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Best single-speed bikes 2022: Fixed gear and single-speed bikes from £250

Why ride single-speed or a fixed gear? Riding a single-speed bike is cycling at its most stripped back. Because they do without multiple gears, single-speed bikes require little maintenance, which makes them great for everyday use. But besides minimal servicing costs, why would you ride one?

A single-speed or fixed gear forces you to work hard uphill and, in the latter case, spin quickly back down too (a fixie doesn’t allow you to freewheel at all). The benefits or lack thereof are hotly debated, but it’s safe to say they can make you a stronger rider, and you’ll certainly learn some new techniques.

On flatter terrain, their reduced weight (compared to an equivalent geared bike) and robustness make single-speeds ideal partners for commuting. With no changing gear to think about, they’re enormous fun to ride too, while many riders are attracted by the minimalist aesthetics. 

Single-speeds have fewer total parts than standard bikes so you can sometimes get more bike for less money yet, despite their simplicity, there is a broad range of options catering to many different niches.

What is a single-speed bike?

A single-speed bike has just one gear, as the name implies. Ready-made single-speed bikes usually use a simple BMX-style freewheel mechanism which threads onto the rear hub. It’s also possible to convert most geared bikes to single-speed using aftermarket components.

Single-speed bikes offer much the same advantages as fixies, but the riding experience is more conventional (and therefore also more beginner-friendly). 

What is a fixie?

Photo: Matthew Loveridge

A fixie, also known as a fixed-gear or fixed-wheel bike, is the simplest kind of bicycle there is, with no freewheeling mechanism at all. Fixies are technically single-speed bikes too but the lack of a freewheel means that if the bike is in motion, your legs must be turning, and you can exercise some control over your speed without touching your brakes.

Bikes ridden on the track (ie, in a velodrome) are always fixed-gear, however this style of bike is also very popular for general urban riding and commuting, and there are loads of options on the market for city-friendly fixies. 

There’s a learning curve to riding fixed as you need to train your brain to never stop pedalling. Many riders enjoy the experience and the feeling of direct connection to the road. 

Laws vary by country, but in the UK a fixie needs just one (front) brake, as the direct connection to the rear wheel counts as your second brake.

There does persist a fashion for riding fixies with no brakes at all, however we strongly advise against this as – legal implications aside – physics dictate you simply can’t stop as quickly without a front brake. 

Should I buy a fixie? (Or a single-speed?)

Yes! Practical advantages aside, fixies in particular are a huge amount of fun. Riding fixed adds a new dimension to cycling and we’d recommend anyone gives it a try. Even if pure fixed isn’t for you, single-speed bikes have a lot to offer.

We wouldn’t necessarily choose fixed or single-speed for all of our riding – we love road bikes, gravel bikes and every other sort of bike too – but for zipping around a city day-to-day, they come highly recommended.

10 of the best single-speed bikes 2022

1. Ribble Urban 725s: £599
2. Fuji Feather: £480
3. Genesis Flyer: £700
4. B'Twin 500 City: £250
5. Condor Classico Pista: £1,200 (frame only)
6. Quella Varsity: £499
7. Bombtrack Arise 2: £1,279
8. Orro FE: £700
9. Steed Thoroughbred: £450
10. BLB City Classic: £599

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1. Ribble Urban 725s single-speed: Excellent value 

Despite its accessible pricing, Ribble’s commuter-focussed single-speed manages a few very nice features. First, being made of Reynolds 725 steel not only imparts cachet among bike nerds, but it should also keep things comfy while ensuring decades of service from the frame.

Built to order, the Urban 725s can be customised in myriad ways before it arrives, including upgrading its tyres and saddle or adding accessories. With space for wide tyres and an upright riser handlebar, it’s designed for navigating around town but can also take on light off-road stretches.

Sadly, without rack or mudguard mounts you’ll be stuck carrying your gear in a backpack, although this doesn’t bother many dedicated fixie riders.

2. Fuji Feather Urban: City-focussed and classy

Dripping with style and class, the silver rims, red frame and leather bar tape of this Fuji Feather will have you looking quite the dedicated follower of fashion while spinning around your local streets.

It should be robust, too, thanks to a steel Reynolds frame, front and rear brakes and tough Vittoria Zaffiro 25mm tyres fitted as standard. Quite aggressive in its geometry, it’s probably best left to the young and flexible. 

3. Genesis Flyer single-speed bike: Ready for commuting

The long-established single-speed Flyer has gone fully gravel. Now based on Genesis’s popular CDA cyclocross frameset, it has huge 37mm tyres, easy gearing and myriad mounts for racks and mudguards.

