One of the most crucial choices you’ll need to make when choosing a bike is whether you want a bike with a single-speed or multiple gears.
To put it briefly, single-speed bikes require less maintenance than geared cycles. They also weigh approximately a pound less and are cheaper by $50 to $100 (for similar quality). However, geared bikes are faster when going down slopes, considerably simpler to ride up steep hills, and better for carrying freight or a passenger.
The best bike for your riding style will depend on a variety of things, such as the terrain you ride on, the distances you ride, and your own preferences.
Discussed below are some of their pros and cons.
Difference Between Single Speed and Gear Cycles
|Single Speed Ride||Geared Ride|
|Recommended for kids/beginners.||Recommended for advanced cyclists.|
|Simple and straight; there is no need to change gears on any terrain.||Gear change option available for all kinds of variable terrains.|
|Easier to maintain.||High maintenance due to more parts.|
|Lesser parts: less expensive to maintain and replace.||More expensive to buy and replace if needed.|
|Weighs less.||Weighs slightly more due to the added gear mechanism.|
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What Exactly Is a Single Speed Bike?
A single-speed bike has one gear ratio. This means that there is only one rear cog and one chainring. The same two sprockets are always used by the chain. A single-speed bicycle does not require shifting.
Internal hub gearing, derailleurs, or shifters are all absent. You can just cycle more quickly or slowly to alter your speed.
Single-speed versions of traditional road bikes and mountain bikes are also offered. Almost any geared bike may be changed to a single speed.
What Exactly Is a Geared Bike?
Bikes with gears can change speeds or gears. The gear ratio varies when shifting gears. You can effortlessly switch gears while riding thanks to a shifter mechanism mounted on the handlebar.
It’s simpler to pedal the bike when you shift down. The difficulty of pedaling the bike increases as you shift up.
Things to Note When Selecting Between a Single Speed and a Geared Bicycle
If you ride more than 10 miles on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to have gears. Gears are also required for tours and long journeys.
If you’re riding for exercise or weight loss, a single speed may provide a more strenuous workout. Riding a more efficient geared bike may make more sense if you ride for transit.
If you’re buying new, you’ll usually get more for your money if you go with a single gear. Consider buying used if you’re on a limited budget. If you want to buy a geared bike at a tight price, look into vintage ones.
Which Is Best: Single Speed or Geared Bicycles?
The gear cycle is the ideal option if you desire a quick ride. Choose a geared cycle if you wish to easily climb hills. Geared bicycles are also a fantastic choice for long-distance travel. But if you’re into simple, noiseless, and straight rides then you might want to go with a single-speed bicycle.
Pros of Single Speed Bikes
A single-speed bike typically weighs between 1.1 and 1.5 kg (2.2 and 3.3 pounds) less than a geared bike.
Since they have fewer parts, single-speed bikes are lighter. Parts like derailleurs, shifters, and shifter cables are not present.
» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: Weight of Bicycle by Type: Here’s How Much a Bike Weighs!
#2 Low Repair Costs
The cost of maintenance and repairs will be lower if you ride a single-speed bike.
You’ll never require a new derailleur or shifter after losing one in an accident. Single-speed bikes don’t have these components.
Additionally, replacing a single worn-out cog or chainring is far less expensive. Multiple sprockets are more expensive than one.
For anyone on a tight budget, single-speed bikes are a great choice.
Single-speed bikes are less expensive to construct since they need fewer parts. The sale price is thus cheap.
One of the priciest components of a bike is the drivetrain in particular. Single-speed bikes don’t have derailleurs, shifters, or shifter cables and housing. This saves money.
#4 Easy to Operate
A single-speed bike eliminates the need for gear shifting entirely. This eliminates the need to recall the chainring and rear cog you are using.
For novice riders, it might be simple to forget which shifter controls the front derailleur and which controls the rear, as well as which button shifts up and which shifts down.
