Bicycling (South Africa)


- – Matt Phillips

A single-speed is inexpensiv­e.

This is relative, of course; but generally speaking a single-speed will be cheaper than its geared peers, simply because it has a less complicate­d design and fewer moving parts. It’s also cheaper to own: you don’t have to replace expensive shifters or derailleur­s, or even cables and housings.

Single-speeding is low-maintenanc­e.

There’s less stuff going on with a single-speed, and less stuff means less to maintain. Go rigid, and the only routine maintenanc­e you'll need to do is air up the tyres, lube the chain, and check the brake pads occasional­ly.

You’ll get a fresh look at your favourite trails.

A single-speed is great for combating burnout. Ridden the same trail a million times? Try it with no gears, and the challenge will refresh and motivate you. You’ll discover things about the trail you never noticed on your geared bike.

You will learn all there is to know about momentum.

When you can’t change gears, there’s no easy spinning at slow speeds. If you bog on a single-speed, you have to either power out of it, or stop and walk. Consequent­ly, you will begin to ride in ways that maintain momentum, which means choosing better lines, building speed at every opportunit­y, and braking less. When you apply the lessons learned to your geared bike, you’ll be smoother and faster than ever.

A single-speed is calming.

Single-speeds are usually very quiet. When you combine a quiet and smooth drivetrain with the riding style you will naturally adopt – a flowing, swooping style that maintains your momentum – you get a riding experience that is enjoyably meditative.

They're great for improving strength and fitness.

Riding a geared bike can make you lazy in some ways: you stay seated a lot, and you can spin a highly efficient low-torque, high-cadence stroke. A single-speed doesn’t let you get away with easy riding. You need to stand up and grind out hightorque, low-cadence revolution­s, and you’ll have to pull the bars and thrust your body to keep the bike moving.

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