The Difference between a Fixed Gear and Single Speed Bike


Mechanically, the difference between a single-speed and fixed gear bike is so small that you might not even notice. This is because both bikes have a rear hub and a single cog that is connected to the rest of the bike parts. According to Pedalstreet, a single-speed bicycle is fitted with a freewheel cog that freely rotates one way but locks up to the other way. This means that the cog will turn the rear wheel when you pedal, but when the rear wheel starts turning faster than the cog during a slope, the pedals move freely. In a single-speed bike, the rider is unable to switch to different gears while cycling, as it has a single gear ratio. Here, we will discuss the difference between the Fixed Gear vs. Single Speed bike.

What is a single-speed bicycle?

A single-speed bike has a single gear ratio, with no hub gears or derailleurs that allow you to change the gear as you ride. Single-speed bikes are great for beginning cyclists or those looking for an easier ride on low-traffic roads. These bikes usually have a lower gear ratio than the other bikes, making them easier to pedal. They are also very easy to maintain and are lighter in weight than different types of bicycles. Given their affordability and versatility, single-speed bikes are the perfect choice for various purposes, such as recreational cycling, touring, commuting, and other everyday use.

What is a fixed-gear bike?

A fixed gear bike, also known as a fixie, is a single-speed bike with no freewheel mechanism. This means that the back wheel turns only by pressing on the pedals and slows or even comes to a halt when you stop pedaling. As long as the bike is in continuous motion, the pedal will keep on turning and presumably your legs as well. Fixed gear bikes typically have an internal gear system that ensures the bike moves in a specific direction. This gear system is known as a “fixed-gear” because it does not operate on the freewheel mechanism, and the pedals never change their position. This internal gear system is more efficient than the other traditional bikes with a freewheel, as it eliminates the need to pedal continuously. Moreover, fixies do not have a rear-wheel socket with a freewheel cog that allows the wheel to turn independently. This means that you must continue pedaling when riding downhill to continue being in motion.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the frequently asked questions about fixed-gear and single-speed bicycles:

1. What are the differences between single-speed and fixed gear bikes?

Although fixed-gear and single-speed bicycles have several things in common, other vital differences need to be considered before making your purchase. For instance, single-speed bikes are usually geared lower, making pedaling easier. This makes it perfect for inexperienced cyclists who find it challenging to ride on steep slopes. On the other hand, fixed-gear bikes are geared slightly higher and are mostly preferred by professional cyclists who want to challenge themselves while riding.

2. How fast is a fixed-gear bike?

Since in a fixed-gear bike you are continuously pedaling, you might wonder how fast this type of bike is. According to Locabikes, a fixed-gear bike has the same speed as a geared bicycle with the same gear ratio. However, your pedaling rhythm limits your cycling speed when riding down a slope because fixies do not allow for coasting. Fixed-gear bikes also require constant pedaling to remain in continuous motion.

3. Fixed-gear vs. Single speed, what is better?

Making a decision between a fixed-gear and single-speed bike can be very difficult. This is because each of these bikes has different riding qualities that are designed for a rider with different riding preferences. A single-speed bike allows for coasting, while a fixed-gear bike requires constant pedaling. Fixed-gear bikes are generally more affordable than single-speed bikes. This is because fixed-gear bicycles contain fewer bike components and less expensive materials. Additionally, fixed-gear bicycles require minimal maintenance than their counterparts.

4. Can you convert a single-speed bike to a fixed-gear bike?

Yes, converting a single-speed bike to a fixed-gear bike is a widespread activity and very simple to do. On the back wheel of single-speed bikes is a device called a flip-flop hub, which allows the rear wheel to be removed and easily turned over. Unlike the standard back wheel that comes with one sprocket, the flip-flop hub in single-speed bikes comes equipped with a sprocket on both sides. This allows you to flip the wheel over and connect the chain.

Bottom Line

According to Theydiffer, here are a number of reasons why people prefer to ride their bicycles. For some, riding a bike is one of the ways of exercising and keeping their bodies physically fit. At the same time, others would tell you that riding bicycles is simply a means of transportation. Regardless of the reasons why you have decided to ride your bike, it is advisable to be aware of what type of bicycle you should buy and which is best suited to your riding preferences. With the help of this guide, I am sure that you now know the difference between fixed-gear and single-speed bikes—and you will be able to make an informed decision on what type of bike to purchase.

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