Can a regular single speed bike be fitted with gears/shifters etc?

Cool post! Anything you can do to help someone get into bike riding is a very worthwhile endeavor. And there's nothing like having a riding partner.

To answer your question: Yes! Nearly any single speed bike can be fitted with multiple gears. I have done this myself a few times. I am a big fan of the internal geared hubs which allow you multiple gear ratios, and that would probably be the most effective way to convert that single speed you want to surprise your girl with (very cool bike btw). Shimano makes their Nexus rear hub, which I think is mainly a 7-speed. So you would just need to replace the rear wheel with a wheel with an internal-geared hub one example (or lace the new hub into your existing wheel which is what I would do but I'm a wheel building freak). Then you would mount a shifter to the handlebar and run the cable to the back wheel/hub. That is pretty much it and you're rollin with 7 speeds or possibly more.

A bike shop should not have much trouble doing the work. This is a pretty straightforward upgrade.

A multi-speed rear hub would not have the really really low "granny gears" like a mountain bike but the hill climbing ability would be night and day difference from a single speed. And it would not change the appearance of the bike very much at all. There would just be a bigger rear hub and the addition of a shifter and cable. And the internal geared hubs are pretty much set and forget. You might have to adjust them once after initial shift cable set in but after that it is pretty much maintenance free.

My town is all about brutal hills and I most often ride a bike with only a '70s Shimano 3-speed hub and do okay but I'm an animal. A 7-speed hub would make it even easier as I assume they have some lower gear ratios. And you could also change to a smaller front chainring for even lower gearing. That is another simple operation.

In summary, this is what you would need to convert that one speed to an internally geared 7 speed:

Rear wheel with internal geared hub such as Shimano Nexus. Or the hub built into your existing rear wheel

Shifter for the rear hub

Shift cable and any needed cable guides/stops

Hell if you lived near me I would have you bring it to my basement shop and I would do it for free! (I would make you do most of the work though)

I hope this is of value to you. If you have any questions please ask. And get that girl a bike! My riding partner and me are married now.

/r/bikewrench Thread