Single speed bikes are considered solid and robust and are mostly as simple as a bikes get. No fashion trend can make a damage to a good bike and no technology can make a bike more reliable than simplicity itself. Single speed is just that.
For years and years, cycling has been done on simple machines with two wheels, two pedals, two sprockets and one chain. The more simple the machine, the more reliable it is. If looking back at the history of bicycles, gears are a very recent invention. I wouldn't want to downplay the importance of geared bikes but if we are talking about daily city commuting in relatively flat cities, like most cities in Europe apart of very few, single speed bike is the right way to go. Nothing can beat the reliability and endurance of these simple machines.
Gears are great for climbing the mountains and gaining significant speed but city commuting mainly consists of starting and stopping at traffic lights, speeding up, slowing down, manoeuvring the traffic and leaving your bike locked outdoors a lot and weather can be an issue, as we know it.
If water can cut rivers through mountains, and polish rocks smooth, it surely can make some damage to your bicycle too and oh damage sure it does. Even though you are cycling mostly in the city, your bike gets an extensive exposure to the weather. It's the water and sand making most of the damage and this is where simplicity of a single speed bike comes in play yet again. Gears are the most vulnerable part of any bicycle right after tires. Every extra lever, wire, switch and sprocket you carry and use collect all the exposure to dirt over time resulting in a lot more damage and therefore effort and upkeeping cost over time.
This allows you to have a bike that can take the worst your local environment can throw at them and they can still come back looking for more. The bikes we have chosen will allow you to get out and enjoy cycling more than you imagined was possible.
Safety is, surely, also very important. All of our single speed bikes come fitted with two working brakes. Both front and rear brake options allow you to have a short and efficient full stop without risking an accident. We see many people using only one brake on their bikes and yes, you can brake and stop with it, but we strongly suggest two working brakes are fitted on your bike at all times, you never know when you will need them and oh, you will be happy they are there when you do.
Being as simple as it is, a single speed bike is also less vulnerable to a risk of breaking down. It is down to both to two reasons.
Single speed bike by its definition is not subject to a certain geometry. The name stands for what it is, its a bike with one gear, or a bike with no gears if you like. Frame geometry can change depending on design or build purpose. Our experience along with many manufacturers show bikes designed on the base of racing bikes are the best performers and this is our most popular type of single speed bikes we stock. Shortly, it's a triangle shaped frame with a horizontal top tube but the design is adjusted to make it more comfortable for riding in the city. Short wheelbase or "tight geometry" bikes are more agile and more manoeuvrable on the road and brakes placed on the flat part of the handlebar close to the steering stem makes the seating position more upright giving a better view of the surroundings. Having a good view around is also a very important aspect of safety.
Many other single speed bikes are shaped more like standard city commuters giving a more relaxed seating position suitable for very short distance cycling or close range commuting.
Bikes with minimalistic design also seem to have better weight ratio. This surely isn't a surprise as we all know - less is more. Fewer things your bike carries, more speed you can gain. Single speed bikes are particularly good at being light bikes since they have so much less to carry with them. Sure being single speed does not make it a light bike straight away and there are other factors you should be looking at.
Frame, or rather the material of the frame is one of the most deciding factors in your bikes weight. Steel, although flexible and nice to ride, tend to be heavier. There are different kinds of steel. Hi-Tensile steel is cheap and makes a good budget bike, but 4130 Chromoly Steel can be quite light and strong at the same time. Aluminium bikes are usually lighter than steel, but again, some cheap alloy frames are so chunky the weight difference simply isn't there any more. Here at Single Speed Company, we select only bikes we think are road worthy but if you'd like to read about bike frame materials in more detail, I suggest you read our blog on Steel VS Aluminium here.
Single speed bikes, as we established, are very user-friendly and super reliable. The simplicity of these bicycles makes them extremely durable and very easy to maintain but that's not all. Most of our single speed bikes come equipped with a flip-flop hub, meaning you can switch between standard single speed bike and a fixed gear bike pretty much any time by simply flipping the rear wheel around. This gives an added functionality for those who would like to test and try the sweet joys of riding a fixed gear bike too. This functionality is mostly added to our racer type bikes and description on each product should be checked to assure this option is included.
Will the bike fit me, you may ask? When buying a single speed bike online, one of the biggest setbacks could be choosing the correct size. Here at Single Spee Co., we work hard to make this choice easy and simple. Of course, there is a universal single speed size guide available but universal size guide does not fit all bikes. Different frame geometries will translate in different sizings. Although sometimes this is not in a plain sight, the sizing can differ even on similar looking bikes. We have taken a step forward from standardised guides and have created a size guide for each individual bike in our store. Just check individual bike descriptions and you will find links to unique size guides for each individual bike from there.
We have also been blogging extensively on how to choose the right bike size and what to look out for when looking for a new bike. It could be worth looking at this link to see how to choose the right bike size.
It is no secret many people choose single speed bikes for their simple and minimalistic looks. The fact there is so little parts makes these bikes look very sleek indeed. There is not much you can take off and certainly, no minimalist wants to add any more. Over the years manufacturers have caught on with this idea designing the bikes up to high visual standards and making them ever so much better looking. With competition high and bikes trending with the general public, single speed bikes have somewhat become a staple of minimal design and are must-have items to any urban minimalists. Some of the companies like Polo and Bike and State Bicycle Co. have gone as far as to dive in collaboration with artists to create special edition bicycles indicating art and design has a growing influence on cycling market.