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Topic Quick-Links[Why? (the
notorious question)] [Single
Speed Conversions] [Gearing
Speed Frame Types/Designs] [Component
Speed Manufacturer Listings] [Troubleshooting]
SS Topics] [Single
Speed Glossary] [Single
Speed FAQ Credits/Contributors]
Why? (the notorious question)
Why ride single speed?
Ah. The question that has intrigued many, and eluded others (we won't
hold it against the latter).
For many people, single speeding is all about the simplicity and low
maintenance. For others, it represents a lot more. It may be about rejecting
(often high-priced) technological advancements that promise to make us
better cyclists, yet seem go the way of Biopace chainrings in
just a few years time. Maybe it's making a stand against the flood of
aggressive marketing campaigns from big business conglomerates (otherwise
known as "the man"). It might simply be boredom, and the need for a new
The bottom line is that it's hard to summarize the allure of single
speeding into just a few statements. However, Striker (a frequent poster on
this forum) has put together a fine collection of thoughts attempting to
answer the question, "Why ride single
speed?" on his website, TriangleMTB.com.
Read. Enjoy. Be enlightened.
Single Speed Conversions
How do I convert my geared bike to single speed?
Spewing out the step-by-step instructions on how to convert your geared
bicycle to a single speed would be "reinventing the wheel". Others have
already done it, and done it well. Follow these steps to get started:
- Start Here - These sites have very straightforward,
step-by-step detail on how to convert your geared bike to single speed:
Speed Outlaw's "How to build a Single Speed for Dummies" - Probably
the most straight-forward, step-by-step "how-to" conversion article out
Single Speed Conversion "How-to" - More great step-by-step
instructions on converting a geared bike to single speed.
- On a Tight Budget? - Here are some additional tips,
particularly on converting a bike with a minimal outlay of cash:
a "Single Speed" from the reject pile (or real cheap anyway)" - This
is a pretty cool rant by Keith Bontrager. The title pretty much says it
- Need More Detail? - Sheldon Brown's website is the
"last stop" for serious detail (maybe more than you care to
know), and additional conversion tips:
Brown's "Singlespeed Conversions" Page - Sheldon's conversion page
has some great "how-to" information, and offers considerably more detail
than the others.
Brown's "Chain Tension" Discussion - This is a great article on
incrementally adjusting your front chainring position to reduce or
eliminate tight/loose variations in the chain as you rotate the cranks.
The article references fixed gear, but is applicable to single speeds,
Will I need a new rear hub?
No. It is possible to convert the rear hub from your geared bicycle for
single speed use.
If you have a cassette
rear hub, the cassette can be removed, and replaced with spacers
and a single BMX cog.
You can use several regular cassette spacers available at any bike shop,
or you buy some 1 1/4" Schedule 40 white PVC pipe from any hardware, then cut two
thicker spacers to the proper length (to achieve good chainline),
sandwiching the BMX cog in between. Save your cassette lock ring,
though; you'll need it to hold the spacers together. See the links in the
"How do I convert my geared bike to single speed?"
section for complete details on how to convert the rear wheel.
If you have a freewheel
rear hub, the multi-speed freewheel can be replaced with a BMX freewheel.
However, it is possible that the wheel will need to be re-dished to achieve
If you prefer to replace your rear hub with a dedicated single speed
hub, there are a couple of options to consider. See the "Which
should I use...Freewheel vs. Cassette rear hub?" section for the pros
& cons for each style.
How do I tension the chain?
The biggest issue to conquer with a single speed conversion is
achieving proper chain tension on a frame with vertical
dropouts. Maybe you'll select the right gear combination, and perform
your SS conversion while all of the planets simultaneously fall into
perfect alignment. This will, of course, give you perfect chain tension
without requiring the use of a chain tensioner. Pretty unlikely,
although it can be done with certain bikes/gear combinations. See the "Are
there tools that can help me decide what gear ratio to use?" section
for some tools that will help you determine if one of these "magic" gear
combinations will work with your frame.
For frames that already have track
fork ends or horizontal dropouts, a tensioner will most likely not be
needed. If your frame has vertical
dropouts, there are various methods to tension the chain.
- Derailleur Hanger-mounted Replacement Chain Tensioner
This seems to be the most popular method among SS
converts. Some designs use a spring-loaded tensioning system, while
others lock into a fixed position.
- Chainstay-mounted Chain Tensioner
This type of tensioner may work for you, but they seem to
be somewhat problematic compared with other tensioning options.
- Chain Half-Link
A normal "full link" of chain actually consists of two (2)
links, an inner & outer link measuring 1" from pin-to-pin.
Because of its stepped plate design (see photo below), a half-link
allows you to replace these two (2) standard links of chain with one
(1) 1/2" link. This effectively shortens your chain length by 1/2",
and may allow you to eliminate a chain tensioner, depending on the
gearing combination used. At a minimum, it would allow you to reduce
the amount of slack chain while using a tensioner.
Half-links are readily available for 1/8" & 3/16" chains, but
3/32" half-links (for MTB chains) are more scarce. St John St
Cycles in England does carry 3/32" half-links. For those of us in
the U.S.A., you can purchase 3/32" half-links through Gene Spicer at
(Photo courtesy of St
John Street Cycles)
- Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB) Retrofit
It is possible to have an Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB) retrofitted to your geared steel or aluminum
frame of choice. I'm sure that there are titanium framebuilders out
there who could do this to ti frames, as well.
have been used for many years to tension the timing (or sync) chains
on tandems. Only within the last few years has the use of the
eccentric been applied to single speed frames. One of the primary benefits
of using EBBs on a single speed is that it allows you to use disc
brakes with vertical dropouts.
Read more about Eccentric Bottom Brackets (EBBs) in the "Single
Speed Frame Types/Designs" section. Spicer Cycles Aluminum EBB
Vulture Cycles EBB
Builders offering these services:
Fork Ends (often referred to incorrectly as "Horizontal
Fork Ends are the norm on "classic" single speed & track/fixed
gear frames. While Eccentric
Bottom Brackets (EBBs) seem to be the hot thing, track fork ends
still work great, especially for bikes equipped with linear-pull
brakes. Surly even offers
track fork ends with a derailleur hanger (like the ones used on their
Karate Monkey 29" frame). Other manufacturers, such as Soulcraft, are using
disc-compatible versions of track fork ends.
Builders offering these services:
- White Industries ENO
Eccentric Rear Hub
Similar in concept to the Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB), except applied to the rear hub/axle. From
the White Industries' ENO
page, "The bolts are offset 7.5mm from the center of the axle.
Normally the fixing bolts are centered to the axle. Once in the frame
the axle ends can rotate 180 degrees which gives 15mm of travel.
Therefore, by rotating the axle ends you can attain proper chain
The hub is threaded for a freewheel
on one side, and a fixed gear
ring on the other side. Therefore, you'll be able to run fixed gear
on a frame with vertical
dropouts. Very cool!
Available in 126mm, 130mm or 135mm widths.
- Eccentric Rear Axle Replacements
Similar to the White
Industries ENO Eccentric Rear Hub (see above), some single speed
rear hubs can be retrofitted with an aftermarket eccentric
- "Ghost" or "Phantom" Chainring
Simple and effective. Do you have old chainrings
laying around? It may take some experimentation, but you'll likely
find a setup that works for you. Larger chainrings and/or moving the
ghost chainring closer to the rear cog/freewheel
will give you more tension. The main thing to watch for with this
setup is chainstay clearance with the ghost chainring. Chainring bolt
spacers (~2.5mm - 3mm) can be added up front to move the chainline
inboard a little for additional clearance. The setup shown uses a 32T
drive chainring, 32T ghost chainring, and 18T BMX cog.
