Riding a singlespeed or fixed wheel bike is all about simplicity. Both do away with gears, making for a lighter ride which requires less maintenance.
A singlespeed bike has only one gear, but the pedals move independently of the rear wheel, meaning the rider can coast. A fixie has no freewheel, meaning that as long as the wheel is turning, so are the pedals.
Both offer a bike that is perfect for popping into town, riding to the shops, or spinning to work, but riding fixed takes some getting used to. Though it’s often seen as the ‘purer form’ of one gear riding, you’ll need to remember that the same wheel-turning-pedals-turning rule applies going downhill, so the rider needs to be able to pedal quickly unless sticking to the flat.
If you’re not sure which option to go for, you can opt for a flip-flop hub on the rear wheel, which allows you to swap between fixed and freewheel.
Fixed and singlespeed bikes have in the past been, and still are, a popular choice among cycle couriers, but they’re also often used by club racers who want to better their pedalling technique over the winter months, track racers, and of course they’ve become synonymous with city hipsters.
Fixed and singlespeed bikes in town are often an extension of the riders personality, styled to suit them, and there are loads of great dealers who create custom and off the peg bikes designed to portray personality through design.
There is quite a community in London for singlespeed and fixed riders, and you can get in on the action and news here.
Here’s a look at some of our favourite London Fixie/Singlespeed companies in London. Don’t forget that if you’re an iPhone user, then our free London Cyclist app contains listings of all of London’s bike shops, along with opening times and descriptions.
Foffa Bikes (http://foffabikes.com/)
Although Foffa have closed their high street presence, their eShop still offers their entire range of bikes and they’ve been able to pass on some of the savings to their customers. Their single speed range starts at £359.99.
All their bikes come with a flip-flop hub offering the flexibility of a fixed gear bike or a single speed.
If you like your lush looking bike pics, keep an eye on their instagram account. You’ve been warned though, you might end up with a new bike before you even realise what’s happened.
Brick Lane Bikes (bricklanebikes.co.uk/)
Brick Lane Bikes began as an East London one off shop on Bethnal Green Road, featuring track and road components, both vintage and new. Over time, they grew, and they now stock to a few other dealers across town.
Bikes can be custom built, or you can select one off the peg. If you’re looking to build your own bike, BLB have a huge range of components, styles across the ages of cycling, so you can choose the perfect parts for your ride.
Off the peg bikes on offer at the moment are in the region of £1k, so Brick Lane isn’t the choice for those on a budget, but they are perfect if you’re looking to upgrade with new components, or for an original steed to last a lifetime.
Nolobi create some mega bright and shiny bikes with amazing colour schemes, and nearly all their bikes come in at £290.
You can choose between pre selected colourschemes, or picking your own bold and beautiful style, and all of this can be further customised with a selection of accessories, such as bright yellow, orange or red tyres and even stickers.
Nolobi have a great online community, and they’re collecting images of their bikes on their ‘What Rides May Come’ page.
Bikes can be collected from Hackney Cycles, or they can be delivered to your address in 1-3 days.
Lunar Cycles and Cloud 9 Cycles (lunarcycles.co.uk and cloud9cycles.com)
Edit by Andreas:
Two more spots I’d recommend are Lunar Cycles and Cloud 9. Both have immense experience in building custom singlespeed and fixed gear bikes. If you head in to the shop, they’ll be happy to chat through what you’re looking for and can give expert recommendations. I purchased my singlespeed frame from Cloud 9 and built my own singlespeed, with much help and assistance from them when things got a little tricky.
Note: This list is a collection of our favourites, though we realise there are plenty more awesome spots in London to buy a singlespeed. If you have a recommendation, then please do help out fellow cyclists by leaving a comment below.