With three new single speed bike builds in the Niner range this year, a lot of riders are probably asking, “why ride a single speed bike?” Indeed, we even ask ourselves what on earth is so awesome and so relevant about a bike with just one gear. Isn’t riding a single speed bike really difficult? And if you somehow manage to make it easier, don’t you end up making it skull-crushingly slow?
The answer to both of those questions is YES, most definitely!
But don’t stop reading just yet. Riding single speed bikes can be awesome. And there are some really beautiful things about Niner single speed bikes, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Single speed bikes represent the genesis of cycling culture. The first bike invented was a single speed. From then forward, whether it was a self-powered “hobby-horse” style velocipede or an original Penny Farthing, riders have been single speeding for the duration of bicycle history.
But with the advent of lightweight, efficient, and reliable gears, derailleurs and internal transmissions, single speeding has fallen out of favor. Frankly, geared bikes are so good, it’s hard to make a case for a single speed bike. However, we here at Niner are here to tell you that Single Speeding is still awesome and still relevant.
So why choose to ride a singlespeed when geared bikes are so good?
For one thing, single speeds are extremely quiet. Since there is no derailleur and no slack in the chain, there is no “chain slap.” And without the shifter cables and cable housing needed for gear shift levers to work, there’s no rattle from the handlebars and frame. A single speed bike is almost silent.
Secondly, a bike with only one gear is elegant and clean. Without a derailleur or cassette in the back and just brake hoses up front, the uncluttered, clean lines of the frame can shine through. There is an elegant simplicity and visual appeal to a well-made singlespeed.
Third, single speed bikes are lightweight. Like, really light. By removing the derailleurs, gears, shifters, and everything else, the bike can lose up to 5lbs. Riding such a light and simple bike is a revelation.
Lastly, the best thing about single speeds is that they are simultaneously grin-inducing and goofy. This contagious, undeniable fun factor makes up the majority of the single speed appeal. You can’t help but laugh and holler “wheeeeee” while bouncing your way down the trail on a single speed!
True, you will have to to work harder to maintain your speed both up and down. But there is a certain beauty in those traits. There is no hiding on a single speed. You have one gear and to make it work, you have to not only get the best out of the bike and the trail, but you have to get the best out of yourself.
We make all Niner hardtail mountain bikes and our entire line of gravel bikes single-speed compatible. The oversized, PF30 bottom bracket shell on these bikes can be fitted with our BioCentric 30 adapter, which allows the bike chain to be tensioned around just one gear, in the absence of the normal spring-loaded derailleur.
So, if you want the buttery smoothness of Reynolds 853 steel, the feathery lightness of aluminum alloy or the best of everything in our Race Day Optimized carbon fiber, Niner has you covered. The same goes for the RLT line of gravel bikes as well. Which means you can get your single speed gravel flavored as well as MTB.
Once you give it a try and go with just one gear, you might never go back!