Single Speed Hardtail MTBs That You Won’t Regret to Buy

Some riders might prefer simplicity over advanced technologies. They don’t need to think complicated about the gear setting that fits for this particular area. It’s all about fun and just going through it all! If you have this kind of mindset, then single speed hardtail bikes might be a good option for you.

Part 1 : Beginning

Single speed hardtail MTB could be said as the simplest bike for mountain bikers. Hardtail already gives you a not full suspension rear, moreover the single speed system adding that simplicity. Having a single speed bike means your bicycle will have only one gear ratio. You don’t need to worry about the gear-shifters, setting, or any components that are related to adjusting the gear. It’s literally just one gear. No matter how hard it is, it will push your biking skill to the limit. That’s what some riders cherish from single speed hardtail bikes.

Single speed feature can be added separately to your bike with a single speed kit. But you also can have it by getting the single speed hardtail mountain bike. If you’re planning to buy a new bike or maybe getting the first bike ever, and consider a single speed bike, then you need to know more about this bike type so you won’t regret it.

Basically, single speed basically means you don’t need the drive-train and gear-shifter, and set up a wheel for single speed. By using a single speed bike, it can reduce cost and weight on the frame. You also can push yourself to be more strong and skilled because no feature will help you while biking. Plus, it’s hardtail bikes mean you got no full suspension rear. Simple, right?

single speed hardtail mtb

Part 2 : Recommendation product

There are four single speed hardtail bikes that you can consider buying if you want to have one. These bikes have their own features, advantages, disadvantages, or purposes. So, are some of the lists :

2.1 KONA Unit 2020

The Unit series gained so many fans since the first time this series was released. Especially among serious bikepackers. In 2020, they’re back to release the Unit bike which solidifies themselves as one of the brands who offers a marvelous single speed bike. This bike shows their love for fully-rigid steel. Just like the previous year series, Unit 2020 are still made with Reynolds Cromoly, but they’re getting a facelift and a shiny new set of 29” boost wheels with thru-axles to help conquer rougher terrain. Well, maybe Unit 2020 is popular with their feature which it’s single speed drive, but it’s full-length freehub body. So it allows you to have gears. This greatness can make you freely modify your setup.

2.2 ROCKER Single Speed 6-STAR

ROCKER Single Speed 6-STAR is really suitable for mountain biking for riders who want to fight the trail, one gear, and no excuses. Just like other speed single hardtail bikes, Rocker SS embodies that pure simplicity. But, what makes it great is they elevate it with a lightweight yet burly full-carbon frame, a red-hot belt drive and other innovations that make this the fastest and most technologically advanced single speed hardtail MTB on the market.

The weight is only 2.8 pounds, and all thanks to the Rocker’s frame which upgraded from the previous steel version. This makes the bike not only simple, but also nimble, strong, and versatile. The Gates Carbon Drive belt never feels stretched, rusts, and the withstands chain-snapping torque loads is a thing that makes this bike recommended.

2.3 Santa Cruz Chameleon

Santa Cruz released such a unique bicycle, and that’s Chameleon for you. A bike where you can do whatever with it.They came from an idea to riders who like to sculpt their bike aren’t afraid to experiment. They can build it whatever they want, whether 29er or mixed, single speed or fixed. This can be done thanks to the multiple major configuration transformations that are made easy via the interchangeable dropouts. Also the low slung top tube and progressive geometry makes this bike blend into whatever surroundings you place it. So, it can be said this bike is so versatile and flexible and is recommended if you want a single speed hardtail.

2.4 Niner SIR 9

A bike made from steel or classic metal alloy. You know what it means, right? It is so strong and sturdy. It’s built to last and not let you down. When you’re spinning up the steeps, bombing down the backcountry and grinding out the final miles as the sun sinks into the horizon, this bike fits those. This bike also has Biocentric 30 which makes you easily go single speed mode or geared mode. A versatile, comfortable, capable, hand-built bike made from proven.

Part 3: Positives and Negatives

3.1 KONA Unit 2020

Simplicity is really the main point of this bike. Less tools are contained in this bike, and there is no chance of bending (or scrapping) a rear derailleur. This bike is a good bike to start out your adventure with a single speed bike. Some reviewers had good experience with it because it has a great frame, nimble, and fast. The design is also good because it’s straight forward.

While for the negative part, KONA Unit 2020 needs some adjustment to lock the rear wheel in place after a few rides. It’s not really hard, but might be impractical for some riders. Other than that, simplicity is the best word to describe this bike.

3.2 ROCKER Single Speed 6-STAR

Made from fully carbon makes this bike very light. This bike has a limited-edition Gates Carbon Drive Red belted drive-train, which makes it less rusts and never stretched.  A reviewer even said that this bike could be the least expensive of the three complete builds that priced at $3,300. The other good part about the bike is it has Kobe Slider Dropouts which is the lightest, most compact, and easiest to adjust chain- or belt-drive-optimized sliding dropouts on the market. Good components for single speed hardtail mountain bike.

