Why are tensioners so expensive?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Why are tensioners so expensive?

    Yeah, I'm a cheap old bastard, but I can't figure out why it's $55, $60 or $70 for a decent tensioner. Are they 5, 6 or 7 times better than the $10 one on eBay?

    I've been running a single gear on my commuter for about a year now. Just used an old LX derailler like KB said in his SS rant. It's worked fine, but now with "winter" here, I have to lube it up every weekend. The derailler pulleys just don't seem up to the job anymore.

    Anyone have a DIY tensioner? Pictures would be cool, but a good description would work too.

    Thanks,
    Hong

  2. #2
    Cold. Blue. Steel.
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    what is truly expensive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelican_Racing
    Yeah, I'm a cheap old bastard, but I can't figure out why it's $55, $60 or $70 for a decent tensioner. Are they 5, 6 or 7 times better than the $10 one on eBay?

    I've been running a single gear on my commuter for about a year now. Just used an old LX derailler like KB said in his SS rant. It's worked fine, but now with "winter" here, I have to lube it up every weekend. The derailler pulleys just don't seem up to the job anymore.

    Anyone have a DIY tensioner? Pictures would be cool, but a good description would work too.

    Thanks,
    Hong
    maybe it's because they look much simpler than they really are. good materials, design and build quality come at a cost. but what is expensive? a really well designed, well built product that lasts for years and performs flawlessly throughout it's lifespan or buying multiple "cheaper" products that never perform as well and need tuning/replacing often?
    my soulcraft convert is a set it (correctly of course) and forget it, wonderful piece of hardware that makes my traditional frame SS worthy. and they seem like good guys to throw some hard earned green at.
    too bad our society has made a mighty habit out of feeding landfills...
    wow- this simple reply turned into a rant. lol!
    thanks for reading.
    Spinning and Grinning...

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the ran... I mean reply!

    I hear you on the disposable economy, but this is for a commuter. I'm saving my hard earned pennies for my other bikes.

    -Hong

  4. #4
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    Why not

    stick with what you have if it works. Just go down to a local bike shop and pick up some new jockey pulleys with sealed bearings instead of the ceramic based ones that are in there. Since you won't be shifting you don't need to worry about having the right amount of play in it. Just count the teeth on the pulleys (usually 10 or 11 depending on the type of chain) and look for those. I know Performance Bike sells them for under $20 (I think) for a set.
    Just my 2 cents (and since you are a self claimed COB), can I get the change back?

    Education Coordinator for Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay
    www.btceb.org
    Help us support open and multi-use trails.


  5. #5
    all hail der Fuhrer Bush
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    use better pulleys, doh

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelican_Racing
    Yeah, I'm a cheap old bastard, but I can't figure out why it's $55, $60 or $70 for a decent tensioner. Are they 5, 6 or 7 times better than the $10 one on eBay?

    I've been running a single gear on my commuter for about a year now. Just used an old LX derailler like KB said in his SS rant. It's worked fine, but now with "winter" here, I have to lube it up every weekend. The derailler pulleys just don't seem up to the job anymore.

    Anyone have a DIY tensioner? Pictures would be cool, but a good description would work too.

    Thanks,
    Hong
    Any aftermarket sealed cartridge bearing pulleys would last for years without any maintenance. Even better would be toothless pulleys, which reduce the low whirring noise of using a derailleur as a tensioner to almost zero. ActionTec has sealed cartridge bearing toothless pulleys. Even cooler if you have acces to a dump, is the toothless pulleys on an old Huret Allvit rear derailleur, which was speced on Schwinn Varsities. Old ones say Huret, later ones say Schwinn Approved, same derailleur. The pulleys are not sealed, but even better, they use loose ball bearings with cup and cone adjustment, so you can grease them with boat trailer grease or Phil grease and keep them running pretty much forever. That's what I use on my old SunTour short cage road derailleur tensioner on my SS.
    A short cage road derailleur will give you higher chain tension than a long cage MTB derailleur, so less likely to have derailment issues. Also lighter, and looks better.
    To increase chain wrap with a derailleur-as-tensioner, remove the B tension screw assembly and file into the aluminum so the body slants as far forward as possible. When you look at one, you'll pretty much see where the metal needs to be removed to allow the body to angle further forward than would be possible without filing.
    Added bonus of using a derailleur as tensioner: With a freehub and spacers, you can run two (or more) cogs. I run a 15t for the road to get to the trailheads, and a larger cog for trails. With a short piece of shifter cable with the barrel end in the barrel adjuster, you can "shift" by turning the barrel adjuster.
    Yet another bonus is that a derailleur cage wraps more chain than a SS tensioner, allowing use of an additional granny chainring so you won't have to avoid the super steep climbs on your SS.
    And, of course, the price. Bet yer LBS has an ancient old short cage road derailleur they'll swap for a bomber bottle of good ale.
    Extra style points if you end up with a Campy NR, or a Huret Jubilee (which also uses the same toothless cup and cone pulleys described above.) It's also the lightest rear derailleur ever made.

  6. #6
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    No tensioner is even better

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelican_Racing
    ... I can't figure out why it's $55, $60 or $70 for a decent tensioner...
    It's the SS cycling gods punishment for having bling on your bike instead of using track ends or sliding dropouts

  7. #7
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    I made a tensioner

    I made it out of Cold Cure Acrylic. I waxed up a pattern and then poured it full of the acrylic. Then I broke it from the wax mold and had the body of an arm. Using some loose bolts, an old derailleur pulley and a spring from a derailleur I was able to make a tensioner that worked in a push up mode. It worked for a long time till the spring wore out and it wouldn't hold anymore. Now I'm using a Singleator which works so so.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
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    TPuller,

    Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! Simple and cheap. I like homemade stuff.

    The road derailler is a good option too. Too bad I just junked one! Off to my LBS to see what I can score. Campy NR or Huret? Not around these parts. Those "vintage" guys are all over it.

    -Hong

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