Single Speed Cycling

Switch Urban Frame

I like to ride single speed bikes, totally by accident after I had to quickly get another bike after my Claude Butler road bike was stolen in 2011….a knackered old singlespeed Peugeot Premier was going in the newspaper for 110 quid. I started on it, got used to it and now wouldnt go back to gears.


I initially tried it with a fixed rear gear, but after about 1 hour – and almost killing myself, decided very quickly that a freewheel is for me.

Omnium Crankset
Omnium Crankset

I like the simplicity of just getting on, and knowing that all I have to do is turn the pedals. In reality, unless there are really steep hills – or you
think you are in the kind of level of winning stages of Le Tour, I dont think there is actually very much speed difference overall between gears and singlespeed – after all
until 1937 everyone did the whole Tour De France with only one gear ! (in flip-flop mode, one high – and one low gear. They had to stop and flip the wheel over themselves).

Its definitely not for everyone, and if you live in the Alps – probably almost totally impractical…but if you get sick of upgrading your groupset every year, you might
want to give it a shot at least once.

12 thoughts on “Single Speed Cycling

  1. Great looking machine – did you buy the frame direct from Switch? Keen to track one down.

    1. I got the frame on eBay (New). Watch out though because dropouts are 12mm thick, so
      Many axles are too short. I had to make my own rear axle for the mavic ellipse rear wheel….

      Not helped by weird 124mm dropout spacing! Which needed a couple of washers to take up the gap. Although that does give added possibility to correct chainline (if you redish the wheel). I didn’t have to do that though fortunately.

      But I recommend with this frame to not use “system” wheels like the Mavic. Because making changes to spacing means a custom axle!

      1. Thanks for the info.
        I have noticed a few on eBay, but are all size M. I’m in need of a Large.
        The descriptions of the frame I have come across say there are rear brake cable guides – any reason why you’ve run a full outer?
        Thanks, Tim

        1. The frame has no internal or external cable
          guides,clips or mounts of any kind. I had to make
          my own (that was done after the photo was taken).

  2. Hi again Calum,
    Managed to track down a Large, and am now awaiting delivery.
    I’m keen to run a Gate sbelt drive – but the cost of a freewheel is ridiculous (around $250US!!! ) so I’m going to try and squeeze in a 130mm road hub. I notice that the dropouts have ‘flanges’ on the inside of them (from some photos I’ve seen) I’m planning on filing down these flanges to be flush. How wide do you think these flanges are? I’m hoping I might get 2mm from each side, giving me a comfortable 128mm spacing – close enough to 130 for me!

    1. IF you file off the flanges it will be about 130mm, but I really wouldnt. The dropouts are aluminium, and will be quite thin on
      the bottom edge if you remove the flanges. The problem with belts is how you tension it, they dont work unless tensioned correctly and the
      required tension is quite high. You would need screw adjusters.

  3. Hi Calum
    Nice work on the axle for Mavic , can I buy one if so how much ?

    Can you make your next axle project Zipps please. Its like to axles are machined to small for the ID of the bearing and there is free play, feel like to bearing need tension , but they don’t. is only small movement but at the rim its 1-2mm “click click” . Its like the axles are machined imperial and the bearings are metric, just not quiet perfect.

    1. Hi Mark,
      I can design and supply you with anything you want. I have everything made here in Germany so quality is superb as expected.

      It would be very expensive for me to make you just one axle, so cheaper is if I have a batch done.

      If you wanted just one done for you, in the same very high spec PH-Stainless alloy its 100 Euros a part. If I downgrade the
      material to something slightly less extreme (but still considerably superior to original Mavic parts) and have perhaps 5 made
      I can probably reduce that by 50%.

      What I prefer to do is to make a Version 2, with new front and rear Mavic axles in Titanium 6Al4V – with also replacing the
      steel conical spacers with either Ti or possibly 7075, and finally replacing the nuts with Aerospace k-nuts (about half the
      weight, stronger, and 100% mechanically self locking so will never ever come loose) – and so sell this as a “kit” for the Ellipse trackset.



  4. Hey,

    Can I ask if you are using normal reach road brakes on your switch?

    1. They are perfectly normal calipers, made by a company called JULY.
      Quite light, but not too expensive. It stops on a dime (which is mostly
      due to the super sticky brake-pads that come from JULY).

    2. Hey mate – These calipers (which are the same as many other brands, eg Planet X) allow more pad adjustment than most. I originally planned to use Gravity Zero calipers, but the mounting on the frame for the rear brake is not alligned properly, so I had to change brakes. I now use the same as these. A pretty bad error by Switch!

  5. This is the nicest single speed bike I’ve seen in a long time. Well done on a gorgeous ride!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *