The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes

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People say—the more, the merrier.

That may be true if you’re planning a wild party, but not necessarily the case when it comes to bike gearing.

Riding the best single speed bike offers simplicity, increased enjoyment and can improve your cycling performance.

Here’s the eye-opening truth on these tempting slimmed-down machines.

The Top Five Best Single Speed Bikes

bicycle up close

What Is a Single Speed Bike?

 

Unsurprisingly, these cycles offer only one speed—that is, it only has one gear ratio.

Do you remember the first-ever bike you rode as a child? Most likely, that was a single-speed—one front and one rear chainring—with no derailleurs or hub gears.

Simply, you get on your bike, propel the pedals, and ride—there’s no shifting up and down gears while in motion.

The original chain-driven cycle invented in 1885, the Rover, was a single speed.

What Are the Benefits of a Single Speed Bike?

 

best single speed bikes infographic

I remember a few years back when I turned to cycling in an effort to boost my health.

When I proudly showed my shiny new bike to family and friends, undoubtedly, the most commonly asked question was—how many gears has it got?

For some strange reason—lay-cyclists often consider the number of gears a mark of quality.

Fifty-four gears? Damn, that’s one heck of an impressive bike!

In real terms—the amount of speed-ratios in a cycle is much an indicator of its quality as its color or the number of decals on the frame. If you don’t need them, they’re just a waste of engineering and your hard-earned dollars.

Here are my favorite reasons to consider one of the best single speed bikes.

Simple to Use

Let me tell you the truth.

I have a cycling friend with a rather nice aluminum mountain bike with 24 gears.

The problem is, she never uses them—being afraid that something disastrous will happen should she touch them—such as the chain leaving the sprocket.

This is a commonly held fear—possibly emanating from the days when you switched speed through a rather clunky and unreliable down-tube shifter. Today, the advent of more advanced hand grip selectors makes it highly unlikely.

Single-speed bikes take away this fear or feeling that you need to change speeds—because you can’t. Just get on and ride.

Easy to Maintain

Lacking derailleurs, numerous cogs, and shifters, there’s little to malfunction or maintain.

For the cycling novice, the non-technically minded, or just the lazy—they’re simple to look after. Check your tires, chain tension and brakes—and that’s all you need to worry about.

Easy on the Bank Balance

In many cycles, the drivetrain with its derailleurs, cranks, cogs, cassette and cables forms a large proportion of the overall price of the bike. Hence, comparable cycles of the same size, construction material and quality—single-speeds are invariably lighter on the wallet.

Furthermore, with less to go wrong, that means fewer payments to your bike repair shop.

Increased Enjoyment

With no gears to worry about—it’s just you and the open road. This allows you to concentrate on the beauty of the surrounding countryside—boosting happiness and improving your mental health.

bicycle gears

Ok, But What About Riding Uphill?

 

Many cyclists will shift to a lower gear at the bottom of an incline—making pedaling easier but losing momentum and scaling the rise at a reduced speed.

Using one of the best single speed bikes just means slightly altering your riding style.

On approaching a hill, you increase your speed, and hence momentum, in preparation. This allows you to scale the incline easily and more quickly, than shifting gears.

How to Choose the Best Single Speed Bike

 

Here are a few factors to consider to ensure you select the best single speed bike for your particular requirements.

Flip-Flop Hub

A flip-flop hub allows you to choose between coasting (or freewheeling) or having a fixed gear—pedals that continually turn as the wheels rotate.

The advantages of a fixed gear (also known as a fixie) are that you feel more in touch with your bike and the road—and allows for higher speeds. Typically, these forms are used in velodrome racing.

However, they take a little technique to master, and for novices will most likely involve quite a few pedal-to-shin smashes.

A flip-flop hub gives you the versatility to switch between the two riding styles—with a cog on either side of the back wheel. To change, you simply remove the back wheel, flip over, and replace.

Handlebars

With no gears for inclined ascents—you want to maximize the power you deliver to the pedals. Surprisingly, a significant factor in this is the handlebars.

Dropped or flat handlebars push your center of gravity forwards and over the crank, allowing you to deliver more energy. High riser or sweep-back bars push your weight backward, improving visibility but reducing the amount of power you can exert through the drivetrain.

Brakes

One of the most vital aspects to consider when choosing the best single speed bike is the braking system.

Those with a fixed gear allow you to brake by backpedaling. Hence, if they include a flip-flop hub, when in freewheeling mode, you require an additional stopping method.

At the very least, flip-flop hub cycles will also include a front lever brake—others will also have one at the rear. However, if it’s a pure fixed gear—chances are the coasting brake will be the only halting choice.

The Top Five Best Single Speed Bikes

 

After lengthy research, considering the opinions of cycling aficionados, and examining user feedback—I’ve found what I believe to be the best single speed bikes in the market.

1. Pure Fix Original Single Speed Fixie Bike

The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 1The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 2
Weight: 22-25 pounds (dependent on size).

Frame sizes: 43, 47, 50, 54, and 58 cm.

