Since we featured the Specialized Globe Roll 02 SE in our last post, we’ve been getting a few questions from our followers and customers about the Roll 02 SE. In response, we’ll be discussing single-speed and fixed gear bicycles in depth on our blog, covering everything from the appeal of such bikes, the process of converting a geared bicycle into a single-speed or fixie, as well as riding tips to help you get the most comfortable ride possible out of your single-speed drivetrain. Today’s post covers the basics, so stay tuned for more articles throughout the week and we’ll fill you in on the specifics.

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We’ve been seeing a lot of these bikes around the neighborhood lately—a stripped down drivetrain with just one ring on the crank and a single rear cog. Whether locked to a rack or zipping down the road, they’re instantly recognizable and they’re all over the city. What makes single-speed and fixed gear bicycles so popular?

Some might wax poetic about the direct connection the rider has to the drivetrain without any derailleurs to get in the way, the instant feedback you get for your efforts. Others will say it’s the purity of the ride and a return to the basics of bicycle design that keeps them pedaling on a single gear. But there’s a practical reason for choosing a single speed or fixed gear bicycle: it’s an inexpensive and low-maintenance option for urban riders.

Gear shifters are often the most expensive components on a bicycle, as they are composed of many moving parts working intricately together. Derailleurs aren’t cheap either. If you’re looking to buy a good-quality road bike, choosing a single speed or fixed gear build can save you $700—$1,000 on average. For the budget-conscious, such significant savings are definitely part of the appeal, especially in a city like New York where bicycle theft is rampant.

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The single chainring and rear cog are also easy to clean. If you ride your bike under a variety of conditions, you probably are already aware that in order to extend the life of your drivetrain, it’s important to clean your crank, chain, and cassette after riding in the rain or in muddy conditions. This prevents premature wear of the chain and derailleurs, but in practical terms, it means getting in between all the little teeth on each cog with a rag to remove debris, which can be time consuming and irritating. You also have to keep the springs in your derailleurs well-lubed so they resist rust and keep your gears transitioning smoothly. With a single speed drivetrain, you eliminate derailleur maintenance and drastically reduce the time it takes to keep your drivetrain clean although you do have to take care to watch your fingers if your bike is a fixed gear. While lubing the chain, make sure not to let the cranks spin out of control or you r fingers may get sucked into the cog and suffer a nasty cut.

Of course, some individuals just love the ride quality of a fixed gear or single speed bike so much that they choose to convert their geared bike to a single-speed or fixed gear. That sounds like a job for the Bicycle Roots mechanic team! If you’re interested in converting your bike to a single-speed or fixed gear, bring it by our shop for an estimate—or just wait for Wednesday’s blog post, where we’ll be discussing the conversion process in depth.

 

 

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