NOTE: The ghost chainring does not need to
be the same size as the drive chainring.
Another benefit to this system is that you should be able to run fixed gear
with this setup, whereas you can't with spring-loaded chain
- Old Rear Derailleur
There are a couple ways to set up an old derailleur as a tensioner.
Keith Bontrager mentions this in his rant titled "Build
a "Single Speed" from the reject pile (or real cheap anyway)".
The 1st method is to totally remove the cable,
then adjust the inner & outer set screws to set the derailleur in
a fixed position.
The 2nd method is to insert a short section of old
cable into the derailleur's barrel adjuster from the rear (so the
cable end rests in the adjuster). The normal cable fixing bolt is used
to lock the cable in place. The barrel adjuster can then be used to
fine-tune the chainline.
- Dropout Modification (*** NOT RECOMMENDED ***)
For those brave enough to try it, it it possible to grind some
material out of the rear dropout to
get proper chain tension, given that there is enough material (dropout
designs vary). Since this is a delicate procedure, little detail will
be given here.
IMPORTANT: Proceed with caution, as this could
render your frame useless if performed incorrectly.
Who does single speed frame modifications?
It is possible to have an Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB) or Track
Fork Ends retrofitted to your geared frame of choice. See the "Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB) Retrofit" and "Track
Fork Ends (often referred to incorrectly as "Horizontal
Dropouts") Retrofit" sections for lists of known builders who perform
this type of work.
How do I determine the proper gear ratio for my single speed?
A 2:1 gear ratio (e.g. - 32:16, 34:17, 36:18, etc.) is often considered
a good starting point for offroad riding. Your ideal gearing,
however, may vary based on the terrain in which you will be riding, your
strength as a rider, and your component selection - specifically
wheel diameter & crank length
(more on this in a moment). You would be wise to ask other single speeders
in your area for a good "baseline" gear ratio, as gearing changes can
become costly, especially for BMX freewheel
users (~$15-90 each, depending on the freewheel
While gear ratio is a quick indication of how easy or difficult your
bicycle will be to pedal, it fails to take wheel diameter or crank length
into consideration. Since these variations do effectively change
the gearing, a more accurate way to evaluate gearing selection would be to
inches, (which factors in wheel diameter) or gain ratio (which
factors in both wheel diameter and crank length).
The chart below demonstrates how variations in wheel diameter and crank
length affect the various gearing measures.
The Effect of
Variations in Wheel Diameter/Crank
Consider a bicycle with 26" wheels, 175mm cranks, and 36:18 gearing.
Using Sheldon Brown's Online
Gear Calculator for the latter two (2) measurements, this equates to:
- Gear Ratio = 2:1
- Gear Inches = 52.0
- Gain Ratio = 3.8
Increasing the wheel diameter (e.g. - to 700x56, or 29er wheel/tires)
increases both gear inches
(58.3) and gain
ratio (4.2), but the gear ratio remains static (2:1). Gear ratio does
not reflect the effective increase in gearing due to the larger
diameter wheels & tires.
Consider once again the original setup with 26" wheels, 175mm cranks,
and 36:18 gearing. Switching to longer 180mm cranks, which is common for
climbing leverage, does not affect gear ratio (2:1) or gear inches
(52.0), but it does lower the gain ratio (3.7).
The slightly lower gearing due to the longer crank length is only
demonstrated by evaluating gain ratio.
One last thing to consider regarding gearing selection is the minimum
size of the rear BMX cog or freewheel,
depending on which type you are using. A 16T minimum toothcount is
recommended, as smaller sizes provide less chainwrap (the amount of chain
that interfaces with the teeth) and are more likely to cause chain
skipping. Additionally, smaller gears will wear more quickly than larger
ones. This is discussed in further detail in one of Surly's "Spew"
write-ups titled "Single Speed
Drivetrains". The same (or similar) relative gear ratios/gear
inches/gain ratios can be attained by using a larger chainring in the
front (e.g. - 32:16 = 34:17 = 36:18).
Are there tools that can help me decide what gear ratio to use?
There are several useful tools that can assist you in determining what
gearing will work best for you.
Single Speed Frame Types/Designs
What is an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket)?
Bottom Bracket (EBB) uses an oversized bottom bracket shell that
houses a cylinder or "can" with an off-center bottom
bracket mounting position.
The cylinder can be loosened and rotated within the oversized shell of
the to provide greater or lesser distance to the rear axle and tension the
chain. By using this chain tensioning system, a EBB-equipped single speed
frame can be built with vertical
There are a few different types of EBB designs. Refer to the "Are all eccentric
designs the same?" section for further details.
Are eccentrics a new concept?
have been used to tension the timing or sync chains on tandems for several
years. Only in recent years has the design been used in single speed
Are all eccentric designs the same?
No. There are basically three (3) differents Eccentric Bottom Bracket
- Wedge bolt (e.g. - Bushnell & Cannondale)
- Pinch bolt
- Set screw
Wedge bolt designs use a seamless EBB shell and an expanding
wedge bolt design. The concept is similar to that of a quill stem, in that
tightening a bolt expands the eccentric within the EBB shell. While the
design works very well, some types of wedge bolt eccentrics can binds in
the shell, requiring a rubber or wooden mallet to loosen the eccentric
once the bolt(s) have been loosened. NOTE: Bushnell EBBs
are designed with a self-unlocking mechanism.
Pinch bolt designs use a slotted EBB shell with external bolts
that pinch the EBB shell around the eccentric. This simple design works
very well. The open EBB shell is exposed to more contamination, though,
and may require more frequent greasing than the other two designs.
Set screw designs use a seamless EBB shell with external set
screws that thread directly into the EBB shell and rest tightly against
the eccentric itself. The only minor drawback to this design is that the
set screws may "divot" the eccentric somewhat. This may eventually lead to
"sweet spots" that cause the eccentric to locate to certain positions
within the EBB shell.
All three designs are well-proven, and should provide a relatively
maintenance-free means to tension your single speed's chain. There may,
however, be differences in the amount of "throw" provided by the different
eccentric designs, which could potentially limit chain tensioning
effectiveness when using certain gear combinations. Consult a reputable
framebuilder to confirm compatibility between that framebuilder's
preferred EBB design and your intended gearing.
Why use an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) on a single speed?
The traditional method of tensioning a chain on a single speed is
through the use of track
fork ends. The slotted design allows the rear wheel to be pulled
back until the proper chain tension is achieved, then the rear wheel is
tightened. This design has been used for decades, and is still
vastly used today. However, the design does present some potential issues,
especially with the use of modern disc brakes. Enter the Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB).
The EBB design allows the use of vertical
dropouts on your frame. It is actually the use of these vertical
dropouts that provides the key benefits inherent with an EBB-equipped
frame, such as:
- Elimination of brake pad alignment issues when adjusting chain
tension (most critical with disc brakes, but also applicable to
- Elimination of the potential for wheel
slip under load, especially when using a quick-release rear skewer.
- Quick-release skewers
allow for easier wheel removal, whether for maintenance or while on the
trail (fixing a flat).
Is there any reason to use an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) with
Yes, although it isn't frequently done. The primary benefit in using
this setup is that the (potential) need to realign the brake pads after
tensioning the chain is eliminated. Some people prefer the clean look of
the Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB) over track
fork ends, as well.
Will eccentrics creak?
