Skip to main content

Retrospec Bikes: How to Choose a Fixie + Single Speed + Commuter

Choosing the right set of wheels is important. Your choice can be the difference between riding your bike every day and letting it collect dust. In this guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about buying a city bike, whether it is a fixed gear, a single speed, or a multi speed commuter.

Besides explaining the different styles, to helping you to pick the right model, we'll also explain what to look for and why Retrospec is the best brand for tons of urban riders.

Start reading to find your new set of wheels, or shop all Retrospec bikes now!

Before you read on, check out our awesome new arrivals!

Retrospec Mantra V3 single-speed/fixed-gear

Retrospec Mantra V3 Single-Speed / Fixed-Gear

A fast and fun city bike with tons of style that can easily switch between single-speed and fixed-gear

Retrospec Beaumont Step-Thru 7s

Retrospec Beaumont Step-Thru 7s

A comfortable, easy-on-the-eyes urban commuter that's perfect for getting around town or weekend exploration

Why is Retrospec such a great bike brand for urban riders?

Retrospec Team

Retrospec is a Los Angeles based bike and outdoor sports company that aims to provide people of all backgrounds with high-quality, affordable products that can help them enjoy the outdoors.

Far from a boutique brand, Retrospec focuses on making their products inclusive and available to riders who want a great bike without it costing them an arm and a leg, because everyone deserves to enjoy the outdoors on a bike.

This is an urban company that celebrates the things that make city living great, like diversity and accessibility. There’s a place for everyone in the city, and Retrospec believes there’s a bike for everyone too.

So, should you buy a fixie, a single speed, or a multi speed commuter?

The first question you should ask is what kind of bike you want to ride around town. We’re going to go over the differences between the 3 most popular styles of city bikes so you can start your search with your goals in mind.

So what’s the difference, and which style suits you best? Take a look at this breakdown.

The 3 most popular styles for city riding are:

  • Fixed gear or “fixie” bikes
  • Single speed bikes
  • Multi speed commuter bikes

Get the facts on fixed-gear bikes

man riding retrospec fixed gear bike

What makes a fixed gear “fixed”?

Fixed gear bikes have one gear that is “fixed”, which means that when the wheel is spinning, so are the pedals.

Bikes that allow you to coast have what’s called a freehub, which lets the wheel spin without you needing to pedal. Fixies don’t have (or don’t utilize) freehubs, so the second you start pedalling, the rear wheel starts spinning.

If you want to slow down or stop while riding a fixie you’ll need to slow your pedalling or use your breaks, but we recommend doing both.

Note: Most of Retrospec's fixed gear bikes can be easily changed into a single speed bike, but not all single speed bikes can be fixed.

side view of retrospec fixed gear bike

Why would you want a fixie?

Fixed gear bikes are about as simple as a bike can be, and lots of people find that very appealing. Utilizing simple components along with a classic design has a number of advantages that are worth considering.

Fixie bikes are great-looking, super fun to ride, and virtually maintenance-free.

Sometimes less is more. The clean, uncluttered look of a fixed gear is certainly eye catching, and the basic drivetrain gives riders a feeling of being connected to the bike in a way that other bikes don’t.

Because there are no derailleurs, shifters, or cassettes, there’s a lot less to worry about, a fixed gear bike will also be able to withstand the elements better than a bike with multiple speeds.

Rider with Retrospec fixed gear bike

Who are fixed geared bikes perfect for?

Fixies are perfect for riders that prioritize simplicity, durability, style, and fun. Cities that are relatively flat are well-suited for fixed gear bikes, as hills can pose a bit of challenge to this style of bike.

Another benefit of a direct drivetrain is that because the wheel spins the same way the pedals move, fixie riders have the ability to pedal backwards. For those who like to get creative with their riding, this can be a ton of fun.

The simple components make them very affordable, so they’re a great option for riders with a tighter budget who want something reliable to get around town with.

Here are our favorite Retrospec fixed gear bikes

Shop All Fixed Gear Bikes
Mantra V3 Fixed-Gear/Single-Speed

Mantra V3 Fixed-Gear/Single-Speed

Harper Fixed Gear/Single Speed Bike

Harper Fixed Gear/Single Speed

Single-speeds bikes, for when one gear is all you need

retrospec single speed coaster bike

How is a single speed bike different from a fixed gear bike?

