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  1. #1
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    Best option for achieving perfect chain tension

    OK, so I'm new to this SS thing (and this forum) but I'm already converted! I've resurrected my old Orange C16 with a DMR kit, surly cog and a few new shiny bits. I love it.

    Thing is I'm now thinking of building a new SS and can't decide which is the best way to go to achieve that perfect chain tension. There seems to be so many options all with pros and cons. I'm interested to see what the rest of you think. These are the options as I see it so far......

    1. Vertical dropouts with chain tensioner. Pros - quick and easy. Cons - looks like a bodge, heavy, awkward to remove wheel.

    2. Vertical dropouts with an eccentric rear hub. Pros - light, easy wheel removal. Cons - Not sure, brake adjustment maybe?

    3. Vertical dropouts with an eccentric bottom bracket. Pros - no adjustments required to rear brakes when changing chain tension, easy wheel removal. Cons - heavy, limited choice of frames?

    4. Horizontal dropouts. Pros - simple tension adjustment. Cons - awkward to remove wheel, brakes need adjusting when you move the wheel in the dropouts (except on some frames that have sliding caliper mounts etc).

    5. Vertical dropouts with magic gear. Pros - once sorted it's fit and forget. Cons - limited gear ratio choice, might not work on some frames, no way of adjusting tension once the chain stretches.

    6. Vertical dropouts with ghost ring. Pros - light and simple. Cons - lets face it, it just looks bloody silly.

    I'm sure I've missed some but that should be enough to start the discussion.......

  2. #2
    MONKEYMAN
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    This, from my perspective is the most flexible solution since it is not bike/frame dependent.


    Put in on any bike you want to. On as many DIFFERENT bikes that you want to. You can get different adapters for different size drops too. All the questions about chain stretch and adjustment go away because setting the tension on this hub is bonehead simple!
    “I don't like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there”

  3. #3
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    Horizontal dropouts, nutted axel, track nuts, and a 15 mm wrench. Can it be any simpler? I don't really understand all the other options. They seem like a complicated way of doing something very simple or accommodating a frame/hub that wasn’t really designed for the purpose.

  4. #4
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    You've done your homework. I'd stay away from chain tensioners if I were you. Personal preference. I'd go with an eccentric bottom bracket or sliding dropouts. Work with what you have--frame and bottom bracket. That's obviously your first limitation. If it doesn't work or money is no obstacle, change your setup.

  5. #5
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    i have found that prayer helps!
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  6. #6
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    Here is some more good homework:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html

    Scroll down to the part with the pics of different dropouts, just to ensure terminology is correctly understood here. Horizontal dropouts are like on my Surly Crosscheck. Or any old 70s/80s era road frame...actual dropouts with a front facing slot that allows some chain tension adjustment. I have never seen them in use with a disc brake mount, they work just fine with track nuts or a strong QR for rim brakes.

    Track ends, also shown on that link, are just like they sound found on track bikes, and are a rear facing slot, not a dropout. As found on a Surly Karate Monkey or 1x1 with a disc mount. Downside you may have to fiddle with the brake caliper just to remove the wheel. The track ends on the Jabberwocky frame or an On-One Inbred have different approaches so you don't have to loosen the caliper...but you still do have to be very careful about getting the wheel aligned when you remove/reinstall because disc alignment is a lot more sensitive than rim brake alignment. With rim brakes or a fixed gear with no rear brake, I think track ends are ideal, no additional weight or moving parts.

    Sliding dropouts...these are vertical dropouts that are separate metal plates that bolt to the frame, typically with disc mount included that slides along with the dropout. Big advantage that removal/reinsertion of the rear wheel does not require brake adjustment, and the reinstallation of the wheel is self aligning as long as you have not loosened the sliders to adjust chain tension. Paragon makes the most commonly used ones for steel bikes.
    http://www.paragonmachineworks.com/p...1&categoryId=3

    EBB's are nice for wheel removal, but even the best ones (Bushnell IMHO) require frequent removal of the BB cups and EBB body to be cleaned and greased if you ride them hard, change cogs from time to time and get them wet and dirty. In a dry environment with the same gear all the time and very little adjustment, they stay creak-free for quite awhile. The set-screw type should be avoided, like the old Niner Bikes EBB. (They have a new one now that looks pretty slick...we will see how reports come back from '09 owners.)

