The last thing you want as a commuter cyclist is a bike that’s hard to maintain, heavier, and noisier on the road. Well, those are the issue you avoid when you ride a single-speed bike. So, what are single speed bikes good for?
Single-speed bikes are best for commuting, strength training, cruising, fun cycling, and sometimes off-road cycling (in the case of single-speed BMX and mountain bikes).
Single-speed bikes run on one gear, which means there is no shifting. They have fewer parts, making them lighter, quieter, and, more importantly, low on maintenance.
I’m going to answer the top frequently asked questions about single-speed bikes. I’ll even review the best single-gear bikes on the market.
But before that, let’s understand why you should get this bike and its application.
Here we go!
What’s The Point Of A Single Speed Bike?
A single-speed bike is a bicycle with one gear ratio. So, there are no shifters and no derailleur hangers. So, these bikes generally come with fewer components.
Overall, you’ve to pedal to maneuver a single-speed bike, and the experience can be much harder uphill. So, why should you even consider the cycle, given that you may have to pedal harder?
Single-speed bikes have fewer components, making them generally lighter and more comfortable riding on a flat surface. Also, the fact that they have fewer parts means they suffer fewer repairs and maintenance issues. So, they are generally cheaper to maintain.
These bikes are also quieter in operation, owing to their fewer drivetrain components. Given that you have to pedal harder uphill, single-speed bikes are best for strength training and fitness reasons.
What Are Single Speed Bikes Good For?
Generally, single-speed bicycles are best for:
- Strength Training
Let’s face it;
Riding a single-speed bike, mainly off-road, is not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of effort, which is a good thing if your goal is to exercise.
Cycling a single-speed cycle makes your legs stronger each day, especially when going uphill. Since there’s no shifting, you’ve to pedal your way uphill, which takes extra stamina.
Single-speed bikes come in various types like beach cruisers, BMX, fat bikes, MTBs, to name a few. So, there is an option that you can use to commute daily.
Yes, it won’t be easy because you may have to pedal more, but it’s doable. The secret is to ride the bike on flatter terrain, mainly paved roads.
Provided the terrain is plain, you can easily cruise with a single-speed bike. Besides, these bikes’ freewheel mechanism allows you to coast (roll freely without pedaling), which is critical when cruising.
The bike allows you to move smoothly around your flatter neighborhood.
- Off-road Stunts
Remember, most BMX bikes are single-speed, and you know that BMX bikes are unrivaled off-road.
Yes, you’ll invest so much stamina, but there is nothing easier for performing stunts and tricks off-road than a single-speed.
So, if you are daring off-road, a single-speed BMX or MTB is perfect outdoors.
- Fun Cycling
The fact that single-speed bikes are lighter means they are fun to ride on paved roads. Of course, the feeling will be different if we are talking about off-road.
Yes, you get to work much harder, but since the bike is lighter, you may not even realize that you are investing a lot of effort. That’s the fun part of it.
Single-Speed Vs. Geared Vs. Fixed-Gear
a) Single-Speed Vs. Geared
As I mentioned, a single-speed bike only has one gear. For that reason, it runs on a freewheel mechanism that allows you to roll freely without having to pedal (what we call coasting).
These bikes usually have a 46/16 or 44/16 gear ratio, which means 46 or 44 teeth on their chainring and 16 on their rear cog.
Since there is no shifting, it could be harder pedaling a single-speed bike uphill and off-road.
Unlike single-speed bikes, geared bikes come with multiple gears. They either run on a derailleur gearing or hub gearing mechanism.
You’ll find derailleur gears exposed and hub gears encased.
Since these bikes have multi-gears, they allow you to shift as you adjust your pedaling speed smoothly. That makes them an all-terrain choice.
Below is a table comparing single-speed and geared bikes.
|Number of Gears
|Lower maintenance costs due to fewer parts
|Higher maintenance costs due to more components
|Lighter due to fewer components
|Slightly heavier due to more components
|Ease of Riding
|Easy to ride only on flatter road but requires more effort uphill
|Easy to ride on all terrains due to multi-gears
|Not fast as the speed depends on your pedaling efficiency
|Gear shifting makes the bikes faster than single-speed
|It doesn’t make noise as there are only fewer drivetrain components
|The presence of more drivetrain components makes the cycling slightly noisier
|Cheaper due to fewer components
|Slightly costlier due to more components
What Should I Get?
Overall, choosing between a single-speed and a geared bike depends on your cycling preference and budget.
