Pondering a switch to SS- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Pondering a switch to SS

    I started MTBing back in Feb. of this year at 52 for several reasons. Mostly to get and stay in shape at something that looked like alot of fun.

    I didn't know just how much fun or how addicting it was going to be. Got a 26 inch '10 Rockhopper on closeout thinking it would do all I needed done. It did that, but as everyone here knows the more you learn the more your wants change and expand. I found myself at the lbs just a month or so back thinking about taking out a loan for a FS 29" that is way out of my skill level but probably still needed upgrades as soon as I got it.

    Then I found this forum and something clicked inside of me. The pictures, the thoughts, the style, the reasoning. I even rode the trails I frenquent in 32/18 and 32/21 on my middle ring/4&5 cassette to try it out, really thinking that it would not be posssible, but surprising myself by making all the climbs and obstacles. Didn't make them all in each setting or every time but think technique and strength would take care of that.

    As a side note I am an archer and bowhunter, the same thing happened the first year I started that and instead of a compound, it was the simple stick and string that drew me. I have to practice longer and harder to achieve the same results or even come close in most instances, but it just seems more real like, down to earth kinda, doyaknowwhatimean?

    I live in Ks. but go to Colorado every year to climb the mountains chasing elk. Legs and lungs would be a great by-product of mtb'ing while enjoying the rush and learning the moves.

    Today I had to replace my chain, got that done and was fiddling with the bike and whatnot, checking brakes and shifting. Noticed that I started skipping in my middle gears when I got on it. Probably my cassette and chain rings are worn, I'm too new to make that call just by looking, but the internet is a great tool. Instead of replacing these lower level components with more of the same I thought it might be a good time to switch this bike to SS.

    It has a Dart 3 fork which does have a workable lockout for being pretty cheap and disc brakes (BB5) that I like alot. Mine are quiet and easy to tune. Biggest problem I face are the verticle drop outs. How can I convert this frame? I read the FAQ but don't want to just start butchering stuff. Would like a nice clean look, but not too worried about traditional obviously.

    Are there aftermarket sliders or something that would make this easy? If I knew some names or brands I could do some googling. I am a pretty decent mechanic. Of course if anyone else has converted a frame like this it would be great to hear about it, pros and cons.

    Thanks all, Glynn

  2. #2
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    all you really need is a chain tensioner to make it a SS. I have never converted a bike with vertical drop outs, so i'm not the best source for that info, but i think they are like 30-50 bucks. There is a way to set up your derailleur to act as a chain tensioner, but I'm not sure on how to do that either.

    Go to Singlespeed Bicycle Conversions and that should help you out.

    And I know what you mean about buying an entry level bike, and then thinking that you want to try something else. IMO SS is the best next step because it is much cheaper then buying a FS bike, and it gives you a whole new feeling of riding the same trails.

  3. #3
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    The vertical dropouts are tough. Several of my older geared bikes had semi-horizontal dropouts with just enough adjustability to get good chain tension on whatever gear I wanted, in the worst case I'd use a half-link to set the chain length.

    For truly vertical dropouts, the easiest way is to remove and big and little rings on the crankset, and replace the chainring bolts with narrower, single-speed specific bolts. When you look at them, you'll see why this is, the bolts can only clamp down a minimum thickness and they ordinarily pass through both the big and middle rings. You can leave the front derailleur in place for simplicity sake.

    Next you'll want to remove the cassette (which will require a cassette removal tool, a chain whip, and a big adjustable wrench), replace it with a single gear, spacers and a lock ring. These can all be purchased together in a kit (like this one: Gusset Single Speed Conversion Kit at JensonUSA.com just as an example). Now you'll have one gear in the front, and one gear in the back. Chances are very VERY good you won't be able to get the chain to exactly the right length to build good tension. The easiest solution is to run a chain tensioner (like the one that comes in this kit - in fact, I guess most of what you need is in that one kit.)

    Chain tensioners have some disadvantages, as I understand it - I haven't had to run one myself. However, it typically won't be able to put very strong tension into the chain, so you are still susceptible to chain slap, and to dropping the chain on the trail. Keeping the front derailleur on will help with the second one.

