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What Is a Single-Speed Bike? – Answered in Detail

Writen by Gary Johnson

Fact checked by Henry Speciale

what is a single speed bike

The current biking world is more complicated than ever. With plenty of manufacturers offering innovative designs, exceptional performance, and multiple drivetrains – people easily fall into the trap of buying the latest multiple geared equipment. But those who know better and like simplicity prefer using a single-speed bike.

But, what is a single-speed bike? A single-speed bike has been around in the biking industry for quite a long time. It is a bike that comes with a gear ratio. This kind of bike requires no derailleur hangers or shifters to fully function but still delivers great performance.

There is so much to learn about the single-speed bike meaning, and to widen your understanding, continue reading this guide:

All About Single-Speed Bike

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1. Frame design

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A one-speed bike has a frame made of steel or alloy. Some would prefer an alloy frame because it is lighter than a steel frame bike. Forks are normally made of metal that provides a more rugged design than a single-speed bike. Nevertheless, there is a single-speed road bike with carbon forks, which are heavier.

2. Wheels

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The wheels of a road bike single speed typically come with a flip-flop hub. It lets you run using a fixed sprocket and a freewheel. This type of bike does not come with a bulky cassette, and it is usually built symmetrically to maximize the space close to the wheel.

3. Chain width

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Unlike the thin and narrow chains usually seen in a geared, fixies come with a wider chain. The chain is around ⅛ inches and accompanies a wide sprocket and chainring.

4. Brakes

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A single-speed commuter bike has two braking mechanisms. It has two rim brakes, which help you slow down your speed. Some also come with a disc brake but is not necessarily a requirement since you can slow down your biking just by pedaling.

5. Pedals

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This kind of bike can have flat or clipless pedals. For amateur bikers, we recommend using flat pedals. It will be easier for you to get the foot down, and there is less possibility of crashing if you get something wrong when biking.

Advantages of a Single-speed Bike

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1. Simple

A single-speed bike does not come with a shifter, derailleur, or chainring, so it is lightweight and easy to operate. The reduction of these components allows a single-speed bike to be faster too.

Since it is lightweight, it does not require riders to exert a lot of energy to pedal and propel the bike toward a destination. In addition, as it is mechanically simpler to navigate, there are no concerns when shifting up or down on constantly changing terrains.

You can just simply ride the bike then stand up and mash the pedals, as freely as you want. Going faster or slower is also easy when you use a single-speed bike.

2. Cheaper

Since it lacks other components, a single-speed bike tends to be cheaper. It is generally more affordable than a multi-geared bike with several complicated parts. Single-speed bikes are also easier and less costly to maintain.

Unlike geared bikes, single-speed bike maintenance and repair issues can be fixed by an average rider and do not require a bike repair shop visit. If you are going to see a bike mechanic, repairing a single-speed bike will only require less time and labor.

Cleaning and replacing parts are not major issues in a single-speed bike. If you are using a single-speed mountain bike, you are likely to spend less on cleaning and buying broken bike components. Mechanical repairs can be done DIY with a single-speed gear bike.

3. Mechanical efficiency

Based on a riding test with a single-speed commuter bike, this type of bicycle can conveniently achieve up to 99% of mechanical transmission efficiency. If you couple it with a well-lubricated chain, you can maximize the performance and speed of your single-speed bike.

With the lack of friction from the rear derailleur gearbox’s pulley and multiple sprockets, this type of bike can deliver optimum speed and mechanical efficiency. A multi-speed bike, unlike a single-speed one, reduces the speed of the transmission system.

4. Excellent for health

If you want to improve your cardio through biking, using a single-speed bike can help. Since it only has a one-gearing ratio, there is a higher chance that you can build up your muscle and cardiovascular endurance.

When you pedal at different degrees based on the terrains, you exert more effort on your leg muscle. You also have the option to go faster or slower depending on how you want to navigate your equipment. With multi-speed bikes, there are fewer strokes and easier credence requiring less participation of different muscle groups.

5. Freewheel and fixed-gear mode

Single-speed bikes available today offer bi-mode capability. You can enjoy freewheel biking or fixed-gear cycling. When you are in a free-wheel mode, the single-speed gear ratio allows you to ride the bicycle without even pedaling.

You have the option to coast down the hill even when you put in little effort on pedaling. A freewheel method is convenient to use on a long hour and distance ride as it allows you to take some rest when riding on a bike.

On the other hand, a fixed-gear technique does not allow you to coast while cycling. The wheels and pedals turn consistently and are ideal when on flat and even terrains. This biking mode is also not suitable for hilly terrain.

Disadvantages

The only downside of a single-speed type is versatility. With this kind of bike, you are limited on what you can do when on the road. You cannot pedal efficiently because of a single gearing range. It would be harder for you to maneuver the equipment, especially when you are riding on inconsistent, rough, and challenging terrains.

The speed of a single-speed bike is also limited. It cannot run as fast as multiple geared bikes and is not ideal for biking competitions.

Conclusion

A single-speed bike may not be the default choice for professional bikers, but it is ideal for beginners. With this bike, you can build your biking endurance, exercise pedaling, and perform various bike tricks like freewheel or coasting.

So, for anyone who is considering buying a bike for the first time, it is important to know what is a single-speed bike and why a single-speed bike is great for beginners. A single-speed bike is good for improving your cycling skills.

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