5 Single-Speed Mountain Bike Myths Busted, Plus the 8 Best Single-Speed MTBs of 2018
As greater numbers of people line up to try them out, the growing interest in single-speed mountain biking has also acquired an equally broadening trail of myths behind it.
But what's the truth behind them, and what do people need to know before they rush out to buy a single-speed mountain bike? We've gone in deep for the info you need, so come check out our finds — and then we'll take a peek at the 8 best best MTBs of 2018, compared, too:
5 Single-Speed Mountain Bike Myths
Myth #1: Single-speed mountain bikes are hard on the knees
Most riders who consistently use single-speed bikes have actually reported the opposite to be true. In fact, some who had knee pain prior to choosing a single-speed noticed their problems melted away after some time without multiple gears.
These riders insist that more often than not, single-speed riding strengthens the knees, and that any knee pain experienced is probably due to training too hard too fast or a poor bike fit - like pedaling with your seat too low.
Myth #2: Climbing sucks with a single-speed
This is only true if you’re looking to coast along without effort — in which case, you should stick to easy paved trails or riding around a cul-de-sac.
Riders accustomed to single speeds know that climbing usually requires you to rise from the seat and stand to pedal, putting your full weight behind the motion. This eliminates boredom, makes you stronger, and gets you up that hill - none of which suck to a seasoned rider.
Myth #3: Single-speed bikes are low-maintenance
Although they may be less maintenance than other bikes, or lower maintenance in a nutshell, the term ‘low-maintenance’ definitely gives the wrong impression.
Truth is, there’s still plenty of work required to keep up your single-speed MTB, and you’ll need both the elbow grease and the proper supplies on hand to do it — like a pump with a pressure gauge, a scrubbing brush, a bucket full of lukewarm water and some liquid dish soap, a few clean dish rags, rubbing alcohol, and more. Check this guide for some basics.
Myth #4: Single-speed riders are all hipsters who care more about looks than functionality
While some may insist there’s something to that generalization, overall most single-speed riders just love the way the bike feels. The sensation of “being one with the bike” is something that can’t be described to someone who hasn’t tried it — so why not set aside the judgement for a minute and try one out for yourself? You may surprised at how addictive these bikes can be!
Myth #5: Single-speed mountain bikes are great for beginners
This couldn’t be further from the truth. While some people seem to believe the simplicity and freedom of the single-speed equates to beginner level riding, the fact is these bikes need strength and experience to master — especially on hills.
The only easy part is that you can focus solely on pedaling and using your momentum rather than switching gears. But you can count on the ride to be challenging.
Now let's look at some of the best single speed mountain bikes experts have raved about this year:
The top 8 Single-Speed Mountain Bikes of 2018
State Bicycle Co.’s Pulsar Single Speed 29er Mountain Bike
It’s not only stunning in appearance, but impressively affordable and it’s incredibly easy to assemble the components once delivered. An excellent value.
Although they’re currently sold out, you can get on the waiting list to receive an email when they’re back in stock here — just click on the red tab along the right that says "Email When Available."
Once signed up, you'll receive a single, one-time email when the product arrives back in stock — so keep an eye out for that (and check your spam folder occasionally) so you can have your chance to buy this epic single speed mountain bike!
Some specs on the State Bicycle Co. Pulsar:
Price: $450 (original price $649).
Delivery options: These MTBs are delivered to you 90% assembled. You’re encouraged to take the components received to a local bike shop to have it professionally assembled — if you don’t know where to take it, try this bike shop locator — and then send your proof of professional assembly to State Bicycle Co. to activate your warranty. Details here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? This bike is available in 3 sizes. See size chart and specifications for other details.
- Excellent quality and value
- Reputable bicycle brand
- Large wheels may present problems in certain types of terrain
These bikes look amazing and have everything required to start you off riding the trails like a champ. Their super low price only sweetens the deal even more! If you can’t get one on the regular site, and you’ve tried adding yourself to the waiting list, give Amazon a try.
Takara Kabuto Single-Speed Bike
We couldn’t name the 8 top single speed mountain bikes without talking about the brilliant Japanese-made Takara Kabuto. Light, fast, and eye-poppingly gorgeous, the Takara Kabuto has replaceable pedal straps, an adjustable seat, and maintains a 4-star rating after 445 customer reviews.
