Is singlespeed for me?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Gears... I hate gears
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    Is singlespeed for me?

    I hate all the gears on my bike. Every time I ride, I stay on the middle chainring and maybe shift between the 3rd and 4th gear on my rear. I ride a Specialized Hardrock 29 and I'd consider myself a novice but I can ride most of the "expert trails" we have here in south Florida with little to no trouble. I ride about once a week but have a commute of about 3 miles round trip. At first I was considering a 1x9 setup but i wouldn't really use most of the gears so I thought maybe single speed. I've read through most of the FAQ and a conversion doesn't seem tough as I'm not mechanically challenged.

    The thing I'm concerned with the most is that I don't have enough experience yet because I only really started riding on a regular basis at the beginning of this year. I read that you recommend a 2:1 ratio but i find myself on a 32:21 most of the time. Should my legs get stronger before I make a switch? I just want something simple on my bike, no fuss, no "gliding" or chain slap. Just get on and ride.

    Thanks!

    I'd be using my derailleur as a tensioner and my old cassette for cogs with pvc spacers. If I like it then I will invest in dedicated SS Chainring and Cogs. So I'm thinking the only things I'd need to pick up are a chain break, master links, and a cassette tool which I need anyways.
    Last edited by reedfe; 07-01-2012 at 07:25 PM.

  2. #2
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    Will you be converting your existing geared bike? If so you can canibalize your cassette and start with the 32/21 and as you get stronger drop down. It also allows that if you don't like SS you can go back to geared, 1x9, easily with little or no money out of pocket.
    "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."
    Mark Twain?

  3. #3
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    Short answer: yes, you seem like a prime SS candidate. Your commute is so short, the ratio won't translate to much difference on the clock, and your trail experiences suggest that you're basically running your bike as a 1xdingle already. At your experience level, SS might be advantageous to you, as you'll be developing important trail skills (picking a nice line, maintaining momentum) on a SS without having to learn to maximize your shifting efficiency (a worthwhile skill to have as well....but nothing means more on the trail than learning how to gain and hold momentum.)

    As for the 2:1 ratio, that's a standard with roots in the 26" world; many ppl still run a 2:1 on their 29er SS, but many others go up a few teeth in the back. A 32/16 on a 26" figures to exactly 52 gear-inches. A 32/18 on a 29er should come out to 51.5 gear-inches; basically, the same. I am an middle-aged fat man, and when I ran a 29" SS, I liked a 32/19 for south Jersey's mostly-flat trails. Best bet is to start out with affordable rear cogs (or freewheels) so you can swap em out economically as your preferences and/or fitness changes.

    hth
    -rob

    ps- you may run into some small challenges in the initial set-up of a singlespeed, but once you get your set-up dialed, it really is "just get on and ride", with a relatively small amount of maintenance thrown in

  4. #4
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    If you're curious and can do it with little cost, I think you should. I also wondered whether I was strong enough to ride SS. I ended up building one to ride a fairly simple trail. After the first ride, I was sold on it. It seems easier,or simpler, than my geared bikes and I find I prefer it. I rode my geared HT yesterday and I kept thinking that I probably should convert this one over also.

  5. #5
    Dive Bomber
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    Here's pics of my current rebuild SS.





    I cannibalize 2 used sprockets and took the spacers and lock ring works fine, I use shimano singlespeed cog - any cheap cog like dimension is good enough too although I am not sure they made bigger cog than 20T.

    For the tensioner I use BB mount and change the roller with pulley, I use 13T pulley and somehow if I use smaller pulley it seems to be heavier - it's just me or maybe some technical stuffs like the pulley size and tensioner angle chain wrap takes effect. I got no problem with chain tension, chain slack or so whatever and very easy to tune the chain tension when it's stretch. It's not as silent as magic gearing but this is perfect enough for me.

    If you use outer BB or ISCG mount it works fine, but since I use BB cartridge it got offset a little bit to driveside.

    The problem with BB mount tensioner if you do some trial stunt it might hit, compare to RD/rear tensioner I prefer this one. I don't want it hit something to cause the RD hanger break.

    Just starrt with the ratio you comfort with, strength comes later with rides.

