single speed bikes - what the hell is that about?

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Why use a bike with only one gear???

I have to credit Sheldon Brown the godfather of singlespeedyness for this great explanation…

“Why - The three F’s... Fun, Fitness and fficiency".

FUN: Riding bikes with one gear is fun. It forces a different pace upon you. You will sprint and walk the climbs, and have fun trying to avoid using the brakes on the downhills (because you don’t have a high enough gear to put the speed back on). At the 2001 world champs in Wales, on the flat fireroads, everyone spun out at around 18mph, we sat up, chatted, shared food and drinks, and then when we reached the downhill singletrack, it was elbows out, jostling for position, no brakes and hell for leather death or glory racing.

You will also find that you develop a closer relationship with your bike, it feels like its part of you. Single speed gatherings are also a blast, riding with and hanging with singlespeeders is considerably more fun than tolerating geared leg shavers drinking orange juice. Single speed races are always a hoot. Basically single speeding is more involving and therefore more fun.

If mountainbiking was meant to be easy, it would be called “easy biking” and we would ride around flat smooth indoor surfaces, on comfy bikes with cushions as saddles.

FITNESS: You will simply become uber fit. At first some climbs will be impossible epics, but as you steadily tick off and make it up the previously unclimbable hills – you will feel like Lance Bloody Armstrong (but with two testicles and without the shaved legs).

Singlespeeding will give you legs a much broader range of spinning speeds: mental fast spins on the tarmac home from the trailhead, and dead slow screaming grunts on the climbs. This makes you much fitter than a geared chap who seem to always spin round at the same RPM.

A seasoned singlespeeder will also have an upper body in good shape, as much of your climbing power will come from out of the saddle monkeying, where you grunt and wrestle the bike with your arms.

(e)FFICENCY: With no silly little jockey wheels, clangy dangly derailers, evil Japanese shifters, yards of cable, and loads of extra cogs and chain – you bike will be as much as 5 pounds lighter. This means it will handle better, and be easier to push or carry (which tends to happen quite often).

Your chain runs directly from one cog to another, and the power transfer from pedal to wheel feels more efficient and direct.

But one of the most significant benefits of having a sleek striped down bike is your new maintenance schedule…. Simply point a hose at it once in a while, lube the chain, put air in tyres – job done! Say goodbye to all the fiddly nonsense. that goes with owning a geared bike.

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