's Forum Archives - Fixed Gear

Archive Home >> Fixed Gear

Can a Steamroller also be a single speed?(12 posts)

Can a Steamroller also be a single speed?Mr Nick
Aug 25, 2003 2:42 PM
I want to get a inexpensive, simple bike for commuting now that I have my road bike. My cousin has a fixed gear that I really liked, but I am not sure if it would be good for commuting in heavy traffic. So I was considering possibly doing a single speed. I like the look and simplicity of the Surly steamroller and was wondering if there different axle spacing for track bikes verse road bikes or single speed bikes? Can I buy a steamroller and use any rear hub? Thanks for the input.
re: Can a Steamroller also be a single speed?Alpedhuez55
Aug 25, 2003 5:15 PM
Beware of the early model frame. I do not think they drilled them for a rear brake. I would make sure you have a rear brake if you are going to run it as a singlespeed.
Yes, but why?ss-nyc
Aug 25, 2003 5:37 PM
It seems to be a very expensive way to get a singlespeed bike. The Steamroller will only fit 120mm (or smaller) flip/flop hubs which will give you fixed gear on one side and a singlespeed freewheel on the other. Also, the rear can take a brake but the rear brake bridge needs to be modified (drilled out) a bit to accept a brake.

Most people on this board buy or find older bikes and remove all the gears and add a single track cog to make a fixed gear bike. In your case all you need to do is remove the gears and freewheel and just add a BMX freewheel. You can probably buy a bike and make the changes for less than $100. Here is mine:

If you want something a bit nicer...see the post I just posted on the singlespeed discussion board at
Are you sure?timfire
Aug 25, 2003 8:01 PM
To start and to answer the original post, the Steamroller, like most track bikes, has a narrower rear axle (120mm vs. 130mm for modern road bikes). Thus you cannot use "any rear hub." Any cassette hub is out. If all you want is a SS, then you could use a old freewheel hub, slap a BMX freewheel on it and then redish the wheel so that the chain lines up (it's very important that the chain on a SS/fixed bike is perfectly straight). But probably the simplest option is to just get a track hub, since then you don't need to worry anout chain line issues and spacing. You can find track hubs that have a fixed gear on one side and a freewheel on the other.

Now in response to SS-NYC- I know a couple guys who owns Steamrollers, and even though they ride their's fixed, I could swear that the rear brake bridge was drilled. But maybe I'm remembering wrong.

Also, at around $400 for the frame and fork, that's not a bad price.

There are also other reasons for getting a dedicated SS/fixed bike. Track ends are nice because you can use BMX tensioners if you are so inclined. Also, the geometry is set up for a fixed gear, if he should decide he wants to experiment (he said he liked his friend's). Also, having the narrower rear axle spacing will make wheels slighly cheaper, since he wouldn't have to have the narrower axle swapped out with a wider one.

what is a 'fixed gear' geometry?Steve_0
Aug 26, 2003 4:10 AM
certainly, a (relatively) higher BB is desireable, but many road bikes have relatively high BBs.

My fixed gear is parallel 72'.
A high BB, mostly...timfire
Aug 26, 2003 2:38 PM
I made the geometry comment because SS-NYC mentioned using a converted "old road bike," which made me think old 27inch frame. When you put new 700's on those you tend to get a fairly low BB. I realize that any geometry can (theorectically) can be made into a fixed gear bike.

BB heightss-nyc
Aug 26, 2003 6:11 PM
It is true that if you use an older frame built for 27" with 700c wheels it will lower the bottom bracket but by only 4mm. The difference in rim diameter is 8mm but you only account for half of that since that is the amount that will affect BB height.

People also forget the tire size will also affect BB height. A 700cx40 is not only wider but also taller than a 700cx23 tire so that you can also "raise" your BB height by using larger tires if you wish.
Aug 27, 2003 3:59 AM
many older frames had higher BBs than todays modern frames. My 27" raleigh frame with 700c wheels still has a higher BB than my 27" Trek 2100, using the same tires.

I also echo your tire-height comment.
BB heighttimfire
Aug 27, 2003 8:05 AM
I don't mean to sound like I'm arguing, but 4mm can be alot when it comes to corner pedal clearnance. If it wasn't, why do so many people advise using shorter cranks for fixies? The difference between a 170 and a 165 crank is only 5mm. Also, while I realize you can compensate with larger tires, If you want to use standard 700x23 tires, those are going to be smaller than even 27x1'. Which would make the net diference be more like 6mm-7mm.

Yes, Yes, I agree
Aug 27, 2003 3:35 PM
It seems that with everyone trying to help out with this person's question we are getting a bit caught up in who has the best solution rather than just focusing our collective knowledge on helping a this person use all of this great information to form thier own opinion on what would be good for them.

I was not trying to tell anyone they were wrong...I was just trying to add some hard feelings.
steamroller brake bridgess-nyc
Aug 26, 2003 6:06 PM
the new grey model is like the older brown model in that it has a hole in the rear brake bridge which you can use to attach a brake. You can install an older "nutted" style brake in the hole as-is or the hole itself needs to be "bored out" a little to accept a newer style brake that uses a recessed mount bolt.

Hope this clarifies my earlier comment on the brake issue.
Sep 8, 2003 10:16 AM
I'm running a flip flop (dura ace) rear hub and have it fixed on one side and free wheelin' on the other. I made no modifications to introduce brakes nor did I have any issues with the hub. I'm running both brakes. I used to remove the rear when I knew I'd be fixin' for awhile. I'd always go fixed but I tow the kid trailer with it and my heel clips the attachment mech sometimes. A fixie would force me through the pedal stroke, thus smashing my foot or achilles (sp?) tendon. Not something I want to experiment with.

I totally dig the surly. The geometry is really steep & twitchy as it's a track bike. I don't descend quite as fast and gracefully when I ride hills with it in comparison to my road bike equivalent(It's a cross with skinny's on it).