When riding a single speed, you can concentrate all of your mental energy on pedaling and steering the bike rather than worrying about shifting.
This makes riding single-speed bikes ideal for kids and beginners. It also requires a lesser learning curve.
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#5 Low Maintenance
Single-speed bicycles require fewer parts to be maintained. These bicycles have fewer moving parts that could malfunction, wear out, or break.
Also, on single-speed bikes, chains typically last longer as a result of the chain line’s constant straightness.
Another point to note is that because there are fewer locations for dirt to collect, single-speed bikes are also quicker and easier to clean.
#6 Less Prone to Damage
A single-speed bike has fewer components that could be damaged. For instance, the frail rear derailleur is not suspended from the frame. No sophisticated integrated shifters exist.
When you transport the bike or have an accident, there is less risk of harm occurring. As a result, single-speed cycles are a little more dependable.
Cons of a Single-Speed Bike
Your efficiency while cycling greatly depends on your cadence. The ideal cadence for the majority of cyclists is between 60 and 90 rpm.
When you ride a single speed, it’s hard to keep your ideal cadence because you’re always in the same gear, especially when riding through a region with rocky terrain.
When the gear ratio is too low, you sometimes wind up pedaling too quickly, wearing you out unnecessarily.
#2 Difficult on Steep Terrains
A single-speed bike has a higher gear ratio than the lowest gear on a geared bike. A single speed makes climbing hills more difficult.
To get up the hill, you must press harder on the pedals. At times, you’ll need to walk the bike because of fatigue.
#3 Stressful on Knee Joints
Although this issue is contentious, according to some cyclists, riding a single speed is equally taxing on the knees as riding a geared bike.
Compared to a geared bike, cyclists who ride single speeds tend to press harder on the pedals, especially when accelerating from a standstill and climbing hills.
The reason is that a single-speed bike does not allow you to shift into a lower gear. Your knees become overworked as a result. In the long run, this might be harmful.
#4 Frequent Repairs Required
On a single-speed bike, components deteriorate more quickly due to their constant use. Because there is just one of each, the chain constantly passes over the same chainring and cog over and over again.
The teeth gradually become worn down by the chain’s abrasion.
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Pros of Geared Bikes
#1 More Efficient
You can always keep your cadence at the ideal level when riding a geared bike. Efficiency is increased by riding at your ideal cadence.
Without becoming tired, you can cycle farther at a faster average speed. The ideal cadence for the majority of riders will be between 60 and 90 rpm.
For top cyclists, it will range from 90 to 120 rpm. You change gears to keep your cadence at an ideal level.
#2 Smooth Ride Even on Slanty Terrains
A granny gear is found on most geared bikes. This extremely low gear is there to make climbing steep hills simple.
You’ll simply and swiftly spin the pedals while riding in the granny gear, and the bike will move at a walking pace.
Even though you’ll advance slowly, you’ll still reach your destination with little to no sweat (quite literally).
#3 Offers Greater Versatility
Modern geared bikes have around 500% more gear range and up to 30 speeds (310 gearings). The bike is significantly more adaptable thanks to this gearing.
For every slope and type of terrain, you might ride on, there is the ideal gear. This allows you to ride in a wider range of situations.
A geared bike can be used for a variety of riding styles due to its wide gear range. For instance, you may tour or bikepack while outfitting your bike with panniers for backpacking it.
#4 Easy To Ride Even For Those With Poor Physique
Those people who are not at their peak of health can still ride a bike thanks to the low gears in a geared cycle. Simply lower your gear and quickly and effortlessly spin your legs. You will rarely need to exert heavy effort.
#5 Longer Parts Life
When you ride a geared bike, you won’t need to change the chainrings and rear gears as frequently. The wear on these parts is dispersed among several gears.
You can use any one of 8–12 rear cogs rather than constantly using one. As a result, they all last longer.
A single-speed bicycle always uses the same chainring and cog. Consequently, they degrade much more quickly.
