Bike Gearing Systems - Part 2

Part 2: So which one is best?

In general, singlespeed bikes and fixed gear bikes are the easiest to maintain and have the fewest parts so they make great basic commuters and cruising bikes. Singlespeeds are much easier to ride and are great for new riders as there are no gears to worry about.

Fixed gears are harder to ride as you must constantly keep pedalling. This is fine on a track and there are advantages to riding a fixed gear, but generally it’s better to get very comfortable on a singlespeed bike with a flip-flop hub when riding on the road and try riding fixed gear later.

Multi-speed bikes are a real bonus if you have hills to climb, loads to carry or just want to make things a bit easier on yourself! For road-riding at high speeds or mountain-biking, a multi-speed bike is pretty much essential. I’ve done both long distance road riding and mountain biking on singlespeeds and fixed gears but it’s a very different kind of riding!

Internally-geared hubs have most of the advantages of a conventional multi-speed bike plus you can change up and down without pedalling which can be nice at the lights! They tend to be significantly more expensive however and they generally have fewer gears and a narrower range. They often have the clean lines of a single-speed but are still heavier, more complicated and less robust.

Most bike riders would love a wardrobe of bikes so they could pick the best one for the kind of riding they’re going to do. But if you only have one bike, which should it be? Generally new riders find singlespeed or basic multi-speed bikes will suit their needs best. Personally, my daily commuter is a singlespeed because my ride to work is pretty flat. My bike for climbing hills and going fast has gears (18 speed). My bike for carrying loads of cargo has lots of gears, like a mountain bike (27 speed). My favourite bike is a fixed gear because it’s awesome.

The best way to figure out what you’d like is to try a few out, talk to someone that knows a lot about bikes or head down to your local bike shop and talk to the guys there about what kind of riding you’ve done in the past and what you’d like to do in the future. Or if you’re asking me, I’ll lend you a singlespeed for the meantime.

-  Alexander Hender from Tenax Ride