In this edition of the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast, we delve into the distinction between Fixie and Single Speed bikes. Our cycling coach, Devlin Eyden, provides insights into the technical aspects of these bikes and discusses their benefits for training, particularly in terms of strength training.

Fixie vs. Single Speed: What’s the Difference?

Fixie Bikes

A Fixie, or fixed gear bike, is characterized by a single gear without the option of a freewheel. This means that the pedals are always in motion when the bike is moving; you must keep pedaling to maintain momentum and control speed. Fixed gear bikes are commonly used in track cycling due to their simplicity and efficiency.

Single Speed Bikes

A Single Speed bike also has a single gear but includes a freewheel hub. This feature allows riders to coast or “freewheel” without pedaling, especially downhill. Single Speed bikes provide a bit of rest and versatility while maintaining the simplicity of having only one gear.

Benefits of Training with Fixie and Single Speed Bikes

Strength Gains

Training with a Single Speed bike can be highly effective for building strength. According to Devlin Eyden, “Using a single speed is actually a really good way to get a little bit more strength gains out of your riding and your training.” Riding your usual routes on a Single Speed bike requires more force and power to tackle obstacles and hills, which translates to improved leg strength and endurance.

Mechanical Efficiency

One notable benefit of Single Speed bikes is the improvement in mechanical efficiency. Unlike multiple-gear bikes that may reduce mechanical efficiency due to chain tension and alignment issues, Single Speed bikes maintain constant chain tension and a direct chain line. This setup enhances the efficiency of each pedal stroke, making your ride smoother and more effective.

Maintenance and Cost

Single Speed bikes and Fixies have the advantage of lower maintenance requirements. With no derailleurs to adjust or multiple gears to maintain, the upkeep is simpler and less costly. This makes them an attractive option for riders looking for a low-maintenance training tool.

Practical Tips for Using Single Speed Bikes

Gear Ratio

Choosing the right gear ratio is crucial when training with a Single Speed bike. You want a balance that isn’t too difficult for uphill climbs but not too easy for flat sections where you might “spin out” due to lack of resistance. Experimenting with different rear sprockets and chainring sizes will help you find the optimal setup for your training needs.

Fun and Challenge

While training on a Single Speed bike can be physically demanding, it also adds a fun challenge to your routine. The simplicity of the bike encourages a focus on fundamental riding skills and overall fitness.

Fixie and Single Speed bikes offer unique benefits for cyclists looking to enhance their training regimen. Whether for building strength, improving mechanical efficiency, or reducing maintenance costs, these bikes provide a straightforward and effective approach to cycling.


Devlin Eyden has a passion for seeing his athletes grow and excel. From novice runners or cyclists across all disciplines to elite mountain bikers representing South Africa at World Championships. In addition to helping you ride faster, for longer, Devlin also has the personal touch when it comes to your bike setup, aiming at improving the overall rider experience. With his background as a Sport Scientist as well as a Strength & Conditioning specialist, performance is Devlin’s main priority, be it in the gym, the lab or out on the road or trails. Being a keen runner & cyclist and having completed the Cape Epic among others, Devlin has first hand experience in what it take to reach your goals. If you’re looking for a once-off training program or ongoing, high touch support Devlin has you covered.

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