Possibly. See the "Why
is the EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) on my frame creaking?" section
Can my current frame be retrofitted to use an EBB (Eccentric Bottom
Yes. See the "Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB) Retrofit" section for details, and for a listing
of some framebuilders offering this service.
Are "Track Fork Ends" & "Horizontal Dropouts" the same thing?
No. Horizontal dropouts have forward-facing openings, while track fork
ends (commonly used on single speed frames) have rear-facing openings. The
Dropouts" section of Sheldon Brown's Singlespeed
Conversions page has photos of the various dropout and track fork end
Track fork ends may or may not have built in chain tensioners. For
example, Paul Components fork
ends have integrated "axle-keepers" or tensioner screws, while Surly fork
ends do not (although they do offer optional chaintugs).
Are disc brakes compatible with Track Fork Ends?
Yes. There are a couple of options available to achieve
disc-compatiblility with track fork ends:
- Disc-brake adapters such as the Paul Disk Unit or Brake
Therapy. These adapters attach to the non-drive side canti stud and
do not require disc mounts on your frame.
- Integrated disc mounts such as disc-compatible Paul Components fork ends (used by
manufacturers like Soulcraft), and Surly's
disc-compatible fork ends (such as those used on the Karate
disc-compatible track fork end (Photo courtesy of Soulcraft)
fork ends will function well, but depending on the fork end design,
wheel removal and/or disc pad alignment may be more difficult than on a
frame with vertical
Can Track Fork Ends be retrofitted to my current frame?
Yes. See the "Track
Fork Ends Retrofit" section for details, and for a listing of some
framebuilders offering this service.
Should I buy a frame with an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) or with
Track Fork Ends?
Your decision pretty much comes down to preference, but may be
influenced somewhat by the following factors:
- Use of linear-pull
vs. disc brakes - Disc brakes favor EBB frames, but there are some disc-compatible
track fork end designs, as well.
- Ease of wheel removal - Many people find wheel removal easier on EBB
frames with vertical
- How many gearing variations you plan on using - Some EBB designs
don't have enough adjustability to fully eliminate chain slack when
using certain gear combinations.
Which should I use...Freewheel vs. Cassette rear hub?
Actually, there are three (3) options to consider:
The primary difference between the two
(2) types of cassette hubs is that a dedicated single speed cassette hub
has a significantly narrower freehub®
width and uses only a few cassette spacers, allowing for a wider hub flange width.
This allows for less dish, and
subsequently, a stronger rear wheel.
- Single speed cassette
- Converted cassette
hub from a geared bike
Should this deter you from using a converted cassette wheel on your
single speed? No. Some people argue that the wider flange width
on single speed hubs make a stronger rear wheel. In reality, how many
people do you know that have suffered catastrophic rear wheel failure due
their grossly narrow XT or XTR hub? Exactly.
For the sake of this discussion, cassette
hubs will be referred to generically, as the comments apply to both
The Pros & Cons for both hub types are listed below. One type is
not necessarily better than the other. However, several things should be
considered when trying to decide which is the best choice for you:
- Do you plan on running disc brakes?
- Do you ever plan on setting up your bike as a fixed
- Will you be switching gearing frequently? (cost & effort
- What toothcount do you plan on using on the rear of your bike?
- How important is rear wheel chainline
adjustment to you?
- Do you already have a wheelset from a geared bike that you could
Freewheel vs. Cassette Rear Hubs
design of some freewheel hubs allows you to run a freewheel (or
gear cog) on both sides of the hub. This allows different
gearing combinations and/or a spare freewheel in case your
"primary" freewheel fails while riding.
- Offers the ability to run fixed
NOTE: Not all flip-flop hubs
offer a true fixed
gear design (which includes reverse threading for a fixed
- Precision freewheels, such as the White Industries ENO, have
greatly improved seals & durability (over older, poorly
- Silent coasting (vs. a cassette's "ratcheting" sound) is
preferred by many on the trail.
- Disc brake compatibility is very limited.
- Many freewheel designs are poorly sealed, as they were
designed for BMX where mud and water crossings are not a big
issue. However, precision freewheels like the White Industries
ENO are also available (for a significantly higher price).
- No chainline
adjustment from the hub. Chainline must be dialed in with bottom
bracket spindle width and/or crank selection.
- Freewheels can be difficult to remove from the hub, as
pedaling continues to tighten the freewheel (to a certain
- BMX freewheels are considerably more expensive than BMX cogs.
- Shimano freewheels tend to have a "dragging" or "scraping"
sound, while ACS Claws freewheels often develop "knocking"
(minor annoyances for some).
- A wide range of disc brake-compatible hubs available.
- BMX cogs
are considerably less expensive than BMX freewheels.
- Easy chainline
adjustment; the relative positions of the cog & spacers on
the freehub can be easily changed to dial in proper chainline.
- BMX cogs
are available in smaller tooth-counts than freewheels; 13T vs.
15-16T minimum (depending on the manufacturer).
- The use of a Spicer Cycles GCA
(Granny Cog Adapter) allows an extremely large maximum "cog"
size & almost infinite gearing options.
- For converted (non-SS specific) cassette wheels, it requires
a minimal investment to convert
the wheel for single speed use. It also allows you to
convert the wheel back for use on geared bikes if you choose to
- The cassette freehub®
ring is usually easier to take off than a freewheel, which
threads on tighter (up to a point) every time you ride it.
- You may have the option to add
an additional cog (depending on freehub®
width) for extra gearing options using manual shifting. While
not technically a single speed, many people are interested in
- Cannot use with a fixed
NOTE: Cassette hubs can,
however, be converted to use freewheels or fixed gear cogs with
- Loud "ratcheting" sound while coasting isn't as peaceful on
the trail as a silent freewheel.
Is a rigid fork better (than a suspension fork) for single
Single speed "purists" will argue that you need to abandon suspension
forks and ride rigid to truly experience single speeding. While
this argument may have some merit, the reality is that there no rules
stating that the single speed community will shun you if you use a
suspension fork on your single speed. In fact, many single speeders
prefer suspension forks. Just like anything else, it's strictly a
matter of preference.
So why do many single speeders seem to exhibit this seemingly
devolutionary behavior in regards to using rigid forks? While advancements
in suspension fork technology continue to offer lighter, more responsive
forks with increased tunability, many single speeders still prefer the
sheer simplicity of rigid forks. They are inexpensive, maintenance-free,
and lightweight (potentially a couple pounds lighter than a suspension
fork). They don't develop leaky seals, and you won't need to worry about
rebuilding them season after season. They handle quickly and predictably,
providing that the crown length of the fork is a good match for your
Still, this rationale only addresses some the technical
reasons single speeders may prefer rigid forks. Equally important to some
is the idea that sometimes simplicity outweighs technology. Matt Chester wrote an article
titled "Why?" for http://www.63xc.com/mattc/why1.htm.
While the article addresses fixed gear riding, the fundamental
concept (simplicity) applies to the rigid fork topic, as well.
If you prefer a suspension fork, models that offer a lockout seem to
offer the most flexibility, allowing you to lock the fork's travel
(essentially making it rigid) when climbing or sprinting.
How do I tension the chain?
Several chain tensioning options are discussed in the "How
do I tension the chain?" section under "Single
Should I use wider bars on my single speed than I do on my geared
Gone are the days when 23" handlebars were considered wide. Many bars
(risers in particular) are now available in 26-27" widths, and some wider
yet. But why use wider bars, particularly for single speeding?
Simply put, "Wider is better."