Wheel size: 700 x 28c.

Whether you’re looking for some leisurely rides in the country or wanting to attack the urban environment with some serious aggression—I’d suggest this is the best single speed bike.

For the extreme speed freaks and back wheel skid lovers—the fixed gear will be a welcome inclusion. However, for those users with a more relaxed cruising and coasting style —I’d say the flip-flop hub, which allows them to freewheel, will be ideal.

If you ride your machine hard—you need a bike that can stand up to that punishment. This cycle, with its Tig-welded steel frame and forks, offers impressive durability—allowing you to mount and dismount sidewalks with confidence.

The handlebars have a slight rise—I’d suggest providing an upright-enough position for gentle rides—but also giving sufficient forward balance for more intense cycling. Additionally, the heavily-knurled grips should allow for confident handling—even when perspiring or in wet conditions.

Available in numerous frame, saddle and handgrip color combinations—this bike should suit all tastes. Furthermore, coming complete with Thickslick 700 x 28c tires, it will offer a comfortable ride while also providing extensive road grip for those riders who want to really punish the streets.

Pros

  • Wide range of frame sizes to suit all heights.
  • Weighing between 22-25 pounds, it’s remarkably lightweight for a steel cycle.
  • Alloy dual-pivot front brake.
  • Includes mounts for a water bottle on the down and seat tubes.
  • Arrives 90 percent assembled.
  • Lifetime warranty on the bike frame. One-year guarantee on other components.
  • Choice of freewheel or fixed gear.
  • Sports-style saddle.

Cons

  • Slick tires may not suit those using the cycle on loose terrain.
  • This bike doesn’t have a rear caliper brake.

2. Big Shot Bikes Single Speed or Fixed Gear Track Bike

The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 3The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 4
Weight: 25 pounds.

Frame sizes: 52,56, and 60 cm.

Wheel size: 700c.

If you want the speed and personality of a track cycle—yet also require the ability to ride confidently around city streets and out of town lanes—this could be the best single speed bike.

The manufacturer indicates that it has drawn on track-style geometry for the design of this cycle’s frame. And, although made from steel, it’s still remarkably lightweight at 25 pounds.

Looks-wise, it appears as a racer. The extended bullhorn bars will provide a low and aerodynamic cycling position—while also placing more body weight over the front wheel—improving road traction. Furthermore, the semi-slick tires mounted on deep 43 mm rims give this bike a genuine velodrome-ready appearance.

All these features, coupled with the fixed-gear drivetrain, I suggest, will lead to an exhilarating and lively ride. However, if you want to be a little more sensible, the flip-flop hub allows you to switch the rear wheel around for a freewheeling riding style.

Unlike indoor-racers, this bike comes complete with front and rear caliper brakes—ensuring that you can tackle city traffic or control rapid downhill descents with ease.

Apart from that inclusion, this cycle is seriously trimmed-down—removing all unnecessary components that would otherwise add bulk and weight. Hence, I’d say this bike is ideal for those looking for a minimalist unit.

Pros

  • Each bike is built to demand and assembled in the USA.
  • Minimalist machine with all extraneous and weight-adding features omitted.
  • The appearance of a track cycle with the practicalities of a road machine.
  • Foam-padded handgrips extend the full length of the bullhorns.
  • Front and rear caliper brakes.
  • Flip-flop hub.
  • Slim, racing-inspired frame geometry.
  • Semi-slick tires.

Cons

  • Minimalist sport-style saddle may be uncomfortable for some users.
  • No water bottle mounts.

3. Firmstrong Urban Man Single Speed Beach Cruiser Bicycle

The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 5The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 6
Weight: 38 pounds.

Frame sizes: 15, 19, and 24-inch.

Wheel size: 24, 26-inch.

If speed isn’t your bag, and you’re looking for a more leisurely ride, then I put forward this could be the best single speed bike.

Whether you’re cruising around the countryside, commuting through town, or enjoying some well-deserved beach time—this cycle should have everything you need for an enjoyable and relaxing experience.

The extra-wide, sweep-back handlebars provide an upright and comfortable riding position. By switching much of your body weight from the front of the bike to the rear, this will reduce fatigue on your hands.

Should you be one of those cyclists who suffer in-saddle discomfort or feel the aches in your butt the following day—I’d say this bike will be a big bonus. It features an oversized and generously padded seat. Furthermore, this saddle is supported on double-coil springs—taking out the unwelcome bumps in your ride.

It’s worth noting that this cycle only has a rear coaster brake—there are no handbrakes. While this may not suit all riding styles, it does mean that there are no annoying cables or levers—both preventing any chance of tangling, and adding to this bike’s sleek looks.

Furthermore, lacking a flip-flop hub, you cannot switch into a freewheeling cycle.

