The Velominati Rule # 12: While the minimum number of bikes one should own is 3, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned”.
That’s it. Nowhere is the type of bikes specified. Why? Cyclists love rules and customs, especially if they are unwritten. Perhaps this is the essence of cycling – the choice of the bike to ride is ours and ours alone.
So, it’s personal, one person’s perfect ride could be another’s abomination. Without wanting to cause controversy, there’s an argument that anyone seeking that Perfect 3 should include a Single Speed in the mix, because if you love cycling, you will love riding a single speeder. It will remind you how beautiful simple can be.
Try a single speed because…
- You just want to ride. From the simple straight lined steel frame (typically they’re steel but you’ll see aluminium & even some carbon frames that have escaped from the velodrome), uncluttered by derailleurs or aerodynamics, to the straight out of the box ride it’s fun and grounding.
- You want a better stroke. It’s hard to take yourself too seriously on a single speed, you’re never going to be the fastest – push it too hard and your legs rebound wildly to no effect – so why bother? Instead you can perfect a clean, fluid, efficient pedal stroke. Practice and perfect different cadence’s until you find your groove.
- You don’t need speed. Just glide along, untroubled without the constant urge to drive on at a furious pace which modern road bikes with their Pro-Tour pedigree seem to take over and do. Your single speed will be just as happy cruising to the shops, riding in the park with the kids as it is in the frenetic commuter peloton.
Keeping things simple is one of the best things about cycling
- You don’t like washing. After a dirty week of commuting, it’s amazing how dirty urban roads are – is all that black muck really soot and diesel particles? You can’t clean your lungs but your single speed is a quick wipe down affair with its lack of tricky to reach spots (or you can just not bother as there’s only the chain and 1 cog on the back to replace when the road muck grinds it down to nothing).
- You want to amaze. Single speed doesn’t mean slow. Want to go faster, just spin your legs quicker. It’s lightweight and track pedigree will mean that your single speed doesn’t have to be slow. Your increased pedal efficiency and cardiovascular strength means you can still put the hammer down and hit 40km leaving the pack behind.
- You have a budget. Less components, more simple engineering means a lower price tag. Sure, you can spend as much as you want but a good single speed doesn’t need to break the bank. Nor will it costs as much as a geared bike to maintain. Hell! You could probably even service it yourself!
- You want to be cool. Single speeds are synonymous with the hipster scene. They’re infinitely customisable to give your ride the personal touch.
Keeping things simple is one of the best things about cycling. Just you, your bike and the road or the trail, maybe a few ride-buddies thrown in and you’re done. Here’s some Single Speed options to help uncomplicate your life.
- Original Single Speed. Did someone say ‘customisable’? The Classy Black is a snip at £239 but the Custom Single Speed at £319 lets you go crazy with up to 9 colour options per component – creating a ride completely unique to you. It’s well known as the ‘Best Value Urban Bike’ on the market with all the key ingredients such as a flip-flop rear hub (freewheel 1 side / fixie the other).
- Quella One. You can try before you buy now that Quella are stocked at Cycle Republic – well done to the 2 Cambridge lads who started a bike manufacturer in a chicken shed. With custom build options, available with over 200 paint colours, have fun before you even ride – just don’t be tempted by the 50mm deep rim wheel options.
Specialized Langster. It’s so uncool to ride a Specialized single speed it’s cool even if it is aluminium (not steel) and has a carbon front fork (horror) but for not much over £500 you get a lot of good looking Specialized for your money.
Fuji Feather. Did you know that Japanese brand Fuji is one of the oldest bike brands out there? The Fuji Feather is a sub-£400 beauty but it’s not old even though it looks it. With its classic track design cues it’s more street than track and comes with a heavy touch of nostalgia – like the quill stem. Get out and ride it, get it dirty and it will look like a classic bike too.
Mission Bicycle Company Lumen. It’s hand built in San Francisco and probably doesn’t ship to the UK without huge shipping costs and import duty, the only review available is by the bl**dy Daily Mail but…it’s Retro-reflective 3D powder coating glows in the dark!!! Be seen be safe!
Uncomplicate your life? With so many single speeds to choose from its anything but complicated! Here’s a last few that deserve a mention.
If the Cinelli Mash Parallax is a pure track thoroughbred the Cinelli Gazzatta is a more sensible, less bullish choice. If the Italians are for racing the Charge Plug is good for everything and anything – dirt, grass, gravel even tarmac. Lastly there’s the Kona Paddy Wagon – no marketing bells & whistles – just a good solid steel workhorse.
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