I recently came across the following as a draft of a post that I originally wrote 3 years ago, when biking with any regularity was new to me, and I was a total rookie on two wheels.
To someone who had ridden geared bikes all her life, the concept of a singlespeed was a little odd. Gears seem natural. They make going uphill easier and allow you to maximize your speed when going downhill. Bikes were made with gears for a reason, right?
When I first started riding, I never could understand why anyone would want to make things harder than they have to be. Why make it more difficult to climb a hill on a bicycle? Why limit yourself to only one gear, when you could have a whole range of options?
Then I tried it. Yes, it was hard. Yes, climbing hills can suck. But there also was a little part of me that became intrigued. I began to see the appeal. Maybe I’d give it a chance.
All it took was one more time, one more try, and I was saying at the end of the ride, “I really like the whole singlespeed thing…”
Part of it was the simplicity. No gears to think about. No gears to make funny noises and no derailers to break. The bike feels lighter.
Part of it, I think, is that it made me feel like a badass. You’re riding singlespeed? Yeah, that’s right.
But the main reason why I think I fell in love is that singlespeed riding is like an art in itself. A totally different form of riding. It’s more intimate. You learn to anticipate the terrain. You learn to look ahead and read it, you learn when to pedal and when to let gravity do the work. You become a more efficient rider, because you have to.
I finally got it. Singlespeed is awesome.
Now, 3 years later, I still don’t own a singlespeed mountain bike (just a fixed-gear townie cruiser), and it’s been a while since I’ve ridden one, but the appeal is still there. At some point, in the near future, I’ll probably convert my currently-1×9 Salsa El Mariachi into a singlespeed. Or maybe I’ll get another frame and build up another bike. That seems like the more likely scenario. Because you can never have too many bikes, right?