Instructables

Single Speed on the Cheap

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Want to see what everyone is talking about with this whole 'Single speed revolution?' Before you commit several hundred dollars to a single speed bike, try it out on your current bike without costing you a dime. All you need are basic bike tools to get it done.
 
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Step 1: Choosing a Bike

Since the aim of this project is cheapness, use a bike you have laying around. Many bikes will work for this, as long as it has one crucial component, a horizontal ( or horizontal-ish) dropout. While it is possible to convert a bike with any dropout to single speed, it takes either a great deal of time or money, neither of which are appropriate for testing the waters of single-speed bikes.

Other things to look for:
If the bike has horizontal dropouts, it will work, but if you have the choice, get a frame without brazed on cable stays. They will only affect how your bike looks, but appearance does count sometimes, and single speeds look cool, so why mess with it.

Step 2: Break the chain

Use your chain tool of choice to break the chain.

try to avoid pushing the pin all the way out, it's just bad form, but in this case it doesn't really matter since you'll be loosing several links anyway.

Step 3: Take off all the stuff you don't need

Derailers, front and rear go
It helps if you remove the cable first, sounds obvious but don't forget.
Shifters go
any cable guide you can get off
All the cables also

Step 5: Running the chain

The main problem with this design is that you really have no choice of gear ratios. The chain line chooses it, and you have to take it. With a derailer-less bike a straight chain line is extremely important. If it bends too much, it will skip off while riding and leave you in a bit of a lurch.
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upnorth7772 years ago
I've just tried this on a dumpster bike I'm restoring. I'm going to spring for a conversion kit. But so far it works.
I have personally tried this method and it was a bad decision. The rear wheel kept slipping when the chain jumped onto a higher gear and locked up the drivetrain so I tightened the wheels a lot more. In the end the dropout snapped because the wheel couldn't slip forward.

This MIGHT work if the chainline is PERFECT but not for a long time.

80 bucks will buy you a new rear wheel without looking that hard.
tradtimbo5 years ago
Are people still doing this? This instruct-able needs to be removed. It just makes a bike more dangerous. If you want one gear, do a proper conversion, or don't shift. read more here: http://thesustainablecyclist.com/2009/05/24/single-speed-bicycles-the-wrong-way/

http://thesustainablecyclist.com/2009/05/24/single-speed-bicycles-the-wrong-way/
...she said-'without a chain tensioner and adjustments to rear cassette/freewheel,the bike keeps wanting to align the front chainring and the rear cogset-which locks up the drivetrain,and at times breakes the chain '...and without a chain or all the parts you removed,how you gonna STOP !?!?
Wasagi chadeau3 years ago
And Fuzz clearly stated that the gear ratio is mostly determined by the alignment of the chain, so once you get the tension tight enough, it won't need to derail itself, although a thicker gear would be nice, multi-gear bikes tend to have fairly thin gears.
Wasagi - Even if your chain alignment is perfect, when the bike flexes so the cogs and chainrings get closer together, the chain will slack a bit. If during this slack time, the chain is "bounced" or engages the adjacent larger cog your in for some problems.

This setup is dangerous and pointless. pointless because the main goal of creating a single speed from a multi speed bike is to simplify and lighten. This setup does neither.
...also see Chainbreakers' book by same title...this is the most DANGEROUS way to make a Bike,Period...Pull this Instruct !!!
 dangerous? how? (i actually want to know!)
 lol nevermind sorry wasn't looking at the links

chadeau3 years ago
Dawn dishwashing liquid,and you canget it scented,too !
BtheBike3 years ago
Great tutorial ! Other options for bikes:

* the derailier can be used as a tensioner .
* Spacers can be added to the bottom bracket for perfect chain line
* half links area cheap way to get a tight chain
* If not running a back brake the whole rear wheel can be slid horizontally on the axle
for good chain line.

