Without a doubt, many of us started our bike riding journey with single speed geared bikes. But that used to be back in the days. Big thanks to the God of bikes; bikers can now go up and down the mountains with multiple gears bikes. But what’s the fuss about single speed bikes all about? Here’s what you’ve been missing about single speed mountain bike.
- Part 1: What Is Single Speed Mountain Bike
- Part 2: How Is The Single Speed Mountain Bike Built Like
- Part 3: Are Single Speed Bikes Good for Riding Uphill
- Part 4: Benefits of Single Speed Mountain Bike
- Part 5: How to Convert Mountain Bike to Single Speed
- Part 6: How to Stop a Single Speed MTB
- Part 7: Can You Add Gears To Single Speed Bike
Part 1: What Is Single Speed Mountain Bike
Before you can have a proper understanding of single speed mountain bikes, it’s important that you first learn the basics of this type of bike. So, what exactly is a single speed mountain bike and how does it work?
Right from its name, we can decode that single-speed mountain bike refers to a bike that moves at a fixed speed. Does that seem a little bit technical? Just hang in there, we will get more clarity.
For one, single speed mountain bike does not have multiple gears. It has a single gear. And the implication of this is that the rider will not be able to change gears. With a little observation, you will realize Singlespeed MTB is built with only one gear ratio. It is very common for these bikes not to have derailleur gears or hub gearing. In short, there is a flexible method to vary the gear ratio of a single-speed mountain bike.
Part 2: How Is The Single Speed Mountain Bike Built Like
If you are looking to identify a single speed mountain bike, you should pay more attention to the gears and wheels.
Like we said earlier, SS mountain bike has just one gear. No single speed mountain biker enjoys more than a single gear combination. Hence, you must ensure that you get it right. Take your time and build or buy a single speed mountain bike with the best gear combination.
Accordingly, single speed bikers rely on the number of teeth on the front and rear gears to identify the most suitable bikes for them. For instance, 32 by 18 description means the bike has a front chainring of 32 teeth and a rear cog of 18 teeth. Likewise, others rely on the front to rear ratio. So, the lower the ratio, the easier pedaling becomes. And the easier it is to climb mountains. Consequently, higher ratios would equal a harder mountain riding experience.
Part 3: Are Single Speed Bikes Good for Riding Uphill
Going uphill can be quite a challenge. It requires more effort than riding on a flat road. More so, mountain riding becomes even more difficult since you are limited to one gear option. However, this challenge is not without a solution. Below are some of the strategies you can apply in riding your single speed mountain bike uphill.
- Keep a Fast Pace
The best way to give yourself an edge over short and steep climbs is to maintain a fast momentum. You should never wait till you get to an obstacle before you start pedaling consistently. Sighting a challenging climb up ahead is a signal that you should accelerate. This makes it easier to climb the hills as you must have gathered momentum. Waiting till you approach the hill means you might have to get off and push your bike along the mountains.
Weight matters a whole lot in mountain biking. The whole essence of removing some components in the single speed bike is to have a lighter bike. Why then should you add to the weight by taking non-essential items with you?
- How About the Slalom Technique
To slalom means to ride in a zigzag manner. The best way to ride a single speed MTB bike uphill is not to go straight. This is bound to reduce your momentum. But by tilting to the left and right as you go uphill, you can effectively climb the mountain
In essence, you can climb any hill be it steep or short without more gears. All you have to do is stick to these guidelines and you are good to go.
Part 4: Benefits of Single Speed Mountain Bike
Build Mountain Bike To Your Taste
One of the easiest ways to have an exciting mountain biking experience is to have a single speed mountain bike. Ownership of single speed bikes is flexible. You can buy from a local store near you or decide to build your own. Likewise, you can easily replace any bad component since you built the bike according to your specification.
Become A Better Biker
Unlike geared bikes, you have to power yourself up the mountains with single speed bikes. If you do this over time, you are bound to become a finer rider with enviable skills and techniques. You won’t feel the pain that comes with forcing your bike up the hill any more.
Easier To Showcase Your Tricks
If you want to freestyle your riding skills along the mountains, you should go for the single speed bike. Free styling with a geared bike means you have to keep notice of the gears at every point in time. Otherwise, you won’t be able to have super fun with those tricks. But with single speed bike, you can take full charge of your performance.
