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The best single-speed bikes in 2022

Joseph Delves
27 Jun 2022
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Single-speed bikes aren’t just cool around town - they’re practical, stylish and simple to maintain. Here are some of our favourites

Riding a single-speed bike is invigorating, fun and wonderfully simple. Jettisoning the derailleurs and shifters found on geared bikes means that they’re light, low maintenance and keep the cost down to boot. On the road, their lack of gears means that your legs have to work harder on hills and spin faster down the other side, but this too is a benefit: it builds power and improves your pedalling style.

A favourite of both urban commuters and grizzled cycling club members, single-speeds are also ideal for riding year-round as their simplicity leaves them less susceptible to winter grime. Ongoing maintenance costs are low, and the stop-go simplicity lets you concentrate on enjoying the ride rather than worrying about whether you’re in the right gear or not.

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However, while all single-speed bikes are united by having just one gear, there are many different styles to choose from at an equally wide variety of different price points. With that in mind, here’s our guide to choosing the best single-speed bike.

The best single-speed bikes available to buy right now:

Our top pick: Orro FE Street | £700 | Buy now

Best value: Elops 500 | £2509 | Buy now

Money no object: Cinelli Tutto Plus Pista | £899 | Buy now

Which features should I look out for?

Frame material: Currently, aluminium is the most popular material for making mid-range bicycles. This is because it’s both affordable and lightweight. However, many single-speed bikes instead opt for steel. A more traditional material, steel is heavier than aluminium but also less prone to damage as the tubes tend to be thicker. It also tends to be comfortable to ride, and because of its ability to be formed into skinny-looking tubes, it fits with many designs’ retro looks.

Tyres: Tyres need to suit the surface you’re predominantly going to be riding on. Road-style skinny tyres with minimal tread are quick on tarmac but sketchy on rough surfaces. The more irregular the terrain, the broader and grippier you need your tyres to be. Look out for models with extra puncture protection, too – these are heavier and slower rolling, but the added puncture-proofing is a worthy trade-off.

Brakes: Most single-speed bikes tend to use traditional caliper-style rim brakes. These are cheap, reliable, and look suitably retro. However, modern disc brakes are more powerful, especially in the rain. They’ll also help your rims last longer. However, they’re heavier and more expensive, and they’re by no means essential.

Extras: Many single-speed bikes prioritise minimalism over do-it-all practicality. At the same time, it’s not uncommon to find mudguards and rack mounts. These can be essential if you’re using the bike for commuting or don’t want to get caught in the rain.

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How much do I need to spend?

Using a limited range of components, single-speed bikes are a very cost-effective way of getting on two wheels. At the same time, they’re a little more niche than other styles.

You’ll need to spend around £400-500 to get a high-quality machine that will withstand everyday use. Any cheaper, and you may find some corners cut that will spoil your enjoyment or cause issues later down the line, although there are some rare exceptions to the rule.

At the top of the market, you can spend several thousand pounds if you want. However, as you get to around the £1,000 mark, you should expect something pretty special, with a lower weight and better quality components.

The best single-speed bikes to buy in 2022

1. Fuji Declaration Urban: The best single-speed for £500

    Price: £500 | Buy now from Wiggle

    This simple urban-focused single-speed bike is good value. Based around a minimalist steel frame, this has a relatively comfortable riding position that’s made even easier on the back thanks to a tall stem and riser handlebar.

    Arriving ready to be run in either free or fixed mode thanks to its flip-flop rear hub, the Fuji is great for those wanting to experiment with fixed-gear riding. Simply turn the wheel around to change between the two modes.

    Its build kit also gives several nods to current trends, along with a few practical touches. These include great-looking deep section rims. Fitted with Schwalbe’s robust ThickSlick tyres, these come in a 28mm width. More street-focused than some multi-terrain bikes, there are still mounts for racks and fenders.

    Gearing is also tailored to the road, with the combination of a 46t chainring and 17t fixed cog or freewheel providing a gear suited to flat and moderately speedy city riding.

    Key featuresWheel size: 700 x 28c; Weight: N/A; Frame material: Steel; Gears: 46x17t; Extras: N/A

    Buy now from Wiggle


    2. Cinelli Tutto Plus Pista: A stylish go-anywhere single-speed

    Price: £899 | Buy now from Sigma Sport

    This radical bike from legendary Italian firm Cinelli isn’t afraid to do things differently. Yes, its steel frame appears classic, but one look at its broad fork will let you know this is no traditional track bike.

