Is there any hobby or passion more elaborate and niche than that of the bicyclist?
Whether you want to attribute hipsters or health nuts to the rise in chain-and-pedal cyclists on the street, you have to admit that they are there and they are loud about what they love. The world of cycling is fascinating due to its cosmetic and health-oriented applications.
Some cycle in order to get cardio exercise while others bike because it relaxes them. Looking deeper into the world of cycling will reveal to us that there are many different bikes and kinds of people who ride them.
One of the most common debates among these cyclists, when choosing a bike, involves the usage of single speed bikes vs. multi-speed bicycles. Sure there are reasons to look for the multi-speed bicycles but they are clearly not for everybody.
On this page, we will cover the different between bike gearing and cover the details of each. Since the topic of the article is about the best single speed bikes, ‘fixies’ or fixed gear bicycles for the price, I cover that in a little more detail. Then you will confidently know if a fixie is the right bicycle to add to your garage!
Different Types of Bikes.
Bicycles are a lot like cats to the random passerby: we know that they are bikes, we just can’t tell the real differences between all of them.
If you decide to talk to any serious biking enthusiast you will quickly learn that there are a ton of different bike variations out there on the road. You have single speed bicycles, fixed gear bikes, and even multi-speed bikes. Each one of these bike styles offers the rider a different experience and making sure that you grab the right bike is of the utmost importance.
There will be times where you definitely want to be riding a fixed gear bike or a fixie, and then there will be situations where a multi-speed bicycle is the way to go. Let’s dig into the minor and major differences between them all.
The Single Speed Bike
The single speed bicycle is most commonly seen being used by people who need to get somewhere with a quickness but do not anticipate large changes in their terrain.
The defining difference between a single speed bike, versus a multi-speed bike, is the fact that it only possess one single gear on its drivetrain.
Well, for starters they are much easier to repair and maintain over a long period of time!
Single speed bicycles are made without derailleur gears or multi-speed hub gearing and lack any sort of gear ratio control cabling or controls. Quite simply, there is less to work on because there is less there to break or need replacement. That is what makes it easier and less expensive to maintain than a multi-speed bike. They are also generally more lightweight than multi-speed bikes as there is less mechanical metal to weigh the bike down.
A single speed bicycle is also much more efficient in its usage. The straight chain line and lack of drag from additional gearing helps to improve overall pedaling efficiency. You’ll be able to pedal smoother, long, and faster over the span of your entire ride. Individual components, due to the lack thereof, tend to be of higher quality and efficiency.
A single speed bicycle is meant to take all of these extra features out of the way in order to allow the rider to enjoy a simple, enjoyable, and efficient ride. You wouldn’t think that shifting gears would be taxing, but you would be amazed at how much it distracts you from just enjoying the ride. You will find many city commuters riding short trips preferring to use this sort of bicycle for their daily rounds.
You can’t account for hills or rapidly changing terrain by changing gears. Longer riding at a slower or faster rate than the optimal speed of the gearing on long commutes can be strenuous.
The Multi-Speed Bike
Multiple speed bicycles are different due to their abilities to switch gears in order to compensate for different terrains and environments.
This style of bike is completed with a spring loaded arm and a multi-geared system. The derailleurs help move the chains to different heights and settings to allow for adjustments to be made while on the fly.
Multi-speed bicycles are super common for those that want to go trail riding, riding in hilly terrain or those looking to commute great distances. The multiple gears allow for the rider to have an easier time peddling by being more mechanically efficient while getting the rider to their destination at a greater rate of speed. With proper maintenance involved, you will get close to the same life expectancy out of this sort of bike.
Though these multi-geared bicycles are more versatile they are also more expensive and prone to problems. The additional gears, cabling, gear shifts and other components mean more wear and tear on the bike and chain. All of the extra hardware required adds to the bike’s overall weight.
This means that you need to be capable of taking care of your bike while implementing proper preventative maintenance and adjustments.
The Fixed Gear Bike
The fixed gear bicycle, or ‘fixie’, belongs to the class of single speed bikes listed above but is still different enough to get its own listing.