Not many bad reviews about this bike, but there’s a complaint about the tires. A reviewer stated that the 29’ tires made the bike feel like it was on a road bike running 23c tires. The other complaint was that climbing is tough, and probably impossible for most riders with 11 and 12 speeds. But this is kinda expected actually. Because it’s a single speed bike, complaints about climbing is definitely there.

3.3 Santa Cruz Chameleon

The good side of Chameleon is that this bike is so versatile. A literal versatile. Bravely saying this because you can build or do anything you want for the bike. It’s formed so that riders can easily change some parts. Whether you need MX or 29 setup, single speed or geared drive you can change it depending on what you need. The other good thing about this bike is the low slung top tube and more progressive geometry (65.5-degree head-angle and longer reach) which provides all-trail capability.

The bad part of this bike is it’s pretty heavy. Well there’s an option if you want to get the one which is made from aluminum alloy and carbon. But, it’s quite heavy for a bike which costs about $3749USD. A reviewer stated that you can get a better bike with that price. They said that the heavy might come from the 30+ pound weight of this bike (sans pedals).

3.4 Niner SIR 9

Even though this bike is made from classic steel, some users said that this bike is pretty light for a bike that is made from steel. This lightweight probably came from the good choice of components that complement this bike, like SRAM’s carbon XO1 Eagle crankset and Race Face handlebars. The other good thing is the single chainring drive-train kept shifting quick, simple and straightforward, which proved that it’s a good single speed bike and isn’t hard to ride.

While as some reviewers said, the downside of this bike is the 12-speed drive-train felt a little fiddly to set up and sensitive to cable stretch. This makes them experienced to completely sheer one of the jockey wheels after accidentally clipping a rock on a climb. Not a good experience for biking, but maybe you can resolve this problem by your own way after knowing this.

Part 4: How to Conduct a test

It can be said that trial is a must thing to do before buying a single speed bike. You need to be sure the bike you buy is really worth it and suits your preferences. Don’t waste your chance to do the trial, because most shops set a price for it. Do the bike test like it’s a real deal for you. Also don’t forget to adjust the settings of the bike. You can ask the shop for guidance if needed. If they’re allowing you try several models, then try it so you can compare each of the bikes

If the shops give you a chance to do the demos repeatedly, then make use of it. Take it as much as you can. This is a good thing for bikers, especially for the rider who’s still new to single speed bikes. This must be done because you’ll get a better ‘feel’ about the bike.

Check on every detail If you are diligent enough and have a willingness to do it. Make a chart if it’s necessary. It will help you to remember how it feels easier, so you can decide to choose the bike you want to buy. The chart can be formed as anything you want, but it’s recommended to do it with rating it per categories for bike qualities, such as :

  • Stiffness
  • Weight
  • Suspension
  • Acceleration
  • Braking
  • Shifting
  • Comfort
  • Geometry
  • Handling
  • Responsiveness
  • Flexibility in any terrain
  • Price

Part 5: Guide to Choose Single Speed Bike

5.1 Usage Scenario

You need to understand first, what are you going to do with your bike? Is it for biking in the mountains or on the road? Or maybe you often ride in muddy and rough terrain? It’s important to know the usage scenario of your single speed bike later. Knowing it will give you the concept of the single speed bike that you really want. What specifications that you really need.

5.2 Wheel Size Selection

Most brands give their bikes with 27.5”and 29” wheels. But, it’s all about preferences. If you want to ride faster, then 29” is the best choice because it has a long chain stay which can push your weight slightly further forwards. But, If you want a fun experience and riding it casually without caring about the speed, then 27.5” is the best option.

5.3 Bicycle Structure

Bicycle structure can be divided by geometry and material. We need to know our ideal geometry, so we can ride it comfortably. Choose the geometry that suits your height and anatomy. Canyon, one of the popular MTB brands, has this feature on their website. Just write your own height and you will know the ideal frame size automatically. While for the material, there are three popular materials for bikes that have their own good and bad parts. Those are titanium, aluminum, and carbon. Pick that suits you the most.

5.4 Men and Women’s option

Honestly, there is not much difference between unisex and women’s bikes. Two things which differentiate them the most are the saddle and geometry. Women’s bike saddle is wide, so it’s comfortable to sit on. But the bike’s geometry is not really favored, especially for tall women. Most of tall women prefer unisex bike because of this reason.

5.5 Is it Convenient to Buy

Yes, It Is! Speed single bikes are gonna give you a nostalgic feel when you’re riding happily in the back days. Just keep in mind that there will be no gear-shifter that is going to help you.

Part 6: Conclusion

Fun experience in riding can be opinionated differently between riders. But, there’s just something about a single speed bike that makes you want to have it and get back to the old days where you didn’t really care about the result of your biking. Just do your best and face all the challenges in front of you. With choosing the right single speed hardtail bike, you will get the best experience of road or mountain biking even only with one gear.