    I think every approach that involves disc brakes has its downsides, but personally I am moving to sliding dropouts on a new frame I will be getting in a week or 2. Like anything metal, I expect to have to keep it clean, greased, and tightened....but at least I will not be removing my BB every time I need to do that.

  7. #7
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    I ride a 2006 Voodoo Wanga. It has sliding dropouts. I use a v-brake in the rear. The sliding dropouts work great for me. But if you're changing your cog size and end up moving the wheel forward or backward substantially, you might have to adjust the height of your pads because they'll sit higher or lower on the rim. This is the only disadvantage I know of. Once you get your wheel centered between the stays, after finding the right tension, you're set.

  8. #8
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    For low cost I prefer horizontal dropouts with axle tugs so I do not have to retension the chain when I remove the wheel. Otherwise Paragon sliders are nice for simplicity.

  9. #9
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    Vert drops w/ eccentric. 100% the easiest, most bombproof system I've ever ridden. I built my street/park/dj MTBMX frame using a eccentric with vert drops. It is ideal for many reasons..

    -tensioning takes all of 30 seconds..
    -you don't have to mess with adjusting your brakes due to a sliding wheel...
    -mine has not ONCE slipped (running SS. geared 25/9 which = 72.2 gear in. which means I have to crank to high hell to get 'er movin)
    -able to use the BB shell to my advantage by doubling as a "yoke" (see below pics..)
    -i'm able to remove the wheel, and put it back on without having to touch chain tension or brake adjustment...

    There are more, but those are the most important ones for me.





    and just because it IS a SS forum..



    EBB FTW!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsj3831
    Horizontal dropouts, nutted axel, track nuts, and a 15 mm wrench. Can it be any simpler? I don't really understand all the other options. They seem like a complicated way of doing something very simple or accommodating a frame/hub that wasn’t really designed for the purpose.
    What he said! I've had both types of frames, and while my current vertical drop out frame with tensioner actually works very well, I miss the simplicity of the track ends. Bolt it and forget it...what else do you need to know?

  11. #11
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    ^^
    The same can easily be said for vert/ebb as well.

    I feel like anymore, it is well known as to the pros and cons of each different set-up and at the end of the day, certain people like certain set-ups better than others, and thats just how it is going to be. Opinions are like ***holes... everyones got one

  12. #12
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    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  13. #13
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    Good thread. I was about to post the exact same question as I am in the exact same boat

    Good inputs from everyone so far

    Quote Originally Posted by nomad9
    I'm sure I've missed some but that should be enough to start the discussion.......
    Better to have and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  14. #14
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    For perfect tension, ie consistent across all of the chainring revolution, you need either a spring tensioner, because it's actively self adjusting, or a bmx style ring like the Eno or Middleburn, much closer to perfect roundness than regular spiders/rings.

    With an EBB you have ease of mounting/removal, but it will tend to slip under heavy load (very steep/long climbs) no matter what. With track ends the wheel will tend to move backwards if you have disk brakes, even with a bolt on hub, unless the disc caliper is mounted between the stays like on the On One frames. In both cases chain tension will get slacker.

  15. #15
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    The answer to this question depends on what you want to optimize in the “best way” and even knowing that I becomes complex as there are a lot of personal preferences in play here e. g. regarding looks and that EBB alters the rider geometry while horizontal‘s alters chain stay length etc etc.
    So in my opinion

    - For perfect chain tension and best performance regarding fast engagement and to get full use of a high POE free wheel/hub you should use a chain tensioner. More important for trials then other forms of riding.

    - For easy maintenance I'd say EBB, easy to adjust chain tension (the wheel is always in the right position and no need to adjust disc brakes) and it is simple to dismount/mount the rear wheel. It can even be used with QR skewers.

    - Almost as easy maintenance are sliding horizontals which makes it as simple to dismount/mount the rear wheel. It can even be used with QR skewers. Aligned disc brake adjustment is incorporated in some of these solutions.

    I’ve also tried horizontals/track ends but they have few advantages but being cheap and potentially making the frame lighter. Never tired ENO’s so no opinion there.

