Can a top-shelf belt-driven mountain bike help galvanize the single-speed movement?
You might have noticed that fewer people are riding single-speed bikes these days. Personally, I know dozens of friends who used to be one-gear zealots but have softened their stance or given it up completely, and, most importantly, many manufacturers have cut the designs from their lines.
The fact is, single-speeding is hard. It takes a toll on the body, and unless you're very fit, you’re likely to get injured. And though I like doing it, more and more I’ve used excuses in recent years to limit my single-speed time.
Then at the bike test, the Spot Cream SS showed up, and I fell back in love with riding on one gear. This titanium hardtail is one of the most beautiful SS machines I’ve ever seen, with the matte finish offset by a high-gloss under the logo that’s filled with lovely, glorious glitter. Drivetrain duty falls to the greaseless, squeak-free Gates Carbon Drive, with Spot choosing the company’s brand new red model. There’s no performance gain, but damn does that color look good against the ti.
It’s color matched to the Oury grips and Enve M50 Fifty wheels. I never liked running the old Enve XC wheels on my hard tail as I found them too harsh, but the new oversize, rounded rim extrusion does an outstanding job maintaining the stiffness and precision of the originals while adding compliance. Once again I’ll say that there really are no better mountain wheels on the market right now than the M-Series, and I’ve tried a lot of them. (Though the new Ibis 941s are proving interesting so far.) Kudos to Spot for spec’ing 2.35 Nobby Nic tires, too, as these fatties really help with taking the hard edge off of the hard tail.
There’s an Enve stem and bars to match the wheels, and a BOS Dizzy 29 fork, which you have wonder if Spot happened to choose for the matching anodized red dial on the stanchion. Never mind if they did, because this premium boutique French fork does an excellent job keeping up with the big players, and several testers found it at once firmer and plusher than the competition.
My favorite part, and admittedly it’s taking the page out of the design book of the Diamond Back Mason, is the dropper post. That might sound odd for a hardtail single speed but i found it allows a rider to push the bike around like you'll need to if you're muscling just one gear.
All said, the Cream is a functional piece of art—and it best be in light of the $8,700 price tag. Most testers thought that was absurd for a single speed, and I tend to agree given how much I’d actually ride it. Spot pointed out that thanks to their Kobe Slider Dropout design, the bike can be switched to multiple gears if you choose, which does add to its versatility. Then again, losing the red belt would diminish the look.*
If you’re still a devoted single-speeder, the Spot is probably worth a look. For me, it will probably remain the most beautiful bike that I’ll never own.
*A previous version of this story stated the Enve rear wheel was only compatible with single-speed setups. In fact, it works with both single-speed and geared configurations.