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So you’re looking to upgrade your fixed gear, but you’re on a tight budget? Here are my Top 9 Fixed Gear Upgrades for $20 or Less, so you can get more pumped to ride without breaking the bank.
9. Most bikes come with plastic bar ends. Aluminum bar ends look better, are more durable, and are easier to put in and get out. I’ve broken my fair share of plastic bar ends. Aluminum bar ends contract and expand when you tighten or loosen the bolts, eliminating any need for fiddling with a rubber mallet to get them in or a putty knife to get them out. Make your bike easier to work on and feel more high quality by upgrading to aluminum bar ends.
8. The lockring is all that separates you from the hospital when you ride your fixed gear, especially if you ride brakeless. Most entry level fixed gears come with cruddy lockrings that bend and deform whenever you try to take them off or tighten them properly, making these bikes less safe. Cruddy lockrings also increase the chances of stripping your hub, a much costlier setback than a high quality $15 lockring. The Dura-Ace lockring on the other hand is durable and won’t deform, allowing you to easily take it off and tighten it properly. Crank down on the Dura-Ace lockring and never have your cog slip again.
These next two upgrades are 100% free.
7. Remove your valve caps. It removes the two steps of taking off and putting on your valve caps whenever you want to pump up your tires with no appreciable downsides. Get rid of them and simplify your maintenance process.
6. In the U.S., complete bikes are required to come with reflectors by law, but that doesn’t mean you should use them. Reflectors only work under very specific conditions, lulling some cyclists into a false sense of security. At that, they don’t make you all that much safer, weigh your bike down, and look dorky. Make your bike perform a little bit better, look cooler, and be plenty safe by taking a screwdriver to your reflectors and using dedicated bike lights.
5. In my eyes, a gold chain almost always makes a bike look better. It adds accent color without being overbearing; it looks like bling, but you could easily get one for under $10. My go to chain is the KMC Z410 since it’s affordable, comes in gold, and performs just as well for every day use as a chain that costs 10 times as much.
4. The best thing you can do to keep your fixed gear running buttery smooth is to keep your drivetrain clean and lubricated. I use Rock N’ Roll chain lube since it does both of these things for you. Just shake the bottle, squirt a generous amount, and thoroughly wipe down the chain to keep your drivetrain spinning like new.
3. If you already know what gearing you like, you can upgrade to an All-City or Soma cog for about $20. These cogs hit the sweet spot for bang for your buck; they’re durable and round meaning they help maintain an even chain tension throughout your pedal stroke, making each push of the pedals smoother.
2. Once you start riding with a basket, it becomes really hard to justify not using one for daily riding. Baskets are incredibly simple, but they can change the way you ride and use your bike for the better. It’s like taking a pair of pants that has no pockets and adding pockets to them.
1. For number one, watch until the end. It can make your fixed gear ride like an entirely different bike for $20 or less.