  16. #16
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    good info post.

    Quote Originally Posted by dblspeed
    For perfect tension, ie consistent across all of the chainring revolution, you need either a spring tensioner, because it's actively self adjusting, or a bmx style ring like the Eno or Middleburn, much closer to perfect roundness than regular spiders/rings.
    agreed, but even BMX rings (ie: my Profile Imperial) have some variation.
    maybe ENO/MB have better tolerances..................and higher cost.

    Quote Originally Posted by dblspeed
    With an EBB you have ease of mounting/removal, but it will tend to slip under heavy load (very steep/long climbs) no matter what. With track ends the wheel will tend to move backwards if you have disk brakes, even with a bolt on hub, unless the disc caliper is mounted between the stays like on the On One frames. In both cases chain tension will get slacker.
    yes, I have had movement even with ham fisting a track nut on (no disc brakes) with a standard box wrench.
    a chain tug will stop the movement, and I believe it will solve the disc brake movement (dual tug setup).

    problem with the On-One design is that it may have issues with certain disc brakes having proper fit (read BB7's).

    I had my Bushnell setup, converted to a split shell BB, so I should be able to squeeze that b!tch to alleviate the EBB creep.
    I still run a bolt on hub, even with a standard dropout (for rigidity)

    otherwise, information is consistent with my own experience.
    in the end, SS/FG chain tension is all about 'compromise' IME

    edit: ENO eccentric kicks ass, however I never actually used my disc brake adapter, I had V's on that frame.
    EricN
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  17. #17
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    I've Had Good Luck With

    The track ends on my Jamis Exile. They have small set screws to help with getting tension correct. Not the quickest on wheel changes, but not a deal-breaker by any means.
    If I were looking at a new frame, I would only consider track ends or possibly Pargon sliders.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsalty

    in the end, SS/FG chain tension is all about 'compromise' IME
    Couldn't agree more. I'm trying a dual chain tug setup right now with my track ends frame, and it seems better, but the jury is still out.

  19. #19
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    for a newbie...here are my thoughts from experience...

    Here are my thoughts:

    1. Disc brakes suck on a single speed... completely not needed.

    2. ECC bottom brake and rear v-brake is good.

    3. Horizontal drops allow fixed/free cog swagging which is tres *****en'

    4. Chain tenshioners are ok on a cyclocross single or dingle. Never for MTB.

    5. White Industries "eno" can be your friend.

    Single take it easy mon...no prablem manh.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by victorthewombat
    Here are my thoughts:

    1. Disc brakes suck on a single speed... completely not needed.

    2. ECC bottom brake and rear v-brake is good.

    3. Horizontal drops allow fixed/free cog swagging which is tres *****en'

    4. Chain tenshioners are ok on a cyclocross single or dingle. Never for MTB.

    5. White Industries "eno" can be your friend.

    Single take it easy mon...no prablem manh.
    Wow, it's like I don't agree with you at all..

    1. EBB and discs: Best overall setup; less maintenence, easy wheel off and on, easy/positive chain adjustment and one good muddy ride with V brakes can eat a set of brake pads and one good winter can trash a wheel set.

    2. Okay, what is an ECC bottom brake?

    3. True, horizontal dropouts and axle nuts wok good with flip/flop hubs, however Hunter makes a EBB frame with V brakes that works just as well and with QRs.

    4. Most chain tensioners work fine for road or MTB if they are set up right; also Melvin style tensioners allow flip/flop hubs of different sizes.

    5. Yes, an ENO is a good answer for converting a vertical dropout frame to SS. However, if you taco the rear wheel there is no easy fix, they tend to slip and require re-adjustment and they are a bit pricey..

    My advise:

    1.Go cheap with a none spring loaded tensioner for a conversion;

    2. spend a bit more and use external bearing BB and cranks with a cool new external BB eccentric adapter;

    3. oh and nomad9, forget 5 and 6; the magic gear means your chain is only tensioned right for one ride (too tight or too loose for the rest) and a ghost ring has a habit of flying off at the worst possible time, which would be just about anytime it flies off..