It comes down to the principle of leverage. Since the (seated)
approach isn't an option for single speeders, the tendency is to stand
& rock your way up big climbs. The additional bar width (over a
typical 22-23" XC handlebar) provides greater leverage, which is helpful
in applying upper body strength and "body English" while climbing. Does
this mean that everyone should use 26+" bars? No. Smaller riders with
narrower shoulders may likely use an appropriately narrower handlebar. Any
increase over their "normal" handlebar width will provide a relative
increase in leverage.
However, depending on the types of trails you ride, there may be
trade-offs with using wider bars. If you frequently ride tight &
twisty singletrack, wider bars may introduce clearance issues in
particularly tight sections of trail. The goal is to find a balance
between clearance and increased leverage.
Will a longer crank set work better on a single speed than a "normal"
length crank set?
Many single speeders prefer longer cranks (e.g. - 180mm arms), as they
provide more leverage on climbs. The increased crank length effectively
lowers the overall gearing (see the Gain Ratio discussion in the "How
do I determine the proper gear ratio for my single speed?" section).
However, by adjusting your gearing selection, you should be able to
achieve the same effect using a "standard length" (shorter) crankset.
DISCLAIMER: No physicists are currently present to
confirm or deny the statement above.
In general, longer cranks offer a little more leverage for climbing,
but reduce overall spinning speed (more basic physics). They also reduce
the amount of ground clearance, which may be an issue when riding in very
rocky, technical areas.
There isn't a way to accurately assess what percentage of single
speeders use 180+mm vs. 175mm cranksets, so any statement indicating "the
norm" would be a guess, at best. If you are curious as to how longer
crankarms would feel on a single speed, try to demo a set (possibly on a
friend's bike) prior to buying them. Take into consideration the pros
& cons mentioned above, and make the best decision for your riding
style and/or terrain.
Other interesting crank length write-ups
Should I use linear-pull or disc brakes on my single speed?
Similar to the debate over Rigid vs. Suspension forks (see the "Is
a rigid fork better (than a suspension fork) for single speeding?"
section), the discussion regarding Disc vs. Linear-pull
brakes evokes strong emotions from riders on both sides of the argument.
While linear-pull brakes have served many people faithfully over the last
several years, discs have definitely infiltrated the single speed (and
general mountain bike) market.
However, do disc brakes provide any particular benefit to single
speeders? While discs definitely have some tangible benefits (particularly
in foul weather conditions), there is little differentiation specific
to single speeding. For in-depth discussion on disc brakes, check out
Disc brake FAQ.
When trying to determine which brake type to equip your single speed
with, consider the following (Refer to the "General
Issues" section of the MTBR Disc
brake FAQ page for further details.):
- What is your budget? Linear-pull brakes are usually much
less expensive than disc brakes (there are some exceptions, however).
- Do you regularly ride in poor weather conditions? Disc brakes tend
to have better all-weather performance.
- Do you freqently ride down long, downhill grades? Disc brakes
dissipate heat better than rim brakes.
- How important is bicycle weight to you? Disc brakes are generally
heavier than linear-pull brakes.
- Will you be using an existing wheelset? Are the hubs
disc-compatible? If not, a new set of hubs and/or wheelset can be quite
- Do you already have linear-pull brake levers? If so, linear-pull or
mechanical disc brakes will allow you to retain your existing brake
- Does your frame have disc mounts? If not, linear-pull may be your
best choice. However, it may be possible to retrofit disc brake mounts
onto your existing frame. Consult an experienced framebuilder for more
Keep in mind, too, that after adapting to riding with a single gear,
you will most likely use your brakes considerably less than you do (or
did) prior to riding a single speed. Why? Because single speeders quickly
learn to retain as much momentum as possible, which makes conquering
climbs much easier.
For cassette rear hubs, will a BMX cog work better than a
Hyperglide® cog removed from my cassette?
You can easily disassemble some cassette models and use one of the
individual cogs (e.g. -
cogs) for a single
speed conversion. However, these cogs are designed with profiled
teeth that aid in shifting. When used on a single speed, the profiled
teeth are more likely to allow your chain to derail. The teeth are also
fairly short (in comparison with those on a BMX cog), which may lead to
chain skipping under load, especially with small (< 16T) cogs with
relatively little chain wrap.
In contrast, BMX cogs are designed with a single gear in mind. The
teeth are not profiled, and they are significantly taller than
those on a Hyperglide®
Are you on a tight budget with your single speed project? Give a Hyperglide®
cog a try if you have one with a tooth count that meets your gearing
and chain tension will be more critical in this case, but many people have
used this setup successfully. If you do eventually run into skipping or
derailing problems, a new BMX cog can be purchased for around $5, and the
added insurance is well worth the price.
Some manufacturers such as Chris
King offer higher-end cogs. King Cogs offer a wider base, or
interface, to the freehub®
body. This will prevent the BMX cog from "chewing into" the freehub under
serious torque. This probably isn't an issue for most riders, but may be a
consideration for very powerful and/or clydesdale-type riders.
BMX cogs are available in sizes ranging from 13T - 20T. For cog sizes
greater than 20T, try a Hyperglide®
cog or the Spicer Cycles GCA
(Granny Cog Adapter).
What is the difference between a standard chainring and a "single speed
Most chainrings currently being produced are designed with shifting in
mind. These chainrings have ramps, profiled teeth & pins that aid in
smoother and faster shifting. While these chainrings may be
used on single speeds, a chainring without ramps & pins is
So, is there such a thing as true single speed chainrings? Yes. There
are companies specializing in single speed products who offer
non-ramped/pinned chainrings. These aren't the only chainring options
available, however. Downhill & BMX chainrings are also designed for
single-ring use. In addition, companies like as Sugino and Salsa produce
non-ramped/pinned chainrings intended for use on geared bikes. All of
these chainring options offer tall teeth that are not profiled.
They will be more apt to keep the chain from derailing when the trail gets
rough, and they are also a little more forgiving in regards to chainline.
This isn't to say that you can't successfully use a "normal" (geared)
chainring on your single speed. If you have one laying around that will
work, give it a try. When it comes time for replacement, though, a single
speed chainring will give you a little added insurance.
What are chaintugs, and do I need them on my single speed?
Chaintugs, also called chain
tensioners (but not to be confused with the chain tensioners discussed
in the "How
do I tension the chain?" section), are designed only for use on
frames with track
fork ends (not vertical dropouts). They pull back on the rear axle
using threaded adjusters that seat on the rear of the fork ends, and keep
the rear axle from slipping under load. Chaintugs are generally used on
both sides of the wheel, but sometimes only on the drive side (as that is
where most of the force is exerted when pedaling).
How do you know if you need chaintugs?
- Does your frame have track
fork ends (not vertical dropouts)? If you have vertical dropouts,
it's a non-issue.
- Are you experiencing recurring problems with your rear wheel
slipping in the track
fork ends (quite probable when using a quick release skewer on the
rear)? Chaintugs will prevent this from occurring.
- Do you find it difficult to get the rear wheel aligned when
reinstalling? The chaintug's threaded adjusters will make this much
- Would you like a bottle opener on your bike? Some models, such as
the Surly Tuggnut & Spot Rocket Frame Saver have built-in bottle
The Surly & Spot chaintugs were mentioned above, but any shop that
carries BMX products should have (or be able to order) basic chaintugs
that will work with your frame. Consult a knowledgeable shop prior to
purchasing chaintugs, as compatibility will depend on the frame's track
fork end design.
