Taking a look in today’s cyclist world, one can have no doubt that single speed bikes have slowly but steadily regained popularity as the market’s favorite type of bikes. Single speed bikes, also known as fixed gear bikes are a type of bikes that look very similar to the traditional stunt bicycles that were popular with mail messengers and newspaper vendors. In a nutshell, single speed bikes make the basic/simplest form of bikes with just a single gear, some pair of brakes and of course with freewheel. Basically, almost all bikes are capable of being transformed into single speed bikes.
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What parts are likely to be modified?
Depending on your current type of bike, the following parts are most likely to be modified when converting your current bike into a single speed bike:
Brakes: SS bikes will mandatorily require both the front and rear brakes.
Cranksets: the crankset should be made to accommodate a single chain-ring.
Bars/Stem: Usually, fixed gear speed bikes should consist of handle bars that face the cyclist, more like the handle bars of a wheelbarrow.
Frame: The track frame is the most preferred frame for single speed bikes. This is due to its rear feature of the horizontal drop out. Most late fashions of mountain bikes have a vertical rear drop out that is challenging to tighten in a SS bike.
Wheels: Hardly are they required to change, but in the case that one had to change the bike’s frame, then he/she might have to do some replacement of the wheels too.
Pedals: Platform pedals with toe clips are the most desirable option for a single speed bike. Nevertheless, when running on a fixed budget, you can as well dip this in the waste paper basket.
1, 2, 3… In Single Speed bike conversion
The Professional way of conversion:
You will require the following from your bicycle parts vendor:
- A titanium (preferable) non-ramped chain-ring.
- A single speed cog wheel with a broad base (I could advice that you select the most popular market brands or the strongest).
- A new chain (if possible, get a brand 9 or brand 10).
- A fixed gear rear hub. If possible, acquire one with no “dish”
Then you can proceed as follows:
1. First, you will need to do away with the smaller front chain-ring (if you have a 2x or 3x bike). This will leave you with a single chain-ring that is not ramped. If you remained with a ramped chain-ring, you are likely to consider replacing it with a non-ramped one. In that case, you should consider replacing with a new chain-ring that has the same Bolt-Circle-Diameter (popularly known as “BCD”) as your bike’s original one. If possible, use the titanium one as advised above.
2. Next, you need to retain only a single cog wheel in the rear. When you have multiple cog wheels, the choice of which cog wheel to retain normally favors the smaller cog wheels. Nevertheless, the best approach of the appropriate cog wheel to retain or the one to buy will rely on the size of the wheels as well as the size of the chain-ring. The cog to chain-ring gear ratio for most single speed bikes should be about 1:2. In other words, the size the cog should be approximately half the size of the chain-ring. However, there exist an exception as the preference varies with most cyclists.
3. Replace the chain or shorten it to fit the new chain-ring and cog wheel. It is always advisable that one get strongest in the market.
4. The last important phase is to increase tension of the chain so that it fits perfectly. There is a regular worry of “how perfect is perfectly when tightening?” Given the past experience I have had with fixed gear speed bikes, I always recommend a small margin of loosening of between 11mm to 13mm. In addition, there may be some types of the rear horizontal drop outs that may not encourage better tightening of the chain. It is therefore important to consider consultation on the same before proceeding on your own.
In a Nutshell
1.Remove the smaller front chain-ring and retain the bigger one that is not ramped.
2. Use a single cog-wheel in the rear. If you have some fixed budget, you can purchase the cheapest from your local bicycle dealer. In some cases however, some bike manufacturers may offer buyers additional single bikes conversion toolkit with an additional cog and spacer.
3. You can then replace the chain (optional).
4. Tighten the chain.
5. You can then try out your single speed bike!
How much is it likely to cost me?
As seen from above, the different approaches that will depend on your current type of bicycle are likely to cost varied amounts. Nevertheless, the average cost of conversion is just about $100