    4. when your ready to be the pig, go for an EBB frame with discs..
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  21. #21
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    About #1. I run ceramic coated rims/pads with v-brakes. They work very well in the wet/mud, I had 0 stopping issues on snow rides this winter.

    For some reason this combo seems very uncommon on SS and I can't figure it out. It nicely solves the wet braking problem with rim brakes, works with all tensioning methods, weighs next to nothing and is CHEAP!

    I'm not gonna claim 'best' but my sliding dropouts and ceramic v-brakes seem ideal for me. Set tension ONCE and leave it. Rear wheel can be removed at will, no re-tensioning or brake adjustments. Light, cheap, retard simple maintenance and no added rotating mass to the wheels.

    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    Wow, it's like I don't agree with you at all..

    1. EBB and discs: Best overall setup; less maintenence, easy wheel off and on, easy/positive chain adjustment and one good muddy ride with V brakes can eat a set of brake pads and one good winter can trash a wheel set.

    2. Okay, what is an ECC bottom brake?

    3. True, horizontal dropouts and axle nuts wok good with flip/flop hubs, however Hunter makes a EBB frame with V brakes that works just as well and with QRs.

    4. Most chain tensioners work fine for road or MTB if they are set up right; also Melvin style tensioners allow flip/flop hubs of different sizes.

    5. Yes, an ENO is a good answer for converting a vertical dropout frame to SS. However, if you taco the rear wheel there is no easy fix, they tend to slip and require re-adjustment and they are a bit pricey..

    My advise:

    1.Go cheap with a none spring loaded tensioner for a conversion;

    2. spend a bit more and use external bearing BB and cranks with a cool new external BB eccentric adapter;

    3. oh and nomad9, forget 5 and 6; the magic gear means your chain is only tensioned right for one ride (too tight or too loose for the rest) and a ghost ring has a habit of flying off at the worst possible time, which would be just about anytime it flies off..

    4. when your ready to be the pig, go for an EBB frame with discs..

  22. #22
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    i was very skeptical about sliding dropouts but they work like a charm

    My new On One Inbred (I removed the left side chain tug after a week):
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
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    Brad,

    My bad on the language. Its not the that disc brakes and an EBB do not work great on a single they in fact do. What I was trying to get at is that on a single disc brakes are pretty much unecessary - save for a couple of gentlemen in Oregon. It should simple not complecated. And to boot, to prove what a charlatan I am....I have discs on one of my singlespeeds.

    VTW

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by alex_k
    i was very skeptical about sliding dropouts but they work like a charm

    My new On One Inbred (I removed the left side chain tug after a week):
    What size is your Inbred? No issues with fitting that BB7 caliper, I suppose?
    Better to have and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by r1Gel
    What size is your Inbred? No issues with fitting that BB7 caliper, I suppose?
    20 inch... there was a small incontinence but it can be a problem with a smaller frame

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by alex_k
    20 inch... there was a small incontinence but it can be a problem with a smaller frame
    Huh? Your Inbred is incontinent; well that's what you get when brothers and sisters do the nasty (does it need a diaper?); perhaps you meant "inconvenience" (spell check does have it's dark side).. and please I am not flaming you I'm just in a very silly mood..
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    Huh? Your Inbred is incontinent; well that's what you get when brothers and sisters do the nasty (does it need a diaper?); perhaps you meant "inconvenience" (spell check does have it's dark side).. and please I am not flaming you I'm just in a very silly mood..

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by victorthewombat
    Brad,

    My bad on the language. Its not the that disc brakes and an EBB do not work great on a single they in fact do. What I was trying to get at is that on a single disc brakes are pretty much unecessary - save for a couple of gentlemen in Oregon. It should simple not complecated. And to boot, to prove what a charlatan I am....I have discs on one of my singlespeeds.

