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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a total noob on the subject of single speed mountain bikes and on what is available.

I am 6ft, looking for a 26er (for the nimbleness/fun).

Any brand/model and vendor recommendations? Looking to be under the $500 mark.
 

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I've done a few at our shop in your price range. There are a lot more info you should provide.

What do you want to do with the bike?
Are you partial to steel or aluminum?
Are you good at wrenching on your own bike?
Do you want something brand new?

I have done a few conversions with late 90's Trek 800, 820 and Antelopes. I'm a sucker for a steel frame bike and some of the high end old Trek frames are actually pretty neat. The customer usually has a used bike like the ones I listed. The most important thing about a SS conversion is obviously the crankset, chain and cog. If the crankset has a removable chainring in a common size I take off the old rings and swap them out for a Salsa/Surly/Whatever you want SS specific ring. Probably a 32t. If the rear wheel is a freewheel hub, I can re-space the rear hub to get the freewheel lined up with my chainline and re-dish the rear wheel. I throw on a Shimano 16t, 17t or 18t freewheel. If it is a cassette hub, go ahead and buy a SS cassette conversion kit with spacers and a cog. As far as chain tensioning goes, there are many tensioners on the market. DMR, Surly, PAUL, Soulcraft and more companies make a tensioner to replace the old derailleur. Make sure to use a new chain and you have the basics of a SS finished. You should be able to get the complete bike for $50-$150. The SS conversion is probably going to run about $125 or so with all of the parts. With the rest of the money you can upgrade things here and there to make your steed more reliable and user specific. Most of the time, the Canti brakes they come with have broken plastic housings and need replacing, the brake cables need to be replaced and all bearings should be inspected.

This can be a very cost-effective and fun project if you are willing to tinker. A complete 26" SS is not very common. You can look at the Transition Klunker if you are okay with coaster brake only!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What do you want to do with the bike?
A little of everything, some city, some basic/intermediate trails.

Are you partial to steel or aluminum?
Not partial.

Are you good at wrenching on your own bike?
I have more tools than some mechanics. I wrench on my own power sports and cars.

Do you want something brand new?
Would prefer something new. I can find quite a few in my price range that are 29er's cant seem to find any 26ers.

If used I would prefer something that was initially produced as a single speed and not converted.
 

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Specialized, Giant, and Trek all make standard 26" hard tails in your price range. With the explosion of the 27.5" wheel this year you could probably get a pretty decent deal on a 26" they are looking to unload. In the $500 range you aren't going to get very good forks, brakes, or wheelsets, but they will be functional. I would just see which one fits you best and convert it. You may even find a shop willing to take your drivetrain parts in on trade for SS parts, though they won't be worth much.

The SS 26" bikes I'm aware of are all dirt jump or trials bikes so they will be heavier and more expensive than what you're looking for. Bikes direct has 27.5 and 29" single speeds for $350 but nothing in 26" that I saw.
 

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I support Dave's idea with the old Trek frame. My town bike is an old 800 (97 or so) converted to single speed. It is a lot of fun, and I've been trolling eBay for a 900 series frame to upgrade to for a while. My 800 has sliding dropouts, so I finally ditched the chain tensioner. I run a 36x16 for town use, and 32x20 for trails. If you need a tensioner, I can recommend Surly's, I've used them on several builds.
 

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From the limited searching I have done I found no current year model 26" SS bikes. I see Monocogs come up on Craigslist all the time in barely used condition because most people find they are wusses and get rid of the bike from having wimpy legs. I have a poo brown 2007 and it's pretty awesome. Go look for a Monocog. Save yourself the time, hassle, and money on a conversion.
 

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Surly 1x1 and On One Inbred are the two that jump to mind. Both you'd need to build up from the frame. Unless you found one used on craigslist or e-bay (or somewhere else). Used 26" Monocogs are out there (as mentioned above). I think the Kona Unit used to come in 26" (can't remember). Somewhere along the line, the bike companies figured that SS's should be 29ers, so most of the 26ers disappeared...except the original (and its British cousin).
 

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+1 on the Surly 1x1. it can be one of those "everything bikes". MY LBS has built some up as 650b, and also 26+ with the new Surly DirtWizard tires on rabbit hole rims. makes for a beefy setup and ends up about the same diameter as a 650b if not bigger.
 

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A new Surly 1X1 would be out of his price range of less than $500. Frame alone runs $400 new

If you are looking at new, I would say go 650b (27.5) since there seems to be some more options out there, especially at the price range he is looking for. The 650b is suppose to retain the nimbleness of 26er.

Like a Gravity 27FIVE FS for $399 or a Gravity 27FIVE SS for $349
Or a Nashbar Bee's Knees for $499
 

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Why not a 29'er. You might look at Misfit Psycles' Dissent. It has 29" wheels but has a bent top tube and essentially the same contact points as a 26er. It's like you sit in between the wheels rather than on top of them and it really is the best of both worlds. I came off a 26er Cannondale 1FG singlespeed onto that bike and didn't find the Misfit any less nimble, but the bigger wheels roll right over everthing. It's the best of both worlds.

I realize that I am not answering the question you asked, but that is my opinion.