Takara Kabuto specs:
Delivery options: Delivered to home or purchased at local stores if in stock.
What is the refund policy? Any warranty? Third party sellers provide their own refund policies, such as here for Amazon. According to their website, “Takara Bikes come with 180 days warranty against frame defects and 60 days against component defects” Warranties can be requested from their customer service here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? It’s available in either green and blue or yellow and black; other colors may be possible elsewhere. 3 different sizes may be available via some sellers, depending upon what's left in stock.
- Lightweight at only 29.5 pounds
- Detachable/refillable water bottle
- Easily adjustable seat
- Available in blue/green and/or yellow/black or other color variations by various sellers
- Brakes may need upgrading upon arrival, check them at least
- A bike shop professional may be needed to assist with/approve of final assembly before taking the bike out on the road
A great starter bike, easy to maintain and beautifully priced. These bikes maintain a very high 4-star (of 5 possible) rating for over 445 customer reviews.
Gravity G29 FS Single Speed Mountain Bike
Rated high in several Top 10s of the year, the Gravity G29 single-speed mountain bike is ready for rough terrain and can handle every dip and curve while looking super sharp. Fantastic value for the current prices at any location, Gravity is a brand sold by BikesDirect which aims to provide "a name brand ride without the name brand price."
Very lightweight with trail-tested geometry, disk brakes, and stable, responsive handling, this bike is a favorite among mountain bikers for good reason. Here's a customer video to demonstrate a bit on how it rides.
Gravity G29 FS Single Speed Mountain Bike specs
Delivery options: To your home. Bikes should arrive at least 80-90% assembled, and sites like BikesDirect have printable assembly instructions.
What is the refund policy? Any warranty? Refunds are offered within 30 days of purchase on BikesDirect; details here. Amazon sellers abide by the Amazon refund policy; instructions here. Every bike sold on BikesDirect comes with a factory warranty, details here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? You can get orange, black, lime green, white, or matte gray depending upon the site, and 4 different sizes.
- Super lightweight at 28.3 lbs
- Available in several colors and 4 sizes
- Sturdy, high quality, and fun to ride
- Made in China
- Some didn’t care for the disk brakes
This is a superb quality bike at a budget price. Very popular with lots of positive reviews. Whatever type of ride you have in mind, this one will get you through with less effort than many others of similar type.
Nashbar Single-Speed Mountain Bike
When you need a quality single-speed MTB but you’re working with a tight budget, it’s hard to beat a Nashbar Single Speed Mountain Bike. The 29-inch wheels and sturdy tires offer excellent control as you move through any terrain.
Easy to ride and maintain, with options for upgradeability - and you have a choice of 4 sizes to fit your exact frame. Finally, a total at 60% off original price of less than $500 keeps things in the right price range.
Nashbar Single Speed Mountain Bike specs:
Price: $319.99 on the Nashbar site.
Delivery options? The bike will be delivered to your home. You’ll likely have some light assembly to complete, or you can take it to a professional bike shop to help you for a small fee.
What is the refund policy? Any warranty? Refunds are offered on bikes in like-new condition for up to a year with proof of purchase, details here. The warranty is good for a year as well, details here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? There are 4 sizes, but no color choices (sadly) or other add-ons.
- *lightweight (well, medium actually, around 30 lbs - but not heavy)
- *sturdy, durably made, high quality
- *superb price
- *not much color variation to choose from. Not everybody likes Blaze Orange, but at least you’ll be visible!
The Nashbar single-speed is a great bike for the price and you should have zero problems with it - or at least very few. If you can, please do take it in to a professional assembler to look it over before reaching high speeds or riding in traffic just to make sure everything’s properly tightened and aligned.
Swobo Mutineer Single Speed Mountain Bike
Colorado’s Swobo brand, headed by owners (and brothers) Peter and Justin Discoe, specializes in single speed durability, which in 2018 culminates in the single speed favorite, the sturdy Swobo Mutineer Mountain Bike.
Constructed with a high-performing aluminum and with about 4 sizes and at least 2 colors to choose from, you can take this bad boy on the roughest of trails to enjoy the most comfortable of rides.
