Single speed curious….
I’m strongly considering building a SS hardtail. Where better to ask for advice than STW 😀
I currently own one bike (superlight Cannondale Scalpel). Most of the time running one bike is awesome, when something goes wrong though it’s a PITA and can mean a fair amount of time without a working bike. I tend to travel a lot for work too and some times I wish for a simple no nonsense bike to get a quick hour or so ride in without having to faff. I also think a SS could help with skills I’m too lazy to improve (riding out of the saddle/ keeping momentum/ etc).
Basically, I don’t need one but want one 😀
Rigid to keep the theme of simplicity running an hone the skills even more or sus fork to be more practical? I have a Magura Durin and Fox FIT RLC sat doing nothing but like the idea of a rigid fork.
EBB, horizontal drop outs or vertical dropout and tensioner? I’m leaning towards horizontal drop outs since they seem like the cheapest, cleanest and most durable option. Presumably it’s a PITA to remove the rear wheel though?
Robust steel frame to again keep the simple and robust theme going or nice and light XC frame to make the most of the reduced overall weight?
I’m thinking 32T by 20T as it isn’t pancake flat in these parts. Too low for most riding though? It’s reasonably hilly and I think 32,20 gives a reasonable range for most offroad trails (7.4mph at 60rpm and 12.3mph at 100rpm). Wide base sprocket seems like the way to go too to not chew up freehubs.
Basically, what would the STW massif advise for getting the most fun out of a SS build but with least maintenance and greatest practicality? 😀
Ta!Posted 4 years agoDaveyBoyWonderMember
My SS is steel, rigid with horizontal dropouts. Sometimes I wish for some bounce up front, rest of the time I love the simplicity of riding rigid. Horizontal dropouts are a bit of a faff but not too bad. On my Curtis I have to unbolt 1 of the caliper bolts and loosen the other to swing the caliper out the way but its not really a big deal.
32:20 is pretty spinney. I live in Calderdale where easy climbs are non-existant and run a 32:17 which admittedly is hard work but means the singletrack thrashing is much quicker 🙂Posted 4 years agotomlevellMember
32:20 would be infuriatingly slow.
32:16 in NY moors although I go down to 32:18 when muddy or feeling unfit as long as I’m also not feeling too lazy to swap it.
My preference is Track Ends but all the options work so it depends on what you want to get or what’s cheap.
If you already have Sus forks you might as well save the money you’d spend on rigid ones too.Posted 4 years ago
Top speed of just over 12mph does look slow with 32:20. Maybe 32:18 is a sensible start with Summer coming (maybe) and drier trails to flatter fitness 😀
Maybe a sus fork would be more fun too for the descents than my first instinct of keeping everything as simple as possible and going rigid.
Any recommendations for sprockets, chains and tensioners (if going for vertical dropouts)? Besides Superstar, On-One and DMR I haven’t considered much else. I have lots of 10 speed chains going spare but is it wise to get a SS chain instead?Posted 4 years agocardoSubscriber
I run bouncy forks on mine, 100mm with a lock out, as the lack of vision on bumpy night ride descents was a bit too much.Posted 4 years ago
Steel frames work very well and 32:16 seems right for the Chilterns with an 18 for the back if we are visiting somewhere very hilly.
For tensioning I use a “tug nut” which sits in the rear horizontal drop out and means the wheel resets back in to the same position if the wheel is removed.
If you are stuck for bits or need advice Charlie the bikemonger is the man.
Great fun bike and very fast when you stamp on it, makes the ladies pants fall off as you ride past, makes you fitter and beer taste better.. 😀slackaliceMember
Hey DanW, interestingly I asked a similar question a week or so ago and received many useful answers, hints and tips! Here’s the thread if you want to have a read:
Retrobike also has a dedicated single speed thread in the 1998 section and is also worth going through.
The Salsa Ala Carte frame I’m using has vertical drop outs, so I’ll be using a tensioner, such as the 4-Jeri one. This tensioner is a sprung down one, I would have preferred a sprung-up, but this one was cheap and I reckon with a bit of pre=tension and a zip-tie, I can thread the chain so that I engage more chain around the cog and use it as a push-up. Although I may be talking bollocks here as I haven’t tried it yet!
Ive also picked up a cog and spacer kit that has two thin 16t and 18t cogs and two wide spacer’s, which may not be ideal for getting the chain line accurate, but I figured it’s a cheap place to start. I understand that wide foot cogs are also kinder to alu free hubs if you’re going to use an existing wheel with a 8/9/10 speed hub.
The general consensus seems to be that 9 & 10 speed chains are fine to use too.