If you want to ride for fitness reasons or commute on flat ground and happen to be on a budget, getting a single-speed makes more sense.
However, if you want to tackle more rugged terrains and cycle faster, you should get a geared bike. You’ll pay more, nonetheless.
b) Single-Speed Vs. Fixed-Gear (Fixie)
Remember, a single-speed bike only comes with one gear ratio, and that there are no shifters. What is present is the freewheel mechanism, which a single-speed bike runs on.
A freewheel allows you to coast (freely roll without having to pedal). The mechanism enables the bike to move in one direction more freely and stop when the movement reverses.
A fixed-gear bike (or fixie) refers to a single-speed bicycle with no freewheel on its rear hub but just a fixed cog. For that reason, most people take fixies to be different bikes when they are technically single-speed cycles.
With a fixie, the core and the pedal crank turns when the wheel turns. In that case, if you stop pedaling, then a fixie bike stops rolling.
The other thing to note is that there is no coasting.
Here’s a table comparing single-speed and fixed-gear bikes.
|Present in some and absent in others
|A freewheel cog that moves freely when the rear wheel turns
|A rear hub that turns when the rear wheel turns
|Lower top-end cycling speed
|Higher top-end cycling speed
|Allow coasting (free rolling without pedaling)
|It doesn’t allow coasting
|Flatter but can also work on steep terrains (in the case of BMX and MTBs).
|Only suits flatter urban roads
|Commuting, strength training, cruising, and fun cycling
|Commuting and cruising
What Should I Get?
Again, choosing between a single-speed and a fixed-gear bike depends on your cycling preference.
If you want an urban commuter bike, fixies are ideal. They are essentially known as city bikes. But if you plan to commute or cruise outside the city, singe-speed bikes are a good choice.
Related: What Are Fixie Bikes Good For?
What’s The Best Single Speed Bike?
(Best Single-Speed Cruiser Bike For Men)
Are you looking for a casual cycle to ride around the neighborhood? Nothing fits the description better than the men’s Sixthreezero Around The Block Cruiser Bike.
This cruiser bike promises you the best cruising experience around the neighborhood.
It comes in a curvy 19-inch steel frame that gives it a classic look. Additionally, the bike frame, together with its saddle and cruiser-style handlebar, allows you to pedal upright.
And when speaking of the handlebars, they are extra wide and come with foam grips to offer you exceptional hand comfort. The saddle is another exceptionally comfortable component, featuring shock-absorbing dual springs.
Sixthreezero Around The Block Men’s has powerful pedal-backward coaster brakes that are ever-reliable when it comes to an easy stop.
What’s more, its 2.125-inch large waffle-treaded tires give you a more cushioned ride, while its rear rack offers you extra storage area.
- Curvy 19-inch steel frame
- Cruiser-style handlebar
- Dual-suspension seat
- Pedal-backward coaster brakes
- Large waffle-treaded tires
- Rear rack
(Best Single-Speed Cruiser Bike For Women)
The Sixthreezero Around The Block Women’s Cruiser Bike promises a similar experience as its male counterpart above.
Overall, this bike is an excellent choice for casual riding around the block. Women can use it for cruising the neighborhood.
It comes in a curvy 17-inch steel frame that makes its riding more comfortable. The bike frame and its cruiser-style handlebar allow you to cycle upright while its pedal-backward coaster brakes promise easy stopping.
Its cruiser handlebar is extra-wide and features foam grips that protect your hands from blisters.
On the other hand, its 2.125-inch large waffle-treaded tires move seamlessly on paved roads, while its dual-spring saddle promises bump absorption.
So, the cruiser bike is a decent choice on bumped roads, but its best terrains are flatter surfaces. It comes with a rear rack that offers you extra storage.
- 17-inch steel frame
- Wide cruiser-style handlebar
- Pedal-backward coaster brakes
- Large waffle-treaded tires
- Rear rack
- Dual-spring seat
(Best Single-Speed BMX Cruiser Bike)
When it comes to the most satisfactory off-road cycling experience, nothing beats the BMX. And when it comes to the best single-speed BMX, leading the line is the Schwinn Sting Pro And Predator Cruiser BMX Bike.
This BMX cruiser bike is best for kids aged eight years and above and adults.
It comes in a retro design that promises to stay timeless and is available in multi-colors.
Schwinn Sting Pro And Predator Cruiser BMX is best for cruising around the neighborhood, but it’s also great for performing stunts and tricks off-road.
