singlespeed's chain runs directly from the chainring to the rear
sprocket and back. A geared bike's chain snakes around two jockey
pulleys to a sprocket that is out of line (left-to-right) from
the chainring by much as an inch. Even without the chainline
issue the improvement is at least a couple percent, and
compared to some of the more crooked chainlines you might
run on a multi-geared bike, the difference can be quite a
bit more than that. Believe it or not, you can feel the
difference. Don't believe me? Find a bike shop that sells a few
singlespeed bikes, and pull both a singlespeed and a geared bike
off the rack. Now crank the pedals backwards pretty hard and let
go. Notice how much longer the pedals spin on the SS bike? That's
the difference in efficiency, and it's even more pronounced under
derailleurs to adjust, no jockey pulleys to lubricate, no cables
to clean. Most of the maintenance most of us do, other than tires, is
on the drivetrain. With a singlespeed all you have to do is take
care of your chain. That's IT.
Durability. No rear
derailleur to tweak on trail obstacles, no shifters to go bad, no
front derailleur to jam, no 11-tooth cogs to wear out early and force
you to replace your cassette before its time.
Weight savings. To be
honest, I still have the rear derailleurs on my bikes so I can
run gears when I want, so I'm not seeing that much weight savings. BUT
even so, when I pull off my cassette and replace it with a single
cog, I'm taking away about 220 grams. That's half a pound.
I can easily feel the difference when I pick up the bike. Go
truly singlespeed by stripping off the derailleurs, shifters and
cables, and you can end up saving 2-3 POUNDS. People spend
hundreds of dollars to lose that kind of weight off their bikes,
but with singlespeeding you can do it for free.
Concentration. You don't
have to think about what gear you're in. You don't have to plan
your downshift ahead of time when you come to a stop in traffic.
It's not like shifting is THAT much of a mental burden, but you'd
be surprised how many brainwave cycles singlespeeding frees up
for other things. Like paying more attention to traffic.
Like paying more attention to your body english, line and speed
when you attack that rock garden. Singlespeeding makes you a better technical rider.
Momentum. 1. On a geared
bike, when you start losing speed on a climb, you downshift, and
you let off the power to do it ... which slows you down even
more. On a singlespeed, you stand up and hammer. You get more
momentum going up the hill (although it can be exhausing at
times!). 2. Because you know climbing can get tough if you
bog down too much, you pay a lot more attention to
preserving your momentum, and you're less likely to sap away
precious momentum with your brakes when you don't need to.
3. Because you carry more momentum going uphill into
difficult technical sections, you have an easier time
getting through them in the uphill direction. Why is
technical terrain harder going uphill than downhill? Speed.
Pride. Let's be honest
here. It feels pretty good doing that bad beeotch of a climb in a
gear twice as tall as you would have on a geared bike. And people
that aren't ordinarily impressed by others' riding are
sometimes impressed that you can ride a particular trail AT
ALL on a singlespeed.
Those are the reasons that are most important, but
singlespeeders are a diverse group (which is a good thing) and here are some other potential legitimate
reasons which to respect:
Elegance. A singlespeed
bike has a really nice clean, elegant look to
it, with no derailleurs hanging off various places, shifters
cluttering up the handlebars, and shift cables running along the
Cachet. It's a fringe
activity. You're a member of a pretty exclusive club if you're a
singlespeeder. There's always the danger of it being a trendy
fad, which means someday it won't be cool anymore, but I don't
think where anywhere near there yet.
Making a statement. There are a lot of people who are fed
up with planned obsolescence, Shimano's dominance of componentry,
and/or the over-engineering of today's bikes. Some people like
making a statement about one of those things, or about
noncomformity, stickin' it to the man, or maybe something else
they think singlespeeding stands for.
Boredom. Some of the
people on this forum are extremely accomplished mountain bikers.
They've ridden it all. Singlespeeding is a new challenge.
"Singlespeeding can be an experience that demands more of a person,
and so a person finds that extra drive, that extra strength to do
something that perhaps he didnít believe he could accomplish
before. Or even relate to. Singlespeeding is quiet. Itís simple. Itís
pure. But itís way more than that -- itís personal."
Single Speed Links
SheldonBrown.com - single speed conversions
Spot.com - frames and components
SurlyVille.com - frames and components
PaulsComponents.com - components
WhiteIndustries.com - components
PhilWood.com - components
DrunkCyclist.com - all sorts of BS (bike stuff)