It takes a special kind of person to ride single speed. Most people will look at you and your single speed bike and ask “why?”
Well, as a single-speed rider myself, and can attest to the many benefits.
To begin with, single speeds are simple. You have one gear, with no derailleurs. This greatly decreases the likelihood of something breaking. For those of us who love minimalism and simplicity, it also feeds our need to live life as simply as possible.
Those of you who commute around town typically find that you only use a couple of gears at most on your bike anyhow. Frankly, I find the hassle of shifting to be quite annoying when navigating curbs, cars and stoplights.
Single Speed cycling is all about easy, care-free riding.
Freewheel vs. Fixed Gear Bikes
Single speed bikes come in two styles. The style that most people recognize is the freewheel bike. This one allows you to “coast” where the bike freewheels along without you pedaling.
However, there has been a resurgence of interest in bikes that offer a fixed rear sprocket. This means that the bike is actually “always on”, so even when it is coasting, the pedals are moving. The first time you get on a fixed gear bike it may feel a little weird, but it doesn’t take long at all before you realize just how fun they are to actually ride.
Some bikes offer a “flip flop” rear hub that offers both fixed and freewheel. That way you can change between the options simply by removing the rear wheel and turning it over. Some people like this because it lets you try out the fixed gear option and easily switch back if it is not a good fit for your style.
Single Speed Bikes Are Stylish
Because these bikes are not cluttered with a lot of cables, they are actually quite artistic. In fact, the bike you choose should really be an expression of your style. And, because their parts are so easily interchanged, you should feel free to alter and change your bike’s style as much as you like.
Video Of Single Speed Bike Riding
Still got the nerves to do your own single-speed riding? Read on…
#5 The Takara Kabuto
But it isn’t that great of a bike. It is heavy. Ugly. Un-inspired.
I mean, if you buy this bike, promise me you will spray paint it to make it more original.
The commercial-ness of this bike does its best to squash everything the independent spirit of single-speed riding embodies.
That said, for many of you readers, this is all of the bike you can afford right now. And I’d much rather have you pedaling happily on this steed than hitchhiking everywhere like a bum.
For my review: The Takara is a heavy steel frame. And the wheels are only single-walled. So try to avoid potholes.
The nice thing is that it does come with front and rear brakes. They are a little “mushy”, but they do the trick. And, the rear wheel has a “flip flop” hub so you can either pedal and coast like you do with a standard bike, or flip the wheel around and try your hand at riding a “fixie”.
Bottom Line: Mow a few more lawns, scrap a few more beer cans, and see if you can’t step up a level.
#4 – The Vilano Single Speed Road Bike
I really like what Vilano is bringing to the bike world. They have creatively come up with an excellent way to deliver top-notch bikes to the market for only a fraction of the cost of their competition.
While Vilano does not offer as much variety in colors and styles as some of the other bikes, this single-speed sure is an eye-catcher and is guaranteed to draw a lot of compliments.
As far as the bike goes, I like their component spec. The frame is 4130 chromoly, so I have no complaints with it. 4130 is a steel that will ride well without being too heavy. Add to that the double-walled, 43 mm rims and you have the perfect commuter.
I especially like the bull horn handlebars. Those are comfortable and speedy. You’ll love them.
The entire package comes in under 25 pounds, which is going to give you the strength you need without too much weight.
All-around, this is a great way to go without spending too much money.
#3 – Critical Cycles
From here on, the quality of the bikes being reviewed really jumps up to the same playing field. The frames are all similarly designed, and your choice comes down primarily to color choice (as well as price).
I really like what Critical Cycles did in trying to bring so much spice to the single speed selection. With over 8 different color styles, you are bound to find one that catches your eye.
With the Protek cranks and Promax brakes, you are getting name-brand components that will handle the every day grind of commuting. The flip-flop hub lets you do both fixed-gear a freewheel pedaling. Your choice.
I also like the upright handlebar that makes for safe city commuting. The ergonomic bike shape comes together to make a comfortable, nimble cycling package that is ready to handle any urban jungle.
What is really unique about this design is their use of BMX handlebars.
It gives the bike a unique look and the driver a lot of control.
#2 – A Serious Fixie: The Pure Fix
Pure Fix has entered the market with an excellent offering. Now, this bike is a little more “aggressive” than the Critical Cycles in that it will lean you more forward. However, I personally enjoy the more aggressive riding position on a bike. It gives me the control and feeling of speed that I love.
A more purist design, this bike only has a the front brake — and it is quite easy to remove that front brake if you decide to go full-on fixie.
Despite being such a purist bike, you still get a flip-flop hub. So if you decide you aren’t ready to ride fixed gear, you can switch back to the freewheel.
Probably the best part of the bike is the company. Pure Fix is determined to stand behind their product and will do anything to they can to fix problems you have. It’s a level of customer service that you don’t see much of in this world, and sets this bike on a level above.
Oh, and you have over 12 design colors to choose from…
Bottom line: they should charge more for this bike than they do.
#1 Pick – Retrospec
You guys ready for this? I doubt it.
With most of the other bikes reviewed, there are little caveats here or there: “The seat is cheap.” “The brakes are cheap.” The pedals are cheap”.
And, granted, they aren’t the same quality that you would find a more expensive model, but then the bike is so cheap, that you can probably to afford top shell out $30 on a new pedal if yours every really does break.
But those are the other bikes.
With the Retrospec, you are finally getting a package where the bike really hasn’t been skimped on. Oh, sure, you might find areas that you will want to upgrade, but those will likely be personal choices. Retrospec really has done an excellent job making sure that you get excellent value on every component of this bike.
Ok, I hear you whining already “It’s $100 more”.
And that’s cool, too. Go with one of the other bikes and just spend $100 upgrading the components that you don’t like.
Front and Rear brakes. Flip-flop hub. Double-walled, deep dish wheels. There really isn’t anything to hate.
And I really like their color selection.