Single speed bikes are almost identical to fixed gear bikes, but there’s one major difference.

Single speeds use wheels with freehubs that allow riders to coast. With these bikes, you don’t have to pedal in order for the wheel to spin. The ability to coast makes single speed bikes better suited to areas that have hills, since riders are able to let the bike do the work on the descents.

Some single speed bikes come with a coaster brake that allows you to slow down by pedalling backwards like on a classic beach cruiser.

retrospec single speed bike

Why would you want a single speed bike?

Along with the ability to coast comes a more forgiving ride that many riders appreciate.

Because the pedals aren’t as directly connected to the turning of the wheel, you won’t need to be as careful on a single speed as you would a fixie. Whereas pedal strikes, sudden stops, downhills, and momentary lapses in focus can be problematic for riders on fixed gear bikes, single speeds allow you to be a little more carefree.

Aside from coasting, single speed bikes offer many of the same benefits as their direct-drive counterparts. They’re affordable, durable, and very low maintenance. Plus, they have that same clean look that urban riders love.

retrospec beach cruiser

Who are single speed bikes perfect for?

Single speeds are perfect for riders who want a simple, durable, and dependable ride that they can ride day in and day out. People who want a more carefree ride or live in a hillier area will love the ability to coast.

Here are our favorite Retrospec single speed bikes:

Shop All Single Speed Bikes
Harper Coaster

Harper Coaster

Sully Beach Cruiser

Sully Beach Cruiser

Chatham 1-Speed

Chatham 1-Speed

Multi-speed commuter bikes

Retrospec city hybrid bike

Benefits of multi speed commuter bikes

Multi speed bikes are more versatile than single speeds and fixies. With more gears, you’ll be able to ride in hillier areas with a lot less effort. They’re also great for riding at slower speeds.

These bikes typically have mounts for racks and fenders, which are excellent features for commuters who want to use their bike as a primary means of transportation.

Multi speed bikes are great for riders that want to carry more gear with them. When you’ve loaded up your rack with groceries, you’ll appreciate being able to shift to a lower gear to compensate for the extra weight.

Here are our favorite Retrospec multi speed bikes:

Shop All Multi Speed Bikes
Chatham 7-Speed

Chatham 7-Speed

Beaumont Step-thru 7-Speed

Beaumont Step-Thru 7-Speed

Amok V3 UrbanGravel

Amok V3 UrbanGravel

Two riders with retrospec bikes looking from hill at city skyline

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Retrospec bikes a good buy?
Absolutely. Don’t let the price tag confuse you. Just because these bikes are priced to be affordable doesn’t mean they won’t last. When you buy a Retrospec you’re getting a quality bike that you can count on.

Do Retrospec bikes come assembled?
Yes. When you buy a Retrospec bike from Don’s Bike Shop, our service technicians will make sure your new bike is tuned up and ready to go.

Can I change my fixed gear into a single speed?
Certain Retrospec models have what is called a “flip flop” hub, which allows riders to switch between a fixed gear cog and a freehub. With the fixed gear cog side attached to the chain, your bike becomes a fixie. When the freehub side is attached, you’re able to coast.

Can I install a rack or a basket on my bike?
Check if your Retrospec frame has mounts for a rack or basket. For racks, your bike will usually need mounts on the rear dropouts and on the seat stays. For baskets, mounts on the fork blade or fork dropouts can usually accommodate a basket. Some racks and baskets don’t require mounts, but make sure you confirm before buying. We’re happy to help you select something and install it for you.

Are fixed gear bikes dangerous?
Fixed gear bikes are not dangerous, but riders will want to keep a few things in mind on a fixie to maintain control and balance. Because the pedals always turn with the wheel, there is a lot of momentum in your pedals. Be careful that you don’t lean too far over during turns, as pedal strikes can throw you off balance. When you need to stop, remember that applying backward pressure on the pedals can help you slow down.

What kind of maintenance do I need for my Retrospec bike?
While single speeds and fixed gear bikes have less to maintain, you’ll still want to check a few things before you ride. Always check that your tires are properly inflated, and use a pump when necessary. You’ll also want to lube your chain from time to time in order to get the most life out of it. If your bike has brakes, make sure they are in good shape before each ride.