For the Love of Single-Speeds

By Mike Rosso

“One gear bikes have two speeds: riding and pushing.” – Anonymous

I remember clearly my first bike. It had one gear. If you needed to climb a hill or gain momentum you stood up and pumped hard. Downhill you wound it out to the maximum RPM, slamming back hard on the pedals to bring it to a screeching halt. No hand brakes, no derailleur, no multiple gears – very reliable except for the occasional flat tire or broken chain. But who could resist the lure of multiple gears? The decisive click of a three-speed grip shifter found on the typical English commuter bike? The sudden ease of climbing hills? I then became smitten with the five-speed in-line stick shift on the gold Schwinn Stingray I was astonished to find on Christmas morning one year (thanks again Mom and Dad). Sure, the Stingray was kind of a ridiculous contraption; the banana seat, sissy bar, high-rise handlebars – but that cool shifter! Man, you could do some serious climbing and get some great speed, all the while imagining myself another Mario Andretti.

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