    Your alternative to a chain tensioner with vertical dropouts is to do some careful measuring and some math (or an online calculator) to figure out exactly which gears you can run front and back that will set the chain length exactly correctly with either entire links, or the use of a half link. This is a function of the bike geometry and the total tooth counts, and people call it the magic gear.

    Your third alternative of course is to buy a SS frame and swap everything across!

    There are much brighter folks than me on the forum and somebody else will probably have more clever suggestions for you. Good luck!

  4. #4
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    Or consider 2 bikes: Keep your Rockhopper multi-geared and pick up a decent used SS or a lower priced new SS from someone like Bikes Direct. The Dawes Deadeye and Bullseye or the Gravity G29 are all good values for pretty solid SS rigs. I have a Bullseye I've ridden hard for 10 months now and am very pleased with how it's working and holding up. I split my ride time about 50/50 between the Dawes and my FS 29, a 2010 Stumpy Expert.
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  5. #5
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    I was able to make my Stumpjumper SS with just a little filling, but I know you don't want to do that.
    If I were going to get a tensioner, I think it would be this one.


    As a side note in CT we share some trails with bow hunters from Sept.15 - Jan 31 with the exception of Sundays (no hunting in CT on Sunday). Hunters who use firearms are only allowed a 2 week block out of a 4 week period open to firearms.

  6. #6
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    I've used several different setups including a spring-type tensioner, a "fixed" (for lack of a better term) type tensioner and a specific bike with an eccentric bottom bracket. Of course, the SS specific bike is best but the "fixed" type tensioner worked best for me on my Stumpjumper. I fought with a Surly Singleator for months. It would skip under heavy pedaling because the spring tension simply couldn't be set high enough. I would recommend a fixed type tensioner. I used a "Sette" which I believe is Price Point's in-house brand. It set me back about 20 bucks and worked great. Your other issue may be your front crank. As stated above, you can usually remove the larger chainrings and bolt on your ring of choice using shorter chainring bolts. If none of this is making sense check out the SS FAQ page
    MTBR.com Single Speed Forum - Single Speed FAQ

  7. #7
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    Here is my progression into the SS world:

    Entry level MTB > 1x9 > 1x1 with tensioner > 1x1 with half link > building SS specific bike.

    I kept getting the occasional chain slippage with the tensioner and when my derailleur hanger hit something and bent, I went the half link route. Not one slip. However, the half link always seems to stiffen up, no matter how many times I loosen it. You might find yourself looking at SS bikes very soon....

  8. #8
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    I like my Melvin tensioner. This is where I got mine. Best price right now, too.

    Paul Components Melvin Chain Tensioner from Hucknroll.com

    Yeah, looks a little complicated but works easily. And you can keep your front chainrings to make a 2 or 3 speed, if you don't want to fully commit!!

  9. #9
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    I appreciate the feedback and have a better idea about doing something with this bike now, Being without a bike really sucks though, I work out of town where the trails are that I ride the most and am leaving Mon. morning. So kind of leaning in the 2 seperate bikes for now and keep the 29" FS in the back of my mind for #3.

    Don't know if I can pull off getting the cassette and CR today but going to find out.

    Then the search is on for bikes and parts. The Paul's and the Yetis do look interesting too. allroy, are you using yours on a vertical dropout frame?

    Thanks, Glynn

  10. #10
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    I have a great lbs, super father & sons outfit that slapped a cassette on my bike in nothing flat so I could keep riding this week.

    Rode a new test bike while I was there, 29" HT stumpy 2X10. They had it set-up tubeless at 24# total weight, very nice. So many choices out there,

    Going to focus on the SS right now.
    Last edited by Glynn Sluder; 10-15-2011 at 01:12 PM.

  11. #11
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    I am using my Melvin on a semi-horizontal dropout, Surly CrossCheck. I am running it 2x1 (two front chainrings, single cog in the rear). That being said, the Melvin was designed for vertical dropouts.
    Paul Component Engineering - Melvin

    My mountain bikes are in SS mode (both 1x9s for a time), one has sliding dropouts and the other an eccentric bottom bracket which makes for cleaner lines. But a chain tensioner is a good option for getting into the SS world.