It features a high-tensile steel frame to take on heavy impact, and the frame enjoys a high-shine finish with authentic decals to stand out.
Everything about its construction shows a bike that is ready for dirt-racing.
It comes ready-assembled and with powerful dual caliper brakes and rattrap pedals. Moreover, it enjoys gum wall tires and aluminum alloy rims that give it natural ruggedness.
- Retro-style hi-ten steel frame
- Gum wall tires
- Dual caliper brakes
- Rattrap pedals
Related: What’s A Cruiser Bike Good For?
1. Is A Single Speed Bike Good For Fitness?
Single-speed bikes are harder to pedal uphill and on rugged grounds. That’s a positive thing for someone who plans to get fit from cycling.
The more you push yourself to maneuver a single-speed off-road, the more weight you lose and the stronger you become. So, yes, a single-speed bike is suitable for fitness training.
2. Are Single Speed Bikes Good For Beginners?
Single-speed bikes come in a simple design, featuring fewer parts that make them lighter and easier to ride by beginners on paved roads.
They are also less prone to repairs, thus cheaper to maintain by beginners. The only issue is that you’ll have a hard time cycling uphill.
3. Are Single Speed Bikes More Efficient?
Single-speed bikes come in simple designs and have fewer parts. That makes them easy to ride on flat roads and less costly to maintain.
Since there is no shifting, you focus more on the pedaling and not on the gear shifting. That makes them fun to ride on plain surfaces.
Yes, they can be less efficient off-road. But as far as the urban roads are concerned, single-speed bikes are very efficient.
4. Is It Hard To Ride Single Speed Bikes?
It depends on where you are riding the bike. If you are riding on plain surfaces, primarily paved roads, single-speed bikes are easier to ride.
They can, however, be hard to ride when you cycle uphill, especially on rugged terrains. That’s because there is no gear shifting. So, you have to pedal hard to maneuver the bike.
5. Is Single Speed Better Than Geared?
Choosing between single-speed and geared bikes primarily depends on the terrain. Single-speed bikes are best for flatter surfaces, more so urban roads.
Geared bikes, in contrast, are best for off-road, where shifting is necessary. Single-speed bikes are also lighter, thus great for commuting.
6. Are Single Speed Bikes Good For Commuting?
Single-speed bikes come with just one gear, which means there is no shifting. That translates to a smooth cycling experience, more so on a flatter road.
So, yes, single-speed bikes are suitable for commuting, especially on urban roads, where you don’t have to tackle rugged surfaces.
Construction-wise, single-speed bikes come with the best features to encourage a more comfortable commuting experience.
They feature wider, well-cushioned saddles, ergonomic handlebars, and an upright-riding frame to encourage a more comfortable ride.
And when it comes to material quality, you can count on their solid tires and frames to last longer. That’s important for a commuter.
Besides, these bikes are cheaper to maintain due to fewer parts. As a result, they are less inconveniencing.
7. Can Single Speed Bikes Go Uphill?
Though single-speed bikes are best for plain surfaces, nothing stops you from cycling uphill. You’ll put more effort, which is no secret, but it’s possible to go uphill with a single-speed bike.
Note that this aspect of single-speed bikes makes them an excellent choice for strength training. You can cycle uphill to make your legs stronger and boost your endurance.
8. How Fast Can You Go On A Single Speed Bike?
Single-speed bikes travel at varying speeds depending on bike type, terrain, and how fast you pedal. You can go as also as 20 revolutions per minute (RPM) or as quick as 130RPM.
So, expect anything between 20 and 130 RPM. You’ll go much faster on paved roads than rugged surfaces.
9. Does Riding A Single Speed Bike Make You Stronger?
A single-speed bike forces you to pedal hard uphill and on any surface. You also put extra effort when cycling fast on paved roads.
In the end, that makes your legs stronger as you build more endurance. Overall, single-speed bikes are a decent option for strength training.
10. Are Single-Speed Bikes Good For Long Distance?
If you are riding on a flatter and straighter road, single-speed bikes are a decent choice for long-distance. The only downside is that they are not the best for steeper gradients as there is no shifting.
So, what are single speed bikes good for? Overall, single-speed bikes are best for commuting and cruising around the neighborhood. But still, they are a decent choice for strength training, fun cycling, and off-road stunts.
If that’s all you’ve ever wanted from your bike, it’s time you invest in a single-speed bicycle! You can consider any of the single-gear bikes that I’ve reviewed as they are the best.