Riding a single speed bike requires not just physical effort but also mental toughness. A lot goes into riding across the hills for a long period. Riders are bound to experience fatigue. But riding single speed bike over a longer distance helps you to develop mental toughness to cover several miles. And this mental toughness can even be channeled to other aspects of your life. So, it’s a win-win for you!
Better Focus On The Terrain
With single speed bikes, your focus is better as you move along the mountains. You don’t have to worry about the next gear or whether the current gear is better for the terrain. Single speed bikes let you focus more on the journey without any distractions.
Part 5: How to Convert Mountain Bike to Single Speed
If you’d love to convert your mountain bike and experience the thrill that comes with single speed MTB, you’ve hit a jackpot! It is quite easy to convert any mountain bike to single speed bike. All you need are these tools.
- Chain Tool: This tool helps you to correct the chain size to fit into a single speed bike.
- Chain Whip: The chain whip comes in handy when you need to remove the rear wheel cassette.
- Allen Wrenches: You will need Allen Wrenches to install the tensioner and also remove the derailleur from the rear.
If you check well, you’ll discover these are basic maintenance tools for mountain bikers. So, it should not be much of a big deal for you. Now, let’s check out the steps in converting mountain bikes to single speed.
Step 1: Remove All Non-Important Parts
The very first step in converting to a single speed bike is to remove all the non-essential components in the bike. The SS Mountain bike is known for very few features. Hence, you will need to remove or replace components like the chain, front derailleur, rear derailleur, shift cables, rear and front shifters.
Step 2: Install the Rear cog
After removing the bits that are not needed, the next stage is to fix and align the rear cog.
Just remove the rear and the cassette as well. Once you have removed the lock ring, you can fix the rear cog. Then you can put the rear wheel into the frame and tighten the lockring if the chain line is now straight.
Step 3: Install a Shorter Chain
Remember the chain you removed from your bike? Ok, good. It’s now time to shorten it so that it can fit for a single speed bike. Once you have figured out where to shorten it, you can put the rest of the chain together and tighten it with the help of a tensioner.
Part 6: How to Stop A Single Speed Mtb
At this stage, your single speed bike must have good brakes. Mountain biking is not all about powering up the hill. For sure, there are points where you have to navigate your way down the mountains. But how can you slow down or even stop your single speed bike?
As a single speed bike rider, you should never stop pedaling when you want to apply the brakes. The correct approach is to press the hand brakes – albeit in a slow manner. Further, you can back-pedal to aid the stopping power coming from the hand brakes.
Part 7: Can You Add Gears To Single Speed Bike
Before converting to single speed bike, you are probably wondering if you could add gears to the bike later on. Of course, you can get bored of using a single speed bike after a long time. But you can equally add more gears to the bike. However, you might need to get a new drive train set.
Although there are several ways to add more gears to your bike, there is an important consideration to make in all these processes. And that is the Over Locknut Dimensions (OLD). If you discover that your bike’s OLD is lesser than 130mm, you can adopt either an internally geared hub or cold setting the bike frame.
Because most singlespeed mtb have OLD less than 120mm, the geared hub is a perfect way to add multiple gears to the bike. However, internally geared hubs also come with their limitations. They can only contain about 2-3 gears due to the small hub space.
You can cold set a bike’s frame using either threaded or rod or nuts. But you should bear in mind that cold setting is best for steel frames.
The Bottom Line
Single Speed Mountain bikes are probably the most flexible and versatile bikes out there. To many riders, single speed bike means different things to them. While some believe every day of riding the bike is leg day (another day to get fitter), others see it as training to get faster on regular geared bikes.
On your first trial with a single speed MTB, chances are that your colleagues with fixed gear bikes will laugh at your slow speed. But that shouldn’t bother you. Remember that you are just starting out. Keep pushing and practicing. In no distant time, your colleagues would be looking to catch up with your skills. Later on, they might want to ditch their geared bikes for a single speed bike like yours. Quite frankly, who wouldn’t love the joy and simplicity that comes with riding a single speed mountain bike?