I’ll be using bouncy forks at the front in the form of some SID’s that I’ve recently reduced the travel to 80mm to work with the Ala Carte frame. Like you, the appeal of complete simplicity with a rigid fork is enticing but as I had already got the SID’s for this frame and I quite like the idea of having some bounce for the down’s, the purchase of some Salsa Cro Moto’s will have to wait!Posted 4 years agoTiRedMember
Horizontal dropouts every time, with rear-facing chain tensioning bolts to maintain chain tension. I run 32:17 HT with standard Hope Pro2’s and a freewheel and QRs rather than axle nuts. Not had any issues at all. It’s a Genesis ioid Alfine without the Alfine. Getting the wheel out will always take longer than vertical dropouts, but I’ve not found it a big deal.Posted 4 years ago
Thanks Slackalice! There’s no excuse for posting almost the same thread title, sorry 😳 😀
Great that normal chains seem to be fine- got lots of old chain to use.
Interesting that most people want to keep a bouncy front end.
Great advice on getting in touch with Charlie too. I’ve been meaning to ride in the Swanage area so when I get a frame sorted I’ll pop in.
I guess the remaining thing is what rides do most people use their SS for? As the only bike for all rides all year? Winter only? Occasional pain and fun? 😀 just trying to get my head around the practicalities of something so weirdly appealing 😀 Would still have the 8kg, XX1 equipped full sus XC race bike for more grown up rides 😉Posted 4 years ago
I can highly recommend the Hope Pro2 hub. I have the trials version with the 5-speed free-wheel, obviously with spacers and a single cog. Go for the Bolt-in option though. Rather than a solid axle, you have two massive bolts that screw into the hub. You don’t need chain tugs with this system at all, just pull the wheel back and tighten the drive side bolt, then pull the wheel to the middle of the frame and tighten the other bolt. Then add a bit extra to both bolts for good measure. The wheel is dead easy to get in in the first place as you’re not trying to get an axle through both sides at once and you can slide the wheel in from in front of the drop outs if that makes sense.
BMX chains look better, should be more robust, but seem to just stretch more. Not run a normal chain, but suspect they would be better. I adjust my rear wheel every few rides as the chain stretches, but you can just run the drive chain until it’s completely shagged as you don’t have to worry about good shifting obviously.
I can also recommend the On One Whippet frame and the X-Lite rigid forks, though I think neither are available new. Whippet is very light and very stiff, so ideal for what would be a light build anyway and the stiffness helps when you’re cranking away at the bars. The forks are 15mm through axle, so more likely to be cross-compatible with your other bikes. If you go rigid, get some huge tyres and run low pressures (tubeless) to damp the trail buzz. it’s great fun and turns boys into men.
I have a medium Whippet in bright Yelllow going on eBay soon if that is of interest, would need a set of swap-outs from On One though for SS use.Posted 4 years agokcalSubscriber
I started with a set of forks – rigid Pace – and built a bike around that! Quite hilly here too, I manage 32:17 when I am happy to spin more often that not, or 32:16 when I’m feeling grrrrr. 🙂
Slight riser bars, V brakes, track ends (re-modelled) (that’s what the frame has). Steel.
What do I use it for — all year round, it’s not my only off-road bike but it gets well used and abused. Normal 8 speed KMC chain.
Love it. Have had sus forks, thudbuster seatpost, but its plain at the moment.
Posted 4 years ago
and with sus forks on across Scotland trip —
PS – I use mine for sliding about in the mud in the winter, but will ride it anytime really, when I fancy something different. I don’t use it for mega rocky trails because you do get an absolute thrashing trying to carry speed over big stuff, but anywhere the trails are mroe straight forward I’ll use it to make the ride more demanding. If I go away for a weekend I’ll often take the SS with me and ride that on one day and a real bike on the other.Posted 4 years ago
Basically, what would the STW massif advise for getting the most fun out of a SS build but with least maintenance and greatest practicality?
Take a frame you love to ride it and SS it, you don’t need an SS specific frame. Use a tensioner of you need to. It’s no biggie.
32:20 on a 29er is fine for a hilly area. Might be a bit small on a 26er. 29 + SS is a natural combo.
EBB, horizontal drop outs or vertical dropout and tensioner?
Any. Don’t let the tensioner method decide the frame.
Don’t get hung up on thinking of an SS as a specific kind of bike. Make a bike you like to ride and take off the gears you don’t need, which is likely all but one.
Posted 4 years agobrassneckSubscriber
32:18 as a minimum, any lower is a nightmare on the flat. (26″ wheels)
Build it as cheap as you can to start with, it’s half the fun.. ran one with only a rear V brake for a while as that was all I had. Actually, that was a bit rubbish, go for a full complement of brakes.