Fixed gear bicycles have a drive train, which is a system to push power through the bike, but lack the freewheel mechanism that is common in other bicycle types.
This freewheel mechanism prevents ‘fixie riders’ from coasting without the pedals turning. In order to move forward, the fixed gear cyclist needs to pedal constantly. Think of a kids tricycle going down a hill and how the pedals need to turn.
Fixed gear bicycles typically only have one brake, the front brake, while some have no brakes at all.
You can find fixie bikes being used by urban cyclists and competitive racers. The low resistance and high work effort involved make them the perfect training bicycle for off-season racers.
The film “Premium Rush”, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, features a fixie bike as the primary vehicle of the main character. In the film, we see how the top end speeds and lack of brakes both hurt and help him while riding around the city.
Single Speed and Fixed Gear Option.
Can’t make up your mind? You may want to consider a bike that comes with a flip-flop hub. It has a gear on each side of the hub. One is fixed while the other is single speed.
Decide what type of rider you are.
Now that you have a little bit of knowledge about the different styles of bikes available you can start to decide what sort of bike will be perfect for you. Many factors come into play when it comes time to purchase a bicycle.
Are you in an urban environment? Do you have to deal with cracked sidewalks, bumpy roads, and undulating hills? Look next to what sort of riding you plan to be doing. Are you using the bicycle primarily for a short commute or do you want to use it as a device for exercise and exploration? Each individual answer will help push you toward the type of bicycle you should purchase.
Why should you get a single speed bicycle?
We’ve looked at the positives and negatives involved with the majority of different bicycles by this point and we highly recommend that our readers try out a single speed bicycle if you have never considered it.
Why the suggestion? Well, single speed bicycles are a revelatory experience for amateur enthusiasts who need a vehicle to commute and ride around town with. Single speed bikes are low cost, low maintenance, and easy to ride in calm environments. For long expanses of relatively level terrain, you will find no ride smoother than some of the quality single speeds that are available.
With so many different single speed options on the market, how can you pick which one to grab? In order to help facilitate the answer to that question we decided to do a little research. Listed below are some of the best single speed bikes on the marketplace.
This premium bike was hand-built by the talented people at Critical Cycles.
The bike comes in a variety of different colors with a whole load of fancy options packed into it. This bike features a high, comfortable seat, and state of the art components. Brand name components include Neco, Wanda Tires, KMC, and Pro-Max Brakes.
This bike also includes a flip-flop hub which allows you to switch from fixed gear to single speed so you can cruise as you wish. The tires on this bike, by Wanda, have been built specially for urban environments so don’t be afraid to ride through a few bumps. This is one of the best bikes available for the price.
When it is time to hit the road it is time to go. The Takara Kabuto single speed road bike comes with flashy yellow tires and a curved, comfortable, handlebar grip.
The bike only weighs 30 pounds which mean that you can haul it easily up stairs while being able to weather a bit of wind and environment.
The frame is built of steel while the rims are composed of an alloy. Brand name components by Kenda and Joytech show you that this bike means business. This ride is perfect for riders 5′ 8″ to 6′ tall with an additional standing clearance of 31 inches.
Vilano has been a powerhouse in the bicycle market for years so their entry-level single speed bike is not to be ignored.
This 700c model comes with a forged alloy crankset and a pair of sturdy pedals. The tires are thick and sturdy and made to handle just about any rough environment.
The built-in flip-flop hub allows for switching between a fixie and single speed style while the tig-welded frame feels perfectly balanced. Strong brakes and platform pedals make for an easy and safe ride. This bicycle comes with all of the features you’d hope for in a simple, sturdy, and long-lasting single speed bicycle.
Hit the road with your Giordano Rapido single speed bike and enjoy some pure riding.
This bike is made with a lightweight aluminum frame while utilizing an equally light wheelset. There is the signature flip-flop hub installed to allow for quick changes.
While some of the components are cheaper than the above models the overall price of the bike is down as well. This is a great option for cyclists on a budget. The bike has enough quality for a foundation with room to grow.