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Single Speed Bike Conversion

Discussion in 'The Breakroom' started by able_man, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. able_man
    • In Omnia Paratus

    able_man Loaded Pockets

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    Anyone ever converted a multi gear mountain bike into a single speed?

    I've got an approximately five year old Trek 4500 or 4700 that I want to convert. I've been doing some reading and video watching, but was wondering if anyone on here had an insight.
     
  2. houdini28

    houdini28 Loaded Pockets

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    I purchased a bike from a local university for 10$ and converted it to a single speed. I no longer have the bike, but I basically used Sheldon Brown's website for advice and guidelines. If I had any questions about the mechanics or repair I would consult a bicycle maintenance book from my local library. Bicycle Tutor is another excellent site showing how to repair or replace various parts.

    I ordered my parts through a local bicycle shop. My gearing was a 42 x 15 (or somewhere in that range).
     
  3. able_man
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    able_man Loaded Pockets

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    I've thought about getting a cheaper bike first to try it out, but I haven't found anything decent enough to play with. I found Sheldon Brown's site and it looks good.

    We've got a couple of good bike shops here so I'm pretty sure I can get everything I need locally. I might even call tomorrow to see if they have any of the single speed kits that I've seen online.
     
  4. CatherineM
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    I did that once. My oldest wrecked his Dahon folder, and I converted it to a single in order to rehab it. We lived right next to an alley where people dumped old or stripped bikes, and I often made frankenstein bikes. He loved it, especially the coaster brake.
     
  5. Moonduck

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    I have an ancient Peugeot Crazy Horse (arguable the first major production modern mountain bike), and, well, the shifters just flat sucked. I pulled it out of storage and just couldn't stand the old analog levers when I'd gotten used to the indexed shifters on my Trek 4700. Sheldon Brown's site was the resource I used to do the conversion. I wound up buying a really nice flip-flop singlespeed/fixie hub off Brown and building wheels around it. As both my front and rear rims were out of true due to a nasty accident many years ago, it was a necessary fix.

    Can't tell you what my ratio was, but I chose the gearing to be similar to what I use most often on-road around the neighbourhood. I live in a mostly flat area, so gear changes aren't all that necessary for relaxed riding around town. I also set it up with a slight offset on the front so that I could use a two-speed set-up there. It's not changeable while riding, but I've got the ability to modify it by sliding the rear wheel back and forth.

    I kept the stock brakes, as they work fine. The only problem I have no is that the rear triangles are bent to one side, so the bike no longer tracks straight. Turns out I wrecked it harder than I thought. As a result, it sits in the shed and doesn't get ridden unless I want to for nostalgia's sake. Still, the conversion worked fine.
     
  6. houdini28

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    I went with a cheaper bike because it was available. I knew I was just converting the bike because I wanted to see if I could do it. If I were to do this again, I would purchase better components (nothing crazy, just better than the thrift store).

    I did not use a kit, but many of them look well designed. I was able to convert mine to a fixed gear because the frame had proper dropouts.
     
  7. Moonduck

    Moonduck Loaded Pockets

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    What do the kits include?

    Really it was pretty simple. Toss the derailleurs, remove the cabling for them, build/buy a single-speed/fixie/flip-flop rear wheel, and size a chain. Gear ratios are easily handled if you've got a multi-speed bike you're running now. The hardest thing is spacing the chain properly. Mine had old-school dropouts, so it was simple, but if you have a local bike shop they can help you size things.
     
  8. able_man
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    Looks like most kits include a chain tensioner, different sized spacers, cogs, and instructions.

    I'm pretty new to all this so I just want it to be a smooth process for my first go at it. I've always been interested in building and customizing bikes, I just haven't tried my hand at it yet.

    My Trek has the vertical dropouts on it.
     
  9. Moonduck

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    In my case, it was dead simple. I'd say go for it. Then again, I grew up working on cars and such, so mechanical repair work is simple to me.

    There are some specialised tools in the bike world, but I don't know that you'd need too many. If you are going to replace your front sprocket, you'll need a tool to get the pedal arms off the bottom bracket. Park Tools makes a good one that isn't too terribly expensive. A pedal wrench doesn't hurt. You shouldn't have to do anything to your bottom bracket hopefully. Overall, bike tools aren't that tough to get, and aren't super expensive.

    I would suggest having a pro build your wheels, if you're going with a new hub. I built mine, then paid to have them trued, and I will not do that again. Next time, I'll just pay to have them built. My wheel works fine, don't get me wrong, but, oh, the cursing I did...
     
  10. able_man
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    Cool. I've done some mechanical work, my dad was a trained mechanic and I've helped him out, and am just in general "mechanically inclined" so I'm not worried. I just want to be prepared instead of being the guy that takes the bike apart and realizes he has no clue how to put it back together. I've got some basic bike tools, but I was looking at the Park Tools they had at the bike shop.

    I probably need to just go and talk to the guy that runs the shop. I took a friend their because she's looking for a bike and he was really helpful and not pushy, which is always good.
     
  11. Moonduck

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    Yup if you have a bike shop with a mechanic they're likely to be your best resource. Most places like that will cheerfully talk to you about it.
     
  12. Bodeen

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    I've been riding SS for about 2-3 years now. My current ride started is an '07 Spec RH 29er that started out geared with front suspension. Along the way has become fully rigid (carbon forks) and single-speed, 32-16 gearing (Surly single-speed kit).

    I wouldn't go back to gears at this point. I prefer the simplicity of maintenance.
     
  13. Narcosynthesis

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    I did debate a singlespeed, until I remembered I live in a fairly hilly area and gave up on that idea... The five gear road bike I have at the moment is limited enough when you are slogging up a long hill after being out all day, nevermind being stuck with only one gear for the down as well as up...
     
  14. able_man
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    I've thought about this. It's not horribly hilly here, but I'm not sure where we'll be moving and it could be an issue. At the least I'd like to decrease the number of gears on my bike. I've seen a couple things where guys have taken their bikes down to 9 or so gears, but that was for semi-serious mountain biking.

    Right now I've got a flat, so once I fix that I think I'm going to ride around and figure out the minimum number of gears I'd like. Though I still might go all out and take it to a single speed. If I do I'll have a nice excuse to get a new bike when we move if it's hilly. ;D
     
  15. bushidomosquito

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  16. Moonduck

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    Good lord, those frames are deadly cool, but WOW, spendy. Too rich for my blood. Sexy frame though, I'll agree there.
     
  17. walkabout_xl

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    I've got an early 90's Trek 930 singletrack that's been converted to ss. This bike was converted by a friend and getting the chain tension/length right took a lot of trial and error. If I had it to go over I'd as soon use a Surley singulator. I'm rolling 42/16 right now but I kept all the multigear components cuz my knees keep poppin' on these hills!
     
  18. Moonduck

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    Man, Surly makes some nice stuff. I've thought a coupla times about buying one of their frames for a build, but I need another bike like I need a hole int he head.
     
  19. jronan2

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