Single Gear Mountain Bike? Pros and Cons of This Drivetrain


In this world of super-complex drivetrains on bikes, have you ever thought about just getting back to basics! I’ve tried out both single gear and multiple gear mountain bike options over several years. What are the pros and cons of single gear mountain bikes?

Single-gear bicycles offer more benefits than just cost savings. They help you develop road control, increase resistance, and strengthen your muscles. On the flip side, they can make climbing harder, reduce your overall speed, and may result in more bike repairs.

In this article, I’m going to look through all the pros and cons of riding a single gear mountain bike. This will give you a full overview of everything you need to know and help you decide if a single gear mountain bike is right for you.

Single gear mountain bikes - pros and cons

What Is A Single Gear Mountain Bike?

A mountain bike with a single gear ratio is known as a single gear mountain bike.

These bicycles don’t have derailleur gears, hub gearing, or any other means of changing the gear ratio.

A single-gear mountain bike is typically less expensive, lighter, and easier to maintain than a multi-geared ride. Few parts on the bicycle require maintenance without derailleurs or other gearing systems, making this style of bike suitable for city commuting in all weather conditions.

Pros of Single Gear Mountain Bikes

Here are a few advantages of single gear mountain bikes that may persuade you to buy one.

Single Gear Mountain Bikes Cost Less

Why not start with the most obvious one?

Single gear mountain bikes are cheaper and more affordable, therefore, being more accessible as well. 

Of course, if you really want to go all out, you can construct a $10,000 custom carbon fiber single gear mountain bike, but one of the best things about these bikes is that they’re more affordable as compared to their geared counterparts.

Because single gear mountain bikes are more straightforward and have fewer parts, they are relatively inexpensive to purchase new.

Single gear mountain bikes with excellent frames and solid suspension forks can be bought for cheaper than a geared bike with the same components.

Less Upkeep Is Required

With a single gear mountain bike, there’s less to maintain, and fewer parts mean less money that gets spent.

When you go rigid, the only maintenance you’ll need to do is air up the tires and lube the chain.

Single-speed bikes are obviously easier to maintain because there are fewer components to clean, lubricate, or replace.

Furthermore, the components on single-geared bikes are far less expensive than those on multi-speed cycles. Replacing the rear wheel gear, for example, would be a fraction of the expense of replacing a damaged cassette.

You’ll also use fewer supplies and spend less time on each maintenance task. You’ll almost certainly use a lot more grease to lubricate the derailleur and cassette than you would in a single gear.

When it comes to owning a single-speed bike, there isn’t much to consider.

Of course, you must keep an eye on your tires, check your brakes on a regular basis, and ensure that the chain is not loose, and that’s all there is to it. (Source)

Boost Your Fitness and Strength

I don’t enjoy working out, but I do enjoy cycling.

We all know that riding a bike is good for your health, but riding a geared bike might make you lazy in some ways: you can sit a lot and spin a low-torque, high-cadence stroke.

Do you consider your legs to be strong? You can’t legitimately claim to have steel thighs until you can easily pedal to the top of your area’s highest, steepest climb on a single-speed bike.

Single-speed climbs bring a new level of difficulty to your local climbs.

The steeper it becomes, the more difficult it becomes, and your alternatives are to mash the pedals as hard as you can or give up, get off, and push.

You can’t get away with easy riding on a single gear mountain bike. To keep the bike going, you’ll need to stand up and pound out high-torque; you’ll need to pull the bars hard and propel your body. This has different health benefits than riding a geared bike.

When you force yourself to push hard up the hills over time, you will become a stronger rider, making hill climbs simpler on your standard geared bike.

Single gear mountain bikes
Single gear mountain bikes are perfect for simplicity and minimalism

More Efficient Mountain Biking

If you slow down, you’ll have to work hard to get back up to speed. You learn to preserve your momentum as much as possible when acceleration needs more work.

Mountain bikes with single gears push you to go faster through curves and over obstacles. As a result, your riding will become smooth and more efficient.

Mountain bikes with single gears are also useful for avoiding burnout.

Have you ridden the same trails a million times?

Try those trails on a single gear mountain bike for a refreshing and motivating challenge. And I bet you’ll learn stuff about those trails that you wouldn’t have observed on a geared bike.

Furthermore, because single gear mountain bikes are more difficult to ride, the brief rides you can cram in on them become more enjoyable.

They Weigh Less

Because a single-speed bike lacks a cassette, derailleurs, cables, or shifters, it will be lighter than a bike with gears. A lighter bike may appear pointless if you’re going to spin out anyway, yet it will accelerate out of corners faster.

The weight of a standard single-speed bike is around 20 pounds. Single-speed bikes are lighter than other bikes because they have fewer components.

Single-speed bikes are also easier to repair due to their simplicity. These bikes can weigh as little as 14 pounds, depending on the size of the frame and its material.

