Best Single Speed Road Bikes - Guide and Review
Have you been searching for the best single speed road bikes? A lot of folks prefer these bikes because of the flexibility they offer. These bikes don’t require a lot of maintenance, are easy to use and don’t lack in the aesthetics department either. Yes they’re not ideal for hill riding, but if you’re just looking for a commuter bike, the single speed will be more than sufficient.
But which one should you buy? This is where our guide will be able to help. I have gone over the many single speed bikes online and narrowed the list down to the top 5.
But before we go over the actual reviews, let’s take a look at the factors that buyers should assess. One of the mistakes new bikers make is assuming they’re all alike, but nothing is further from the truth; these bikes have different components and it has an effect on performance and reliability.
How to Choose the Best Single Speed Road Bikes
It’s easy enough to buy a bike online, but if you want to get the most value for your money – and have a smooth riding experience – it’s best to spend some time learning the essentials. Here are the biggest factors that a prospective buyer needs to look into.
Single Speed vs. Fixie
A single speed bike has one freewheel on its rear hub, and this feature allows you to coast. A fixed gear bike does not allow this because of fundamental differences in design. The fixed gear vs. single speed debate has been going on for a long time, but to sum it up:
- Single speed bikes require less effort and is easier to ride
- Fixed gear bikes provide greater maneuverability
- Single speed bikes are more ideal for long rides as they won’t tire you out
- Fixed gear bikes are more appropriate for training
- Most bikes have a flip flop hub that lets you change from single speed to fixed gear and back
Think about the gear ratio carefully as single speed bikes have just one. The ideal set up is for the ratio to be low so you can climb uphill but at the same time not too low the bike becomes difficult to use. Generally, a road bike has a higher gear ratio than a mountain bike.
The wheels have a direct effect on the bike’s weight and how well it’s going to respond. Grip is always important but even more so when the weather conditions become unpredictable. One good thing about purchasing a single speed is you don’t have to be concerned about the derailleur and other components.
- The flip flop hub will depend on what types of activities you’re going to do with the bike. If you’re going to use the bike for climbing, the flip flop must let you go into a higher gear so you don’t expend too much energy.
- Hub rear: there are different types of hub rear, but the best is the one that provides consistent engagement. An aluminum hub is good enough for beginners and casual riders, but for serious riding a diamond or steel rear hub is recommended.
- Chain: the bike chain can affect your bike’s performance. It is not much of an exaggeration to say the chain’s function is similar to an engine so it needs to be compatible with the cassettes.
The frame is the biggest component of your bike as it hooks up the pedals, seats and handlebars. Look for a bicycle frame that is durable and lightweight, and fortunately there are many options.
- Steel is strong and can last a long time. However it can be a bit heavy.
- Aluminum is one of the more popular options as it is durable and lightweight. Aluminum frames are also affordable, making it an attractive prospect for new riders.
- Titanium frames are not yet commonplace, but it combines many of the best features of aluminum and steel. These frames also provide good shock absorption.
Other components you should look into are the handlebars and saddle. The comfort level is a matter of personal preference, and it is easy enough to replace as are the pedals. With regards to the handlebars you can choose from several designs like flat barhandles, dropbars, butterfly design and so on.
The pedals on a bike can be easily upgraded. There is a lot of debate about this, but the general consensus is that for commuting and casual use, there is no need to replace them. However it is matter of personal preference.
Recommended Product Reviews
1. Vilano Fixed Gear Bike Fixie Single Speed Road Bike
The Vilano bike is a perfect starter bike, as its flip flop hub lets you choose between fixed gear and single.
Some assembly is required but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
While the bike works fine out of the box so to speak, it’s easy to tweak the brakes and other components to suit your specifications. Making the switch from single to fixed gear is easy, and the high gear ratio lets you move at a good pace.
The chromoly frame is nicely built with high quality welding. The major components like brakes, handlebars and saddle are adequate, but they’re easy to replace anyway.
- Free pedals
- Flip-flop rear hub
- Lightweight and durable frame
- Alloy threadless headset
2. Critical Cycles Classic Fixed-Gear Single-Speed Bike
Critical Cycles manufacture a lot of good bikes and this is one of them.
It comes with all the tools necessary to assemble and maintain the bike, and you can customize your Classic by installing new handlebars (though the default ones are pretty good).
Even if you’re not into customization yet, the bike offers a reliable riding experience. The seat post and crank are built out of alloy so it’s lighter but just as sturdy. The double wall rims and sealed bearings also give the bike a nice, solid built.
The bike can be used on different terrains and does not compromise when it comes to performance. The fact the sealed hub lets you switch from single to fixed gear is a plus.
- Flip flop system for easy switching from single to fixed gear
- Critical Cycles Pista Saddle
- Front Promax Brake
- Kraton Rubber Track Grips
3. Vilano Rampage Fixed Gear Fixie Single Speed Road Bike
The Vilano Rampage is nominally a fixed gear bike, but its flip flop hub makes it easy to switch to single speed.
Built for urban use, the Rampage is fitted with 45mm Deep-V Anodized wheels, and the straight fork and geometry frame are comprised of high tensile steel.
The Vilano is not a fancy bike but it gets the job done and works nicely for commuting or leisure riding. The bike is equipped with 28c tires for enhanced surface contact and stability.
The Vilano is designed for novice and experienced bikers alike, and in terms of longevity it’s going to last a long time.
- Free platform pedals
- Forged alloy crank
- 45mm double walled Deep-V wheels
- Flip flop
4. Golden Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Road Bike
The Golden Cycle is a well-crafted bike that’s easy enough for new cyclists yet has enough features to satisfy experienced riders.
It’s available in different sizes and has the features you’d expect from a quality bike like a 1-1/8" Neco headset, high tensile steel frame and 700c x 25 Kenda tires.
The Golden Cycle is freewheel out of the box but there is a flip flop hub if you want to change gears.
The bike’s performance doesn’t get affected much whether you’re using it for commuting or just for fun. The heavy duty construction also makes it ideal for urban riding.
- 700c x 25 Kenda tires
- 45mm deep alloy rims
- Sealed bearing flip flop hub
- Alloy 46T chain ring crank
5. State Bicycle Co Fixed Gear Fixie Single Speed Bike
State Bicycle Co is a combo single speed / fixed gear bike, and it’s one of the most customizable in the market.
Aside from the base model there are several handlebars, frame sizes and other options available.
It’s built for long term use and it’s capable of going thousands of miles without breaking.
The bike is smooth and it doesn’t make a lot of sound while using it. Changing the components does not require a lot of expertise either.
- 3 piece forged aluminum alloy crankset
- 1-1/8" threadless A-head headset
- Lightweight 4130 chromoly fork and frame
- 700C aluminum track wheels
The appeal of the best single speed road bikes is easy to see. Unlike other bikes they are simpler to use and don’t have any gears or derailleur. With a growing number of people opting to ride bikes to work and for leisure, it only makes sense to buy one.
With the top 5 single speed bikes, it’s easier now to find the right bike to meet your requirements. Rather than spend hours browsing the web looking for the right bike, you can just pick and choose from the list here.