single speed vs fixed gear

One of the decisions to make when choosing to purchase a bike is the choice between single speed vs fixed gear.

Single Speed Vs Fixed Gear Bike

While beginners may not be aware of the exact specifications of a ‘fixie’ bike, more advanced riders will take this difference into serious consideration before they purchase their bike.

While both bike types have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, they also have a significant difference.

A single-speed bike, like its name suggests, is a regular bike with just one gear on the crank and another singular freewheel gear on the rear wheel.

With a single-speed bike, you can coast or move around freely without having to push the pedals. You also will not be able to shift to a different gear.

A fixed gear bike, also known as a ‘fixie’ to most people, is a bike that comes with a fixed cog at the rear. When the wheels of this bike turn, the pedals turn as well, which means that you cannot coast on this bike.

Video: Fixed Gear Vs Single Speed Bikes

Single Speed Vs Fixie Bikes: What Are the Similarities Between the Two?

While most bike aficionados are concerned about the differences between these two bike styles, they often overlook the many similarities between the two.

To begin with, both single speed and fixed gear bikes are quite lightweight, mostly because they do not come with extra gears and parts that usually weigh down the bike.

Thanks to this, both of these bikes are fairly easy to maintain, and any fix-ups can be done easily in just a matter of minutes.

The more advanced hybrid bike models are usually high-priced, which makes buying a fixed gear or single speed bike a better option for those who are on a budget.

You also get your value for money in the looks department, as both of these bike types have a simple and clean appearance, making them quite aesthetically pleasing.

What Are the Advantages of Riding a Single Speed Bike?

best single speed mountain bikes


One clear advantage that comes with riding a single speed bike is the ability to cruise around and coast as and when you please.

If you are looking to ride your bike more leisurely from time to time, without putting in too much effort, a single-speed bike would be the right fit for you.

Single-speed bikes can handle themselves much better, which makes your job easier when riding down hills and slopes.

If you’re heading out on a long ride, a single-speed bike would be more comfortable, given that your legs can catch a break whenever you feel tired.

Single-speed bikes also require minimum experience for any rider. Their easy rideability makes them a convenient choice for when you want just to hop on and get riding.

These bikes come standard with brakes, so stopping the bike at any point is as easy as ever.

What Are the Advantages of Riding a Fixed Gear Bike?

For those who are only accustomed to riding a single speed bike, hopping on a fixed gear bike may feel strange at first.

The major difference that stands out would be the inability to coast with this type of bike.

But, a true bike-lover would be able to point out that this key difference is what makes the fixed-gear bike stand a class apart from the others.

On a single-speed bike, most people would be familiar with automatically pressing on the brakes as and when they need to stop.

But with a fixed gear bike, the cranks and wheels are interconnected. This means that, as and when you stop pedaling, your wheels will also stop moving.

Over time, you will realize that being able to stop your bike with just your legs is much more reliable.

Many riders, once they get accustomed to stopping their bikes this way, even opt to take off their brakes altogether. Doing so lends the bike a clean and simple appearance, but without any compromise on safety.

The primary reason many people opt for fixed gear bikes is the connection between the rider and the bike.

On a single-speed bike, you can cruise around freely. Still, the bicycle controls your direction and movement to some extent.

On the contrary, a fixed-gear bike gives you complete control over your ride.

You will feel that your actions are directly in sync with the bike, which makes cycling all the more thrilling.

Single Speed Bikes Vs Fixed Gear: What is the Deciding Factor?

Aside from these riding features, another critical aspect to keep in mind is the terrain you will be riding on.

If you live or ride in an area with many hills that you will have to descend, a single-speed bike would make it easier and safer for you to cruise down these slopes.

On the other hand, if you live in an area where you will be riding mostly on flat roads, a fixed gear bike would be a better option for you, especially if you’re looking to get out for daily rides.

Moreover, you can also consider getting brakes on your fixed gear bike and make that your ride of choice even if you live in a hilly area.

flip flop hub

Flip-Flop Hub

Image credit Andy Armstrong CC BY-SA 2.5


What is single speed fixed gear?In detail, a fixed gear, or fixie, is a single speed bike that has a transmission without a freewheel mechanism.This means that the rear wheel and pedals always turn together, and you can’t coast.Is single speed better than gears?The single speed bicycle is definitely easier to ride, and you can look around rather than shifting gears. Also, maintenance is almost absent because there are fewer moving parts than multi-speed bicycles.What is a single-speed bike suitable for?These bikes offer maximum reliability, and if you live in a flat urban area, it’s just perfect. It lasts forever and costs less money in the long run.Why aren’t single speed bikes good for going up hills?Single-speed bikes (or freewheel) are not suitable for steep slopes, they prefer a more flat and smooth path.Why don’t fixed gear bikes have brakes?​Fixed gear bicycles have no brakes because they were used only for cycling races, and track bikes cannot have brakes.

However, today more and more fixed-gear road bicycles have brakes.Can you put the brakes on a fixie?The brakes can be installed on the front and rear wheels. Besides, caliper or disc brakes can be installed. Why are fixie bikes so popular?​In recent years, fixed gear bicycles have become popular, especially among fitness enthusiasts, because they require constant pedaling.

Is a single speed bike good for fitness?With a single-speed bike to increase the speed, you have to increase pedaling. The increase in cadence causes the leg muscles to contract more quickly, so the heart and lungs also work harder to support the progress in pedaling.Does a single speed make you stronger?Yes. The most apparent factor is why you have to pedal in a harder gear than you would use with a multi-gear bike.Are single speed bikes slower?Yes, in general, a geared bike will be faster than a single-speed bike.Are fixies dangerous?If you have brakes, a fixie is no more dangerous than other bicycles. Is single speed harmful to the knees?Not like fixie bikes, which are more challenging on the joints. Single speed bikes are not harmful, but a multi-geared bike will be more will be easiest for the knees.How does a flip flop hub work?On a flip-flop rear wheel, there is a gear on both sides of the hub: one is a fixed gear, and the other is a freewheel. To switch from one another, it is necessary to turn the wheel.


Ultimately, your personal preference will help you settle the debate on single-speed and fixed-gear bikes.

If you are looking for a bike that will let you ride comfortably and enjoy your cruise in a relaxed and fuss-free manner, then a single speed bike would be more up your alley.

If you want to hone your biking skills and have enhanced control over your bike unit, then a fixed gear bike would be the right choice for you.

A lot of bikes today also come with a switchable option, the ​flip-flop hub, that lets you enjoy both types of riding.

You can settle any confusion by speaking to your bike dealer, who will help you make the most suitable choice based on your preference and experience.

At the end of the day, a quick test ride will be the most significant help in bringing you to your final decision.

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