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  1. #1
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    Questions about single speed

    So I have to admit, I have been lurking the single speed forum more often than the others. I don't know why, but I seem to be attracted to the simplicity of it all. I also like the fact that it forces me to use my strength in my legs instead of using easier gears. I recently purchased a fuji 1.9 29er and am getting ready to go with only one ring up front. I have been riding in the middle gear the last few rides and like how it causes me to get off the saddle and push harder to make it up hills. I'm set with going with the 32T up front. I was going to convert the back to an 8 speed freewheel instead of the 7 speed it came with. Then I started reading this single speed forum a lot and thought maybe I should give single speed a try. It seems I ride in 6th gear most of the time which would be a 16 tooth cog in the back. At least on my bike it is. So would I be ok with having the 32T in the front and a 16T in the back or should I be looking at a different gearing. I ride mostly single track with a mixture of rocks, roots, hills and switchbacks. Some occasional uphill and downhill as well. Any suggestions are appreciated. Looks like I have the itch for this and I want to be sure I get the gearing to about where it needs to be.

  2. #2
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    2:1 is pretty much the standard starting place for SS gearing ... it all depends on how strong you are and how hilly the trails you ride are. Start there (32/16) and adjust as you see fit.
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  3. #3
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    Any suggestions on single speed conversion kits for the rear. I have a freewheel.

  4. #4
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    Ebay has lots of convertions,Performace ,Jenson,do to . You could make some spacers out of pvc and buy a bmx freewheel . 2 TO 1 for me too steep ,I run 32 /18 on a 26" wheel.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangeriderdave View Post
    Ebay has lots of convertions,Performace ,Jenson,do to . You could make some spacers out of pvc and buy a bmx freewheel . 2 TO 1 for me too steep ,I run 32 /18 on a 26" wheel.
    +1
    If you've been lurking, you probably know that there is approximately a 2 tooth difference in 26ers and 29ers, so a 32:18 on a 26er is similar to a 32:20 on a 29er.
    The latter is what I normally run on my 29er...of course I like a bit of spin and I live in an area with a ton of climbing (I will even go up to a 21 for 24hr events or maybe a 100 mile event)...though some local guys will run a 32:18 on their 29er or even 17 (crazy). That does not make them faster, it is just that different people will adjust to different gears and you will need to find what works best for you so be prepared to experiment a bit.
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  6. #6
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    I was running a Surly kit on the rear of my geared hub. Works great. I started with 32x20 and just moved to 32x18 last night. Big difference. I'm keeping the 32x18 as my "training" gearing for now and I'll probably still ride with the 32x20 for a while when I'm actual trails. My everyday riding is around the outskirts of my town mostly on the roadway but lots of short steep climbs to keep my legs in shape.

    As far as making the jump to SS...you'll become addicted. It's so much more fun and harder but definitely more fun. I also love the simplicity. Don't have to think. Just like being a little kid. Jump on the bike and pedal not having to worry about what gear you're in and proper gear changes and all that crap. Only thing is sit or stand or walk. Sit until you need to stand, walk when standing isn't working anymore. Pretty simple.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoke2 View Post
    2:1 is pretty much the standard starting place for SS gearing ... it all depends on how strong you are and how hilly the trails you ride are. Start there (32/16) and adjust as you see fit.
    Seems to me that the only people running that big of a gear are the VERY strong guys(top Cat 1/open). If you're riding twisty technical singletrack, I'd say start with 32-19 or 20

  8. #8
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    I just started, and am running 32/20 on a 29er. Seems to be pretty good, I may try 32/18 after a while.

    Definately give it a try, I think you'll like it.

    I used this kit. Cheap and easy, was like $4 to grab a 20T cog to try. Beware, use a geared chain (3/32) It is not wide enough for 1/8.

    I may upgrade at some point but happy with it after a handful of rides so far.

  9. #9
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    A 29er with 32/16 gearing is insane for your first single speed. Like most of the others, I suggest you start with 32/20.
    Dave
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for the suggestions on the right size gearing. Tonight when I go ride, I will pay closer attention to what gear I'm riding in. Tomorrow I will be stopping by the LBS to pick up what I need. I called today and they told me they have the Bmx free wheels that I can use. Will I need to do anything in order to have the chain line as straight as possible?

  11. #11
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    I wouldn't go by what you're riding on your geared bike. Like already stated, it's not the same. I could ride 32x16 on my geared bike all day long. 32x18 on my SS (lighter weight bike too) kicks my ass.

