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The singlespeed lives (thanks for the advice).(4 posts)

The singlespeed lives (thanks for the advice).cory
Sep 10, 2001 9:52 AM
This belongs on the Mountain board, but I got some advice here so I thought I'd post it in case anybody's interested--
Had an old (mid-'80s) Trek tourer, a decent frame with good pre-index components, that I hardly ever rode. I'd been thinking about converting it to single-speed, and this weekend I did it. The details:
--A BMX freewheel, sold in 15-20 teeth wherever you buy kids' bikes, will screw right on to an old freewheel hub. Costs $15.
--You'll probably need a spacer behind it. I bought a handful but used only one, 4.5mm. Cost a buck. That gave me an acceptable chainline to the middle ring on my triple crank. One more millimeter would be perfect, but I'm worried about not having enough threads engaged on the hub.
--I tossed the small and big rings, then had to grind down the threaded inserts the chainring bolts screw into because they were too long to hold the middle ring alone. Took 10 seconds each on a bench grinder. I could have left the big ring on, too, to take up the slack, maybe ground the teeth off it and called it a ring guard. But the bike looks so clean and simple with just one ring I had to do it that way.
--I set it up initially with an old Campy derailleur as a chain tensioner (you can buy tensioners for $30-$50, but I had the derailleur). Just turn in the high-gear limit screw so the pulleys line up with the cog. It worked fine, but I didn't like the look and decided to try it without. The frame has semi-vertical dropouts, with just enough adjustment that I could get the chain tight. W/vertical dropouts, going one tooth larger or smaller on the freewheel can handle small adjustment problems; otherwise you'd need a tensioner. www.sheldonbrown.com has more than you'll ever need to know about that.
The bike ran right the first time, and the blue and silver frame looks great without all the driveline crap on it. Riding is really fun--it's amazing what you can climb in a 38-20 when a 38-20 is all you have (most singlespeed websites recommend 2:1 gearing, but it's way hilly where I live and the 20-tooth worked right for chain tension). Only problem so far is a little rear wheel slippage when I crank hard on climbs. Sheldon says you can get the QR tight enough, but he's a little guy. I think us Clydesdales might need a nutted axle
The short version: If you've been thinking about this, and you have an old frame around, go for it. It cost me less than $20 plus some parts from the garage, and it's Big Fun.
Pulling out...Andy M-S
Sep 10, 2001 10:28 AM
One of my more embarassing moments was pulling my SS's rear wheel out of the dropouts in traffic. I was going to sprint throught the intersection when the light changed. Hah.

Singlespeeds can be a lot of fun, and the fact that there are no mechanisms on the chain to catch crud makes them the perfect foul-weather bikes. I use mine to tow my son's trailer a lot (I'm geared at 42-19).

Enjoy your bike--ride lots, and remember the joys of the single life!
Pulling out...Alpedhuez55
Sep 10, 2001 10:40 AM
I had the same think happen to me once. I got a new solid axle and lug nuts instead of the Quick Release and have not had any more problems.
Pulling out...Andy M-S
Sep 10, 2001 12:51 PM
I just started really cranking down on the lever. Last spring I did get a flat on my commute home, and I was really glad that taking off the rear wheel didn't involve additional tools...no problems with pulling out this year.