Can I use quick release (QR) skewers on the rear wheel of my single
speed, or do I need to use a solid axle with track nuts?
There are only a few ways to attach wheels to your frame & fork.
- Quick-release skewers
- Solid axle & track
- Fastening bolts (used by manufacturers like Paul Components &
Chris King [optional Fun Bolts])
For frames with vertical
dropouts, use whichever type you prefer. A potential issue
applies only to frames with track
fork ends or horizontal dropouts.
Quick-release skewers can
be used on frames with track
fork ends or horizontal dropouts, but care should be taken in
selecting what type of skewer to use. Modern alloy skewers usually cannot
be clamped down tightly enough to hold the rear wheel in place. This
may lead to the wheel
slipping under load. Older, heavy-duty steel skewers like early
Shimano XTs seem to work the best for people choosing to use a
quick-release on the rear. Adding chaintugs
would also reduce the likelihood of slippage.
Where can I find comprehensive information on MTB tires?
When it comes to tires, the MTBR.com Singlespeed Forum's own shiggy©®™
is the undisputed tire guru. His website, Shiggy's Mt. Bike
Tire Site: www.mtbtires.com, has detailed tire specs, manufacturer links, reviews, etc.
The site is especially helpful in providing information on F-A-T
tires (which are a popular choice for bikes using rigid
Which component manufacturers cater to the single speed market?
See the "Single
Speed Manufacturer Listings" section for manufacturers offering
frames/bicycles, rigid forks & other single speed comonents.
Single Speed Manufacturer Listings
Single Speed Frame/Bicycle Manufacturers
(Updated 01/23/2004 with 2004 model-line URLs)
NOTE: If you are a single speed frame manufacturer, or
if you find an invalid URL in this list, please e-mail
1x1 Speed Craig with the appropriate additions and/or changes. Thanks!
Airborne Bicycles - 26" SS
frame: Ti Hag
(3AL/2.5V titanium). 29" SS
(3AL/2.5V titanium). Reasonably priced titanium MTB & road geared
frames also available.
Bianchi - SS complete bike: S.A.S.S.
(Dedacciai COM steel tubing). Track frame: Pista (Reynolds 520 butted CrMo steel).
A range of materials - Steel, aluminum, ti, carbon fiber & boron - are
used for the balance of Bianchi's product line,
including road, mountain, Cross-terrain (cruiser), & cyclocross
Brew Bikes -
SS frame: Beaver Creek
(SS optional) (BREW Big Butted steel tubing). Steel geared frames also
available in road, track & touring. BMX frames are available, as
Brodie - SS Dirt Jumper: Heathen (available 2005).
SS frame: 1-Ball
(aluminum). Modular dropouts & braze-ons allow the option of adding derailleurs.
Also available as a frame-only. Geared MTB & comfort frames also
ByStickel Bicycles -
SS frame: Custom SS - No
model name (Columbus, Tru-Temper, Dedacciai & Reynolds steel). Some of
you may know Steve Stickel as "D.F.L." from here on the MTBR Singlespeed
Forum. NOTE: Website is currently under construction.
Until it's completed (soon), you can E-mail Steve Stickel for
more information. ByStickel offers a full range of custom frames,
including HeadShok frames, 29", 26"/29" convertible, EBB frames,
Cannondale - Two
(2) SS frames: Singlespeed
Ultra (aluminum) & Singlespeed
(rigid aluminum). Aluminum & carbon fiber road, 'cross, hybrid,
triathlon, tandem & recumbent bicycles also available.
Circle A Cycles - SS frame:
Single Speed (Columbus & Dedacciaci steel). Fixed gear and geared MTB
& road frames also available.
Coconino Cycles -
SS frame: Custom 1-speed (Columbus steel). Geared MTB, 29er, road,
cyclocross & touring frames also available.
Curtlo Bicycles - SS frame: Solo Mountaineer (True Temper
OX Platinum steel). Geared hardtail & softtail MTB frames, along with
road, 'cross & tandem frames (custom) also available.
Dean Bicycles - SS frame: Colonel Single Speed
(3/2.5 seamless titanium). Ti road & 'cross bikes also available.
DeKerf Cycle Innovations - SS frame: Solitaire (Reynolds
853 steel). DeKerf also offers steel & aluminum geared
Cycles - Two (2) SS frames: Steel Single
Speed (Columbus Thron steel [production model] Columbus & True
Temper steel [semi-custom deluxe model]) & Titanium Single
Speed (titanium). Geared MTB, road, & 'cross frames also
Edge Cycles -
SS frame(s) - Neo,
Trinity & Hoopty (Columbus Foco steel). Geared MTB & road frames
Goat Bike -
SS frame: Single Speed (4130 Cro-moly steel). Heavy-duty frame "built for
freeriding, dirt jumping, trailriding, street, skatepark,
trials...Whatever the hell you wanna do."
Gunnar - Offroad SS frame: Ruffian.
Road SS frame: Street
Dog (both use True Temper OX Platinum & Reynolds 853 steel).
Geared MTB, road, & 'cross frames also available.
Hilset (Belgian company) - SS frame:
Ti Singlespeed (titanium).
Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB) design. Very little information at this point,
but if you're Belgian, you may be able to
help us all out.
Hunter Cycles - Two (2) SS frames: Standard
Single Speed & Single Speed Universal Disk Brake Model (Columbus
Ionic Cycles - SS frame: Johnny Rotten
(Reynolds 853 steel). Steel & aluminum geared road & MTB frames
Independent Fabrication - SS frames: Optional on all
frames (Reynolds 853 & Columbus Nivacrom steel or Aero-space grade
3/2.5 titanium). Steel & ti geared frames also available in road,
'cross or touring.
Jade Cycles -
SS frame: LSJ (Reynolds 853 & Columbus Zona steel).
Steel & aluminum geared MTB, road, cyclocross, track & aero frames also available.
Custom Bicycles - SS frame: ONE (3AL-2.5V seamless titanium). Custom
design available with Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB) or track fork ends,
26" or 29" wheels, 3-D Spaceframe design, etc. Geared frames also
Bicycles - SS frame: Leadfoot
(Columbus Zona steel). SS Dual Slalom, geared XC, freeride, cyclocross
& road frames also available (steel & Easton aluminum
Kelly Bikes - 26"
SS frame: Deluxe. 29" SS
frame: Ro Sham
Bo. SS Cyclocross frame: Knobby X. SS Cruiser
frame: Hoop T.
(All frames use True Temper OX Platinum). Frames are available in geared
configurations, and a road bike is available, as well.
KHS - SS frame: Solo One (Reynolds Double-butted
Chromoly steel). Softtail frame design. Geared hardtail & softtail MTB frames,
road, 'cross, track, comfort, folding & tandem frames also
Kish Custom Fabrication - SS frame(s) - Steel
SS (Columbus Zona steel) & Ti SS (3AL/2.5V titanium). Geared mtbs, road,
cyclocross & cruisers also available.
Kona - Hardtail
SS complete bike: Unit (True Temper
Platinum OX). Full Suspension (3.5" Travel) SS frame: A (Kona 7005 Butted
Aluminum). This isn't a typo...it's just called "A" (pronounced Ah). The
A is available as a frame-only. Kona has
various XC, freeride, downhill, road & touring bikes available, as
Land Shark -
SS frame: Custom Single Speed (Dedacciaci steel). Track, fixed gear, and
geared road & mountain frames also available.
Matt Chester - Two (2)
(both are Ancotech & Sandvik 3AL/2.5V titanium). "Whatever-you-want
fully custom 700c wheeled utility rig": Indie Rock.
