Bicycling has been changing. For many people it has become less of a pastime, and more of a sport or exercise. Cycling is attractive to an aging population, because it offers low-impact aerobic exercise. Since its invention, the bicycle has been used for simple transportation as well. Bicycle design and configuration has changed dramatically as well. Somewhere toward the latter part of the 20th century “mountain” bikes became extremely prevalent. Twenty-one speeds, shock absorbers, and knobby tires are found on many bikes that never see so much as a dirt path.
So why a single-speed road bike?
In terms of efficiency, the road bike rates extremely high. It offers very low rolling resistance due to the narrow, large diameter wheels. The single-speed configuration gets rid of gears, shifters, cables, and weight. It also makes maintenance very simple.
This goes back to how bicycles have changed. Modern road bikes have a vertical slot in the dropouts. That limits the way a single speed chain can be tightened. Vintage road bikes normally have a horizontal slot so the rear wheel can be moved up or back to control the chain tightness. Vintage road bikes have character, class, and uniqueness, especially the classic brands with head badges.
The case for the single-speed/fixie bicycle.
- A large majority of the population is not mechanically-inclined. Most people will not even fix a bicycle tire when they get a flat. Adjusting gears and gear cables requires mechanical skill.
- Less maintenance, less upkeep, fewer repairs and adjustments.
- There is a purity and Zen quality to a bike with one gear.
- The lack of 20 gears and derailleurs provides a much closer and direct connection to the road.
- A stripped-down bicycle is less attractive to thieves.
- It’s way cooler than a Wal-Mart bike