Single-speed conversions: Why?

I recently purchased a used (“ancient”) GT talera mountain bike from a thrift-shop for just a few dollars.

I am no expert, but it appears to be in reasonably good condition; in any event, I’m not planning any hardcore trail-riding with it.

As I was searching for info about this bicycle-from-the-last-century, I found several instances in online forums where folks much more knowledgeable than I detailed their use of GT taleras as the base frame for what’s called a “single-speed” conversion. That is, taking a multi-speed bike and turning it into a single-, or fixed-speed one (yes, I know those two things are not exactly the same as one another).

Old mountain bike frames are often the target of these rebuilds because (I’m guessing here) they were built to be pretty rugged, meaning rigid and “hard-tailed”–in the days before much suspension became common on MTB’s–so they could hold together over a lot of rough terrain (especially downhill).

All of which seems to mean that, despite the passage of time, they’re still in good enough shape to take to the streets.

I certainly understand the desire to build something from the ground up–it’s the tinkerer in all of us–but what I don’t understand is why one gear is preferable to 10, 12 or 21?

I understand that there is some advantage in terms of weight (less gears==less sprockets/chainrings==less weight), but what I don’t understand is why that’s better for street-riding?

I guess, at the very least, I should be glad that the trend seems to be giving new life to old frames, eh.

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