29" SS frame: Mutinyman.
Moots Cycles - SS frame: Optional for YBB & YBB SL, YBB AirRigor Mootis
EBB 29"er. (titanium). Moots also has geared MTB, road &
Four (4) SS frames. Standard SS frame: Inbred (DN6
aerospace 4130 chromoly). EBB Disc SS: Inbred EBB
Disc (DN6 aerospace 4130 chromoly). EBB Disc SS: Inbred Ti EBB
Disc, or "Tinbred" (On-One Old Skool Ti). SS cyclocross frame Il Pompino
(DN6 aerospace 4130 chromoly...soon to be available in titanium, as
OX Brand Bikes -
29" SS frame (not yet available, but in the works): Steel Mountain
Cruiser SS (steel). If you haven't seen the first offering from these guys
- the geared Ti Mountain
Cruiser 29" - it's cool. A steel EBB single speed frame is in
currently the works at OX Brand, but is not yet available.
Peyto Cycles - SS (optional) frame:
XC (Columbus Zona steel). - Bolt-on Paul
Components fork ends or EBB optional. Geared freeride, cyclocross, softtail & BMX frames
Phil Wood -
SS frame: Piss Off, or
"Phil Independent Single Speed
Off Road" (Aero space grade 3/2.5 titanium).& components, as
well as standard hubs.
Bicycles - SS frame/complete bikes: Monocog
(chromoly steel) &
(U-6 Aluminum Alloy).
NOTE: The Monocog has 110mm (BMX) rear spacing. This is a
consideration if you're planning to upgrade wheelsets, as most SS hubs are
Retrotec Bicycles -
SS frame: Optional on all frames (steel). Frames designed with retro,
cruiser-style looks. Also available are geared road, 29" MTB &
Lobster - SS frame: Team Tig Single
Speed (Richey Logic Nitanium & Tange Prestige; Reynolds 853
optional). Track frame: Rock Lobster
Track (True Temper O.X. Platinum). Geared XC, cyclocross & tandem
Salsa Cycles - SS frame: Juan Solo (Scandium, Custom Drawn).
Frame utilizes a Bushnell EBB. Geared MTB & road bikes also available.
Cycles - SS frame: Optional on all
frames excluding the Duo. (titanium or steel). Geared XC,
cyclocross, road & tandem frames available.
Slingshot Bicycle Company - SS
(Steel - Slingshot Custom Tubing). Geared XC, 29", time trial, cyclocross
& road frames also available.
Sofa King - SS
(Easton Scandium or Easton Ultralite). Standard SS or EBB frames
available. Sofa King also offers geared MTB & road frames.
Soma - SS frame: 4one5 (Reynolds 631 front
triangle & butted Cro-mo). Track frame: Rush
(Reynolds 631 front triangle & butted Cro-mo). Standard 120mm track spacing. Geared MTB,
road & 'cross frames also available.
Soulcraft Bikes - SS frame: Plowboy (SuperStock Custom Pipes
- steel). Geared MTB, road, cyclocross, 29", women-specific, etc. also
- Three (3) SS frames (soon to be available): Standard Steel SS, Standard
Aluminum SS & Standard Titanium ECC. Steel and aluminum track,
pursuit, kilo, time trial, fixed gear road, & MTB frames, as well as
Two-wheel drive bikes, also available. Gene Spicer also offers Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB) retrofit services for steel and aluminum
Spot Bikes - Single
speeds are all they make (with the exception of a few custom geared Spots
floating around out there. SS MTB frame: Mountain (Reynolds &
Dedacciai steel). SS Cyclocross frame: Cyclocross (Reynolds &
Dedacciai steel). SS Dirt Jumping frame: Dirt Jumping (seamless Chromoly
steel). NOTE: Gratuitous use of Flash on
Cycles - SS frame(s) - Optional on all frames (mix of Reynolds, True
Temper & Dedacciaci steel). Geared MTB, road, & 'cross frames also
- SS frame(s) - Optional on all frames. All frames are
available in aluminum, scandium, steel & titanium from manufacturers
such as Columbus, Reynolds, True Temper, Easton, Ancotech & Dedacciai.
Geared MTB, road, touring, 'cross, triathlon & 29" frames also
Surly - Four
(4) SS frames. 26" SS frame (the frame that started it all): 1x1. 29" SS (or
Monkey. SS (or geared) cyclocross frame: Cross-check.
Track frame: Steamroller.
All of Surly's frames are 4130 chromoly.
Sycip - SS frame: Diesel (Custom ovalized
& tear drop steel). SS cruiser frame: Java Boy (Java Boy
Super-Flo steel tubes). Geared aluminum (or aluminum & carbon) road
bikes, XC, cyclocross & full-suspension frames also
Cycles - SS frame: 221 (Columbus Zona steel). SS optionial on Stock
Program XC (Columbus Foco), Custom Program XC (Columbus Foco & EOM
16.5 steel), & Custom Program Ti (3/2.5 Titanium) frames.
Tom Teesdale Custom Bicycles - SS
Single-Speed - MTB, road or 29" (Reynolds & Columbus steel, or
Easton aluminum). Track frame: Track.
(Reynolds & Columbus steel, or Easton aluminum). EBB frames available.
Geared road, 'cross, triathlon & tandem frames also
Titus - SS frame:
Riddler (aluminum). The
Riddler uses modular dropouts that allow you to run SS or geared. Geared
XC, downhill, freeride, & road bikes in titanium, ti/carbon &
aluminum also available.
True North Cycles - Optional on all
frames (Columbus steel). Geared steel & titanium frames are also
available in 'cross, road, touring & city/commuter configurations.
Works - Mega
One (Columbus Navicrom steel). Available with Sub-11 track fork ends
or with an Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB). Track frame: VCW Track
(Columbus Navicrom steel). Geared steel & ti MTB & road frams also
Bicycles - SS frame: Single speed (steel), with Eccentric Bottom
Bracket (EBB). Track frame: Track (steel). Geared road, 'cross, touring
& frames also available.
Ventana Mountain Bikes USA - SS
Frame: El Toro
(Easton Ultralite 6061-T6 double-butted aluminum). Eccentric Bottom
Bracket w/vertical dropouts and disc mount. Geared full-suspension MTB
& tandem frames also available.
Vicious Cycles - SS
(Ritchey WCS OS steel). Geared road, 'cross, 29" & tandem frames also
VooDoo Cycles - 26" SS
frame: Wanga One (steel). 29" SS
frame: Dambala 29 (steel).
Geared MTB & cyclocross frames also available.
Cycles - SS Frame: No model name (steel). Eccentric Bottom Bracket
w/vertical dropouts and disc mount. Geared MTB & road frames also
available. Vulture also offers Eccentric
Bottom Bracket (EBB) retrofit services for steel frames.
Walt Works - SS
frame: Optional on all frames (steel). Geared MTB, road, cyclocross, track,
mountain, 29", BMX frames also available.
Wily Cycles - SS frame(s) -
Optional on all frames (True Temper OX Platinum steel). Geared MTB frames
Rigid Fork Manufacturers
NOTE: If you are a rigid fork manufacturer, or
if you find an invalid URL in this list, please e-mail
1x1 Speed Craig with the appropriate additions and/or changes. Thanks!
ByStickel Bicycles -
26" & 29" MTB forks available (Cromoly steel), available in
linear-pull only or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height(s): Custom.
