Things were busy earlier so I ended up taking a late lunch and walking down to the Subway for a quick sandwich. As I was approaching the intersection a guy comes through on a single speed – nice looking rig. He was entering the intersection just as his light turned green, so he had to come up out of the saddle to get the bike moving pretty quick after he had just been braking.
I understand the appeal of single speeds: less weight and less complexity; but I just don’t get it. It would have been far easier and smoother to just drop down a gear or two in order to get the bike moving, and he could have stayed in the saddle, saving his thighs.
I can vaguely recall riding a three speed Sturmey when I was a kid – another cool bike that had black fenders with the white tip on the back, and a real life siren – but I digress. I can remember the feeling of that big downward push to get the bike moving and how I was winded after a couple of turns just to get the bike up to speed.
I’m not saying that every bike should be a 30 speed, but gears on bikes got popular for a reason. In all honesty, if I had the proper range worked out, I think I could live with a 10 speed. I’ve gone on a lot of rides, especially rail trails, where I used two gears.
So I think the single speed thing is a phase. Unless you’re a roadie who uses a fixed gear for winter training, they’ll be fun for a while, kind of a play thing. But eventually, all those SS owners will tire of having to make those humungous first spins and will eventually be looking for Rohloff’s or Nexus hubs to bolt on their Quickbeams.