  12. #12
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    I have a 29'r and I run in between a 32x18 and a 32x20. I have a 19 on there now and it seems to split the difference pretty good. Pretty much whatever gear you choose will be the wrong one, it isn't too often that it is perfect. When it is, it is a good feeling. For the most part you just have to find a happy medium.

    I don't think it has been mentioned already and I am not familiar with your frame, but you will need a means of tensioning the chain. A Surly singleater is a good way to do that if you have vertical drop outs and no eccentric bottom bracket.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tooclosetosee View Post
    I have a 29'r and I run in between a 32x18 and a 32x20. I have a 19 on there now and it seems to split the difference pretty good. Pretty much whatever gear you choose will be the wrong one, it isn't too often that it is perfect. When it is, it is a good feeling. For the most part you just have to find a happy medium.

    I don't think it has been mentioned already and I am not familiar with your frame, but you will need a means of tensioning the chain. A Surly singleater is a good way to do that if you have vertical drop outs and no eccentric bottom bracket.

    Thanks for the info. So far my list consist of purchasing a Bmx freewheel probably with a 18 or 20T, a chain tensioner, a chain breaker and a quick link, and I'll be ordering a new crank as well to upgrade the one I have now. Front crank will be 32T. I also have a jump stop that I will be installing as well.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by madaca View Post
    I also have a jump stop that I will be installing as well.
    If you get your chainline and tension right you won't need that jump stop...

    SPP
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  15. #15
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    Sorry I hadn't seen this earlier but...

    As I understand it, you are removing a 7spd freewheel and replacing it with a BMX style freewheel. Whilst that will go together, the resulting chainline will render it inoperable with your crank's chainline. The rear chainline will be too far inboard, and may result in many dropped chains/smashed family jewels. You will not be able to put sufficient spacers behind the BMX freewheel and still get enough purchase on it's thread.

    You may be able to have the wheel re-dished depending on the type of axle it has (ie whether it has screw on inboard bearing cups) and if it is a rim brake wheel, but the simplest solution is to buy another (second hand) rear wheel that is either single speed specific or has a cassette style freehub, on which you will be able to mount a single sprocket and use spacers to adjust the chainline to suit your crankset.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob View Post
    Sorry I hadn't seen this earlier but...

    As I understand it, you are removing a 7spd freewheel and replacing it with a BMX style freewheel. Whilst that will go together, the resulting chainline will render it inoperable with your crank's chainline. The rear chainline will be too far inboard, and may result in many dropped chains/smashed family jewels. You will not be able to put sufficient spacers behind the BMX freewheel and still get enough purchase on it's thread.

    You may be able to have the wheel re-dished depending on the type of axle it has (ie whether it has screw on inboard bearing cups) and if it is a rim brake wheel, but the simplest solution is to buy another (second hand) rear wheel that is either single speed specific or has a cassette style freehub, on which you will be able to mount a single sprocket and use spacers to adjust the chainline to suit your crankset.
    I had a feeling it wouldn't be so easy. So, unlike a freehub, I can't space it out to get the correct chain line? I guess I will have to wait until I can find another wheel with a hub. My current wheel has disk brakes. So I guess with freewheels, you are pretty limited to what you can do.

  17. #17
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    Without seeing how wide the thread is on the hub you already have, it is difficult to make the right call. You can use spacers on a freewheel, but if it puts the line of the sprocket outside the end of the hub's thread, you're asking for trouble. I'd go with another more suitable wheel. You should be able to find one cheap enough.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  18. #18
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    I guess I'll take my rear wheel in and see what the LBS has. The guy I spoke with was familiar with the process. I'll find out tomorrow.

  19. #19
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    kinda weird that you have a freewheel hub. what bike do you have, or at least post some pictures of the rear hub so we can guide you accordingly.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek View Post
    kinda weird that you have a freewheel hub. what bike do you have, or at least post some pictures of the rear hub so we can guide you accordingly.

    I don't have a hub. It's freewheel. The kind that spins on. This is my bike although I don't have a good pic of the freewheel. I broke my derailleur in this pic. It's a fuji nevada 1.9 29er

  21. #21
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    7 or 8 speed freewheels are pretty common still in lower end mountain bikes. Although it is unusual to see a frame with a post mount rear disc brake and screw on freewheel.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  22. #22
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    Well the LBS didn't have what I needed. For now I bought a new derailleur and 8 speed freewheel. I'm going to keep my eye out for a 29" hub wheel. Once I get that I'll go ahead and make the change. For now I'm going with 1x8. Thanks for all the help. At least I know what I need to do this conversion.

  23. #23
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    I think 32/19 is a good starting point for 29er SS gearing experiments. It's very close to 34/20, which I've found to be quite a good compromise between speed and climbing. For fixed riding I use 34/18 to reduce excessive spinning.