Some of you may know Steve Stickel as "D.F.L." from here on the MTBR
Singlespeed Forum. NOTE: Website is currently under
construction. Until it's completed (soon), you can E-mail Steve Stickel for
Dimension - 26" MTB fork:
Disc-specific rigid fork (Cromoly steel), disc-specific. Axle-to-crown
Hilset (Belgian company) - 26" MTB fork:
linear-pull/disc or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height: 423mm.
Very little information at this point, but if you're Belgian, you may be able to
help us all out.
Cycles - Very little information at this point, but Hunter Forks are
supposed to be coming soon.
Independent Fabrication - 26" MTB fork:
IF "No Travel"
Fork (Columbus steel). Axle-to-crown height: 430mm. Cyclocross,
touring & road forks also available.
Jeff Jones Custom Bicycles - 26"
& 29" "truss" MTB forks and "front ends" (one-piece
handlebar/stem/fork) available (3AL-2.5V seamless titanium), available in
linear-pull only or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height(s):
Kelly Bikes - 26"
& 29" MTB fork(s)
available (Cromoly steel). Axle-to-crown height (26"): 420mm. Cyclocross forks also
Kinesis - 26" MTB fork: Maxlight (6061
Aluminum), linear-pull only. Axle-to-crown height: 420mm.
Kona - 26" MTB fork:
Project 2, also
called P-2 (Cromoly steel), linear-pull only. Axle-to-crown height:
410mm. The Project 2 is also available as a
cyclocross (700c) disc
Morati - 26" MTB fork(s): Morati
HC (Ti3Al,2.5V & Ti6AL,4V titanium), linear-pull only or
disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height: 420mm. Cyclocross & road forks
MTB fork(s): Inbred
(Cromoly steel), linear-pull/disc or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown
height: 420mm. Titanium
Inbred (titanium), disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height: 400mm
OX Brand Bikes - 29" MTB fork: Titanium OX Brand Forks.
(Double butted 3/2.5 & 6/4 titanium), linear-pull/disc. Axle-to-crown
height: 430mm. Also compatible with 26" wheels (if using disc
Pace - 26" MTB
X-Country Hollowform (Carbon fiber legs w/magnesium dropouts),
disc-specific with optional
V-brake mounting kit. Possibly, the lightest rigid fork out there at
695 grams. Axle-to-crown height: 419mm. NOTE: This is not
a jumping fork!
Planet-X - 26" MTB fork(s): Kniffen
(Cromoly steel), linear-pull/disc. Axle-to-crown height: 400mm or
Long (Cromoly steel), linear-pull/disc or disc-specific (black
only). Axle-to-crown height: 435mm. Superlight
(Cromoly steel), linear-pull/disc. Axle-to-crown height: 400mm or 420mm.
Sibex Sports (Russian company) - 26",
29" & Cyclocross forks
available. 26" MTB fork: Titanium 26" rigid fork (3al/2.5v titanium),
disc/linear-pull compatible. Axle-to-crown height: 430mm. 29"/700C fork:
Titanium 29"/700c rigid fork (3al/2.5v titanium), disc/linear-pull compatible.
Axle-to-crown height: 430mm. Cyclocross-specific forks also available.
Soulcraft Bikes - 26" MTB forks:
Steel rigid fork (Cromoly steel), available in linear-pull only,
disc/linear-pull, or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height: 425mm.
Cyclocross forks also available.
Spicer Cycles - 26" MTB fork(s):
Spicer Titanium rigid fork (titanium), linear-pull only or
disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height: 395mm or 430mm. Spicer Steel
rigid fork (steel), disc-specific only. Axle-to-crown height: 395mm
or 430mm. Cyclocross forks also available.
Surly - 26" & 29" MTB fork(s) available.
26" MTB forks: 1x1 (4130 Cromoly steel), available in linear-pull only or
disc/linear-pull w/removable canti studs. Axle-to-crown height: 413mm. The 26"
Instigator (4130 Cromoly steel) fork is designed for 100mm travel frame geometries,
and is also disc/linear-pull compatible w/removable canti studs.
Axle-to-crown height: 447mm. 29" MTB forks: Karate Monkey
(4130 Cromoly steel), disc/linear-pull w/removable canti studs.
Axle-to-crown height: 468mm.
Steelman Cycles - 26" MTB fork:
Steel rigid fork (True Temper Cromoly steel), linear-pull only.
Axle-to-crown height(s): 440mm. Road & cyclocross forks also
Sycip - 26" MTB
MTN or Unicrown MTN (Columbus steel), linear-pull only,
disc-specific or disc/linear-pull (small upcharge). Axle-to-crown
height(s): Custom. Cyclocross & road forks also available.
Thylacine Cycles - Custom MTB
forks available (Cromoly steel or Titanium), available in linear-pull
only, disc/linear-pull, or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height(s):
Custom. Austrailian-based framebuilder.
Cycles - Custom MTB forks available (Cromoly steel), available in
linear-pull only, disc/linear-pull, or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown
Wily Cycles - 26" & 29"
MTB forks available (True Temper steel), available in linear-pull only,
disc/linear-pull, or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height(s): custom.
Cycles - 26" MTB forks: Steel rigid fork (Cromoly steel), linear-pull
only or disc-specific. Axle-to-crown height: 425mm. Cyclocross
forks also available.
Single Speed Freewheel Rear Hubs Manufacturers
On-One - Inbred hubs.
Paul Components - WORD (Wacky One-Speed Rear
Device) & Disk WORD.
Phil Wood -
speed & fixed/free hubs models.
Spot Bikes - Standard &
disc-compatible freewheel hubs and wheelsets. NOTE:
Gratuitous use of Flash on website.
Surly - Single speed and fixed/free
hubs in several
rear spacings. One additional product worth noting is the Fixxer, which
converts any cassette
hub to fixed gear (or freewheel-compatible SS).
Van Dessel Cycles - 135mm fixed/free hubs
Industries - ENO
Precision Freewheels & Eccentric fixed/free hub (135mm). The ENO hub
uses a unique eccentric design, and is discussed in more detail in the "How do I tension the
chain?" section (Option #6).
Single Speed Cassette Rear Hub Manufacturers
Chris King - Standard
& disc-compatible cassette hubs.
Norco/Axiom - Disc-compatible cassette hubs.
Novatech Components - Disc-compatible cassette hubs.
On-One - Disc-compatible
Woodman Components - Disc-compatible
Single Speed Chain Tensioner Manufacturers
Several chain tensioning options are discussed in the "How
do I tension the chain?" section under "Single
Other Single Speed Component Manufacturers
Boone - Titanium
chainrings and cogs.
Bushnell - Dennis Bushnell's Eccentric Bottom Brackets (EBBs)
used in many EBB single speed (and tandem bicycle) frames.
Fast Freddy - Custom single speed
headset top caps with engravings like
"Single Speed - One Is All You Need" & "My Other Bike Is A
Singlespeed". Definitely a cool addition to any SS! Fast Freddy is a
regular here on the MTBR Single Speed Forum.
Jeff Jones Custom
Bicycles - Offers weight-reducing Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB)
modifications, as well as a single speed-friendly handlebar dubbed the
"H-Bar" (3AL-2.5V seamless titanium), which provides a lot of leverage and
Kavic Bicycles - Bolt-on Kavic Modular
Dropouts, that allow you to change your bikes configuration (e.g. -
SS, SS disc, geared, etc.).
LeVeL Components - Unique
single speed & fixed gear hubs, and soon-to-come proprietary freewheel.
Paul Components - Track fork ends with
built-in "Axle-Keepers", and Paul Disk Unit disc
brake adapter (for use with Disk WORD hub).