Dig the Detergent . Works great as a bike degreaser . Lb for Lb nothing is cheaper. I just de-gunked a 30 year bike with 1 oz of liquid laundry detergent , toothbrush and hose .
pdlbooboo3 years ago
couldn't wait till the day to take the pics lol
i use a "torpedo rear brake hub"
qdogg6 years ago
I really don't understand why you would want to do this! If you want only one speed just don't shift the gears.
I'm completely with you!
mrdepo964 years ago
 Could you put a piece of plastic around the sides of the cog that you wanted so it wouldnt jump? Also would a chain tensioner help keep it on?
gear-guy4 years ago
when i did this with my old bike recently,i couldnt get the front one off cleanly becaause the bolt was rusted hard onto the nut.i couldnt find a hacksaw,so i used pliers to get a few of the importand bits off and then used a big hammer to force the rest off.lol
phreek5 years ago
generally, those who remove the rear brakes do so because their bike is set up "fixed gear" style, so the fact that they provide rear wheel braking by resisting on the pedals deems a rear brake assembly unnecessary.
are you some kind of special stupid? listen to tradtimbo
On the note of this becoming less dangerous, anyone know how to remove gears from a cassette or freewheel. Or if this is even possible.
It has been a while since you have posted this but if you still need an answer perhaps this will help. www.sheldonbrown.com/images/freewheel-vs-k7.jpg As you can see it depends on which set up you have. If you have the older set up where stuff threds onto the hub then it should not be a problem. I know this because I just changed two wheels down to single speed this way. One of them I welded into a single speed fixed gear hub, so far so good. If I like the fixed setup I am going to make a proper fixed gear wheel. If you have the new set up with a free hub and cassette then you can buy spacers and a special cog and just get rid of the whole cassette. Check out Charley the bikemonger on YOu tube he does a better job showing rather then me telling. I hope this helped.
krak_attak5 years ago
thanks for the idea. got an 86 mesa runner from my neighbor and its been years since i rode a bike. i live in florida we have zero hills. the terrain is flat, flatter, flattest, and then a few bridges which i have to walk it over anyway so a single-speed is perfect... AND I LOVE BACK PEDDLING! i understand the risk of chain pop and slippage from gears meant to have a chain slip off but i was not about to drop 40 bux or more buying s.s. gears before i find my comfort zone. so again... thanks man.
tradtimbo5 years ago
This is a dangerous setup, and you should not promote it. People have gotten hurt using this setup. Please read the following: http://timmcgivern.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/single-speed-bicycles-the-wrong-way/

Thank you
Fuzz2050 (author)  tradtimbo5 years ago
While the article you linked to does make sense, and it would be prudent to replace the multi-speed freewheel with a single, I think the dangers are greatly exaggerated. I rode my bike for many hundreds of miles like this, with no trouble, and I know of countless others who have done the same. If the bike were to auto-shift the way you describe, it seems much more likely that the chain would snap, or the wheel would come loose in the dropouts. Under both of these situations, the bike is still fully under your control, and no major harm is done. I find it hard to imagine that the force holding your wheel in place is greater than the strength of your bike frame. It seems that so long as the rider keeps the chain properly tensioned, and they keep both brakes on the bike, the risk of this is very low, and the consequnces less than dire. I have not heard of a single accident caused in this matter, but if you have, please post some more details. I'm more than willing to be proved wrong on this.
In the link I provided to the blog there is a link to a BikeForumsBikeForums discussion on this very thing. Two users in the conversation, including myself, have had accidents with this set up. The axle bolts were very tight on the bike I used because I wanted to keep the tension tight. The bike folded. Steel bike chain stays are not designed for that moment (force x distance) at the joint. Chains are very very strong in tension because this is the force they are designed to take.

If your chain tension is good and the larger cog adjacent to the cog you have the chain on is a few teeth larger, then your probably ok as you said. final point: It doesn't make much sense to make a bike potentially more dangerous if your not really making it lighter. The freewheel is the heaviest component removed in a conversion. I want people aware of the danger.
negnin5 years ago
I use coffee ground.
zzpza6 years ago
working on your bike, on your bed? crazy! ;)
Bit harder to bust your knuckles on the bed when you slip with a wrench though.
Wish I'd thought of that. Bruised mine pretty well taking apart an old tire on a wooden floor.
That sounds like fun. Better bruised than busted, though. At least it wasn't concrete or asphalt.
Woodenbikes5 years ago
For more tips on How to use a chain tool
Grey_Wolfe6 years ago
Personally, the ONLY time I use the front break is when I need more stopping power than my rear can produce alone. I don't hit the front break by itself. Gravel's not my favorite flavor. lol
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

You'll never have to taste gravel or asphalt if you follow this great advice=]
No, I like the taste of asphalt. Just not gravel. lol Actually, there is some very sound advice on that site.
gojo orange hand cleaner. nuff said.
seriously, GoJo is lightweight compared to laundrey detergent like he said. Give it a shot you will be amazed.
bedbugg26 years ago
not to be nasty or anything but why would you want to just want to have one gear?
well, for one thing...simplicity, not having to worry about gears or accidentally jamming your chain. you won't ever really have to do anything to it ever....maybe the occasional grease. but really i think one of these would be ideal for say a city biker or any place that is level. its not a bad idea..its just nicer in my opinion to just have something simple....but instead of all the hastle why not just put the chain on the gear ratio you were thinking about for a single speed on your current bike and leave it that way for like a week? and not even bother to remove the gears. i mean, i makes no sense really to downgrade you know? there is only one good reason to really have a single speed bike. and thats if its a junk bike, like on bre pettis's weekend projects thing. he made a junk bike and that would be the only true gain i foresee. cheap, reliable, and fun....but not so efficient... sorry but its true.
i see, it would be good in a town area, but not in a hilly area
I usually only use the highest gear, but I was wondering the same thing. I can see where it's more stable on the rock-shock (center spring)bikes. They always seem to have a crappier gear system that wears easy. Like the mongooses (mongeese? :-P) with plastic tension gears. What's that about. Still, I like the option to shift down a gear or two when going up a 30 degree grade that's a quarter mile long. But, it'd be good exercise.
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