Best Single-Speed Bikes: Cycling in Its Purest Form

Last updated: April 22, 2020
BEST OVERALL
Light, Durable and Customizable
Read Review
BEST BUDGET
Affordable, Low-Maintenance and Versatile
Read Review
BEST FOLDING
Simple, Convenient and Very Portable
Read Review
BEST FOR WOMEN
Ergonomic, Stylish and Durable
Read Review
BEST FOR MEN
Light, Stable and Reliable
Read Review
Your guide

Single-speed bikes are a great way to enjoy cycling in what might be its purest form. Simple and straight to the point, these bikes remove a whole lot of guesswork from the entire equation, allowing you to enjoy cycling without any hassle.

Most cyclists are used to bikes with a wide range of gears – but a single-speed bike can be a fantastic choice, provided you choose a high-quality product that meets your criteria.

Single-Speed Bicycles: Top 5 Picks

Single-speed bikes are a timeless classic – and for good reasons. Simple and easy to maintain, these robust machines offer a no-nonsense approach to cycling.

Mach City Single Speed Bike Chain

Their lack of versatility doesn’t necessarily have to be a drawback – if you need a bike for urban commuting, or if your bicycle routes are predictable and take you over flat terrain, then a single speed bike can be a fantastic choice.

We’ve chosen five single speed bikes, all of which fill different niches. We factored in price, materials, durability, and performance when considering our choices. Take a closer look – one of them might be just what you’re looking for.

1. Best Overall - State 4130 Matte Black 6

Specifications:

  • Wheel size → 28 inches
  • Weight capacity → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 21 – 25 lbs

Key Features:

  • Thickslick tires
  • High-tensile strength steel frame
  • Customizable design
  • Flip-flop hub

State 4130 Matte Black 6 Review

Single-speed bikes might evoke a feeling of affordability, and reliability, but this doesn’t mean that higher-end models aren’t a force to be reckoned with in their own right. Premium single speed bikes can offer a lot in the way of performance, while still retaining their trademark simplicity and ease of use.

We took price, materials, design, weight, and ergonomics into consideration when selecting our best overall pick. The State 4130 Matte Black 6 ended up being our choice – let’s take a closer look at the interesting features and design elements that separate it from the competition.

Cutting Edge, Customizable Design

One of the things that sets this bike apart is just how customizable it is. We’ll go over some of the more important options that can be tweaked to your liking, but first, let’s cover the basics.

The Matte Black 6 features road bike geometry – and for the most part, it will handle almost completely like a high-end road bike. The double-butted 4130-grade Chromoly steel frame features a long, straight top tube, and relatively high saddle placement.

This particular type of steel is very heavy duty – the frame is very durable and will last for years. However, this doesn’t mean it is bulky – the entire bike weighs 20 lbs fully assembled, or 21 if you choose to tweak the configuration with 40mm Deep-V wheels.

The default wheels are 700c alloy rim Lo-Pro wheels with sealed bearings. The default alloy pedals are made by Wellgo, but these can be switched out for platform pedals or clipless pedals, or a set of carbon road pedals.

However, the largest difference in handling will come down to your choice of handlebar. The default choice is a bullhorn bar, but you can also opt for a drop bar, which is more in line with the rest of the bike’s road bike DNA, or a beginner-friendly riser bar.

Top of the Line Performance

Make no mistake – despite being a single-speed bike, the State 4130 is one high-performance machine. The bike’s extremely light weight, combined with the large wheel size and fast-rolling tires makes for smooth, rapid acceleration, and maintaining high speeds is incredibly easy.

The fact that the bike can be customized to a large degree allows you to tailor the ergonomics to your liking – you can prioritize speed, control, or comfort by changing the handlebar, and opting for clipless pedals can give you an edge in performance.

To counteract all that speed, the State 4130 uses a pair of front and rear caliper hand brakes. The braking is smooth, reliable, and quick – you won’t have any issues with bringing the bike to a complete stop.

Another handy feature of the 4130 is the fact that it features a flip-flop hub – allowing you to ride either fixed gear or single speed.

Fast, durable, light, and easy to control, the State 4130 is a masterpiece – one that can be customized to meet your specific needs. It’s a fantastic urban commuter bike in it’s own right, and the convenience of the single-speed system just can’t be beaten.

If you’re not too concerned with price and need the best of the best, give the 4130 a closer look – it merits consideration.