  6. #6
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    I converted my '92 Trek 830 into a SS last summer. Bought an Origin 8 kit that had spacers, tensioner and two cogs 16, 18. Cost about $30 on Amazon. You will need to pick up some shorter bolts also to get rid of the big ring. I used the middle ring (39T) but have since replaced that for a 36T one. I run 36:18 Since converting it, the Antelope has turned into my primary ride.

  7. #7
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post
    shift between the 3rd and 4th gear on my rear.
    ...
    i find myself on a 32:21 most of the time.
    Do a little simulation: don't shift between those gears, pick one and see how it goes. 32:21 may be a little slow, unless you have some hard (for you) climbs. Try the next gear harder, too, and see if you can (almost) make it.

    The simulation is not quite the same thing but should give you some idea. Things are better and easier when you really just have the one gear.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  8. #8
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    If you don't shift then yes single speed is for you and I would personally consider you a single speeder already even if you haven't converted your bike.

    Ride whatever gear feels right for you. I used to ride 32x18 on my 29er. Felt kinda badass but the 20t I have on there now is way more fun for me and I'm out trying to have fun anyways.

    Enjoy!

  9. #9
    Gears... I hate gears
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    After a nudge from you guys, I started the conversion. I took off the front derailleur, shifter and outer chain ring. The little one is welded to the middle one so that will have to stay but it loks so much cleaner already without the cables and shifter. I then moved to the rear after picking up my cassette removal tool but ran into something. I'm planning on using my derailleur as a chain tensioner just to test the waters to see if its right for me but the high limit screw is too short to keep the chain in line. I'll go to the hardware store tomorrow to see if I can get a longer limit screw. If that doesn't work I'll buy me a real chain tensioner.

  10. #10
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    When I was converting my first single speed I picked my favorite gear on the rear cassete, and then went one tooth less. My logic was with the efficiency gained it would work it self out.
    Worked excellent for me. It kept me in the happy spinning zone on the flats, and a healthy mash on the hills. Nowadays I run a 32/20 which some of the local hills have me sweating on (short but very steep hills).

  11. #11
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    I ran into a similar problem with my rear derailuer and ended up with a surly singleator tensioner. While at the hardware store pick up a little 1-1/4" PVC shedule 40 pipe. It works perfect as spacers for the rear cog.
    "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."
    Mark Twain?

  12. #12
    Gears... I hate gears
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    Help!

    I overcame the problem with the derailleur with some cable from the front derailler as I will not go back to a 3xwhatever no matter what happens but it's only temporary until I can pick up a chain tensioner. I figured I'd be in the home stretch after getting the lockring off the cassete. But I did run into another problem. My cassete is not coming apart!
    it's a shimano Cs-HG20-7 that came stock. I was planning on using the 21t cog but it won't come apart. It does have some bolts or rivets going through it but they don't look like they should prohibit me from taking it off. The smallest cog came off but I don't think I could rock a 32-12 ratio Any hints on how to crack this thing open?
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  13. #13
    Single Speed Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post
    But I did run into another problem. My cassete is not coming apart!
    it's a shimano Cs-HG20-7 that came stock. I was planning on using the 21t cog but it won't come apart. It does have some bolts or rivets going through it but they don't look like they should prohibit me from taking it off. The smallest cog came off but I don't think I could rock a 32-12 ratio Any hints on how to crack this thing open?
    If it were me just break out the drill hitting the heads of those long pins. Once the head is gone the pin falls out.

  14. #14
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    Dude ss is for you!
    But, you should consider buying a kit or at least a singulator, and rear gear! Jimmyrigging your ss can be difficult as you have to get everything just perfect.
    Last thing you want is to destroy your cassette and chain to convert to ss and end up not like riding ss and you have to drop some cash down on replacement parts!

    Im not going to lie to ya and say ss is easy cuz its not, and it takes time to get the hang of, especially when you feel like your lungs are going to jump out your chest and you have another 7 switchbacks to climb!

    heck check out the ss swap thread there might be some guys unloading ss components!
    Last edited by Utilityman; 07-02-2012 at 07:51 PM.

