Most novice cyclists believe that a single speed mountain bike is outdated. They tend to invest their money in modern, multi-speed vehicles without having a second thought on why single speed bikes are still on the market.
Well, if you want to find out why single speed may be better than multi-speed, read on.
If you’re in a hurry but still want to check out specs and features of the best single speed bikes, click on the links in the table below.
Single speed mountain bikes are a hot topic. You either love them or hate them. Most cyclists hate them. Indeed, a single speed mountain bike can be a terrible machine if you’re not a super-navigated rider.
But regardless of your level of fitness and experience, a single speed bike may be the right choice for you.
Wondering why to swim against the tide? Here are a few reasons why you should invest in a single speed mountain bike.
Why Invest In A Single Speed Mountain Bike
Despite the world having evolved and despite the market being full of multi-speed mountain bikes, a wealth of cyclists still prefer single speed machines. Then, there is a whole wealth of cyclists who claim that anyone who rides a single speed still lives in the nineteenth century.
So, why should you own and ride such a bike?
The first and foremost important reason is, undoubtedly, the experience. Riding a single speed mountain bike is challenging and fun at the same time. There are no gears to shift, which means more peace of mind. But there is also no optimization of your ride.
Whether you’re going uphill or downhill, you’ll have to struggle and make the most out of what you have.
In general terms, this means boosting your strength and fitness level, along with an improvement of your skills.
Yes, riding a single speed vehicle is hard and stressful but it can help you get better. And with a host of riders riding in the wrong gear anyway, a single speed might be better until you learn all the basics of biking.
A single speed mountain bike is low-cost, in all senses. Starting with its price, a single speed is way cheaper than a multi-speed bike of the same level. That’s because engineering a single-speed bike is simpler. This machine has fewer parts, which means fewer production costs.
In the same way, you’ll spend less to maintain your bike. There are fewer parts to break, thus fewer parts you’ll have to replace.
If you’re a student and have a low overall budget, investing in a bike that requires a low maintenance can save you lots of bucks.
Maintenance on a single speed mountain bike usually means inflating the tires and lubricating the chain. Periodic maintenance includes a checkup of the brake system and brake pads, of the pedal and handlebars, maybe a replacement of the saddle.
But all these cost less than the usual maintenance of a multi-speed bike.
To cut costs, even more, you’ll probably be able to do most of the required maintenance by yourself.
How To Choose A Single Speed Mountain Bike
By now, you may have decided whether to give single speed bikes a chance or not. If you’re still reading, you’re perhaps wondering how to choose one.
First, don’t make the mistake to believe all single speed bikes are the same – they aren’t. There are different types of machines, various sizes, and a bunch of other things to consider.
Just like multi-speed bikes, single speed comes as standard, BMX, or fat tire. Choosing the right one depends on your riding style. Which multi-speed bike do you prefer? If it’s a BMX, get a BMX. If it’s a standard, get a standard, and so on.
Preference apart, you should also consider where you ride the bike. If it’s mostly in parks and rarely on trails, a standard bike may perform better on the road back home. A specialty single speed mountain bike – yes, they do exist - may be more suitable if you mostly ride on trails.
Also, choose the tires according to the type of terrain you’re riding on.
The size of the bike is an important thing to consider. We’ve explained already how to choose the right size, and the same guidelines apply to the single speed mountain bike too.
Single speed mountain bikes are hard to ride, that’s why choosing a lightweight frame is essential. Pushing the vehicle uphill or controlling it on muddy trails may easily turn into living hell if the bike is heavy. Most entry-level bikes are made of steel, but we truly recommend aluminum.
Carbon fiber is the lighter but also the costlier option – and it’s certainly not worth the investment unless you’re a true fan of single-speed.
Best Single Speed Mountain Bike
1. Gravity G29 FS 29er Single Speed Mountain Bike
Gravity G29 is an entry-level specialty single speed mountain bike for novice riders. It’s equipped with competition-ready components and has a trail-tested geometry which makes it an ideal choice for most gravity disciplines.
The simple single speed handling makes the bike appealing to a lot of riders. Among the components, we can mention the SunTour 29er suspension fork with long travel. The suspension has a lockout function, therefore you’re free to use the bike in any configuration you like.
Sturdy tires ensure smooth rides on all terrains while the WTB speed disc ensures a smooth operation. Lightweight yet resistant, the wheels boast anodized aluminum rims which have a minimal impact on the bike’s weight.
