In 2017, more and more people are becoming environmentally conscious. That being said, a lot of people who have a short commute to work have decided to use a bicycle instead of a car, in order to save money, get some exercise and reduce their carbon footprint. While this isn’t extremely popular in Australia like it is in some European countries, it’s definitely becoming much better as time goes by. However, even when buying a simple bicycle for commuting, you’re left with the choice of buying a single-gear bike or a multiple-gear bike.
As their names implies, single-geared bicycles have only one gear ratio available, so the pedals only propel the bike at a single speed. On the other hand, a multiple-geared bicycle uses a bike derailleur to shift between several different cog sizes, thus giving the pedals a dynamic range of speeds for different levels of incline. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages for different types of riders.
There are two varieties of single-gear bicycles – fixed gear and freewheel. Fixed-gear models have a rear cassette that keeps the pedals spinning when the wheels are turning. Freewheel models coast freely when the bicycle is in motion, without having to constantly pedal. Regardless, single-gear bicycles have a minimalist design that appeals to a lot of cyclists, from beginners to experts. They use horisontal dropouts or a chain tensioner to maintain chain tension, as there isn’t a bike derailleur, neither on the front, nor the back of the bicycle.
This type of bicycles are slightly more “complex” than single-gear ones. They utilise a spring-loaded arm and keep the tension on the chain. There’s a cable attached to the shifter which pulls the derailleur arm away or toward the bicycle, which then pulls the chain up and down the front chainrings or rear cassette. This action is made smooth by the small ramps on the chainring and cassette, which help put the chain to the next gear under lateral tension.
The Key Differences
The key differences between the two types of bikes lie in their complexity and performance. Single-geared bicycles are far simpler, cheaper, and require less maintenance. On the other hand, multiple-geared bicycles outperform single-gear bicycles regarding sharp inclines and higher speeds. Moreover, multiple-geared bicycles weigh more and may require more frequent maintenance. The choice you make will mostly be influenced by the conditions you’ll be riding in, your budget, and to some extent, personal preference.