They Are Versatile

In terms of speed variation, single-speed bikes are unquestionably less adaptable than multi-geared cycles. On the other hand, the former allows you to perform things that would be difficult to achieve on a multi-geared bike.

Single-speed bikes, for example, have a single gear transmission system that makes them ideal for training. You can use one of them to travel great distances or move uphill if you want to gain additional leg power.

Furthermore, single-speed bikes feature a freewheel mechanism that allows you to coast or cruise.

As a result, if you have sufficient speed, the bike will continue to move even if you stop pedaling. When moving downhill, this function comes in handy because you can use gravity to speed without having to use your feet.

Single-speed bikes are also ideal for tricking and spinning.

Due to the lack of a brake system, the front wheel can be rotated in a 360-degree range. These bikes also have more mobility, allowing you to do faster and more precise motions.

Another Way to Brake

The ability to brake with the pedals is one of the key advantages of a fixed gear bike.

So, if your legs are strong enough, you won’t need a brake system. This also means you won’t have to spend extra money on brake repairs in the future.

On the other hand, braking using the pedals may cause the gears and chain to wear out.

If you plan on riding your single-speed bike in the city, it’s also a good idea to add a second brake system. If a vehicle or person gets in your path, you’ll need more braking power to come to a complete stop.

Minimalism 

And probably the most important advantage is that a single-speed bike is straightforward.

You don’t have to worry about pedaling and braking because there are no gears to index or cable tension to adjust. If you want to accelerate, increase your pedaling speed.

It’s also less expensive because of its simplicity.

The bike requires fewer parts to set up at first, and once riding, it is incredibly reliable.

Riding a single-speed bike, especially in the winter, means no gears to clean, no derailleurs to break, and significantly less expensive parts to be ground away by grit.

Minimalism is one of the main reasons why this youtube finds single-speed mountain bikes to be fantastic fun in this video:

Bragging Rights

Okay, this can be done on any bike, but there’s nothing like beating your friends to the top of the climb without using any extra gears. If you’re the sort to brag about your physique, this is your chance to shine.

Bragging about your fitness might give your friends and even you the extra push you need to get healthier as it creates a competitive spirit. 

Cons of Single Gear Mountain Bikes

It goes without saying that we should let you guys be aware of the cons of the single gear mountain bike. 

Aching Muscles

Aching muscles and the likelihood of knee injury will result from pounding the pedals uphill in too high a gear.

There’s nothing wrong with a few muscle aches, but knee pain could indicate that you’re taking on too much too soon or that you need to get your bike fitted. There has been some research done, that does suggest a link between injury and single-gear bikes. (Source)

Slower Speed

If you hit the road or smoother terrain, you may find yourself spinning out and unable to go any faster. This is single-speed bikes’ most visible flaw, and you’ll learn to be a more efficient pedaler to help you overcome it.

However, until you improve your speed, you may irritate your teammates by holding them up on the quick and smooth stretches and then smoking past them on the hills.

Climbing Hills on a Single Speed Bike Is More Difficult

A single-speed bike’s gear ratio is higher than a geared bike’s lowest gear. Climbing slopes at a single speed becomes more difficult as a result of this.

To get up the hill, you’ll need to push harder on the pedals. You’ll run out of energy at times and have to walk the bike.

When climbing steep hills, you can’t always generate enough effort to keep the pedals rotating. As a result, single-speed bikes are not recommended for riding in mountainous terrain. You’ll end up walking more and riding less.

You may use a few tactics to make climbing with a single pace a little simpler, though. As you get closer to the top of a hill, try to gain as much momentum as possible.

This momentum may be able to assist you to get halfway up the slope. Stand up and pedal while climbing the slope. This allows you to turn the cranks with just your body weight. Leaning the bike back and forth while you pedal can also help.

On A Single-speed Bike, You’ll Need To Repair the Chainring and Rear Cog More Frequently

Because they are always in use, these parts wear down faster on a single-speed bike. As there is just one of each, the chain always rolls over the same chainring and cog. Abrasion from the chain wears the teeth down over time.

Because the wear is divided across numerous gears, chainrings and cogs wear down more slowly on a geared bike.

A geared bike, for example, might have three chainrings and ten gears. Instead of 2, there are 13 sprockets in this case. It takes a long time to exhaust all 13 of them.

Conclusion

There are numerous advantages to riding a single-speed bicycle. They assist you in staying in shape, strengthening your muscles, and increasing your resistance.

When riding downhill, they’re perfect for reaching high speeds. They also let you stop pedaling when you’re fatigued, reducing the risk of a knee injury.

As you can see, you don’t need a bike with a lot of bells and whistles to have a great riding experience.

If you ride a single-speed, you’re unlikely to be faster than your friends who ride geared bikes, especially on tricky or steep trails.

If you stick with it for a few months, those same friends riding the geared bikes might make the switch to a single gear mountain bike.

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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