Pros

  • Distinctive, curved cruiser-style steel frame.
  • Available in a choice of 13 colors.
  • Classic-looking white-walled tires.
  • Soft and comfortable foam-grip handles.
  • Includes front, rear and wheel reflectors.
  • The 2.125-inch wide treaded tires should promote impressive traction.
  • Pre-drilled holes to mount fenders if you wish to retrofit.
  • Includes kickstand for easy storage.
  • Full-length chain guard to prevent clothes’ snags.

Cons

  • At 38 pounds, it’s a rather heavy cycle.
  • Lack of lever brakes and flip-flop hub may make it unappealing for some users riding styles.

4. Retrospec Harper Single-Speed Urban Commuter Bike

The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 7The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 8
Weight: 25 pounds.

Frame sizes: 43, 49, 53, 57 and 60 cm.

Wheel size: 700 x 28c.

Should you be after a back-to-basics style unit for commuting and relaxed rides—but don’t want to lose out on features—I’d suggest this could be the best single speed bike.

The high-tensile steel frame offers uncompromising durability, while also providing the straight-triangular geometry of a classic cycle. If you want to emphasize the retro aspect even further—you can opt for traditional matching saddle and grips to contrast with the frame color.

However, if you demand a more modern aesthetic, you also have the choice of six bolder hues.

This bike includes a flip-flop hub, so whether you want to experience the control and road-connection that a fixed gear offers, or prefer to leisurely freewheel through the great outdoors, you have the option.

Personally, I welcome the fact that this bike includes both front and rear caliper brakes—not just the front lever, as seen on many flip-flop bikes. Hence, if you have no intention of using the fixed-gear—you’re not losing out on braking features.

The flat handlebars will promote a more sporty riding position. However, unlike many single speed cycles—they’re not extensively forward over the front wheel. Thus meaning you still have good road visibility for those in-and-out of traffic commutes.

Pros

  • A solid all-round commuting and leisure cycle.
  • Features both front and rear brakes in addition to the coaster brake.
  • Flip-flop option.
  • Includes water bottle mounts.
  • Choice of modern or retro color styling.
  • Comes complete with all the tools you need for assembly and maintenance.
  • Sport-style seat, yet includes additional padding.
  • Extensive tread on the Kenda Kwest tires.

Cons

  • Weight restriction of 220 pounds—may not suit larger cyclists or those looking to add a rack and panniers.

5. Kent 700C Men’s Thruster Fixie Bike

The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 9The 5 Best Single Speed Bikes 10
Weight: Undisclosed.

Frame sizes: 20 inches.

Wheel size:  700c.

As many manufacturers make fixed-wheel bikes for the serious cycling enthusiast—they can be restrictively tough on your wallet. Hence, as a budget model, this may be the best single speed bike if you want the features of a fixie—but without the hefty price tag.

Featuring a flip-flop hub—you can choose between fixed gear or freewheel coasting. And, when in freewheel single-speed mode, you have the facility of both front and rear alloy brakes.

Design-wise, it has a sporty appearance. Bold red-colored tires and brake levers enhance the classic black frame and forks.

The handlebars have a gentle rise, with grips angled slightly back toward the rider. Hence, providing a more upright position which could suit those on commutes, hitting the city streets, or cycling to school.

Furthermore, if you are on your way to college or work—you may appreciate the chain guard. Covering the full extent of the chain, and in a novel see-through design—it will protect clothes before that important meeting or class.

Even if you’re using this cycle every day—I’d suggest that the sturdy and durable steel frame and forks will stand up to heavy use.

Pros

  • An easy-on-the-bank-balance price, yet still packed with features.
  • Distinctive red color accents for an athletic appearance.
  • Includes a full chain guard.
  • Choice between fixed gear and single speed freewheeling.
  • Hand level brakes on both front and rear.
  • Treaded tires—suitable for both wet and dry rides.
  • Ideal as a commuter or school cycle.
  • A more upright position than many fixie cycles.

Cons

  • Sport seat is very narrow and may not suit those looking for comfort.
  • Brake pads wear easily—may be worthwhile investing in fitting better quality examples.

bicycle chain

The Best Single Speed Bike Conclusion

 

In my opinion, single-speed bikes offer a welcome alternative to the cog-laden machines that have become so common.

These impressive machines allow you to cycle without worrying about switching gears, offer an intense road-rider sensation in fixed-gear mode, and enhance riding skills by requiring you to anticipate the road inclines ahead.

The above five cycles are, for me, the best examples currently available. However, it’s the Pure Fix Original that towers above the rest.

Whether you want fixed gearing or freewheel single-speed—the flip-flop hub gives you the choice. The slightly raised handlebars enable a semi-sporty position—but not at the cost of impaired visibility.

Furthermore, it comes in a variety of sizes to ensure the perfect fit, a wide range of color options, and has a front brake for those who don’t wish to use the coaster brake.

It’s true, some of the other cycles have their own distinct appeal. For example, the speed of the bull-horned Big Shot, the upright riding position of the Firmstrong Cruiser, and the wallet-friendly price of the Kent Thruster.

However, for the ultimate in versatility and features, I believe that the Pure Fix Original is simply the best single speed bike.

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