Single speed bikes are bicycles with only one gear and far fewer parts than their multi-gear counterparts. This kind of bicycle often lacks mechanical parts, including derailleurs, hub shifts, levers, various gears, and chainrings. So, why do people ride single-speed bikes?
Some riders are drawn to the simplicity and low maintenance requirements of single speed bikes, while others enjoy the physical challenge or the sense of community that surrounds them. Single speed bikes can be a fun, affordable, and rewarding choice for riders who are looking for a more stripped-down, pure form of cycling.
To find out why people ride single speed bikes, keep reading below.
- Are Single Speed Bikes Hard to Ride?
- Are Single Speed Bikes Good for Commuting?
- Why do People Ride Single Speed Bikes?
Are Single Speed Bikes Hard to Ride?
Single speed bikes are a popular choice among many riders due to their simplicity, low maintenance requirements, and sleek, minimalist design. However, these bikes can be more challenging to ride than bikes with multiple gears, especially for inexperienced riders or those who plan to tackle hilly terrain.
One of the main differences between single speed bikes and bikes with multiple gears is the lack of a derailleur, which is a mechanism that allows the rider to shift gears by moving the chain between different chainrings or cogs. This means that on a single speed bike, you only have one gear ratio to work with, and you can’t shift to a lower gear when you encounter a hill or headwind.
This can make it more difficult to maintain a consistent pace, especially for riders who are not used to riding a single speed bike. It’s important to learn how to use your body position, cadence (pedaling speed), and momentum to your advantage when riding a single speed bike.
For example, you can stand up and pedal more aggressively to increase your speed on a downhill, or you can use your upper body to help propel the bike forward when climbing a hill.
Despite these challenges, many people enjoy riding single speed bikes because they are a more stripped-down, pure form of cycling. You don’t have to worry about shifting gears or maintaining multiple components, and you can focus on your pedal stroke and overall cycling technique.
Single speed bikes also tend to be lighter and more agile than bikes with multiple gears, which can make them a fun option for riders who enjoy a more responsive, energetic ride.
One potential advantage of single speed bikes is their low maintenance requirements. Without a derailleur or multiple gears to maintain, you’ll have fewer components to worry about, and you can focus on keeping your chain clean and lubricated. Single speed bikes are also generally more durable than bikes with multiple gears, as they have fewer parts that can wear out or break.
However, it’s worth noting that not all single speed bikes are created equal. Some single speed bikes have a “flip flop” rear hub, which allows you to ride the bike either as a fixed gear (where the pedals are fixed to the rear wheel and the bike only moves forward when you pedal) or as a freewheel (similar to a traditional bike).
This can give you some versatility in terms of your riding experience, and it can be a good option for riders who want the option to switch between a fixed gear and a freewheel.
For more information on single speed bikes, watch this video below:
Are Single Speed Bikes Good for Commuting?
Single speed bikes can be a good choice for commuting if you have a relatively short and flat commute, you want a low-maintenance bike, and you’re comfortable with the physical demands of riding a single speed bike.
However, if you have a long or hilly commute, you may prefer a bike with multiple gears to make your ride more comfortable and efficient. It’s important to choose a bike that is well-suited to your commuting needs and personal preferences.
Why do People Ride Single Speed Bikes?
There are many reasons why people ride single speed bikes, and the appeal of these bikes can vary widely from person to person. Here are a few common reasons why people ride single speed bikes:
1. Design Simplicity and Lightness
The weight of the bike is favorably impacted by the elimination of mechanical components like the derailleur, shifter, or chainring, particularly during fast rides. You can probably shed a few pounds by switching to a single-speed bike, and the lighter bike needs less effort to go ahead with the same gear ratio.
Furthermore, you should think about getting a single-speed bike if you live in an apartment or need to bring it inside. You can control a bike more easily the lighter it is.
A single-speed bike is typically lighter and much more dependable than a multi-speed bike, such as a road or mountain bike, due to its simplified mechanical design. The bike appears unappealing without transmission parts like a derailleur so that you may leave it outdoors, and it will remain there when you return.
A single-speed bike is also the best option for novices to start riding because of its simplicity, which means they won’t have to bother with gear shifting. In the end, youngsters may concentrate on learning to balance and pedal the bicycle.
2. Low Cost of Upkeep
Naturally, a multi-speed road or mountain bike has more mechanical parts than a single speed bike. A single-speed bike just needs one gear ratio, one chainring, and no derailleurs, but a multi-speed bike needs derailleurs, chainrings, shifters, and other mechanical elements to operate properly.
This sort of bicycle requires significantly less maintenance because it has fewer parts than a typical road or mountain bike.
Additionally, because there aren’t any intricate moving parts, you’ll probably spend less money cleaning or repairing damaged items. Additionally, you may save a lot of money at the bike shop by doing basic technical repairs yourself.
Due to the need for several mechanical parts, such as derailleurs, gears, and chainrings, to function properly, the maintenance cost for multi-speed bicycles, such as road or mountain bikes, is significantly higher than that of a single-speed bicycle. You will have no option but to get the gearing system repaired even if one component stops working.
On the other hand, a single-speed bike’s straightforward design makes it simple to control. You are not required to be concerned about breaking a derailleur without those intricate mechanical parts, as this is typically the consequence of pursuing or banging your bicycle into barriers. Ultimately, the only routine maintenance required is the cleaning and lubrication application to the chain.
