My singlespeed trial is now several months old, and the jury (of me) has returned a verdict.
Last winter, I converted my ’96 Stumpjumper to a singlespeed because its old drivetrain was pretty much worn out and I figured it was a good time to find out what the SS believers were all excited about. And it has been nice having a one-gear in the mix.
So am I a convert? Hell no. My commute is short and pretty flat, so it’s suited to a single gear. And there’s a certain attraction to a bike that requires not even the slightest adjustment for weeks at a time. A little chain lube from now and then, and some air in the tires, and you’re golden.
But my defense of multi-geared bikes remains as strong as it has always been: As soon as hilly terrain comes into the picture, good derailleurs make life better, boys and girls, and they aren’t hard to maintain. There’s nothing so reassuring as dropping into the granny gear when things get steep. Technology can be our friend.
In the end, the SS vs. Gears debate comes down to the old truth that any well-built bike is a good bike. Which one is best depends on how and where you use it. Sticking exclusively with a rigid bike, or a suspended bike, or a geared bike or a singlespeed is just silly.
My singlespeed will stay. It has a future. But only as a commuter and town bike.
When rubber meets dirt, I’ll be twisting the Grip Shifts every time.