  12. #12
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    oh yeah, and since you said you were trying out gear combinations on your current bike, 32-21 is a pretty light gear especially for a 26er. I can't remember the math exactly, but usually when you hear people saying they run something near that ratio it is on a 29er.

    Whatever works for you is fine, but just keep that in mind when you are looking at ratios.

  13. #13
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    26" rigid here. I have a 31x16 gear ratio and love it. 32x21 seems a little to easy for my trails( NC piedmont). Don't over think this one though. One and done.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
    Id scrap the passion forum all together, its a breeding ground for unicorn milkers, rainbow chasers and candy cotton farters.

  14. #14
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    If you are converting your current 26" bike to a SS then the options listed above will work with vertical dropouts. Keep in mind that if you are trying to use the magic gear approach (no tensioner, just relying on gear rations) then you need to make sure you can find a comperable gear ration while at the same time trying to make sure the chain is tight. Keep in mind tha the chain will stretch some as well and what is nice and tight today could end up being loose in a month. My vote is for the bottom bracket style tensioner as it allows alot of chain contact with the teeth on both rings.

    On the flip side, if you make it back to the shop, see if they have a ss 29er there. Having those larger wheels really does smooth out the trails a bit. There are huge debates on here over the 26 v 29er sizing but you really need to get out on both and give it a shot. But for newer riders, I think that the 29er can really help you to enjoy the ride a little more for reasons I won't get into here.

    As far as picking up a second bike all together, I agree with checking out something used or even lower end 29 ss set ups. You can probably find quite a few out there in the $5-600 rage. That will be plenty of bike to get you going without worries of having to start swapping out parts all over the place.

  15. #15
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    Here, check this out! This is the cleanest way to convert your bike to a SS. Add an eccentric bottom bracket. It won't matter whether or not the frame has vertical dropouts. Everything will work the same. Have your lbs pull your cranks and current bb. Install the new EBB and put the cranks back on after pulling the inner/outer chainrings. Adjust chain length and set EBB. Done! Below is a link to someone selling one that is slightly used with unused bearings and what not. Great deal honestly! You can convert darn near any frame to SS with one of these.

    Rock Shox Pike 454 and Forward Components BB - Buy and Sell and Review Mountain Bikes and Accessories

    The few friends that I know that have these love them and have no problems with them compared to other brands.

  16. #16
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    Just got back in town. Thanks for the heads up on the EBB there 1spd, I may just have to snag that even if I don't use it on this bike! I'm kind of torn on which way to go this week.

    While riding my RH I was thinking I like how it's been as my first mtb, kinda cheap and stripped down with a few minor upgrades for feel, saddle and grips, new tires, clipless pedals. I've crashed the crap out of it riding hard and really grown to like it. Probably keep the beast as it is and get another bike.

    Leaning heavy to a 29 inch platform for the SS, At 5'11" 210 lbs. I'm a fair sized guy and actually the ONLY person I know who rides a 26" on the trail I frequent. Everyone says it smooths out the rocks and roots here and I think the momentum thing would help me going into the small to medium climbs that are most common here although some pretty steep.

    I rode one 4 mile loop this week in mostly 32/16 and a couple of the climbs I shifted to 32/18. Do I try to stay around the 2 to 1 on the 29" or is there something else to consider when crossing over?

    I searched around some looking at SS' for sale. All the ones I instantly am drawn to are the most expensive, guess I got good taste. Going to keep searching and put some money back, DST is going to screw up my after work rides bad, so maybe calm down and pick something solid.

    Thanks all, Glynn

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glynn Sluder View Post
    I rode one 4 mile loop this week in mostly 32/16 and a couple of the climbs I shifted to 32/18. Do I try to stay around the 2 to 1 on the 29" or is there something else to consider when crossing over?

    Thanks all, Glynn
    It depends on the climbs you will deal with most on your trails. 32/16 may work as you get stronger on the SS or you may find the 32/18 provides a more enjoyable ride. Here in the PNW on trails with a lot of climbing, I run 32/20 and some very strong riders I know run 32/21. It means spinning out on some flats but it also means staying on the bike for more climbs, especially the short steeps.