    VTW
    Blasphemer, charlatan, you silly person you. I don’t know how old you are, but I remember the days when Keith Bontrager said V brakes were only needed for dual suspension bikes. I happen to have several old MTB, including a rigid Racelight conversion that is my pride; both have well set up canti’s and neither stop as well as any garden variety V brake. V brakes simply work better. And I will say that about disc brakes, they just work better(I first used Avid V-Brakes before I installed the discs). Now I don’t live in Oregon, but I do live in Santa Cruz where we get about 30 in of rain a year. My Rocklobster SS brakes’ are Deore hyro discs and they are the best working brakes I have ever used. The are self adjusting, very progressive yet I can lockup both wheels with 2 fingers (one on each lever), no need to mess with the brake to remove the wheel, the pads are cheap and easy to clean and replace and there are no bushings to wear out. I guess simplicity is in the mind of the beholder. In the beginning days of mountain biking they used to use coaster brakes. They would need to break the darn things open after every ride and rebuild the brake! And I have used just a rear brake on some down hill single track and it wasn’t good. Okay, it was still fun but considering I had just crashed, tore out the front brake hose, had just separated my shoulder and still had 20 miles to go; it was one of those cool stories that are more fun to talk about then actually living through. I have always defined simplicity by what I would be able to do if the darn thing broke. Well guess what? If either a V-Brake or disc brake broke, I probably would not be able to fix it and would have to buy a new one. Also if you taco a wheel, you can still use a disc brake instead of having to disconnect a V-brake. Simple also means you bolt it on and it works better than the item it replaced and has no more overhead and discs are that way to me. Anyway that what I think.
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  29. #29
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    I guess as I started this thread I should jump back in at some point. Firstly, thanks for all the comments / opinions. There is obviously no single correct answer. Everyone has their own personal preferences.

    From my point of view I generally like to keep things simple. Eccentric bottom brackets obviously work well for some but I think they look overcomplicated and just another thing to go wrong. Same goes for Eccentric hubs. It seems to me that horizontal dropouts are the simplest solution with the only cons being slightly awkward wheel removal and potentially need to adjust your brakes when you adjust the chain tension. Sliding dropouts would overcome these issues but I think they look clumsy.

    At the moment an On-One Inbred slot dropout is top of my list for the heart of my new bike. Just need to pull the money together from somewhere now........

  30. #30
    Baby Bear is in the house
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    Quote Originally Posted by alex_k
    ...incontinence...
    Was about to comment on that, then I saw aka brad's reply...hehe
    Better to have and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomad9
    At the moment an On-One Inbred slot dropout is top of my list for the heart of my new bike. Just need to pull the money together from somewhere now........
    The Slot Dropout Inbred is my dream frame too, but there aren't any On-One distributors here in the Philippines, and shipping would cost more than the frame if I got one direct from them

    That said, if I also had the money, I'd go custom. Retrotec anyone? (this is their snowbike from the flicker NAHBS09 gallery)



    If things pan out, a Surly 1x1 will be in my future...
    Better to have and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  32. #32
    SSolo, on your left!
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek
    Sweet low-buck DIY mod!

    Quote Originally Posted by r1Gel
    Good thread. I was about to post the exact same question as I am in the exact same boat

    Good inputs from everyone so far
    X2.......................although not in the boat yet.......planning for what if....

    Quote Originally Posted by alex_k
    i was very skeptical about sliding dropouts but they work like a charm

    My new On One Inbred (I removed the left side chain tug after a week):
    Looks nice.
    Get off the couch and ride!

  33. #33
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    Troll.



    Quote Originally Posted by victorthewombat
    Here are my thoughts:

    1. Disc brakes suck on a single speed... completely not needed.

    2. ECC bottom brake and rear v-brake is good.

    3. Horizontal drops allow fixed/free cog swagging which is tres *****en'

    4. Chain tenshioners are ok on a cyclocross single or dingle. Never for MTB.

    5. White Industries "eno" can be your friend.

    Single take it easy mon...no prablem manh.

  34. #34
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    I have an El Toro with a Bushnell style EBB. It's never slipped or creaked. I've removed it twice for cleaning in a 12 month period. Rock solid. The only issue I have with the EBB is that I change gear combo's frequently during race season, and this changes my knee-over-pedal location. Every time I change the rear cog I have to adjust the seatpost and saddle to get the fit right. When I do this, my cockpit changes. Not a huge deal, but I think the "perfect" tensioner is one that allow mulitple gear changes with no impact on how the bike fits. For that reason, I now prefer the sliding dropouts on my 29er. All the benefits of track ends, but without the need to adjust the rear brake everytime I change gear combos.

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