Pros
  • Front and rear brakes
  • Incredibly light
  • Durable frame
  • Highly customizable design
Cons
  • Prone to scratching
  • High price

2. Best Budget - Retrospec Harper

Specifications:

  • Wheel size → 28 inches
  • Weight capacity → 250 lbs
  • Weight → 25 lbs

Key Features:

  • High-tensile strength steel frame
  • Flip-flop hub
  • Kenda tires
  • Front and rear handbrakes

Retrospec Harper Single-speed Bike Review

Single-speed bikes are, on average, cheaper than bikes with multiple gears. Costing less to manufacture, and with smaller upkeep costs, they are a great way to enjoy cycling without having to dish out a large investment.

Be that as it may, there are some bikes which simply have an unbelievable ratio of price to value – and Retrospec’s Harper single-speed bike is the best example.

High-Quality Materials and Components

The Harper might be affordable – but it isn’t cheaply made. Retrospec took great care to ensure the use of the highest-grade materials and components.

The Harper’s diamond frame is hand-built from high-tensile strength steel. It’s a heavy-duty frame, with a maximum weight capacity of 250 lbs, and it will last for years – but weighing in at just 25 lbs, it won’t slow you down.

All of the components of the bike follow a similar pattern – focusing on ruggedness and durability, while still offering a good standard of performance.

The 25.4mm Riser handlebar is quite wide, allowing you to easily retain control of the bike. The handlebar features a pair of Kraton rubber track grips, which are very comfortable and help reduce wrist fatigue.

Combine that with the comfortable Critical Cycles Pista saddle, and you’ve got quite a comfortable bike on your hands. The only components of the bike that don’t shine are the 9/16” plastic pedals – they do the job well enough but are nothing to write home about.

The Harper also features a high-quality KMC chain, as well as 30mm Super Deep-V Double Wall Rims with a specially designed braking surface.

Reliable and Impressive Performance

Single-speed bikes are famously reliable – and the Harper is no different. However, it does offer a level of performance that is very unexpected – in a positive sense, particularly for its price range.

The Harper features a flip flop hub – meaning that you can ride it both freewheeled, as a single speed bike, or as a fixed-gear bike. This is a handy feature, allowing you to better tailor the way you ride to your particular needs on any given day.

The bike comes with a pair of 700x28C Kenda City Tires.  These large, fast-rolling tires provide both speed, acceleration, and a large degree of control. Achieving and maintaining high speeds with the Harper is a breeze.

To balance out the speed of the bike, Retrospec has equipped it with a pair of serious brakes. The front and rear Promax caliper hand brakes offer an impressive amount of stopping power and can grind the bike to a full stop in a matter of moments.

The Harper is a fantastic choice for leisure riding, commuting, or any other form of cycling that doesn’t require multiple gears. It’s light, durable, and reliable – and it offers all of that for a humble asking price.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Light
  • Impressive performance-wise
Cons
  • Requires assembly
  • Lack of versatility

3. Best Folding - Vilano Urbana

Specifications:

  • Wheel size → 20 inches
  • Weight capacity → 200 lbs
  • Weight → 21 – 25 lbs

Key Features:

  • Lightweight aluminum frame
  • Adjustable seat and handlebar height
  • Coaster brake
  • Folds to 12 x 32 x 25 inches

Vilano Urbana Single Speed Folding Bike Review

Folding bikes are all the rage among commuters right now – offering the perfect blend of convenience, portability, and low maintenance.

All of these features complement the traditional strengths of single speed bikes. If you’re in need of a dependable, easy to use commuter that won’t take up too much space, this is definitely the way to go.

Vilano’s Urbana single speed folding bike fits the bill perfectly. Small, light, and easy to use, it’s a great choice for anyone who’s having trouble dealing with the hustle and bustle of urban commuting.

Elegant Design, High-Quality Materials

The Vilano Urbana features a simple, straightforward design that focuses on adaptability. The high-quality aluminum frame is featherlight – weighing in at just 21.5 lbs. The frame is treated with a special coating that helps make it scratch-resistant, and when folded up, it measures a tiny 12 x 32 x 25 inches.

The bike features adjustable seat and handlebar height. Due to its small size and low riding geometry, this is a huge bonus. The saddle height can be adjusted to a large degree – from 29 to 35 inches when measuring from the ground up, while the maximum handlebar height is a respectable 43 inches.

The 20-inch wheels won’t see you achieving any breakneck speeds, but they do a great job in urban areas. The tires feature a decent amount of grip, but the low riding geometry still means that you should probably try to avoid any bumps or obstacles.

