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Singlespeed Curiosity

tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
edited June 2018 in Commuting general
I've never been interested in getting a singlespeed but the idiot with the track bike accident got me curious. Would a singlespeed suit my commute?

It's 7 miles with an early section that's an easy undulating road. Then a gradual rise, a little steeper then flat for 20m before another rise. Then flat until the mid point hill. A longish downhill to a rise over a bridge over the top of a main A road. After that it's downhill or flat all the way in. It's total height gain over the whole route is about 180m. A few bits get steep but I'm never out of my big chainring.

IMHO the single gear, no derailleurs to adjust and simple rim brakes make it low maintenance, a big draw. It would only get used for commuting to/from work.

Add in cheap, steel frames and not fashionable up here. By that I mean I've only seen 2 being used. Unlikely to have much value to thieves. An MTB or hybrid can easily be sold on to a man in the pub but they're not going to buy a singlespeed considering the area is a bit hilly. I must have one of the few flat commutes in the area.

So do you think a singlespeed is a good idea? Can you recommend any singlespeeds worth buying? Cheaper the better but still want a nice ride.

What are they like to ride? I'm thinking that fixie isn't easy to ride from day one so perhaps not for me. What's your view on that? Better to have it able to freewheel?


  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    It wouldn't really matter if your commute were hilly over that distance, you could manage to power up the hills (or alter your gearing to suit).

    You should definitely get one. They are perfect low maintenance commuters - you can have the chain absolutely thick with shite and they still work fine. I use mine for winter/soaked commutes mostly, or just for a change from the gears!

    There's a few out there but can't really make a recommendation as I killed my last one (which isn't available anymore) and had to convert the geared bike they gave me in replacement
  • 964cup964cup Posts: 1,362
    Yes. I commute on fixed (but with both brakes fitted because I like both my knees and my freedom). It's somehow deeply satisfying. Hills aren't a problem, you just need to pick a gear you can stay on top of for your ride. I ended up with 48x17, but YMMV.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Get one nothing needs to be said. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    OK, but which one?

    I've heard good cheap ones are mango and 6ku IIRC. Mango looks too fashionista style for my liking. Any others to look at?

    PX do a few for £499 or £699. Genesis do two decent ones the flyer and day one IIRC but not cheap. I was hoping for something a lot cheaper.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    I get one with mechanical disc brakes, tektro spyres to minimise maintence. Tbis may mean more of a spend but in the long run it will be worth it.

    The genesis day one is what i would go for but with a brake upgrade. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    I too was curious of single speed gear (not fixie) for commuting. I like the idea of low maintenance, simple construction and the ability to cycle without having to think about gear change.

    So I tried cycling with the gear set to 42 x 14 (small chainring x smallest rear sprocket; 3.00 ratio) for a while on my commute. The ratio wasn't too bad to get going from stand still, but soon got to its top speed (around 18mph?) and I quickly got freewheel, couldn't go any faster than 23mph even on down hill. I soon realised that single speed is more for casually cruising at a decent speed and nothing more. I think I'm a "red line" type commuter so I prefer having higher ratio gear so that I can sustain faster speed (of course, responsibly).

    My conclusion was that, based on my preference and my commute route, single speed isn't what I was looking for, but I'm glad that I tried it before committing to either getting a single speed bike or converting my current bike. If, however my preference or commute condition changes (for example a city ride), then I would definitely reconsider single speed again to see it if can enhance my riding enjoyment.

    Happy cycling!
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 2,468
    I had a genesis flyer for a couple of years and really liked it - go for it.
    I didn't have it setup as a fixed wheel, just a single speed.
    Gearing wise, it had a 48t front and a 17t rear - which meant a 90 cadence was about 20mph and over 25mph before you'd spin out and have to freewheel.
  • I've been riding my bike in the same gear for a week or two now. I am on 50 chairing and third smallest cog possibly 16. I spin out easily on any downhill so couldn't have a fixed wheel. Uphill is a doddle.

    Not sure singlespeed is for me.
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 2,468
    Maybe not.
    A singlespeed is about simplicity and low maintenance. Whatever gear you pick will be a compromise but at least you have an idea of what that gear should be now.
  • That Allinston chap got me curious as well, so in a moment of boredom I looked on Gumtree and picked up a Jamis Sputnik going cheap. Now trying to sell it. 120 to you if you're interested. Just can't see the point of it, my 15 mile commute will be too long, I can walk into town in 10 minutes and other rides are just more fun on a geared bike.
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    I think there's definitely a "cool" factor to single bike.

    Simple set up, sleek, cool. Counter-culture.
    But less functional and purposeful, not suitable for all situation.

    I guess that's why "ordinary" bikes have different gears to accommodate different conditions... If I lived in a flat-ish region and wanted a bike just to cruise around then I might consider single gear bike as a second bike to swap and change from time to time.

    Very interesting thread indeed.
  • Very late seeing this thread, but this is a no-brainer to me... ... road-bike/

    £510 for singlespeed, proper hydraulic Hylex brakes, eccentric bottom bracket and can be converted to gears with a different hanger.
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    Thread revival!

    I shared my experiment above back in September about going single speed. I was on 42 chainring and 14 cog on 25c tyre. According to, that’s:

    Gear Inches: 79.37
    Gear Ratio: 3.00
    Gear Speed: 21.3mph @ 90rpm; 28.34mph @ 120rpm

    My usual commute is 14.6miles. Strava (fairly reliable) records show about 850-900ft elevation gain, three big peaks at 3-7% range uphill and subsequent downhill. With the “single gear” above, I remember struggling, but possible, going uphills and spinning out easily (wild guessing at 100rpm?) on flats and downhill. I thought nah, it’s not working. So I dismissed the idea of SS.

    Since April this year, my nearly end-of-life rear derailleur (sticky and can’t hold tension between gear changes) forced me to try single gear again as I don’t have the time and money to look for a reliable replacement (it's a 80s bike with friction shifting, NoS parts are so expensive!). So, I went back to “single gear” with derailleur still attached. This time, I chose 52 chainring and 19 cog (the middle cog on my 5 speed freewheel), same 25c tyre:

    Gear Inches: 72.49
    Gear Ratio: 2.74
    Gear Speed: 19.41mph @ 90rpm; 25.88mph @ 120rpm

    Well, I’m completely sold on this set up! I’ve been on this set up for the last 300miles (about a month) and the same commute route is totally manageable, standing up. In fact, I've smashed many Strava segment PRs on the first week of SS!! It definitely changed my riding style from “time-trialist” commute racer to “puncher” simpleton. I now anticipate what's ahead further. I learned to go powerful uphill, stand up, use my upper body to pull on the bars, and keep low rpm to maintain the speed. I spin fast and let the gravity work on the downhill (tucking and resting), and I spin fairly high to keep 18-20mph pace on flats (roughly 90-100rpm?). I’ve had longer rides with steeper and longer hills other than the commute but I can manage with this gear ratio.

    It’s so fun! The biggest change that allowed me to adapt my cycling this way was the removal of changing gears and the associated mental distractions (i.e. “should I stay a bit more on this gear or change now?” “Is it shifting?” “Am I on the right gear?” “argh it’s grinding on the mech / gear”, "is the chain going to drop?" etc). All of that is gone and I can just focus 100% on my effort and the path ahead. This is very, very refreshing.

    I haven’t yet made the next step of removing the rear derailleur, freewheel and installing the SS chain. Covering 300 miles so far is comparatively low mileage to warrant this final change. But if I keep this step up over the summer then I definitely will.

    I thought I’d share my recent revelation!

    Happy cycling!
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