“Downgrading” to a rigid single speed?

Hi Lee,

I’m only asking because I highly value your opinion!

As an adult sometimes I have to make adult decisions. In the next few months we are looking to move and bit a bigger house, so I’m thinking of freeing up some cash by selling my current ride. It’s not imperative that I do it, but it would help a bit.

I would still want something to ride in the meantime, and I don’t want an entry level bike necessarily. Looking at some options and the Crave SL single speed looks interesting and a good price. It might be fun and a new realm to try something like this for my FL XC trails.

What do you think, is having a single speed as an only bike for a few months a good idea? Is it possible to still pursue some off season structured training and continue pump up the base and later PTPI?

Thank you!



The Specialized Crave SL 29 is a cool bike. M4 Premium Aluminum frame, Chisel rigid carbon fork, one speed, retail $1,300.

My attorney, client and friend Lawyer Chris rides this bike and loves it:

• Chris is an A1 shredder on snow and wheels. He wrings this thing out!

• He says it’s super fun, especially on his local CO trails (which are a lot steeper, bigger and gnarlier than FL trails). Everything feels faster, and he’s paying even more attention to clean technique.

• The single speed not only made him stronger, but it also showed him he can pull more gear (and speed) than he was used to pulling. When he switched back to his Stumpy FSR Expert Carbon 29, he got way faster.

I ride the turbo $$$ version of this bike: the Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 World Cup. Carbon frame, fork and wheels plus some LLB mods: dropper post, Shimano PRO downhill stem/bar and XT drivetrain/brakes. A hair over 20 pounds. Super nice!

The bike park and mellow/moderate trails are so much fun on this bike!

When I was recently teaching at Mulberry Gap in Georgia, I did a morning clinic on my Camber Expert, and the trails were nice. Flowy. Fun. Nice.

Later that afternoon, we did a group ride on the same trails, and I rocked the rigid Stumpy. The climb, of course, felt great. On the downhills, at first I was cautious. Keep in mind dude, this is a rigid bike … but once I started connecting the shapes — riding the sine wave of love — the speed was full on and BAM! I clicked straight into Flow (capital F).

Wow so rad! Railing corners, pumping bumps, jumping rocks, landing in these little pockets and just shooting into the next sections. Until BOOM! Flat tire. Oops, I forgot there’s a tube in there. Fix it, resume shred WOW SO RAD! then BOOM! Grr. Oh well.

So I think:

• You’ll have a lot of fun on this bike. Flow is the ultimate prize, and “less bike” can help you feel the magic without crazy trails and speeds.

• It will be great for your riding skills. Ride the sine wave of love — or be punished.

• You’ll gain leg strength and speed by pulling that gear around.

• You can still rock Pump Up the Base and Prepare to Pin It. For extra training stress, add turning and pumping.

• Tubeless for sure.

• If this bike puts more money in the bank, double win!

Rip it,


Pump Up the Base intervals in Kansas: Drill it into the headwind, reverse direction then spin as fast as you can.

Know more. Have more fun!

Join the leelikesbikes mailing list:

4 replies
  1. Kristoffer R says:

    Hi Greg!

    I did exactly what you planned some years ago. Two small kids and neither time or money to maintain a bike.

    I got a Kona Unit. I got stronger, I increased my cadence and also I got better technically. Easy trails became a new challenge. I learned how much you rely on the front suspension – do your cornering wrong and the front washes out and you crash!

    I ran low tire pressures and learned to be smoother or I’d get a flat. I got flats.

    The directness of the drivetrain is addictive too and the lack of noise – chain slap, gears crunching and fork ‘puffing’ – is so nice.

    Drawbacks – some parts of trail becomes boring. Transport may be an issue depending on gearing. Those really, really steep climbs just wasn’t possible.

    I sold it because I got a fantastic deal on a used HT bike. But i took me almost a year after selling the Unit before I had beat all my PR’s on Strava. Not being able to change down, you can only stand up and deliver (power)!

    I will buy an SS again, maybe not a Unit but something a bit livelier though. The ones above look fun!

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Right on!

    One of the most memorable group rides of my life was in Texas with a bunch of high level XC racers (including two Olympians). The trails were crazy turny and rocky: super technical. In every interesting section two riders came out in front: me on a Camber and an ex motocrosser on his Unit. That guy was bad ass — and he was out riding people on $10,000 bikes.

  3. JoeG says:

    Ah,you must be talking about Scot. I don’t know him personally but I remember seeing him in some of the races down here in TX beating geared riders half his age on his SS. It might have been rigid, too.

    I tried SS for the first time spring 2013 and loved it. I had been riding for 10 yrs before that. I sold my geared bikes and road SS until I had a road bike accident in late April 2014. In that year, my pedal stroke, leg strength, pump technique, line choice, smoothness and endurance improved ten fold. I test rode my sons new geared bike a couple of times to dial it in before the accident and I kept forgetting that the bike had gears. I was able to push bigger gears for longer and had PR’s on the trails. It’s worth riding SS only for awhile, for sure.

  4. Eric W says:

    I picked up a Canondale Trail 29er SS at the beginning of this year. It was left over from the prior year and had a very nice price tag on it. Anyway, it’s a fully rigid, and I found myself riding it more than my carbon geared bike! But, when I do go back to my geared bike, I find that I can ride it much better. I used to use the small ring for most climbs, but now I realize I can hit them in 1/2 the pedal strokes in a bigger ring. Bottom line, I could see myself owning only a single speed and being perfectly happy 🙂


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

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