How Do I Flip the Wheel From Freewheel to Fixed Gear?

All of our bikes come standard with a freewheel and a fixed cog installed on the rear wheel. If you don't specify, your bike will arrive ready to ride with the freewheel on the drive side. It's easy to switch between the two, with the only difficult part for beginners being setting the chain tension. Here is a step by step guide:

  1. Loosen the wheel bolt on each side, just enough to where you can move the wheel back and forth in the dropouts without scratching the paint on the dropouts.
  2. Push the wheel FORWARD in the dropouts. This will leave slack in the chain, so you can take it off of the freewheel.
  3. Lift the chain off of the freewheel. You can let it "rest" on the chainstay or seatstay so it's out of the way.
  4. With the chain out of the way, pull the wheel straight back and out of the dropouts.
  5. Flip the wheel and reinsert.
  6. Put the chain back on the fixed cog.
  7. Gently pull the wheel back until the chain has tension, make sure the wheel is in line with the seat tube, and lightly tighten the wheel bolts.
  8. Check your chain tension. You want to check chain tension a couple times with the cranks in different positions, as there will always be a tight spot and a loose spot since chainrings aren't perfectly round. You want to have the tension right in the middle, so that there is little to no droop in the chain, but to where it's not binding or overly tight. Sometimes, it will be perfect right off the bat, and you can tighten the wheel bolts to spec and be done. Other times, you will need to add tension.
  9. To add chain tension, the easiest way is to "walk" the wheel back in the dropouts. Loosen one side of the wheel. Push the rim near the seat tube in the direction that will add tension and tighten that bolt. The wheel should be off center just a bit. Now move to the other side and do the same, this time centering the wheel behind the seat tube. Keep doing this until the chain tension is where you want it, then tighten the wheel bolts to 10Nm.

Notes:
Setting chain tension will take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, most people can do this swap in less than a minute.
Some road tires are directional, but no need to change them the other way unless you plan on riding the other side exclusively, are riding at very high speeds, or just prefer the aesthetic. They will feel and handle the same at normal speeds.

Apr 21, 2022

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