to finish the job. If not, please feel free to get in touch and I’ll see if I can put some recommendations together for you.

Good luck with the build!

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