More ubiquitous than a Kardashian and racier than an episode of Bridgerton, single speed bikes are fast becoming the most popular urban bikes on the market. But what are they and why are we all falling for the single speed?
Here's 5 things you need to know
1. WTF? No gears?
Uncomplicated, elegant and hassle-free. Words you’d never use to describe my mother, but spot on when it comes to single speed bikes. They only have one gear ratio and magically it always seems to be the one you want.
Typically set at 46/18 (46 links in the chain and 18 teeth in the rear cog) the gear ratio is designed for both quick acceleration and fast cruising speeds. The fact that you don’t need to clunk up and down through gears makes it ideal for both commuting and care free adventures.
These bikes practically ride themselves giving you more headspace to take in the view, or to think up that killer comeback to your passive aggressive colleague once you get into work. Take that Karen.
The simple design of single speed bikes means there’s less to go wrong. Frames are mostly built of steel which is renowned for strength, comfort and durability. A steel frame can easily be beaten back into shape if you prang it, unlike carbon fibre.
The lack of gears means the greatest issue you’re likely to face is a loose chain or a puncture. Annual servicing is however always recommended to ensure against worn tyres, break pads and the like.
3. Difference between single speed and fixies?
Both gearless bikes, single speeds allow the back wheel to move independently of the pedals whereas with a fixie your pedals move with the rotation of your back wheel.
Most single speed bikes (including Steed BikesLINK) come with a “flip-flop” rear wheel allowing you to set up as either a single speed or a fixie. One side has a freewheel sprocket for independent pedal movement and the other has a fixed sprocket for constant pedalling.
4. Great Value
After the year we’ve all had a key factor for any bike purchase is likely to be price. The good news is that the simplicity of single speed bikes mean that they’re often great value. This means you’ll have some pennies left over to invest in a good quality helmet, lights and lock (LINK all these). Ongoing maintenance will also be lower than a bike with gears.
Single Speed Bikes Price Range:
- Bargain Basement - £200 to £300
- Mid Range - £350 to £600
- Top End - £600 +
Who doesn’t love a bargain? But whilst its tempting to plumb for the cheap mass produced sub £300 bikes, in the words of my grandad “buy cheap by twice”. Bikes at this price point will be inferior in every way, and whilst the frame should last the distance, key elements like the breaks, crankset, chain, seat, and handle bars will perish alarmingly quickly requiring you to buy them again, sometimes in a matter of months.
Once you reach the mid range price point there is often little difference between bike brands, leaving you to decide over important stuff like “which colour makes my eyes pop?”
5.Single speeds give you a great butt!
Lowering your carbon footprint, avoiding public transport, saving money and breathing in the great outdoors are all valid reasons to jump on your bike. But who doesn’t want a walnut cracking, jean popping bubble butt Niki Minaj would give you side eyes for?
Endlessly more enjoyable than weighted squats, riding single speed bikes gives your gluteus maximus a proper workout. There’s no option to drop down through the gears up a steep incline so you have no alternative but to fire up that most underused and superfluous butt muscle and smash that hill. Pass me my speedos.