Travelling to work doesn’t have to mean traffic jams, train delays or a full half hour stuck in a fellow tube-commuter’s armpit.
With the right city bike, you have the freedom to travel under your own steam and to your own timescale.
Single speed bikes are often touted as the urban cycle of choice. But are single speed bikes good for commuting?
And – with so many types of bikes to choose from – what should you be looking for in a commuter bike anyway?
Let’s dive right in.
What is a single speed bike?
A single speed bike is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a bike with one speed, one gear setting and no complicated gear mechanism.
You can ride along without shifting gears, which makes for an easier and more enjoyable riding experience.
When researching single speed bikes, you may also hear people talking about fixie bikes.
Like single speed bikes, fixie bikes have just one gear. But unlike single speeds, fixie bikes have a fixed pedal. So as your rear wheel rotates, your pedal does too.
Steed Bikes come with a back wheel that can be set up as either a single speed or a fixie – so the choice is totally up to you.
What makes a bike good for commuting?
It copes well with the terrain
A geared bicycle offers an easier ride over hilly terrain. But if you usually commute on reasonable flat, city or town roads then a single speed fits the bill. You can still easily tackle the odd hill to keep up the fitness levels.
It stands up to tough weather conditions
Over the course of a year, your commute is likely to involve cycling in rain, mud and maybe even snow. A bike that can cope with all conditions without requiring extensive maintenance is a must.
It goes the distance
Geared bikes are good for long distance. But they come at a price premium. So if you can cycle to work within an hour, you may not need all of the expensive bells and whistles (and gears).
It doesn’t weigh you down
Need to carry your bike up a flight of stairs? Or manoeuvre it onto public transport? The best commuter bikes are strong and sturdy, without weighing a tonne.
It balances speed and comfort
In cycling, speed usually comes at the expense of comfort. So ask yourself whether you prefer a fast commute, or a comfortable one.
Did you know that Steed Bikes have been voted best commuter bike by GQ Magazine? Read what they said about our bikes here.
Are single speed bikes good for commuting?
In a word. Yes. But what makes single speed bikes good for commuting? All of the following.
On a standard bike, mud and dirt are liable to clog the gear mechanism. There are also more parts to clean, maintain and replace.
With a single speed bike, these hassles vanish. Cleaning and maintaining your bike is easy. Checking bike tyre pressure and a little light oiling is all you’ll usually need to do.
Comfort is another thing that makes single speed bikes good for commuting.
Some bikes are built for speed. That means a streamlined saddle that gets you to work quicker but forces you to do a John Wayne impression as you walk around the office. Not ideal.
In general, single speed bikes have a larger, softer saddle than a speedy road bike. So you can enjoy a comfortable commute.
Fast acceleration and easy pedalling
Get your gear ratio right and you’ll find your single speed commuter offers fast acceleration away from traffic lights and easy pedalling when you’re up to speed.
All Steed Bikes come with a gear ratio of 44:18. We believe this is the best ratio for a single speed bike, particularly if you’re commuting in London.
Strong but light
Getting rid of that clunky gear mechanism means single speed bikes lose a ton of weight.
There’s then some wiggle room for a bike manufacturer to make the frame and remaining bike parts extra strong and durable.
Most single speeds weigh the same as regular road bikes – but (because they carry their weight in their strong structure rather than their gear system) they’re a whole lot tougher.
A beautiful ride
If you live in a fairly flat city or town with the odd steep incline here and there, then a single speed bike offers an unbeatable commute.
You aren’t distracted by complicated gear changes. Or dropped chain dramas.
Instead, you can focus on the road and enjoy your ride. So, whatever greets you at work, you always have an excellent start to the day getting there.
To sum up
Single speed bikes are good for commuting. In fact, they’re one of the best options out there. They’re comfortable, strong, easy to ride and super simple to maintain.
Want to find your single speed commuter? Then check out the Steed Bikes range – all available as either a single speed or fixie – and all with a lifetime guarantee as standard.
Great to hear this Raymondo! Thanks so much for your comments which we wholeheartedly agree with. Daily commuting should be simple, efficient and hassle free – and this is exactly what single speeds offer. Great you’re still using your single speed for your urban jaunts. Ride safe! Ian
Commuted for years on a Single Speed (though NOT a ‘fixie’, which is a machine for the young and fearless only!) and I could not recommend going single more highly. SS riding is ‘pure’ cycling, reduced to its core concepts: pedal, steer, brake. No complex decisions there. Maybe we should call it ‘Simple’ speed! There’s a practical side too. Maintaining a hard-working commuter is much easier without gears and dérailleurs to worry about. Check the chain tension, keep it lubed and away you go! I don’t commute any more, but I still use a single-speed for my urban jaunts, which keeps me young! Even ancient pedaleurs like me can look cool! Nice bikes btw. Keep up the good work.