Pro-Tip: Maintaining cleanliness and proper lubrication of your drivetrain’s parts will also help them last longer.
Cons of Geared Bikes
#1 Require More Maintenance
Geared bikes have extra parts that need upkeep. In addition, there are more moving parts. Derailleurs, shifters, and shifter cables are a few examples. There are numerous rear cogs and chainrings as well.
You’ll need to regularly tune the derailleurs to maintain your geared bike shifting smoothly. If you don’t, the shifting and riding of your bike will become erratic.
Chains tend to wear out more quickly on gear-driven bicycles as well. The chain runs at an angle while you are riding in your extremely low and extremely high gears, which is the main cause.
On a geared bike, you might need to repair your chain 500–1000 miles earlier than you would on a single speed.
A geared bike requires more time to clean and lubricate since there are more locations for dirt to collect. For instance, you’ll need to clean every cog and chainring.
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Geared bikes weigh more than single-speed bikes because they have additional parts. Weight is increased by the derailleurs, shifters, cables, housings, additional chainrings, and rear cogs.
Single-speed bikes don’t have these components, hence weigh less.
Note: When comparing high-end bikes, the weight difference will be less noticeable because high-end components are lighter for example carbon and aluminum.
Derailleurs and shifters, for example, are additional parts needed for geared bicycles. Some of the most expensive pieces of the bicycle are precisely constructed drivetrain components.
In addition, geared bikes feature extra chainrings and cogs. The extra components raise the bike’s price to a certain degree as well. Geared bikes are therefore more expensive than single-speed bikes.
It’s also crucial to keep in mind that riding a geared bike will cost you a little more money in maintenance and repairs.
You will have to take the bike to a bike shop and pay for derailleur adjustments if you are unable to repair it yourself.
Compared to single-speed bikes, gear bikes have more moving parts. Both the derailleurs and shifters contain delicate and precisely built mechanical parts.
Nowadays, even more, intricate shifting systems exist. They come equipped with wiring, batteries, and sophisticated electronic parts.
This increases the possibility that they will malfunction, wear out, or become clogged with dirt and debris.
These components eventually require extensive cleaning, upkeep, or replacement.
Note: A single-speed bike’s chainring and gear typically last for a very long period. This is due to the fact the chain always remains straight.
#5 Hard To Get Used To
You need to know how to pick the right gear for the riding conditions in order to ride a geared bike swiftly and effectively. Regular shifts are also required.
To shift in the desired direction, you must keep in mind which shifter button to press. Additionally, keep in mind which shifter controls the front and which controls the rear derailleurs.
To avoid over-shifting, gear grinding, or missing a shift, you must apply the right amount of pressure to the shifters.
All of this calls for some consideration. You should concentrate more on what you’re doing.
The drivetrain of your geared bike may get noisy if you don’t maintain it properly. When moving through specific gears, the chain occasionally grinds with a sound.
A loud clunking sound can also occur when changing from one gear to the next.
Who Should Buy a Single Speed Bicycle?
For commuters, supermarket shoppers, urban bikers, bike messengers, and recreational riders, single-speed bikes are a terrific option.
They are perfect for this kind of riding since they are straightforward, require little maintenance, and are dependable.
With a single-speed bike, you can pedal hard for several kilometers without having to worry about any parts wearing out or breaking.
Who Should Buy Geared Bicycles?
Whether you’re simply commuting, running errands in the hilly countryside, or just riding for fun, gears are useful.
You can ride farther and longer on a geared bike without becoming tired. Additionally, you can shift down to ride up hills and shift up to descend on flat ground.
A geared bike might also be the ideal option for someone who has joint or knee trouble. The tension on the joints can be lessened by having the ability to downshift into a lower gear.
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Both the benefits and drawbacks of selecting single-speed or geared bicycle models have been discussed. As a result, selecting one that works for you will depend on your lifestyle as well as your preferences.