The Urbana also features mounts for a water bottle and a rear rack, as well as a comfortable, if slightly unremarkable seat. We only have one complaint when it comes to design and materials – and it concerns the pedals. The pedals aren’t terrible, but feel a bit too plasticky, and feature a slightly awkward shape and size.

Convenience and Simplicity

As far as reliable, convenient urban commuters go, it’s tough to beat the Vilano Urbana. It’s incredibly light – the aluminum frame of the bike makes it easy to carry around, while the fact that it folds up to such a small size can be a lifesaver if part of your commute involves public transportation.

Of course, it follows that finding enough space for the Urbana in your home also won’t prove to be an issue. Folding the Vilano Urbana is a quick and simple process – so simple, in fact, that it might just be the easiest bike to fold on the market right now.

The Urbana uses a coaster brake. Normally, this would be a drawback – but seeing as how the bike is oriented toward urban commuting, it doesn’t make too much of a difference – outside of getting used to a brake system that you probably haven’t used since childhood.

The fact that this is a single-speed bike means that you’re more or less starved for versatility. You won’t be climbing up any hills or sharp inclines with the Urbana – and the small 20 inch tires also mean that you should avoid rolling down any hills as well.

Still, if your cycling routes are consistent and predictable, this tiny bike might be just what you need. When it comes to traversing flat pavement, or simply getting from point A to point B, day in and day out, the convenience and simplicity of the Vilano Urbana stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Pros
  • Incredibly light
  • User-friendly
  • Portable
  • Easy to store
Cons
  • Low-quality pedals
  • Coaster brake

4. Best For Women - Firmstrong Urban

Specifications:

  • Wheel size → 26 inches
  • Weight capacity → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 43  lbs

Key Features:

  • Step-over design
  • 26-inch whitewall tires
  • Adjustable seat and handlebar height and tilt
  • Cushioned dual-spring saddle

Firmstrong Urban Boutique Cruiser Review

Single-speed bikes are fun, reliable, and easy to use. And there’s no better way to experience the enjoyable simplicity of such a setup than with a cruiser bike.

Cruiser bikes and single-speed systems pair well together, featuring many of the same strengths. We’ve chosen Firmstrong’s Urban Boutique cruiser – a stylish, comfortable bike that’s perfect for enjoyable rides on the beach – but it can handle quite a bit more than that.

High-Quality Design

The Firmstrong Urban Boutique features a classic step-over frame design. The 15-inch frame is made from steel but isn’t too heavy overall – weighing in at 43 lbs.

The curvy frame geometry, as well as the thick top tube and painted rims, give the bike a unique appearance. A comfortable, oversized dual-spring seat guarantees maximum comfort, while the 28.5-inch wide chrome-plated handlebars are quite ergonomic, and also feature a pair of comfortable synthetic leather grips.

The large, 26-inch whitewall tires are 2.125 inches wide and do a great job of absorbing road shock. A pair of fenders helps reduce dirt buildup, meaning that the durable KMC Z-410 chain requires very little maintenance and upkeep. The wheels are constructed from a lightweight aluminum alloy, and feature rugged, durable stainless steel spokes.

The height and tilt of the seat and handlebar can be adjusted, and the bike comes 80% assembled. The Firmstrong Urban Boutique will fit most women 5 feet to 6 feet tall.

All in all, the Urban Boutique is a fantastically designed bike – particularly when you factor in how affordable it is.

User-Friendly

Firmstrong’s Urban Boutique is a cruiser bike – this means that it rides a bit different compared to your average, run of the mill bike.

For starters, you’ll notice that your position while riding is much more upright – the frame geometry, seat position, and pedal placement all lend themselves to a comfortable, upright posture. This gives you a much better overview of the road and helps reduce wrist, arm, and back fatigue.

The whitewall Kenda tires are quite well-cushioned and make for a smooth, relaxing ride. The handlebar is wide enough to ensure that you won’t have any issues controlling the bike, and the fact that it is a single-speed model makes it very easy to use. And that’s the main impression we got from the Urban Boutique – no complications, no fuss, just a good old, reliable, straight to the point cruiser.

We’d be remiss not to point out one thing though – and that is the brake. The Urban Boutique uses a coaster brake, meaning that you brake by pedaling backward.

Coaster brakes are, by and large, worse than handbrakes, and they may take some getting used to – but seeing as how it’s unlikely that you’ll get up to speeds over 15mph with the Urban Boutique, this doesn’t detract too much from our overall impressions.