On-One - Chaintugs.
Race Face - Bash
Salsa Cycles -
Single speed (non ramped/pinned) chainrings.
Shimano - The gearie-oriented folks at
Shimano also offer some inexpensive BMX cogs & BMX
Cycles - The GCA
(Granny Cog Adapter) allows you to use a granny chainring as a rear
cog (cassette hubs only), offering a wider range of gear combinations than
currently available with BMX cogs & freewheels.
Spot Bikes - Chainrings, chain guards
(bash guards), SS hubs, & SS wheelsets. NOTE:
Gratuitous use of Flash on website.
SunRace - High-quality SFX80 Merril BMX
Freewheel available soon.
Surly - The Fixxer converts
any cassette hub to fixed gear (or freewheel-compatible SS). Surly also
offers Tuggnut Chain Tensioners (chaintugs).
Brown (1st World Singlespeed Champ) - Disco
chain guide. These are plastic discs that keep the chain from derailling
off the rear cog. May be especially useful on converted single speed bikes
What is causing the chain to skip on my single speed?
Chain skip can be caused by several things:
- Using a new chain used with a worn chainring/freewheel/cog (or vice
- Not enough chain tension - Tighten chain tension. If you're using a
spring-loaded chain tensioner on a converted SS, try removing a link
and/or tightening the tensioner's spring.
- Not enough "chain wrap" on the cog - This
can be caused by using too small of a small cog on the rear (e.g. -
13-14T). The chain does not engage as many teeth, so eccessive torque
can lead to the chain skipping over the top of the cog. A 16T-minimum
freewheel/cog is recommended.
Why does the chain on my single speed keep derailing?
Some common causes of chain derailing are:
- Not enough chain tension (particularly when using spring-loaded
chain tensioner on a converted SS) - Bumpy sections of trail can cause
the chain to bounce a lot, creating short periods of excessive chain
slack that can cause the chain to derail.
- Poor chain tensioner pulley
alignment - The chain will probably derail off the rear cog/freewheel.
Why is my rear wheel's axle slipping under load?
NOTE: This applies only to frames with track
fork ends or horizontal dropouts (not frames with vertical
How is your rear wheel attached to the frame?
- Are you currently using a chaintug(s)?
If you are already using a single chaintug on the drive side of the
frame, you may consider adding a second chaintug to the non-drive side.
Why is the EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) on my frame creaking?
Because it is a moving part in a very dirty, wet and generally
mistreated area of the bike, Eccentric Bottom Brackets (EBBs) can develop
creaks. Most are solved quite simply by removing the eccentric, cleaning
it thoroughly and reinstalling it with a liberal amount of the proper
grease for your frame material.
Why do my knees hurt when I ride my single speed?
Knee pain can be caused by several different issues, most of which are
addressed in the "Knee
problems" section of the Rec.Bicycles FAQ. Single speeders, in
particular, often experience some knee pain from riding. In addition to
the suggestions mentioned on Rec.Bicycles, you may want to consider a lower
gearing (related to question/answer #3), and/or a high-float pedal
design like the Speedplay Frog, Time Atac, or Crank Bros. Eggbeaters.
Miscellaneous SS Topics
Is "fixed gear" the same thing as "single speed"?
No. While a single speed's freewheel
allows you to coast, a fixed gear is
a direct-drive setup. As long as your rear wheel is moving, you
Fixed gear riding used to be reserved for the track or for
road/city/commuter/messenger riding, there are some people who venture
offroad on a fixed gear. In fact, http://www.63xc.com/ is dedicated to
If you're interested in trying out fixed gear riding, the
www.63xc.com's "How To"
page will answer many of your questions regarding required equipment and
What is the "4-tooth rule"?
The "4-tooth rule" states that by adding or subtracting 4 total teeth
to a single speed's gearing, the overall chain length should remain
unaffected (NOTE: See clarification/restrictions below).
Why does this matter? It usually boils down to that quest to find the
perfect gearing without the use of a chain
tensioner on frames with vertical
dropouts. There are a couple of tools mentioned in the "Are
there tools that can help me decide what gear ratio to use?" section
that will help to determine if this is possible on your bicycle frame. If
you find that a particular gear combination will work without
needing a tensioner, the 4-tooth rule implies that you should be able to
add or subtract 4 teeth without affecting the chain length. However,
variations in manufacturer measurements & tolerances may affect the actual
compatibility & fit.
Another useful application of the 4-tooth rule is a 2-speed bicycle
(blasphemy, of course) equipped with both road & mountain gearing. For
example, the use of two front chainrings and two cogs could provide 34:14
and 32:16 gearing that can be manually changed without affecting your
overall chain length. This can be particularly helpful for "on-the-fly"
gear changes without (or with limited) use of tools.
Single Speed Glossary
Where can I find a comprehensive glossary containing single speed (and
other bicycle-related) terms & definitions?
Sheldon Brown has put together a comprehensive Bicycle Glossary that
is referenced throughout this FAQ page. Thanks for the great resource,
Sheldon! You can even download the Bicycle
Glossary to your PDA. Be sure to check out Sheldon's Harris Cyclery website for
some great biking-related articles, products, etc.
Single Speed FAQ Credits/Contributors
1x1 Speed Craig (Craig Emenaker) - Writer/Editor
Craig lives in West Michigan, and has been mountain biking since 1995. He
started single speeding in 2000, and has been riding single speeds almost
exclusively since 2001. He also enjoys fixed gear riding, and has
recently been bitten by the cyclocross bug (single speed, of course). Tandem
riding with his wife or daughter rounds out his riding interests. Check out
setup that allowed his daughter to experience her first offroad ride at
22 months old! His personal biking
website includes photos & details on his (and his family's) bikes,
various biking-related links, riding photos, and rants on various subjects.
Drevil (Ricky deLeyos) - Contributor
Drevil got hooked on mountain biking in '91. He was bit hard by the SS
bug ten years later, and digs single speeding mostly because of the
simplicity and reliability. He currently own seven bikes..."They're either
built up as single speeds or just not built." He worked in bike shops for
seven years, but works in the IT field now. Drevil lives in Maryland, and
you may see him at Avalon or the Fred' 'Shed. Go Terps!
Striker (Tim Broyer) - Contributor
Tim is the webmaster for TriangleMTB.com, a local website in
Raleigh NC. One page on the site is dedicated to answering the question, "Why
ride single speed?". Tim is Married with one daughter. He's been riding
regularly for years and single speeding for two years, and just loves to
ride no matter what kind of bike it is.
Poison Chicken (James Quinlan) - Contributor
James is the creator of the ssConvert Single
Speed Software, useful in determining what
gearing to use on your single speed. He lives in Ohio, and has his
personal bio posted on team
Bigtime's website. He also states the following about himself:
- I am a math geek...working on phd, finishing in about a year
- I am a minimalist (that'ss what i love SS)...i try to limit
consumption of everything
- I like the motto K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)
- I have a 4 year old daughter
- I commute daily on a fixie
- I dislike corporations and government
Sheldon Brown - Contributor/technical guru
Special thanks to Sheldon for all of the detailed technical information
& comprehensive Bicycle Glossary
referenced throughout this FAQ page! You can even download the Bicycle
Glossary to your PDA. Check out Sheldon's Harris Cyclery website for
some great biking-related articles, products, etc. Thanks again for the
great technical information that your website offers!
Top Singlespeed Bike Manufacturers
Check out the hottest mountain bike products from these brands!