Single Speed Bicycle Vs Fixed Gear Bicycle

Single Speed Bicycle Vs Fixed Gear Bicycle

In the previous article, we understood what the exact difference between Single Speed and a Multi-Speed Bicycle. This article will discuss the difference between a Single Speed Bicycle and a Fixed Gear Bicycle.

The primary difference between a Single Speed Bicycle and a Fixed Gear Bicycle is in how the gear system is arranged. In the Single Speed Bicycle, the rear tire has a freewheel which then connects to the single gear. This means when you pedal forward, the bicycle moves and when you coast, the tire still turns and runs. However, in a Fixed Gear Bicycle, there is no freewheel, the rear cog/tire is directly connected to the hub through which the chain runs. So, only if you pedal the bicycle will run, and even if you want to coast, you still need to keep pedaling. This article explains the use of both these types of bicycles in detail. 

How Single Speed Bicycle is designed

The picture below explains in detail how the Single Speed Bicycle is designed. The most useful and conventional bicycle is a Single Speed bicycle design. There are a lot of different variations to this, however, the main design involves a simple freewheel attached to the rear tire.

How Single Speed Gear Looks like
                  How Single Speed Gear Looks like

The Freewheel now rotates when the gear is turned forward(When you pedal forward), and in turn runs the rear tire forward. When the bicycle coasts from downhill or in an empty road, the freewheel now rotates while the gear is in a static position. This design does not take so much effort or does not tire the rider much.

Replace the Single Speed with Multi-Speed Gear system and you have a Multi-Speed Bicycle. The FreeWheel-Gear setup runs across a Hub on which the tire is mounted. I found a useful video to show how this works! Take a peek at it below.

How Fixed Gear is designed

Fixed Gear, on the other hand, misses the Freewheel setup. The entire Hub looks like the below picture. Without the Freewheel, it makes it mandatory to pedal at all times to keep the bicycle moving.

Fixed-Gear Hub
Fixed-Gear Hub

Consider riding this bicycle at a good speed and when you want to coast but you still have to pedal. The main purpose of Fixed-Gear is for Bicycle enthusiasts who believe it is the true form of riding. Even though it makes bicycling more connected to the road, it is definitely not for beginners.

Another important role of Fixed Gear is that there is very little friction between the hub and the Gear that is fit. This helps in improving the overall maintenance of the Gear. Other than this, there are a lot of advantages of Single Speed over the Fixed gear Bicycle.

Bicycle type
Fixie!

Brakes in Fixed Gear

After understanding how the Fixed Gear works, the next obvious question is, if the rider is going to control the speed, do Fixed Gear Bicycle have brakes? The answer is, it is very mixed. The rear wheel is subject to a lot of stress when trying to stop the entire bicycle with just the Hub that is running through.

Consider wheel spinning at a fast clip and the rider tries to halt the bicycle by not pedaling. It puts in good stress on the pedal, the rider themself and additionally the rear Cog/Hub. To prevent this, the usual scene is that the Fixed Gears have a Brake attached. A very simple V-Calliper Brakes will do the job and is a perfect fit coupled with the absence of Freewheel.

Fixed Gear without any Brakes usually are not preferred but there are riders still using the Fixie without Brakes.

Note: There are very fewer companies selling Fixed Bicycles in India. There certainly isn’t a company that sells Fixie without gear in India.

Advantage of Single Speed over Fixed Gear Bicycle

The primary advantage of Single Speed over Fixed Gear Bicycle,

  • Single Speed Bicycle lets you coast and not worry about pedaling for the entire journey.
  • Other than ease of use, it is very important to consider the chain’s health. The chain runs through the gear and into the pedal. Fixie runs the chain for the entire duration! Brings in additional complexity in the form of dust and grease.
  • The bottom line with Single Speed is that it is the simplest to ride for a beginner. Even though Geared Bicycles are easy, they are definitely pricier than the Single Speed. That makes a Single Speed easy to Ride.

Additionally, there are other factors like maintenance which is technically non-existent in both the bicycle. The price is also very low and is light in weight. The edge however in all these factors is with the Fixed Gear only, because of the absence of Freewheel!

The obvious advantage of Single Speed Bicycle is very much applicable for Beginners only. This is mainly because there are also additional benefits of riding a Fixed Gear Bicycle which a lot prefer.

When to use Fixed Gear Bicycle

There are a lot of scenarios in which the Fixed Gear is preferred over the Single Speed or Multi-Speed. The primary ones include,

  • Riding in snow, sand or even wet regions makes it a bit difficult to use Single Speed
    The reason being, with the freewheel present, there is going to be a lot of understeering, or tire spinning without actually moving forward! This can be a pain when you are trying to navigate those places.
  • Absence of Freewheel makes the Fixed Gear run at a faster speed with the same Single Gear setup in both.
    This is actually true because of absolutely no loss in speed with the freewheel not being present in between the Cog and the rear tire.
  • Fixed Gear or Fixies are the cheapest of all the available bicycle types
    The lack of Freewheel and additional bearings makes it extremely cheaper compared to other all the other bicycle types.
  • It improves the stamina and the overall lower body. If you are going to ride a Fixed Gear in rocky terrain or even a hill(Good luck with that though!).Your Stamina is going to be very high.

Final Verdict – Single Speed Vs Fixed Gear

The winner for this article is going to be Single Speed for city and slope riding and Fixed Gear for Sandy/Snowy regions!

After considering a lot of factors including cost, there is going to be very slight differences in their prices. Choose the one that suits your needs.

“Happy bicycling”

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