    Using the extra space in the frame and fork, the Tutto Plus accommodates wide 35mm Kenda Kwick Trax tyres that lend the bike multi-terrain ability. The powerful and adaptable v-brakes also accommodate tyre widths up to 45mm. The result is a bike that’s happy to stray far from the tarmac. In fact, with mounts for mudguards and a rack, you could even take it touring or just blast it round your local woods.

    Alternatively, it’s still a very capable, rugged city bike. Exceptionally versatile, there are even fittings for derailleurs, so if your needs change you can always add gears later, which is a rare and useful option to have.

    Key featuresWheel size: 700 x 35c; Weight: N/A; Frame material: Steel; Gears: 48x18t; Extras: Derailleur mounts

    Buy now from Sigma Sport


    3. Elops 500: The best cheap single-speed bike

    Price: £250 | Buy now from Decathlon

    This single-speed bike from European sports retailer Decathlon is an incredible value. Arriving at a price point where most competitors are worth avoiding, it bucks the trend with great design and excellent components.

    Based around a steel frame, the Elops 500 looks amazing. However, despite its racey appearance, it still provides a good deal of comfort, partly thanks to the narrow riser handlebars. This leisurely riding character is also enhanced by its easy-to-spin 44x18t gearing. This means that hills won’t be too traumatising, and also makes repeated acceleration away from traffic lights easy.

    The Elops 500’s relatively light, good-quality wheels come fitted with 32mm tyres that are happy on both smooth tarmac and more intimidating terrain. Arriving with a standard freewheel, fixie-curious riders will also benefit from a flip-flop hub that can also accept a fixed sprocket and lockring.

    Key featuresWheel size: 700 x 32c; Weight: 11.6kg; Frame material: Steel; Gearing: 44x18t; Extras: Flip-flop hub

    Buy now from Decathlon


    4. Ribble Urban 725s: A gorgeous steel single-speed for £599

    Price: £599 | Buy now from Ribble

    Made from Reynolds famous 725 steel, Ribble’s modern single-speed is capable of turning its hand to a range of applications.

    Based around a frame with a reasonably relaxed geometry, it’s happy nipping in and out of traffic or on longer rides, and full-width bars provide secure steering and can always be cut down if you want something more fashionably narrow for squeezing between cars. Married to a short stem, they keep the position on the bike fairly upright while furthering its dependable handling.

    Looking to the components, the Level-brand wheels stand out for being exceptionally light and tough. Based around a flip-flop hub allowing for fixed or freewheel use, they’re fitted with Schwalbe’s excellent G-One tyres. A full 40mm wide, their high volume and low profile knobbles make this bike capable on all kinds of surfaces. Other parts are also of above-average quality, with the Stronglight track crankset being particularly lovely.

    Key featuresWheel size: 700 x 40c; Weight: N/A; Frame material: Steel; Gearing: 44x16t; Extras: Flip-flop hub

    Buy now from Ribble


    5. Orro FE Street: A fast single-speed for on-road adventures

    Price: £700 | Buy now from Tredz

    This stylish and classic-looking steel single-speed uses a unique bullhorn style bar to provide several different riding positions. Alongside the normal straight handlebar position where the brake levers are positioned, additional extensions on either side give extra purchase when climbing or allow the rider to get low when riding at speed.

    The rest of the bike is equally keen to go quickly. Its high flange hubs look great and are laced to similarly deep rims. The attractive tan wall 25mm tyres are fast rolling on the road but out of their depth on off-road jaunts, and the bike’s classic-looking chainset employs a 48t chainring and 18t freewheel, which combines to create a fast but not excessively hard-to-turn gear.

    Modern features include a threadless headset and stem, and there are also subtle mounts for mudguards. Taken together, these qualities add up to a bike ideal for speedy-tarmac riding that provides a pleasing hit of nostalgia without ever seeming dated.

    Key featuresWheel size: 700 x 25c; Weight: N/A; Frame material: Steel; Gearing: 48x18t; Extras: Includes rear light
    Buy now from Tredz


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