Suburban Assault

Fake Single Speed

with 3 comments

Sometimes you have to just work with what you’ve got.

This is my wife’s old bike. It’s been wasting away in the garage for years, mostly because it needed a major tune-up. The derailleurs were old and shot.

Not being a very expensive, high-end bike, it didn’t seem like it was worth the investment to replace the components.

I hate seeing any bike go to waste, so I decided to make it useful again by turning it into a single speed.

Because I didn’t want to spend any money on it yet, I went with what I had. With the derailleurs removed, and the chain shortened, I just picked a gear on the existing cassette and crank. Because of the design of the frame, I didn’t think a chain tensioner wasn’t needed. After taking some spins and popping the chain a few times, I’m starting to rethink that.

I’d love to switch out the cranks and chainring, mostly because it’s a bit egg-shaped. I wouldn’t mind switching the cassette to a single ring, but I’m not sure how to do that or if I have the right tools. That will have to come later.

There you have it – ghetto single speed. It works and is actually a fun little ride.

Written by dickdavid

October 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Looks good. I’d use a Single Speed Conversion Kit that comes with the single cog or use the cog existing on the cassette if it comes apart. You can use the different rings to get the chain tension right if you don’t might different gearing.

    I paid $20 for an Origin 8 conversion kit. Took me 20 minutes to use the spacers to get the chain line right and lucked out that I didn’t need a tensioner. It’s got plenty of spacers to get the line right.


    November 3, 2009 at 10:20 am

    • I was thinking about doing something like that. Unfortunately, I’m not very handy when it comes to removing a cassette. I’m not sure if I can recognize the difference between a cassette and an old freewheel. I’d also love to change out the crank and chainring, but I’m not sure if i need a new bottom bracket.

      This is definitely the bike to mess with. I just need to find the right tools.


      November 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

  2. Richard, what a cool bike. The drop-outs on the frame make it ideal for a singlespeed, no need for a tensioner (although in it’s current state it may actually help).

    You are losing your chain for a number of reasons;
    – Multi-speed gears, both cassettes (or freewheels – can’t tell from this picture what you have) have uneven sized teeth, ramps and pins. These help the chain hop easily to the next cog/chainwheel when nudged by the derailleur. This is exactly what you don’t want to happen on a singlespeed or fixed-gear – especially when you are standing on the pedals giving it death! Dedicated singlespeed/BMX/track cogs have nice even (and long) teeth to keep the chain in place.
    – On such an old bike your chain is probably worn. This can also lead to gears skipping.
    – Your chainrings do indeed look oval. This was a technical development for more efficient pedaling that never stuck around but was still used on many bikes of this period, Shimano’s design was called Biopace.
    I’m not sure, but it may make your chain tension change as the crank rotates, I think it would anyway.

    As an aside Bradley Wiggin’s used oval(ish) chainrings on his time-trial bike to win this years Tour de France. There must be something to that theory!

    Do some research before you buy but a singlespeed conversion kit for the back, a new chain and a dedicated “round” singlespeed chainring will have this bike running sweet if you want to spend the money.


    October 28, 2012 at 4:12 am

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