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Country Road Bob (Single Speed)(4 posts)

Country Road Bob (Single Speed)KillerQuads
Jun 19, 2003 6:37 AM
Here is my new custom built Van Dessel Cycles "Country Road Bob". It was built up from the frame by a local bike shop with the following:

53 cm Aluminum frame with rear facing drop outs
VDC carbon fork
RedLine chain adjusters
Surly flip flop hubs
Ritchey seat post, crank, stem, bars
44T chain ring and 18T ACS claws freewheel (66 gear inches)
Avid V brakes
Vittoria 700x28 tires
Shimano double sided SPD pedals

The bike is super tough (zero dish wheels, solid axles, no gears to bust). The "S" shaped stays, carbon fork, and wide tires let it glide over bumps and pot holes. As a single speed, I can spin to about 27 mph and have yet to find a hill I can't climb (although I am sure there is one somewhere). In fact it is a great traing bike since every hill is an interval. It reminds me of my very first childhood bike which was a single speed that took me everywhere. It is funny how your mind is freed once you stop thinking about shifting gears. It is an amazingly versatile commuter/road/trail/training/urban bike. I cut the bars down to shoulder width for splitting lanes when commuting or doing an urban assault. The stock paint job and curved tubes make it a stand out. I may have to get rid of some of my multi-geared bikes since this one beats them all for riding fun. I just rode a fast 30 hilly road miles which would have hurt my back on my road 18 speed and would have been really slow on my heavy mountain bike.

re: Country Road Bob (Single Speed)NewDayNewWay
Jun 19, 2003 4:53 PM
Make a statement, make it loud! Very sweet!

I'm itching to build one of these myself as a fall project for winter riding. How much did it run for the shop to put it together? Did you buy all the parts yourself and take it to the shop to build, or did you order through the shop? If you ordered yourself, are there places on the web to buy these single speed components and parts?
$650 CompleteKillerQuads
Jun 19, 2003 6:08 PM
I am glad you like it. It would make a good winter bike with fenders and a rack. The bike was built up by Rowlett's in Richmond, VA (, but it was not made to my specifications. I saw it in their showroom and bought it on a whim for $650. Not bad for hand built wheels and matched components. The shop owner said they spent a lot of time and effort to put it together right. The price included BMX pedals which would be great for using regular walking shoes, but I added $50 Shimano SPD double sided mountain bike pedals. The only other things I needed to add was a black water bottle cage and a computer. It felt funny putting a computer on such a low tech bike, but I keep track of my mileage.

If you are new to single speeds, the important things are getting a frame with horizontal rear drop outs to allow for chain tension adjustment. Rear facing drop outs as on track bikes and the CRB are best since you can add a chain tension adjusters that prevent forward axle slippage and protect the drop out from gouging by the axle nuts. Solid axles are used since quick release axles cannot be tightened enough. You have to carry a 15 mm axle nut wrench with you when you ride. Some convert the front to quick release, but then you still need the 15 mm wrench for the rear.

One option is for me to put a track cog and lock ring on the other end of the Surly rear hub which would allow me to flip/flop the rear wheel for true fixed gear riding. I would say that hub selection is the key to building a single speed, and the Surly system is very nice.

You will want an adjustable bottom bracket to fine tune the chain alignment. I like the single ring Ritchey crank, but you can modify a road crank set with single ring bolts.

You adjust the gearing by trying different rear free wheels (or rear cogs). I like the 44T front 18T rear since I can pedal downhill until about 28 mph and can still climb moderate hills easily. In flatter terrain a 16T rear might work better. Single speed mountain bikers start with a 2:1 ratio front:rear, since they need lower gears for riding off road. The ACS Claws freewheel is a standard BMX item.

$650 CompleteNewDayNewWay
Jun 20, 2003 4:07 AM
What a bargain! Thanks for the tips on some of the key points. I might have to start my build this summer - just to get a head start. ;-)

Not sure about using fixed gear. I've gotta rest on the down hills. Think I saw one post around here where some guy claimed to ride on the road on a fixed gear without any brakes. Conceivable, but a little crazy I think.

Thanks again!