Do you burn more calories on a single speed bike?

Do You Burn More Calories On A Single Speed Bike?

If you’ve already purchased a single-speed bike, or want to convert your geared bike into a single-speed, and you’re wondering if it’ll impact weight loss, you’ve come to the right place.

Single-speed bikes are popular for their simplicity and ease of use. They are easier to ride than fixie bikes (fixed gear bike, no freewheeling) because you can coast, but harder than geared road bikes because you can’t respond to the terrain with anything other than your own effort.

So single-speed bikes are in-between and perfect for people who want the simplest biking experience combined with the most opportunities to really push themselves.

So do you burn more calories on a single speed bike?

On hilly terrain, you will burn more calories on a single-speed bike than if you were riding a geared bike.

On a geared bike, you get to change the gear based on the terrain you’re riding on, so it’s better for people who want to use a consistent amount of effort, whether going uphill or riding on flat segments.

A single-speed bicycle has, well, one gear, so if you’re riding uphill, there’s no gear to switch to to make riding easier; your only option is to pedal like crazy. But then if you’re riding downhill, you get to coast (the bike keeps moving without you pedaling).

Fixies can’t coast, so if you’re riding downhill, you better be a pro-biker because you need to pedal as fast as the rear tire moves.


So to zoom out a bit:

  • You can burn the most calories on a fixie bike because you’re totally in control of the pedal and your bike
  • Single-speed bikes are simpler than both fixies and geared bikes, and you’ll still burn calories well on them
  • Geared bikes are more complex, but generally provide the easiest ride

Like I said, single-speed bikes are the perfect mix of exercise and fun, so you get the best bang for your buck. Let’s take a deeper look at single-speed bikes and why they’re an awesome choice for a lot of riders.

Advantages of Single-Speed Bikes

Here are some advantages single-speed bikes have over geared and fixed-gear bikes.

1. They’re Minimalistic

When you look at single-speed bikes, you can’t help but notice just how simple they look. With single-speed bikes, it feels like you only need a frame, tires, and chain to hit the road. Geared bikes can make your eyes hurt just by looking at them. The ability to change gears to match the terrain difficulty comes at a cost of aesthetics and complexity.

Single-speed bikes don’t have derailleurs, cables, cassette, or shifters, so if you’re the type that wants a bike that is both simple to use and simple to repair, they’re a perfect fit.

2. Easy To Learn To Ride

Beginners find it easier to learn to ride single-speed bikes since there’s no distraction from having to shift gears. Due to the complex gear shifting mechanism, many things can go wrong with a geared bike, such as your chain jamming.

Don’t get me wrong, gear shifting isn’t that hard and you can learn to do it fast, but for a beginner cyclist, a single-speed bike would teach you to learn to ride a bike faster.

So if you’re getting your first bike, a single speed is better. A beginner cyclist shouldn’t ride a Fixie bike because it’s much more difficult. You can’t backpedal on a Fixie so you need to be a confident cyclist to enjoy it. You also can’t coast (you have to constantly pedal), so there’s a decent risk of injury if you get yourself into a situation where your pedaling can’t keep up with the bike speed.

3. Lets You Coast

Coasting is basically moving without pedaling. This is what single-speed bikers taunt Fixie bikers with. If you’re riding down a hill or turning a corner with a single-speed bike, you can stop pedaling and the wheel would keep moving because of the freewheel on the rear hub.

A Fixie, on the other hand, has a fixed cog fastened with a lockring on the rear hub, so if the rear wheel is spinning, the cranks must be spinning too.

The need to keep pedaling can feel very uncomfortable initially when going down large hills or around corners at a fast enough speed, both scenarios where you would instinctively stop pedaling on any other bike.

4. Easy To Maintain

You can learn to clean and maintain your single-speed bike online with simple tutorials because of how few parts there are and how straightforward they are to operate. Owning a single-speed bike lets you feel like you’re in control of your bike.

Single-speed bikes are also quieter than geared bikes. You get to enjoy a noise-free ride free of rattling chains or drivetrain noise. The few parts of a single-speed bike also make it far lighter than its geared counterpart.

5. They Teach You To Be a Better Rider

Riding a single-speed bike on rough terrains teach you control because there’s no easier gear to shift to. It teaches you endurance and builds up your strength.

A single-speed bike is perfect if you also want to learn to ride out of the saddle. Most geared riders always have their butts on the saddle because their gears let them ride smoothly.

On a single-speed bike, you must ride out of the saddle through steep terrains. It takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to expend more energy, which ends up with you burning more calories.

Is a Single-Speed Bike Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, regularly riding a single-speed bike as a form of exercise can help with your weight loss journey, but it’s important to understand how weight loss works first. You won’t lose weight if you consume more calories than you expend on a regular basis.

So it all comes down to your diet. The bike will help you raise your heart rate and burn calories, but you need more than just a bike to be in great shape.

Apart from losing weight, single-speed bikes help you build muscle mass much faster than geared bikes. Pedaling strengthens your calves and hamstrings, and works your back muscles.

How Many Calories Are Burned on a 20-Minute Bike Ride?

You can lose anything between 140-500 calories by biking for 20 minutes. It depends on your body weight and the intensity of the activity. On a single-speed bike, you have to pedal more than on a geared bike, so the type of bike also matters.

How Long Will It Take To Lose Weight by Riding a Bike?

According to the Harvard Health Letter, a 155-pound person can burn up to 298 calories in a 30-minute bike ride. If the person bikes 30 minutes daily, it’ll take him/her approximately 12 days to lose a pound. Of course, this is just an estimate and very dependent on calorie intake in your diet.

How Many Days or Miles Should You Ride To Lose Weight?

There’s no accurate measure of how long you should ride your bike to lose weight. However, riding five miles daily can help you lose one or two pounds weekly. Of course, you’ll need to supplement this with dieting and exercise.

Can Single Speed Bikes Go Uphill?

Of course, but this can be challenging for the average rider without the option of easier gears to switch to. To make going uphill easier with a single-speed bike, you should use a suitable gear ratio, ride out of the saddle, or simply find an alternative route with less steep hills.


Whether you’re a new or existing biker, single-speed bikes can make you feel like a kid again when riding your bike. They’re lightweight, fun to ride, easy to maintain, and help you lose weight. What more could you want in a bike?