Using what you have almost certainly means a tensioner of some sort – I would invest a couple of quid in a singulator or the like, and a good deep toothed rear sprocket, and ideally an unramped front chain ring. Will probably need short chain ring bolts to fix it to the chainset.Posted 4 years ago
I just used whatever old chain I found hanging in the garage.tazzymtbMember
Best tensioners are the the ebb in jones and alder salsa frames although the paragon sliding style in the black sheep are jolly good too. I like the newer salsa ” we stole this from black cat cycles” dropouts as well.Track ends and a tug are just sooooooo ugly and clumpy, you may as well have a dangly tensioner and orthopaedic shoes to complete the look 😀Posted 4 years agoaaMember
Dan, there’s no reason why a Ss cant be you ‘go to’ bike. In fact it might just become that. My geared mtb hasn’t been ridden since may 13. My miles are split between road bike and ss.Posted 4 years ago
I’m rather unhappy that my 10 mile commute is only a couple of minutes faster on the road bike…
I usd mine as my mtb. I might be slower than on a Fs etc, but speed don’t always equal fun. Its a nice bike, but also a bastard pile of old, new, niche and mainstream bits
I can ride it mostly anywhere and it makes me smile.
In a way that a geared bike never has.
Just impulsively bid on a new, never built Scandal frame… It might be On-One, but hopefully reasonably light, options with dropouts, geometry I like and overall not bad for £100. Just need a headset, brakes and a sprocket and I should hopefully have a new toy 😀 Projected weight with the bits I have lying around (Durins, Mt Zoom bars, KCNC everywhere, Rotor cranks, AB ring, Alpine on Pro II) should be right about 19lbs 😯Posted 4 years agobigblackshedSubscriber
I was just about to suggest a Sanderson Soloist like what I ridez, innit. The EBB and vertical dropouts work perfectly, despite what others will say. The adjustment is dead easy after you modify the tool so it fits over the HT II BB
Hope trials hub with bolt the 10mm bolt in. Rock solid. 33/17 for the last 18 months. Only MTB, so does it all. ****
*** last autumn my knees started playing up, not to do with SS, so I managed to bodeg a replaceable dropout in to the Ritchey type dropout, stick 6 10 speed sprockets on the hub and a Zee clutch mech, all to aid with some climbing. Sorted my knees out and now I can choose SS or 1×6. Can swap between in about 20 minutes.
Gratuitous photo in SS mode:
Posted 4 years ago
There’s a lot of Sanderson frames on ebay and that was going to be my next choice. Looks good!
I take it you are pierced and tattoo’d all over Dan and what are you like at pulling faces and swearing on climbs??
I’m not sure I need to book in for the piercings and ink as looking at the parts that will go on I’m more likely to end up a SS snob rather than chilled out hairy gurning SS bro 😕 Never say never though!Posted 4 years ago
Since the Scandal has options for vertical or horizontal dropouts… which would be the best option when regularly needing to remove the rear wheel (storage and travel). I’m guessing that the horiz is better for SS tension but more of a faff, whereas the vertical with a tensioner might be easier to remove the rear wheel at the possible expense of less ideal tension.
Yes, I am over thinking it and both will work fine, but given the choice what would you rather have for regular rear wheel removal?Posted 4 years ago
never had horizontal dropouts, but how much faff a tensioner is can depend on the tensioner and set up, if it’s not spring loaded for instance then it’s in a fixed position and may need an hex key to release. likewise a sprung tensioner may need releasing somehow.
at the possible expense of less ideal tension
this is probably a red herring, enough tension is enough, SS set up doesn’t need to be super tight. you need to be able to backspin the pedals say 1 ands a half revs by hand.Posted 4 years ago
Having not had hoiz dropout before I can’t visualise how easy or hard removing the wheel all the time is. In my mind vertical dropout with a sprung tensioner seems like the better solution as taking away the tension by hand should allow enough slack unhook a quick link but maybe that’s over optomistic???Posted 4 years ago
taking away the tension by hand should allow enough slack unhook a quick link but maybe that’s over optomistic
I have a Surly Singleator, there’s nowhere near as much spring slack as a regular derailleur. The chain runs over (or under) a pulley with fairly deep guides each side, the pulley has a lot of horizontal position adjustment, what I do is use that and move it to get the wheel out. 10 seconds with a hex key, no biggie.
The big win with a tensioner is you can put it on any frame, my frame is not SS specific. I’ve SS’d the frame I like rather than vice versa.
I’ve had 3 EBB frames, all have been good. Can’t vouch for sliders but friends have them and say they’re fine.Posted 4 years agomotozuluMember
Been out today round Cannock on the S/S rigid and set new PB’s for the cheekies. I have to make an excuse now to ride the HT. Do it. I am a better rider and a stronger one after 3 months of S/S.
Mine is a converted (by me) Merida Matts trail 300D – currently 32-18 but soon to be 32-16.
Posted 4 years ago
That’s a great looking bike motozulu. A bit like you say, part of the motivation with the SS it to get better at aspects of riding I’m too lazy to improve unless forced 😀
Some really helpful information on this thread, thank you everyone! I’ll post up a pic when I get the Scandal frame built up.Posted 4 years ago
Beware of cheap tensioners; i have a DMR fixed one on my vertical drop out frame. When i change my chain, it’s far too long for the tensioner to take up; however if i remove another link then it’s too short for the frame….
guessing … would it be designed for BMX, which uses half link chains I think?Posted 4 years ago
The topic ‘Single speed curious….’ is closed to new replies.