    If you're gonna save up and wait on your purchase for some higher end gear, there are a lot of great complete bikes out there in the $1500-$2000 range.

    Have fun with your search and selection.
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  18. #18
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    Just get another bike, you're not going to like fiddling with a tensioner and measuring chain line. a dedicated SS is going to have all the right parts and math that the frame designer already figured out for you.

    Rent a FS 29er if/when you hit a bike park.

  19. #19
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    In my opinion, this is the fast, easiest, and one of the cheapest ways to try single speed:
    DMR STS and Cassette Spacer Combo Kit at JensonUSA.com

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the link bad mechanic, I think there are lots of us who were looking for a kind of all in one kit at a low price.

    I started googling for a mid range bike and have been focused on the Kona Unit. Looks like it would do it all and could take a susp. fork if desired. Anything bad I should know about it, like service or faulty parts so I can comparison shop with other brands?

    Any others who are pondering follow along or jump right in.

    Glynn

  21. #21
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    If you're looking for a complete bike, there are some very compelling options here:
    29er Mountain Bikes | Full Suspension 29er | Hardtail 29er Mountain bikes | Titanium 29er Mountain Bikes | Singlespeed 29er Bikes

    I've worked on a couple first hand, and frankly, I quite like them. The frames are solid, the geometry good, and money has been saved on the components, which you can easily upgrade as you go or as they wear out.

  22. #22
    nothing to see here
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    The Unit can do it all, and is a good solid bike, which is not too heavy either. You'll be happy on one of those. The sliding dropouts are pretty foolproof too.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  23. #23
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    White Industries I think the White Industries Eno is the best, been using 2 different ones in the PNW slop,sand, as well as race on them. 5 years and they still work perfect never had a slip, damn good hubs not blingey but they work great..

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by pindowngirl25 View Post
    White Industries I think the White Industries Eno is the best, been using 2 different ones in the PNW slop,sand, as well as race on them. 5 years and they still work perfect never had a slip, damn good hubs not blingey but they work great..
    I agree, and think they're fantastic myself (currently using one) and one of the best tensioning system period. However, the OP wanted the ability to switch back and forth between SS and gears, which is something the Eno definitely cannot do.

  25. #25
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    Hey all,

    I have a similar bike (2007 model) as the OP. If I wanted to convert it to a SS, with no intent to switch it back and forth to a geared bike; whats the best solution? Is it this White Industries Eno thing? From what I've read, that appears to be the solution with the least amount of chain tension issues. Is that correct?

    What other components will I need?

    I usually only ride when I can't run. Right now I'm injured enough that I'm done running for a while. SS seems like the thing for me. I just want to get out and ride the trails I normally run. I rode a SS this past weekend (a geared converted bike) and loved it. No way I can justify spending money on a second SS bike. My wife knows as soon as I can run, I won't ride that much. Plus I spends tons on race entry fees and travel; hence limited bike budget.

  26. #26
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    ^^if you are looking at making the switch and not going back then you have a couple different options. In order of price:

    1. Chain tensioner mounted where the deraileur goes-Personally I like the one made by Surly and Yes
    2. Eccentric Bottom Bracket-Forward Concepts is probably what I would go with though I'm sure the Philwood version is nice as well. May depend on what type of bottom bracket you currently have though.
    3. WI Eno rear hub. Definitely a great product but you will have to basically have a new rear wheel built around it, therefore it will probably cost you more than the other options.

    I listed by price because you mentioned a low budget. With that in mind, I would simply buy a decent chain tensioner and call it a day. You will also want to buy a new front chain ring as well. Assuming your current set up is geared, your stock chain rings are ramped/pinned (have ramps and pins to help the chain shift up/down on the back side of them). A good ring will run you about $30-40 and the tensioner about the same. Much cheaper than the other options and will work well enough to keep you on the trail until you can run again.

  27. #27
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    Like 1spd said, get yourself a tensioner kit, most likely at any bike store, and call it a day. Your middle chainring should work fine if you don't want to shell out $30 for an SS one. I would get a bash guard first. I wanted the clean look of no bash guard which was fine for a while, until I bent my ring. Luckily, someone riding down the trail had a leatherman with pliers on it and straightened me out. I put the bash back on

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