  15. #15
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    The real question you need to ask your self is, is singlespeed suitable for the trails I ride 99% of the time? I bought a SS and the answer to that for me was no. My backyard trail is a 25% grade grind for 3 miles and a SS bike was just not the best all rounder for me. You can throw your back out on trails like that. It also lacked for when it was time for slamming down that 25% grade hill compare to a geared FS bike. Granted I LOVE my SS and it has its place but it's not optimal for my area. If the trails around you flow well and have climbs that aren't insane steep the SS is the obvious choice.

    I just found myself having less fun so I bought a geared bike again(specialized enduro). I did love the snobbery of huffing past guys on group rides on some of the most insanely steep terrain on my SS. You get some great ego boosting comments as you pass on by. I've had people stop and take pictures with me before just so they can show their friends what can be done on a SS.

  16. #16
    Gears... I hate gears
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    Quote Originally Posted by ihaveagibsonsg View Post
    The real question you need to ask your self is, is singlespeed suitable for the trails I ride 99% of the time? I bought a SS and the answer to that for me was no. My backyard trail is a 25% grade grind for 3 miles and a SS bike was just not the best all rounder for me. You can throw your back out on trails like that. It also lacked for when it was time for slamming down that 25% grade hill compare to a geared FS bike. Granted I LOVE my SS and it has its place but it's not optimal for my area. If the trails around you flow well and have climbs that aren't insane steep the SS is the obvious choice.
    longest climbs around here in South Florida are maybe MAYBE 20-30 ft in elevation gain. I don't think i'll have that problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by crux View Post
    If it were me just break out the drill hitting the heads of those long pins. Once the head is gone the pin falls out.
    would that be both sides of the pin or just what is pictured? the back has the pins sticking out a little like a rivet. Also, I'm assuming this wouldn't hinder using the cassette as a whole again because of the grooves on the inside. Or do you think it'd be better to buy a cheap cog like this? http://www.amazon.com/Dimension-20t-...ywords=20t+cog

  17. #17
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    Yea get the cog.
    Try and convert without using your derailleur for tension.
    Last edited by Utilityman; 07-03-2012 at 04:30 AM.

  18. #18
    Robtre
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    I wanted to take a different approach to answering your question. By now you have started moving in the right direction by getting your bike converted. Riding a singlespeed bike will make you a better, stronger mountain biker the fastest depending on how much time you put in the saddle. Many "expert" riders and or racers own a singlespeed for training purposes even if they don't race singlespeed. The techniques involved in riding singlespeed bikes makes you focus on picking better lines, conserving speed (therefore also conserving energy) and the strength/endurance gains of hammering one gear. Many principals you can apply to a geared bike as well. The biggest arguement is who is faster SS riders or gearies? Singlespeeding is certainly not for everyone but for those chosen few, we tend to be more enthusiastic bunch, and we don't count calories we crush beers and hit on gearies women.

  19. #19
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    Hi. I replied to your original question ("should i go SS?") further up the thread; I'm glad you decided to convert, but it seems like you're running into problems. My advice, like others have hinted at, is spend some money for the right stuff. Not necessarily the best stuff; just stuff designed to do what you're trying to do. Buying a dedicated SS cog will be easier for you, and it will leave your cassette intact should you ever decide to "revert" to geared, or if a friend ever needs a cassette or whatever. The ramps on a cassette cog will increase the possibility of dropping chain. The same is true for the chainring, as well. Using a gadget designed for SS chain-retention will be much better than trying to modify your RD to be a SS chain-tensioner. Again, it will also leave your RD intact should you ever revert or find a friend in need of an RD.

    I like to $ave money as much as anyone, but time is money, and you'll save a lot of time/headaches if you buy the right gear....

    hth
    -rob

  20. #20
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    I converted one of my bikes once using this kit. Did it because it was so cheap. Worked for me fine.

    Forté Single-Speed Conversion Kit - Performance Exclusive Mountain Bike Components

    or

    Nashbar Single-Speed Kit - Normal Shipping Ground


    They are basically the same kit but come with different cog sizes. Not bad for under $25 for tensioner, spacers, and 3 cogs.

  21. #21
    Gears... I hate gears
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    I'll pick up the forte I guess cause it's got the 20t in it. Now I just have to wait.

    Thanks for the help guys!

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