Thinking of building a single speed? Have you put a lot of thought into your wheels and just ended up more confused?
We know many people who have been so we’ve decided to create a guide to best single speed wheelsets available in 2019.
The Best Affordable Single Speed Road Wheelset
The State Bicycle Co Lo Pro Classic has a name that perfectly describes what this wheelset is.
The Lo Pro Classic looks great on skinny steel tubed fixed gear bikes. It could be the perfect complement to your retro bike conversion, or the perfect upgrade for an off the shelf fixed gear bike.
The wheels feature 32 spokes, enough to make sure you’re not scared of potholes out there in the urban jungle. You’ll also find that these wheels use sealed bearings. These 2 aspects show that State has tried to bring you a long lasting bike for not a lot of cash.
You’d want to buy these wheels as daily runners on your good bike or as a set of no-nonsense wheels for a bike that is designed to be used as a commuter/messenger, and you don’t want have to be servicing them all the time.
The Most Bling Single Speed Road Wheelset
Brick Lane Bikes Notorious 50mm Carbon
Brick Lane Bikes (BLB) may be one of the most notorious fixed gear specialist shops in the world, and it makes sense then they named their in your face wheels in such a way.
The BLB Notorious 50mm Carbon is a well-priced carbon fiber single speed wheelset.
Given its price point, you’ll find people using them everywhere from a local cruise to the fastest of fixed gear crits.
50mm wheels make every bike look great, whether that be an aluminum race machine or a skinny tubed steel cruiser.
The deeper section carbon fiber rims will help you cut through the air, and make you faster, or just save you some energy. They come with sealed bearing Novatec hubs, given that Novatec is now found everywhere you should have no issues getting spares from your local bike shop.
These wheels are designed for those of us who want a faster bike, or just want to get upvotes on Reddit.
The Best Fast Single Speed Wheelset
ICAN 86mm Carbon Wheels
ICAN 86mm wheels are designed to go on track bikes, and if you don’t need a braking surface, these wheels will be one of your fastest available options.
They have been designed to be stiff for track racing, and being 86mm deep, you won’t get respite when riding along the road, but you’ll find that your bike just goes. Press down on your pedals, and you’ll be flying.
These wheels are constructed from Toray T700 carbon fiber, and that makes them pretty light for the depth of their aero rim. You’ll find that they weigh a similar amount to the low profile box section aluminum wheels.
As with the BLB wheels, you’ll find that these wheels run on Novatec hubs. Many big brand wheels will also run on these hubs; they’ll just come with a different set of stickers on them.
The Fastest Single Rear Wheel
FFWD Track Disc
Not all of the best wheels are available in a wheelset, and this can be said about the FFWD Disc wheel. It is fast. You’ll see a lot of track superstars using a rear disc wheel.
The reason is simply that if you want to go fast and the wind doesn’t scare you, then a disc wheel is the best choice.
The FFWD also comes in a tubular model, for those of us that are happy to glue or tape their tires on to their wheels.
If you’re using them out on the road, this will give you a slightly cushioning effect for comfort, and if you get a puncture you might be able to ride your bike home, all be it a touch slower than you were going before the puncture.
To keep the weight down the FFWD have constructed their disc wheel out of carbon fiber and you’ll find it coming in at just under 1300g, which for a disc wheel is pretty light.
The Fastest Front Wheel
If you want to partner the rear disc wheel, then you’ll need a similarly fast wheel.
Your best choices would then either be a trispoke or 5 spoke wheel. We’ve gone with the FFWD 5 Spoke wheel as it matches the rear wheel perfectly.
You don’t want a disc wheel on the front. Any crosswind will take your fork away, and you’ll then get a quick trip to the floor.
The other reason is that steering will feel terrible. That is why you want a wheel with a nod to the BMX mag wheels of the 80s.
Similar to the Mag wheels, the FFWD 5 Spoke will not true itself if you leave it in the freezer overnight. The good news is that the FFWD wheels are stronger than the old Mag wheels so you should never need to deal with an out of true wheel.
These wheels even feature ceramic bearings. Great if you want marginal gains on nice dry days, a bit more of an issue if you live somewhere that rains a lot.
However, if you’re buying these wheels, we would guess it was only to use them on nice days, as they are too good for bad weather days.
The Best Single Speed Conversion Wheelset
If like many people, you’ve decided to breathe life back into an old bike and convert it into a single speed bike for getting around, then EighthInch has just the kit for you.
You’ll find a flip-flop wheelset, a square taper bottom bracket, a set of crank arms and chainring, and a chain. All you’ll need except maybe new tires to get that old steel frame up and running again.
The rear wheel is spaced at 126mm, this is an old favorite sizing and differs from the 120mm of track frames. You can also use spacers to bring the wheels out to the later road bike sizing of 130mm.
Being 126mm is probably more of a godsend than you imagine, many people try and ram 130mm wheels into 126mm frames. Measure your frame before you buy wheels, and it’ll take less than a minute.
All you have to do is remove your rear wheel. Then take a ruler and place it across the axle slot, then measure the distance.
Simple, and it can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. You can spread and crimp steel frames a little with no ill effects. You do not want to this with an aluminum frame though.
A Word on Mountain Bike Single Speed Wheels
Off the shelf options for mountain bikes are a bit more limited than their road bike counterparts.
You may find a few single speed mountain bike wheels online, but many tend to be set up for dirt jump bikes. These tend to come with a cassette cog built in, and you might think this is great as it’ll save you some work.
The problem is they tend to be inspired by BMX style microdrive gearing. So you’ll find wheels with 9 or 10t cogs. The main issue with these cogs is that they might not give you enough chain wrap.
You’ll find whenever you put the power down it feels like your bike wants to shift to a nonexistent gear. This will not be a problem if you have horizontal dropouts though, you’ll just have the issues of accelerated chain wear.
To avoid this, you can custom build a wheelset and select what freewheel you want to be fitted, ideally around a 16t to make setting up your bike that little bit easier for yourself.
The other way is just to fit a cog and a spacer set to a set of mountain bike wheels you already have, and this will be cheaper and make fine tuning your chain easier.
The Cycling Deal Conversion Kit is a deal, it isn’t as expensive as other conversion kits, and it does the job. It also comes with a range of spacers.
The range of spacers makes it much easier to line up your cog with your front chainring for a great chain line.
It’s the small things that matter, and this can save you from pulling your hair out as you can’t get things lined up.
A few other brands will only give you 2 spacers, and it can be a nightmare trying to get a chain like that is quiet and a chain that is not trying to fall off.
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.