If you’re a new cyclist or considering buying a new bike, you may be wondering what the difference is between a single-speed bike and a geared bike, as well as which one is the best for you. We’re going to have a look at exactly what each of these bike types is and answer all the important questions that you might have related to single-speed bikes and geared bikes. Let’s begin by establishing what each type of bike is.

What is a Single-Speed Bike?

Details of fixie bike

Single-speed bikes come in many forms. But the one common characteristic between all single-speed bikes is that they only have a single gear ratio. That means that you won’t find any form of gearing on a single-speed bike. Neither hub nor derailleur gears will be integrated into a single-speed bike.

Single-speed bikes are used for a multitude of purposes, and for that reason, they come in a range of designs, too. For example, both a BMX and a racing bike used in a velodrome are single-speed. Although they won’t share the same gear ratio, as this will be altered to suit the bike’s specific purpose, there will still be no way of changing the gear ratio through a gear or another method.

What is a Geared Bike?

Bicycle gear

As you can guess from the name, a geared bike is a bicycle that includes a gearing system, which will often come in the form of a hub gear or derailleurs. The geared system allows cyclists to change the gear ratio while cycling so that you can adjust to your surroundings.

Geared bikes also come in many different forms. But the most famous of the geared bikes is the mountain bike. Of course, the reason mountain bikes require gears is because of the terrain that they cycle on.

The Main Advantages of a Single-Speed Bike

Vintage single speed bike

Single-speed bikes offer a lot of advantages, but they might not be perfect for everyone. The key to single-speed bicycles is their simplicity. Without any gears, you can concentrate on your riding without needing to adjust the gears constantly. This simplicity extends to maintenance. There’s very little that can go wrong with a single-speed bike, and what does break can be easily fixed for a low price. Often the replacement of parts can be done by the cyclist.

Single-speed bikes also are perfect for certain terrains. If you live somewhere flat, then a single-speed bike is ideal. Because they’ve not got any gearing systems inside them, they’re much lighter than their geared counterparts. The lack of weight makes them easier to maneuver as well as quicker on flat surfaces.

The cost has to be factored in too. Of course, there are countless, extremely expensive single-speed BMX or racing bikes on the market. But if you’re seeking a simple commuter bike for getting around your city, you can find one for a very low price. They’re cheaper than a geared bike, which is instantly more expensive because of the gearing system.

The lightness of single-speed bicycles also means that they’re easier to transport. And, as they’re often more sleek than geared bikes, they can be stored more easily.

Another big plus for single-speed bikes is that it can help you burn more calories. Why? Because when you’re on a single-speed bike, it’s your legs that have to do all the work. There’s no way of switching through the gears to make climbing easier. No, with a single-speed bike, it’s you that’s got to power yourself. That means that you have to put in more effort. If you ride a single-speed bike for a few months, you’ll swiftly see that your muscles are hardening and you’re shedding some pounds, which is no bad thing, especially if you’re taking up cycling for exercise reasons.

Many people also prefer the way that single-speed bicycles look. Geared bikes tend to be built for functionality, which makes sense, but this can harm their aesthetics. That’s not the case with a simple single-speed bike. Some gorgeous commuter bikes can turn heads in busy urban areas, so if you’re a person who likes having something well-designed and eye-catching, then a single-speed bike could be ideal for you.

The Main Advantages of a Geared Bike

Fat bike rear view

There are many benefits to having a gearing system as part of your bicycle. The most important one, though, is that gears help relieve the strain related to cycling, meaning that the gears can do a lot of the work. You can climb hills without needing to break a sweat. When you’re on a straight patch of road, you can relax while going at a quick enough speed to overtake the single-speed cyclists who are panting and out of breath, yet traveling half your speed.

There are some places where a geared bike isn’t just preferred but necessary. If you live in a hilly or mountainous region, you will need to have a geared bike to deal with the inclines. No matter how fit you are, you’ll struggle to climb steep hills with a single-speed bike.

If you’re an adventure cyclist who loves to go mountain biking, then a geared bike is the only option.

What Type of Bike is Best for a Beginner?

Grandparents forest biking

The best type of bike for a beginner will depend on that beginner’s specific requirements.

For example, if you’re on a budget and live in a city, but don’t want to spend lots of money on maintaining the bike, then a single-speed bike is ideal. If you’ve got a large budget, live somewhere hilly, and want your cycling to be as effortless as possible, you’ll want to have a geared bicycle.

Neither type of bike is necessarily better nor worse for every beginner. But if you’re learning, then you may find a single-speed bike much easier to deal with, as there’s no need to worry about changing gears. This is one of the reasons why children’s bikes are almost always single-speed bikes.

What Is Quicker Out of a Single-Speed Bike and a Geared Bike?

Two bikers

There is some debate about this question. Once again, the context seems to be important here. On a flat surface, a single-speed bike should be able to travel faster than a geared bike because it doesn’t have the extra weight of the gear system. But, as soon as an incline is involved, then the geared bike is quicker. For the average rider, they will find it easier to cycle on a geared bike so that they can go more quickly as a result. It’s important to remember that you will also be limited by your physical capabilities when you’re cycling a single-speed bicycle. It will only go as quickly as you’re able to power it to go. That’s not the case with a geared bike.

Which Bike is Easier to Maintain?

Single-speed bikes are far easier to maintain compared to geared bikes. There’s a lot less that can go wrong with a single-speed bike. And you also don’t need to worry about cleaning out the gear hub or derailleurs. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance bike, then a single-speed bicycle is a better option.

Are Geared Bikes More Expensive than Single-Speed Bikes?

Not necessarily. It depends entirely on the bike. Single-speed commuter bikes can cost thousands, and it’s possible to get a standard mountain bike for a lot less than that. It’s easier to say which of the two bikes is the cheapest. And you can certainly get a good-quality, new single-speed bicycle for a lot less money than a geared bike will cost you.


It’s impossible to say that either a single-speed bike or a geared bike is better than the other. Each is suited to different tasks. Single-speed bikes are affordable, lightweight, easy to maintain, and look good, too. They’re ideal for people who live in cities or places with flat terrain. They’re also perfect for exercise, as they make you work a lot harder when cycling. But geared bikes are so good for the exact opposite reason. They make cycling easy. They also make it possible to have adventures in the mountains, hills, or other areas with rugged terrain.