6 Reasons Why My Stable Always Includes a Singlespeed Bike

The joys of riding without gears, especially aboard this cult classic steed

Our North American Editor's Raleigh Rainier SSCX
(Image credit: Anne-Marije Rook)

Happy International Singlespeed Day! It’s a thing apparently. Or at least, PAUL Components says it is.

Two years ago, Paul Price – the founder of the eponymous PAUL Component Engineering— made an important announcement during the company’s weekly staff meeting. That day, November 2nd, would henceforth be celebrated not as his birthday—which it was and still is— but as International Singlespeed Day. 

Based in Chico, California, PAUL Components is the oldest bike part manufacturer in the country, and known for their industry leading brakes and other premium aluminium, all-American-made and sourced parts.

PAUL has always recognized a singlespeed’s value in a stable of bikes, and the company was the first to produce a designated single-speed hub for modern mountain bikes, called the W.O.R.D, Wacky One-Speed Rear Device.

This hub —nowadays available in fixed, freehub and disc— not only set design standards, like a 52mm single speed chainline, it also proved that a small American manufacturer could stand out in a market filled with gigantic global players. 

Likewise, in an age of the 12- and 13-speed drivetrains and where fixies outshine the lowly single gear ratio, the single speed is not forgotten. 

And so, for the past couple years, on November 2, silly speeders everywhere have gone out to celebrate the age-less, classic drivetrain the best way they know how: on a bike ride sans gears.

Admittedly, I only just found out about #InternationalSingleSpeedDay today, however, I’ve been a longtime rider of single-speed bikes and my stable is rarely without one. Back in my racing days, I raced track and single-speed cyclo-cross — including the raucous Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships— and these days continue to get a kick out of cruising around town or through the woods with that simple gear ratio. 

Quite note of distinction: While fixed-gear bicycles, or fixies, are technically single speed, the term single-speed generally refers to a single gear ratio bicycle with a freewheel mechanism so perhaps someone ought to come up with an International Fixie Day as well? 

Over the years, I’ve owned several vintage steel frames that I converted to a single speed. I also had a Jamis Sonik track racer that, after I was done racing circles on velodromes, became an entirely-too stiff and uncomfortable commuter bike; a limited Adam Craig edition Giant TCX SLR SS that had a really nifty 9mm QR SingleSwing dropout, offering 15mm of chain adjustment and parallel disc calibre movement; and a 1987 Centurion LeMans RS that I bought simply because we shared the same birth year and I was attracted to the teal and white colorway. 

These days I own a bit of a cult bike: a 2009 Raleigh Rainier SSCX. 

Rook's rare 2009 Raleigh Rainier SSCX