Single Speed Bike Info Guide
Overview of Single Speed Bikes
Single speed bikes are known for being the simplest form of mobility cycling can offer. They only have 1 gear or one speed which is very different to the average geared bike which has between 18 and 30 speed gearing.
Single speed bikes are renowned for being lightweight because less metal goes into building up the bike. Instead of carrying a heavier multi sprocket cassette on the rear wheel, single speeds have 1 cog/sprocket at the rear. They are also free from rear derailleurs, front mechs and gear cabling which are required for geared bicycles. Not having these extra bits reduces their overall weight.
Most single speed bikes come with a flip flop rear hub. Flip flop hubs are hubs with both sides having a thread. This means you can screw on a freewheel (for coasting) and a fixed gear cog for track bike style riding.
Single Speed Bike Frame features
Single speed bikes are very clean looking and extremely stylish because there are many colourful bikes available to buy.
Single speed bike frames have horizontal dropouts at the rear. Drop outs are the bit where the rear wheel axle slots into the frame. Horizontal dropouts have a purpose for perfecting your chain tension which is very important on a single speed bike. If you don’t have the correct chain tension the chain can come off and wedge itself somewhere. This could cause a crash or damage to your bike.
Horizontal drop outs on a single geared bike allow you to pull the wheel backwards to tension the chain.
Some bikes come with a built in chain tensioner which makes it easier to do.
Fancy built in chain tensioners | Basic chain tensioner
Single Speed Bike Geometry
Most single speed bikes have a geometry based on a traditional track bike frame. Single speed bikes come in a few different geometry types.
Urban commuter style geometry - The traditional track geometry has been relaxed somewhat. Clearances between the tyre and the frame have been made bigger to fit traditional mudguards and to reduce toe overlap. This makes the bikes more manoeuvrable for inner city riding.
Traditional track bike geometry - A few niche brands are making modern single speed bikes with very tight traditional track bike geometries. These bikes are for the purists and are mostly ridden as a fixed gear. These small tyres clearances can create massive toe overlap and are best suited to more experienced riders or the velodrome.
Compact geometry - Recently there have been more single speed bikes with a compact frame geometry. Theses bikes have sloping top tubes and shorter seat tubes. This sloping geometry is purely for manufacturers being able to accommodate more rider heights in fewer frame sizes thus reducing production costs.
Single Speed Bike Frame materials
Steel - Steel for single speed bikes frames is the most popular material due to its strength and low price. Steel has a long history in bicycle frame building and is known for its strength and comfort. Steel frames have flex so soak up bumps nicely.
Titanium - Titanium is becoming more popular as a bike frame material. It is lightweight and offers some flex so it produces a comfortable ride. Titanium doesn’t rust so expect your frame to last for decades.
Alloy - Aluminium is very lightweight and strong. It is lighter than steel framed bikes but the ride is much stiffer and can become uncomfortable.
Carbon Fibre - Carbon fibre is extremely light and strong. It is not as easy to work with as other frame materials but they have the ability to be stiffened in specific areas of the frame. This makes carbon the chosen frame material for all performance orientated bikes. Track bikes that are raced on the velodrome are all made from carbon fibre. Carbon is becoming less expensive as time goes on.