Swobo Mutineer Single Speed Mountain Bike specs:
Price: $500 on Amazon here.
Delivery options: Your Swobo single-speed would be delivered to your home through Amazon's delivery options; a professional should be sought for verification of proper assembly.
What is the refund policy? Any warranty? Amazon refund and manufacturer’s warranty policy, details here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? This one is only available in pink, with 2 size options - but keep an eye out for others in different colors and more sizes as they become available.
- There are at least 2 color choices and 4 sizes (when available)
- Super durable
- No need to change gears while riding, just focus on your pedaling
- Can handle even the roughest terrain
- Not many available currently
- Seat is not as comfy as it could be
If you can get your hands on an authentic one of these, grab it! It promises the best, secure ride anytime for the most avid of rough riders.
Surly Karate Monkey Single Speed
I snagged a medium-sized Stand-Back Purple K-Monk for $1550 (which, I note, is slightly higher than other prices I’ve seen posted).
Surly Karate Monkey Single Speed specs:
Delivery options: For this options, I could only select ‘pick up at store’ from my location. Instructions said they would contact me when my bike was at the store ready for pick-up. I could ask them questions and see about any light assembly that needed to be finished once there.
What is the refund policy? Any warranty? They offer refunds within 30 days, details here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? In this case, I could only choose between 3 available sizes and one available color - the purple.
- High quality, great value
- Rust inhibiting coating is nice to maintain the smooth look
- Durable, super long-lasting
- Frame and tires add a bit of weight, but nothing intolerable
If you’ve got the money to spend on one of these, do it. It will last you practically forever.
The Spot Cream SS
No, it's not an acne treatment! Another one on the pricey end, the Cream single-speed mountain bike has just one gear and no chain according to Bicycling.com. Instead, it has a belt drive.
A smooth ride is guaranteed via the bike’s modern design and high end components.
Spot Cream SS specs:
Can this bike be delivered to my home or a local bike shop? What are the delivery options? Our option is to pick up from their location, which is fine because we can ask questions and make sure assembly is correct at that time. We’ve been meaning to visit Oregon, anyway!
What is the refund policy? Any warranty? Refunds are provided within 14 days of purchase, details here. Warranties are offered for 2 years, details here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? There’s only one color for the Cream - unpainted, or, as they refer to it in Bike Mag, ‘Wabi-Sabi,’ which Wikipedia explains as “a comprehensive Japanese worldview or aesthetic sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” We love that color. There are 5 sizes to choose from, too.
- Innovative design
- High quality components
- Made in Taiwan (although they are known for expert craftsmanship, we prefer made in the USA products)
- Extremely expensive for most budgets
These may be hard to find, but if you see one for sale, snag it! They may be pricey but they’re built to last and you can get repairs done at Joe Bike (or spots like it) for a reasonable rate anytime!
Kona 2018 Unit
Last we have the Kona Unit of 2018, a classic single speed mountain bike with a lot of spunk. Designed in such a way as to easily allow the adding of gears if desired, the Unit stands righteously as it is, ready to tear through any type of region you encounter on its back, a specialist at mixed terrain.
Kona 2018 Unit specs
Price: $999 on the Kona site.
Delivery options: Yes, delivered to your home with guidance on final assembly or instructions to have professional assembly done.
What is the refund policy? Any warranty? Refunds are only accepted in "pristine, unridden condition" and there's a 20% restocking fee. No time frame was mentioned on the refund policy, but you can get details here. Warranty information was not posted, but can be requested from customer service here.
Is it customizable? Any choice of color? Other add-ons? I was not given a color choice, and the only size I could select on the Kona site was 'SM'.
- Design makes it easy for adding gears if ever desired
- Cheaper than some we've reviewed!
- Some felt it was hard to get into a comfortable riding position on the Kona
- I wasn't given any color options, and the only size I could choose was 'SM'
Named by DirtRagMag as a mainstay in the Kona assortment for years, the Unit version of 2018 has made some updates and improvements. It's still a basic, 'rigid' single speed, but now you can more easily add gears if desired and other such fun. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper than some we've reviewed today — and it's also built to last.