3. Less Expensive
A single-speed bike often has fewer mechanical components. As a result, it often costs less than bikes with multiple speeds. As a result, the bike is frequently significantly less expensive than a typical road or mountain bike.
Imagine you just have a few hundred dollars in your wallet and need a nice bicycle. Unsurprisingly, single-speed bikes are more accessible than road or mountain bikes.
4. Higher Mechanical Performance
A riding test revealed that a properly-lubricated chain, fitted and correctly set up, would allow a single-speed bike to operate at up to 99% of the mechanical transmission efficiency. As a result, we may draw the conclusion that mechanical efficiency increases with force intensity.
On the other end, a bike with a derailleur may accomplish up to 90% under the same situation when compared to a single-speed bike’s mechanical efficiency and a multi-speed bicycle, such as a road or mountain bike.
Additionally, the lack of contact between the pulley and multiple sprockets of the rear derailleur gearbox might improve mechanical efficiency. The key issue is that a multi-speed bike has significant transmission efficiency losses.
Additionally, the single-speed bike’s rear sprocket takes up less space compared to multi-speed cassettes. As a result, the rear wheel spoke is constructed with more symmetry, which automatically increases the wheel’s strength and efficiency.
5. Excellent Option to Improve Your Fitness
A single-speed bike is the best bicycle for you if you enjoy working out on it. Why? Because a single-speed bike only has a single gearing ratio, you must develop your muscular endurance and cardiovascular system to pedal with varying degrees of strength and credence depending on the speed and kind of terrain. In other words, if you want to travel farther on a single-speed bike, you must pedal more quickly.
The multiple-speed bike, on the other hand, has multiple gear ratios, allowing the rider to pedal more easily and with fewer thrusts. Moreover, many bikers find it difficult to ride a single-speed bike up a mountain or hill with a steep slope.
Consider riding your bike with a single gear ratio up a mountain. All you need to do is exert as much force as you can with your legs rather than using the gear ratio’s mechanical energy. With a single gear ratio bike, you must use your imagination to modify your cycling technique to fit the limitations of the vehicle.
6. Great for City Riding
A single-speed bike is the best option if you want to ride your bike across urban roads, whether for recreation, to get to school or work, or for commuting. A single-speed bike is the best option for a short and medium-distance ride in the city because they come in a variety of designs, have fenders, and have luggage racks.
You can use a single-speed bicycle to bring smaller things or even provide home delivery within the city in addition to using it to get to and from work or school. It is possible to add different extras, like a luggage rack, fender, or lighting gear, to a single-speed bike.
7. Both Fixed Gear and Freewheel Options Available
The typical modern single-speed bike has a bi-mode that allows you to select between riding in fixed gear mode or freewheel mode. What does “freewheel mode” mean? A single gear ratio riding method known as “freewheel mode” enables the bicycle’s back wheel to move freely without the need for pedaling. It is attached directly to the wheel. For example, you don’t have to stress about peddling your bike while you go down the hill. In addition, using the freewheel mode when riding a long distance is beneficial.
A fixed-gear mode, on the other hand, forbids coasting. Similar to a child’s tricycle, the wheels and pedals turn in tandem in the fixed gear mode. If you cycle mostly on flat, paved roads, fixed-gear mode is the best option.
A fixed-gear option is not recommended for terrain with hills since you can have trouble coasting down the hill. Additionally, while in fixed gear mode, jumping over barriers is not permitted.
With a component known as a “flip-flop” hub fitted on the back wheel, you may quickly transition between freewheel mode and fixed gear mode. Starting in fixed-gear mode is advised while riding a single-speed bicycle. You always have the option to convert to freewheel mode when it doesn’t match your riding style.
8. Simple to Change to Multi-Speed Afterwards
A single-speed bike has the benefit of agility and higher efficiency since it is made to be readily converted into a multiple-speed cycle. You must, however, be technically knowledgeable and understand how each component interacts with the others. You may get the tools necessary to transform your single-speed bike into a multi-speed bicycle for a relatively cheap sum of money.
To do this, you’ll need the following components:
- Cog set with variable speed
- Shifter cable Shifter pod
- Assorted rear derailleurs
- Pliers and Allen keys
- Cassettes with several gears
- Frame for a single speed with a drop-out design
- A new rear wheel with a hub with multiple sprockets
Many riders enjoy the sense of community that surrounds single speed bikes. Single speed bikes are often associated with a certain subculture of cycling, and riders may be drawn to this sense of camaraderie and shared identity.
For some riders, the appeal of single speed bikes is rooted in nostalgia. These bikes are often reminiscent of classic, vintage bikes, and riders may be drawn to the sense of history and tradition associated with them.
Many riders simply find single speed bikes to be more fun to ride than bikes with multiple gears. Without the need to shift gears constantly, riders can focus more on their pedal stroke and overall cycling technique, which can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
In summary, there are many reasons why people ride single speed bikes, and the appeal of these bikes can vary widely from person to person. Whatever the reason, single speed bikes are a fun way to get around.
I always had a thing for cycling sports and love almost anything that involves bikes and boards. I work part-time as a designer in the tech industry and work on my blogs whenever I can.