Ditching its former calliper brakes for powerful and low-maintenance disc models, it’s unafraid to get muddy – whether that happens commuting along the canal or heading off on a bikepacking holiday.

The Flyer is based around a double-butted aluminium alloy tubeset so the overall weight is kept lower than comparable steel models. It should prove a durable workhorse capable of heading wherever you point it thanks to slack, stable geometry.

4. B'Twin 500 City single-speed bike: Incredible value

At £250, it’d be easy to approach the B'Twin 500 Single Speed City and start looking for weak links. It’s cheaper than seems logical. But it is what it claims, a proper little single-speed bike with everything working as you’d expect.

The frame is pretty basic and a bit heavy, but it does its job of holding all the components in place. The brakes stop, the hubs spin and the wheels aren’t lead weights.

We can’t imagine anyone will feel they haven’t got their money’s worth. Which isn’t the case with any similarly priced single-speeds we’ve seen.

5. Condor Classico Pista: The retro option

London-based Condor has been making bikes for over 70 years. A chunk of this heritage is visible in its lovely Condor Classico Pista.

Available as a frameset, or custom-built to your specification, it’s based around a traditional profile triple-butted steel tubeset and held together using classic investment cast lugs.

The Classico Pista eschews faddish standards in favour of things more likely to last, resulting in a timeless ride that’s likely to be as attractive in a decade as it is today.

This sees it benefit from an easy-to-adjust threaded headset and quill stem at the front, a threaded BSA bottom bracket and an integrated seat clamp.

6. Quella Varsity Collection: Classic and classy

This pleasingly timeless design from Quella is based around a 4130 chromoly steel frame and fork, worth the £100 premium over the entry-level Nero’s basic hi-ten steel, we think.

The Varsity’s cables are routed externally meaning that if you choose to run it fixed rather than single-speed and remove the rear brake, you’ll be left with a very clean frame.

The bike comes with a fixed/free flip-flop hub and is single-speed by default, but you can choose to have it set up fixed from the off when you place your order.

The Varsity rolls on eye-catching 40mm deep rims and features a rather handsome aluminium crankset.

7. Bombtrack Arise 2: Touring capable

A simple steel single-speed with disc brakes and plentiful scope for customisation. Inspiring wanderlust, the Arise’s skinny frame provides enough flex to make trips off-road enjoyable, something furthered by its relaxed geometry and lengthy wheelbase.

With lots of tiny knobs, the 35mm Kenda Flintridge gravel tyres are also adept on the trail and not excessively slow on smoother surfaces.

Upgrades over previous years include tubeless-ready WTB rims, an extra set of down tube bottle bosses and a narrow-wide chainring allowing easy conversion into a 1× or 2×11-speed drivetrain.

On road, the short gearing makes the Bombtrack easy to power, while mounts and space for racks and mudguards mean it’s ready to commute or tour.

8. Orro FE: Urban and urbane?

A moderately relaxed bike, designed for city commuting. With a medium stack head tube, the Orro’s bullhorn-style bars provide a range of practical positions while riding.

The 48/18 gearing is equally easy-going, being designed for the start-stop of city traffic rather than competition on the track. With a flip-flop rear hub, you can switch the wheel around to experiment with riding fixed, while standard twin brakes ensure you’ll stay legal in either mode.

Deep-section rims, high flange hubs, and a classic looking crankset are ageless, while the low-key black paint job, tan-wall tyres and leather effect kit look stylish without being too try-hard.

9. Steed Thoroughbred single-speed bike

At £450 the Thoroughbred is one of the cheaper options out there but the cheery riser bar and optional yellow paintjob give it obvious appeal, even if the high-tensile steel frame and fork aren’t the lightest out there.

The choice of 28mm tyres (versus the 25s on some of these bikes) adds a bit of useful comfort for city streets, while the 44/18 gearing isn’t too hardcore for casual riding. 

On top of that, the saddle and handlebar grips are both fitted with vegan leather and for every bike purchased a tree will be planted in fragile ecosystems around the world thanks to Steed’s partnership with the International Tree Foundation. You can’t dislike that.

10. BLB City Classic: Old school track aesthetics

Looking like a classic 70s track bike, but with a few subtle tweaks to transform it for day-to-day use, the fixed-gear BLB City Classic is both pretty and relatively practical. It combines a skinny chromoly steel frame with a classic lugged fork, a traditional quill stem and deep-drop bars.

While the BLB looks like it’s just rolled off the track, the front brake and puncture-resistant 25mm Schwalbe Thickslick tyres are very much road-friendly. 

Those deep drops are likely to be largely decorative for many riders however, particularly with the single brake lever mounted on the tops as fashion demands.

Need some help with technical terms? Head to our beginner's guide to the parts of a road bike

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