    The "classic 2:1" such as 32/16 only applies to 26" bikes. A similar total ratio on a 29er would be achieved with 32/18.

  24. #24
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    I have been using 38/16 all the time and think that perfekt on almost Every trial.
    At least all the fun , dont really understand why everyone like lack of speed and tuff technical trials.

  25. #25
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    Ok I have another question. It seems if I redish my wheel to get the line straight and put my axle spacers on the opposite side in order to get the freewheel in line better, my disk brake will then be off and not lined up properly and inoperable. How straight does the chain line need to be? Will a jump stop help if my chain line isn't as straight as it should? Sorry so many questions but I really want to do this conversion.

  26. #26
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    Well everyone. I'm officially in the singlespeed club. I went to the LBS And bought a shimano freewheel 18T. It's all anyone had in stock. No 20T anywhere. I also got a singlespeed chain in yellow. Might as well be different, right? I added a jump stop just for good measure and the guy at the LBS gave me an old derailleur to use as a chain tensioner. I got home and put everything together pretty easily. I was really worried about getting the chain line right but I guess I lucked out. The chain ended up being nice and snug but with just enough play. I ended up not needing a tensioner and from what I can see, the chain line is darn near perfect. I just came back from a test ride with my son and everything seems great. Nice and quiet and no problems at all. I am glad I went with the 18T. I think 20 would of caused me to have too much spinout. Up hills are manageable and straight away is perfect. I'm sure I will get stronger and grow into it as well. I'm really happy I didn't give up on this and tried it out. Her are some pics of what it looks like. I hope this can help someone out that has a freewheel and is wanting to do this. I will probably still buy a nice chain tensioner just to have as a back up.










  27. #27
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    Congrats! Welcome to the club.

  28. #28
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    Well done on getting the magic gear spot on. Ride it like that until it gives you problems.

    FWIW, here's what I think you have. That chainline is nowhere near close to straight (measure it) and the extra inboard shift of the freewheel is what is allowing the right tension for magic gear for now. On an aluminium frame you're less likely to suffer from frame flex induced chain drops anyway.

    It should be fine if you just ride it lightly.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob View Post
    Well done on getting the magic gear spot on. Ride it like that until it gives you problems.

    FWIW, here's what I think you have. That chainline is nowhere near close to straight (measure it) and the extra inboard shift of the freewheel is what is allowing the right tension for magic gear for now. On an aluminium frame you're less likely to suffer from frame flex induced chain drops anyway.

    It should be fine if you just ride it lightly.

    Thanks for the info. I did ride pretty hard on the trails while testing it. I think if it was going to slip off then it would of done so. Seems real smooth. I'm going to measure the chainline tonight with a technique I read somewhere on the forum. I'll see how far I'm off. I'll most likely ride it hard till something gives. Hopefully it keeps doing good. Either way, singlespeed is great. I appreciate all the help I received from everyone.

  30. #30
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    So it seems I'm about 12.5mm off on my chainline. I can't move the spacers in the back and redish my wheel because it will then throw off my disc brake. I have a freewheel not a free hub. I took the bike out again today and pushed it hard in the hills. I had to really dig in to get up some. Felt like I couldn't get enough air in the lungs. Lol. Is there any other way to get the chainline better. I don't see any problems at all right now but I don't want to create any either. I plan on getting a free hub later down the road but not until I have a good reason to. Any suggestions or should I just ride on? I'm using a singlespeed chain. Could that make a difference?

  31. #31
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    couple ways to do it.

    this ebay seller used to machine an adapter for freewheel-freewheel, this freewheel-fixed MIGHT work as long as there are enough threads to safely run a freewheel.

    Fixed Wheel HUB Adaptor Converter Correct Chainline Singlespeed Fixie | eBay

    buy the shortest square taper spindle you can find, i assume you have a square taper cranks. cheap.

    run a bmx cranks. bmx chainline is more inboard. not cheap solution.

    or buy a cassette hub, cleanest way to do it. it will hone your wheelbuilding skills too.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  32. #32
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    Dude, if you haven't dropped a chain yet, who cares about the chainline. 1/8" chain is very forgiving and I really doubt you will have problems until your chain wears and goes slack. You may want to buy another chain when this starts to happen. Luckily 1/8 chains are so cheap, so just get a few.

    Honestly, you shouldn't muck around with freewheels, just get a wheel with a freehub. Just looking at your axle makes me nervous, since a multiple freewheel isnt covering up the skinny axle and you can actually see how weak it looks.
    I've seen many broken freewheel axles and most of these people weren't mountain biking, they were only biking around in the city. They really do break because of how inboard the drive side wheel bearing is, and how much force is put on the axle over that long distance from the bearing to the drive side dropout.