Interesting is also the powerful disc brakes which are way better than a v-break system; they not only provide an excellent control over the bike but potentially save your life by providing an efficient braking in case of emergency.
2. Nashbar 29er Single-Speed Mountain Bike
The Nashbar 29er is one of the most popular single speed mountain bikes on the market. It comes with a double-butted Chromoly frame which ensures strength and durability, although the machine is somewhat heavier than the Gravity G29 above.
This 29er has a rigid fork designed to reduce vibrations. The super-tough built improves handling and the Tektro linear pull brakes provide a decent braking power, although they are less performing than disc brakes.
A thing we like is the tires. Equipped with 29-inch Kenda Nevegal tires, this bike is up to anything. It has an excellent stability and grip on all terrains, while the 2.2-inch width improves balance on challenging trails.
A thing we don’t like is the frame. It is made of steel, thus heavier than average. A heavy frame combined with the hassle of riding with only one speed can easily become overwhelming.
3. Swobo Mutineer 27.5" SM 14" Single Speed MTB
Ideal for women but also for men who don’t mind color codes and stereotypes, the Swobo Mutineer is an exceptional single speed mountain bike coming in either fixed gear or single speed freewheel versions. The bike is ideal for all trails and boasts a host of quality components.
Starting with the wheels, this bike impresses with the 27.5 diameter which fits most riders regardless of gender and body type. The suspension has a corrected geometry and the machine is designed to overcome rough terrains and to roll securely on roads.
The aluminum frame is sturdy yet fairly lightweight while the fork is made of resistant steel. This adds some overall weight but the number is negligible. The Tenge Terious HS tires are also designed to resist rough conditions and have a great grip on slippery terrains. Moreover, the Avid BB7 disc brakes ensure sufficient braking power in all circumstances.
Mutineer is delivered partly dismantled with some assembly required. Things are uncomplicated and a skillful rider could easily put the parts together. However, for warranty reasons, it is essential to have the bike assembled by a professional bike shop, and this adds up to the costs.
4. Mongoose Fireball Single Speed 26” Dirt Jump Bicycle
Mongoose is one of the big names on the market and impresses with its single speed mountain bike. This machine is expensive, but if you’re an enthusiast, it might be worth the investment.
The bike comes with a Tectonic T1 aluminum dirt jump frame with horizontal dropouts and Manitou circus Comp 100mm travel fork. This lightweight and durable combo is ideal for novices and experienced riders alike.
Another thing we like is the 25/8T drivetrain that features a 3-piece tubular crank with 175mm arms. The quality of the components offers top-notch durability, while the other parts also enhance the durability and resistance of the bike.
Mongoose Fireball is rugged and resistant. Built to withstand all terrains, this single speed mountain bike won’t disappoint.
5. Mongoose Legion L80 20" Wheel Freestyle Bike
At the low-end of Mongoose single speed mountain bikes, there is Legion L80, a 20-inch bike for freestyle riding. The bike is reasonably priced for beginners and is supplied with or without expert assembly; the expert assembly adds up to the costs, though.
The bike is ideal for BMX and other freestyle disciplines. It is lightweight and incredibly durable, not to mention it comes in a universal size that fits most riders.
Legion L80 boasts a 20.75-inch top tube and a tri-moly BMX frame with a semi-integrated headset. The rider-friendly geometry makes the machine ideal for a range of disciplines. Rear alloy u-brakes and alloy brake levers ensure a powerful braking in emergency situations.
We also like the high-volume 2.4-inch tires with a comfortable and lightweight saddle which completes the BMX experience.
Conclusion & Final Pick
Choosing a single speed mountain bike is harder than it seems. These bikes are uncomplicated but difficult to ride, so investing in a high-quality unit is essential. Weight matters more than you think, and so does the price.
From all the bikes above, our favorite is the Gravity G29. In our opinion, this bike wins in front of the more popular Nashbar 29er due to its aluminum construction. The competition-ready components and the trail-tested geometry do nothing but add advantages to this bike.
The G29 comes with a SunTour suspension fork which is lockable, a WTB speed disc which ensures a smooth operation and a lightweight yet resistant frame. Powerful disc brakes also provide an excellent control over the bike and deliver a superior braking power whenever needed.
All these advantages make the Gravity G29 a great single speed mountain bike to consider for your upcoming rides.