I was looking for a bike that was different than what I had, which was 26 inch wheels and 27 gears with too much travel on front and back for where I was living and riding at the time. It wasn’t a serious search, more like keeping my eyes open while wandering around the land and online. A little while into it, I came across a great deal on the interwebs and could not pass it up.
29 inch hardtail…single speed.
I bought it immediately, the thinking being that I could gear it out as a 1x since it came with a hanger. It arrived set up as 32 x 20. I went out to the local trails the next day and immediately fell head over heels in love with how quiet it was. That was it; I was hooked.
Maybe I could ride single speed.
A few more rides and I knew I had to get rid of the 20t cog. Talking with others and consulting online forums, I decided to go with 17t, despite the head shakes and negativity from some. My rationale was simple. What is the difference of one tooth? The consensus was to go 32 x 18 at the tallest.
The 17t was put on and I haven’t changed it since. From Indiana to PA to San Diego, this bike brings me so much happiness that I rarely ride my other one. That one provides joy too, but the jiggly parts and costs to keep them working taxes my mind.
Funny thing, though, is that I still don’t identify as a single speeder. I guess, for me, I’ve associated single speeders as being a bit like the punk rock of mountain biking, complete with piercings and inked skin and an attitude that says “fuck off” on most days. That’s not me.
Whoa is me, however, as I’ve since learned that not all single speeders fall into that category. Of course, such knowledge is logical and makes sense, but I had missed the mark on it, so to speak.
I never intended on riding the bike as a single speed, and so, in some ways, I guess I am an accidental single speeder. Whatever it may be, I can say this with zero doubt:
Single speed mountain biking is pure happiness for me, plain and simple.
Riding a single speed is on my do to list. It makes me so curious to hear how you have fallen for this style of bike, I gotta try it out for myself sometime 🙂
Give it a try! It’s often said, and I’ve found it to be true, it takes me back to riding a bike when I was kid. Simply pedal!
I’ve not ridden with gears for about 2 & a half years – like yourself I wasn’t trying to be niche, I simply wanted a bike that was as robust and low maintenance as possible. It was a real eye opener though and I’ve never looked back, the simple joy of either pedal or pedal harder, fantastic.
My friends think I’m mad though