    When you can afford it, just get a wheel with a freehub. That way you can prevent a broken axle from ruining your day and solve your chainline problem at the same time. SS cogs that go on freehubs are also cheaper to replace than freewheels when worn.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kanik View Post
    Dude, if you haven't dropped a chain yet, who cares about the chainline. 1/8" chain is very forgiving and I really doubt you will have problems until your chain wears and goes slack. You may want to buy another chain when this starts to happen. Luckily 1/8 chains are so cheap, so just get a few.

    Honestly, you shouldn't muck around with freewheels, just get a wheel with a freehub. Just looking at your axle makes me nervous, since a multiple freewheel isnt covering up the skinny axle and you can actually see how weak it looks.
    I've seen many broken freewheel axles and most of these people weren't mountain biking, they were only biking around in the city. They really do break because of how inboard the drive side wheel bearing is, and how much force is put on the axle over that long distance from the bearing to the drive side dropout.

    When you can afford it, just get a wheel with a freehub. That way you can prevent a broken axle from ruining your day and solve your chainline problem at the same time. SS cogs that go on freehubs are also cheaper to replace than freewheels when worn.
    Thanks man. Ill leave it alone for now and will keep my eye out for a hubwheel. I've read about the axles on the freewheels. Keeping my fingers crossed. May pick one up to keep a spare just in case.

  34. #34
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    I have a SS question that has been bugging me lately. How do you pick the perfect chain tension? I'd think that slightly looser is better than over tight, no? I was running my SS for a few rides with the chain a little tighter than it probably should have been and the dead spots were really noticeable. To the point it affected my pedaling. I slacked the chain a bit and now it seems to feel to loose. It has some flop, but doesn't touch the chainstay. Went on a ride today and just blew through the trail like it was nothing. Only thing that changed was the tension on the chain.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  35. #35
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    Loose, as long as it doesn't drop, is always better. Tight chains can ruin bearings quickly if not set up correctly.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  36. #36
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    Great. I just got my new crank installed and when I pulled the old crank off I saw that the middle ring is a 34T. All this time I've been riding 34/18. The fuji website said the stock crank was supposed to be 32T on the middle ring. I bought the new crank so I can change out rings if needed. The old one is one piece. Guess ill try out 32/18 or stop by the LBS and get a 34T.

  37. #37
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    Whenever looking at gearing suggestions, take into account where the person lives who is giving the advice. As would be expected, people in hilly areas prefer a lower ratio than those in flat areas. In western PA, I would suggest a 32x20 for 29ers and 32x18 for 26ers. However in areas without hills this would be way too easy of gearing.

  38. #38
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    All better now. Got some new Mavic cross ride wheels and a origin 8 singlespeed kit. Chainline is great and it rides oh so nice.



  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by 251 View Post
    A 29er with 32/16 gearing is insane for your first single speed. Like most of the others, I suggest you start with 32/20.
    I totally disagree. Ride with what ever works for you. When i started SS, i had a Salsa Bandito with a magic gear of 36/16. I learned to make it work. I'm fast, but no super hero. I now have frames that i can choose my gearing, but still choose 36/16 for 26 and 36/18 for 29er. Just "Ride, Smile and pedal Damn it'. And yes you will have to get up off your arse, and there are plenty of nasty hills here. Ride what you've got. And change it if you have to.

  40. #40
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    I'm still sticking with the 32/18. Seems fine especially since I have my seat height correct now. I got some new Forte 720mm wide bars and a new Forte stem(not in these pics). Huge difference in handling today. Felt great in corners and riding through technical terrain.



  41. #41
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    Nice pics! Love the one of you climbing like a SS pro! Looks like your having fun and that's what it's all about.
    Congrats, welcome to the club and enjoy!
    I no longer deserve a signature.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by henrymiller1 View Post
    I totally disagree. Ride with what ever works for you. When i started SS, i had a Salsa Bandito with a magic gear of 36/16. I learned to make it work. I'm fast, but no super hero. I now have frames that i can choose my gearing, but still choose 36/16 for 26 and 36/18 for 29er. Just "Ride, Smile and pedal Damn it'. And yes you will have to get up off your arse, and there are plenty of nasty hills here. Ride what you've got. And change it if you have to.
    Totally agree, 36/16 is magic gear for me even with hilly terrain.
    32/20 is Boring , not enough speed into the climbingparts of the track.
    Momentum is the magic word!
    If you can conquer the 36/16 you are killer.

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