Pros
  • Reasonable price
  • High-quality tires
  • Durable construction
  • High-quality frame
Cons
  • Coaster brake
  • Might be too heavy for some

5. Best For Men - Pure Cycles Original Series

Specifications:

  • Wheel size → 20 inches
  • Weight capacity → 250 lbs
  • Weight → 21 – 25 lbs

Key Features:

  • Perfect fit aluminum frame
  • Handlebar bag
  • Lightweight alloy linear-pull brakes
  • High-quality Shimano shifter

Pure Cycles Original Series Bike Review

Although single speed bikes are usually thought of as more of an entry-level type of product, that doesn’t have to be the case. High-end models can provide an impressive level of performance, and, provided you maintain them properly, they can last for years on end.

The Pure Cycles original series single speed bike is one such product. Lightweight, fast, and made from rugged, durable materials, it’s a fantastic blend of style, speed, and convenience.

If you’re in the market for a high-performance bike that is still reasonably priced when all things are considered, give this bike a closer look.

Design and Style

The Pure Cycles Original series features a sleek, classic road bike frame that is made out of durable, TIG-welded high-tensile strength steel. The bike’s weight depends on the size – with 21 pounds in total for the smallest size option and 25 for the largest. The size options can accommodate riders from 5’4” tall up to 6’2” at the high end.

The frame features horizontal dropouts, as well as a durable, straight high-ten steel fork. The handlebar is a Pure Cycles Alloy 30mm Riser bar, and it’s quite ergonomic and easily controllable. The Oury rubber grips are soft to the touch, but getting a good, solid grip won’t prove to be an issue – and neither will wrist numbness.

The handlebar pairs well with the seat – which isn’t too large on its own, but still offers plenty of comfort. It isn’t too large, and might be a bit uncomfortable for longer rides – but it is perfectly suited for short, urban commutes.

The Original series also features a durable yet low maintenance KMC Z-410 chain, as well as a pair of light, slim BMX-style nylon platform pedals. The bike’s drivetrain makes use of an alloy hub that has sealed bearings – making it a low maintenance system that won’t require much in the way of upkeep.

A Solid City Bike

So, how does all of that translate into performance? The original series doesn’t feature a suspension – but it can handle some rough roads. The combination of the high-ten steel frame and low weight ensures a smooth, solid ride. The bike’s ergonomics also do a great job of ensuring that it is easily controllable, without sacrificing much in the way of comfort.

The original series also features a flip flop rear wheel hub, allowing you to ride either single-speed or fixed gear.

The bike makes use of Pure Cycles’ durable 40mm Deep-dish 32-hole rims, which support a pair of large, fast-rolling 700 x 28c WTB Thickslick tires. Although the tires are primarily designed for an urban setting, they feature a decent amount of grip and do a good job of absorbing road shock.

The Original Series makes use of a single dual pivot alloy rim brake on the front wheel. The brake performs admirably, guaranteeing smooth, reliable stopping power – but getting used to only one brake might take some time – especially if you plan on riding single-speed.

All in all, the Original Series is a fantastic urban all-rounder – one which prioritizes durability and reliability, without neglecting other features. It manages to provide a surprising level of performance – particularly when you consider the reasonable price tag.

Pros
  • Great performance
  • Durable, lightweight frame
  • Powerful brake
  • Low maintenance
Cons
  • Average seat comfort
  • Average quality pedals

Single-Speed Bikes: Frequently Asked Questions

Are Single-Speed Bikes and Fixies the Same Thing?

The most important distinction to make here is the difference between a single-speed bike and a fixed gear bike or fixie.

Although both of these bike types have a single gear, single-speed bikes can coast - owing to the fact that they have a freewheel gear in the back. On the other hand, fixed gear bikes can’t do this - when the cranks stop turning, so does the wheel.

Are Single Speed Bikes Slower?

Not necessarily. Although single speed bikes will struggle with inclines, when it comes to flat terrain, they can be just as fast as bikes with multiple gears.

A variety of factors have an effect on how fast a bike is. A lot of single-speed bikes feature lightweight frames and large wheel sizes, meaning that they can easily reach and maintain high speeds.

What Are Some of the Advantages of Single Speed Bikes?

Single-speed bikes are quite easy to use - you don’t have to worry about shifting gears. The fact that they only have one gear also means that they are much more durable on average, requiring very little in the way of upkeep or maintenance.

Seeing as how they use simple components, single-speed bikes are also usually quite light, and much more affordable when compared to bikes with multiple gears.

Best Single-Speed Bikes: Cycling in Its Purest Form — Bike Hacks