A geared bike makes it easy to go fast but what if you only have a single speed bike? Read on to learn how to make a single speed bike faster.
Feeling the air in your face as you zoom around on your bike is such a great feeling. The faster you go, the freer you feel. A geared bike will traditionally go faster than a single speed bike. However, do not fret. There are several adjustments you can make to the bike, to your position, and to your situation to make your single speed bike faster.
To make a single speed bike faster, adjust your tire pressure between 80 and 130 psi, get a bigger rear sprocket to increase acceleration, make sure your axle bearings are adjusted so they aren’t too tight or too lose, adjust your seat height and position optimal for your height to get more power while pedaling, make sure there is proper tension on the chain so it isn’t too loose or too tight, clean and maintenance your bike to remove dirt and debris from the chain, brakes and cables, ride with the wind or downhill when possible, and to minimize resistance change your riding position and remove all accessories.
Single speed bikes are often heavier and lose more power to friction than geared bikes, so they are often not faster. But this does not mean you cannot create some great speed with your single speed bike.
Adjusting some components of the bike or the way you ride can quickly change the situation. If you are feeling the need for speed, this guide has the answers you seek for the faster bike you want to ride.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
Adjust Tire Pressure
Tire pressure directly impacts the speed of a bike. Low air pressure means the tires are not as round so they will not roll as fast. Bicycle tires need to be rounded and hard in order to reach faster speeds.
The lower the pressure is, the flatter the tire surface area is. This results in a slower speed. A round and hard tire will have fewer points of contact with the road, less resistance, and therefore more speed.
The type of bike you have will influence the ideal tire pressure. Narrow tires typically require higher pressure. On average racing and road bikes will have more narrow tires and need a tire pressure between 80 and 130 psi (pounds per square inch).
Mountain bikes have wider tires and an average pressure range between 25 and 35 psi. You also need to figure your weight into the equation because the heavier you are, the higher your tire pressure should be.
Increasing tire pressure can result in a smoother and faster ride. It also reduces the risk of getting a flat tire. Signs that you need to adjust your tire pressure include:
- Poor maneuverability
- Short stopping distances
- Wobbly when turning
- Bike frame vibrating
Get A Bigger Rear Sprocket
Sprockets on bikes are used to transfer rotary motion between gears. On a single speed bike, there will only be one rear sprocket. A larger rear sprocket will increase the drive ratio which increases acceleration. A small rear sprocket adds more top speed to the bike, but acceleration is reduced.
If you want to go faster, you may need to switch to a larger rear sprocket. You will not get a higher top speed, but you will get much better acceleration.
Adjust Axle Bearings
Bicycle axle bearings reduce friction and therefore will affect speed. If these bearings are too tight or too loose, they influence how smoothly the axle and wheel will move. A worn-down bearing can also change friction and therefore speed.
A bearing that is too tight will create too much friction and prevent the wheel from turning efficiently. This can lead to a slower speed. It will also wear the bearing down quickly.
A bearing that is too loose will not properly secure the wheel and it can shake or wobble while riding. This will prevent you from going fast as the bike will be hard to maneuver when shaking. You can easily adjust the bearing by tightening the hub nut or loosening it as necessary.
Adjust Seat Height & Position
The bicycle seat or saddle affects your position and height. It also affects the position of your legs in relation to the pedals. The power of your bike comes from the pedals, so if you are not in a position to create optimal power for your bike, you will go slower. It is possible to make your single speed bike faster by adjusting the height and position of your seat.
The proper height of your bike seat is based on your inseam. It should be 109% of the inseam measurement. To get the ideal height, multiply your inseam measurement in millimeters by 1,109.
How this impacts the speed you go will vary for each person. A taller person can pedal faster when the seat is higher, and a shorter person will go faster with a lower seat. If you are trying to go faster, adjust the seat to better suit your height.
The seat position also affects speed indirectly. The seat position and angle affect your comfort levels. A saddle that gets in the way of pedaling will slow you down.
To go faster, make sure that your seat is not angled up or down. You need to be sitting comfortably on the seat without any chafing against your legs to pedal efficiently and get more speed.
Proper Tension On Chain
The tension of the chain is another component to look at. Chains need to have the right amount of tension to create forward movement and speed. A loose chain will fall off and leave you with no power or speed.
An overly tight chain can break and leave you in the same predicament. Additionally, a chain that is too tight puts pressure on the rest of the pedaling mechanisms.
A tight chain will increase friction and you will have to work harder to pedal and create movement. This not only wears you out, but it makes it hard to generate any real speed.
Adjusting the chain tension can reduce friction so you can pedal faster and move faster. Proper tension for a bicycle chain is being tight enough to allow you to move it up and down an inch.
Any well-oiled machine will work better. When it comes to your bicycle, regular maintenance and cleaning will keep it running better and faster. A clean bike will be a fast bike.
The drivetrain, chain, and cables can collect dirt over time, and this slows things down. Investing in a bike cleaning kit will keep components clean which can help you ride faster. The best approach is to set a routine.
If you set aside five minutes after every ride to wipe your bike down it will be a more efficient ride. These few minutes will save you from deep cleaning. The dirtier it gets, the harder it is to clean, so clean often and ride faster.
Change Riding Position
Resistance will slow your bike down. Your body can create resistance as you ride. Your position as you ride can be changed to impact your speed. If you are going slow, try sitting a different way on the bike.
Not only can your position create resistance, but the wrong position can reduce the amount of power you create from pedaling. It can also cause you to over desert yourself, causing fatigue and a slower speed.
If you feel that your position is slowing you down or making you more tired than it should, try adjusting your position according to these guidelines.
- Keep your elbows bent and tucked into your sides
- Keep a straight line between elbow and fingers (no bend in the wrist)
- Lower your shoulders away from your ears
- Maintain a neutral spine (straight line between shoulders and hips)
- Knees should be over the balls of your feet
- Knees bent at 25 to 35-degree angle
The more you lean forward and the lower your profile is, the faster you will go. By changing to a more aerodynamic position, you can strain lower back muscles, but you will go faster.
Ride Downhill Or With The Wind
You can make a single speed bike faster by increasing momentum. When you ride downhill you are working with gravity, so you accelerate and go faster. Going uphill has you working against gravity and will slow you down.
Another way to increase momentum is to get a push. Riding with the wind means the wind is pushing you, so you will go faster. By increasing your momentum, you can make your single speed bike faster.
It goes without saying that if your clothing and position can create resistance, so can any accessories on the bike. Water bottle holders, baskets, or lights fixed to the frame change the aerodynamics of the bike.
The more surfaces there are for the wind to hit against, the slower you will go. To get speed, you need to maintain a streamlined shape and reduce resistance. If you feel like you are moving slow, try removing all accessories to give you a little more boost.
Helpful Tips To Know How To Make Single Speed Bike Faster
A single speed bike may not go as fast as geared bikes, but this doesn’t mean you cannot go fast. There are several ways to make your single speed bike faster. Keep these tips in mind when you are ready to speed things up:
- Check bike components: seat, chain, tires
- Check your body: riding position, clothing, posture
- Check your surroundings: weather and terrain influence bike speed
If you have a single speed bike and are not happy with its speed, make some changes and get going. It is easy to learn how to make a single speed bike faster, you just need to know what factors influence the speed.
Bicycle components as well as how you ride can all improve speed. You can also do something as simple as ride downhill and let gravity do the work for you. It may be called a single speed bike, but that doesn’t mean that speed has to be a slow one.