If you want to go 26", my advice is that if your budget can stretch to it, get a bike that was designed to work as a singlespeed, rather than a geared frame to convert. The conversions can be tricky re chain alignment and spacing (although it sounds like you are a capable mechanic) and I have not had much luck with most of the after-market chain tensioners I have tried. IMHO the best dedicated 26" SS bike out there is the Kona Unit, simply because it has sliding rear dropouts which are very easy to adjust chain tension with. I am not sure if they still make it in a 26" size, but certainly they did a couple of years around so maybe you can pick up a used one.

The Surly 1x1 and the Redline Monocog are both solid bikes too.
 

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I still recommend the old 800 conversion, although you probably aren't gonna get a whole lotta love from bike nerds for it. These are older pictures of my build. I have a few bucks in this build, but it can be done for super cheap.

An old 800 is may have stupid integrated shifters/brake levers. Throw em in the trash and either dig out levers from the parts bin, or score some new ones. I'd recommend Promax Components levers if you gotta buy new. Switch out the cantis it probably had to V-brakes. Again, used is best, but Shimano Deore V's are cheap these days. The cranks are crap, the BB may still be good. Take off the cranks and trash em. Again, find something used, but if you can't, Promax and Sugino make sub $100 square taper mountain bike cranks. I haven't used either, so I can't vouch for quality. Spacer kits can be scored for like $20 on eBay or wherever. The 800 should have semi-horizontal drops and steel QRs, so you can save some cash here.

We can break it down cost wise:
Trek 800 from craigslist - $150
Promax Levers - $40
Shimano Vs - $50
Cranks - $80
Spacer kit - $25

Here we are at around $350 or so, and you have some cash to toss into other stuff, especially if you snag stuff outta the parts bin or from buddies. If you need a new chainring, get a Surly. $30. A Kalloy Uno seatpost is a nice upgrade for $20ish or so bucks. New KMC chain. $10.
 

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^^^^

Nice looking bike! Why Promax levers instead of Avid Speeddials?
 

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I picked up this used '92 GT Timberline off C/L for $25. I added slicks$30 and made drivetrain 1-7. Can easily make single speed..... I agree with above posts,that 26" SS market is slim for new. C/L is full of barely used lower end 26" bikes,that would be easily converted.

 

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I think the Promax levers look cleaner, and the price was right. They are lightweight, and the integrated grip clamp is a cool feature. They don't clamp on ODI grips, but they work on the Bontrager grips I have on my Surly. I've been nothing but impressed with these levers.
 

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The two 26er SS frames that come to mind are the On One Inbred Ltd and Soma Analog.

I had the Soma 4one5 as my first single speed and it is all you need. My next single speed was the On One 456. Fast and fun.

Currently on a Gunnar Rockhound, fully rigid. Rides like magic, really! Can't beat a good steel SS for dirty fun. And got it dirt cheap too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The two 26er SS frames that come to mind are the On One Inbred Ltd and Soma Analog.

I had the Soma 4one5 as my first single speed and it is all you need. My next single speed was the On One 456. Fast and fun.

Currently on a Gunnar Rockhound, fully rigid. Rides like magic, really! Can't beat a good steel SS for dirty fun. And got it dirt cheap too.
The on one inbred looks like it's on sale for 180 for the frame.

Since I'm a bike noob, what are all the parts I would need to finish this frame? Possible to be all in for 500 or under?
 

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The on one inbred looks like it's on sale for 180 for the frame.

Since I'm a bike noob, what are all the parts I would need to finish this frame? Possible to be all in for 500 or under?
tough to say, really depends on the parts selection you choose. When you look at the $350-500 options the parts are not that great. If I were to build, i'd be looking at parts atleast SRAM X7 or SLX or better. You can get riding on X5 or deore but even then each parts start adding up. The price for a complete bike still can't be beat since the manufacture is getting bulk OEM pricing.

Is $180 including a fork?
If not, then no, cause add in a new rigid fork for $50-$100. Wheels easily $100. Deore cranks $80-$100, Brakes (BB-7) $100. let alone all the other small parts, stem, bars, headset, seatpost, seat, cables and pedals.
 

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The on one inbred looks like it's on sale for 180 for the frame.

Since I'm a bike noob, what are all the parts I would need to finish this frame? Possible to be all in for 500 or under?
Doable, yes. Easy, no. First thing you need is a friend or a nearby co-op to help you through the build process. Second thing you need are tools, which said friend or co-op can often supply. Then, of course, you need all the parts:
wheels and tires/tubes
headset
fork
handlebar and grips
brakes, brake levers, and brake cables/lines (Inbred is disc only, either cable or hydro)
seatpost, seatpost clamp, and saddle
bottom bracket
crankset w chainring
pedals
chain
rear cog
some sort of spacer kit for the cog to get the chainline straight
maybe a tuggnut or chain tensioner of some kind (since Inbred has trackends)

I think the easiest/cheapest way to get all those parts is to get a doner bike and a singlespeed conversion kit. 26er hardtails are still pretty common lowend beginner bikes and are all over craigslist, e-bay, and discount websites like nashbar, performance, and bikedirect. You could probably find a suitable doner bike for a couple hundred bucks. It'll have lowend parts, but hey, you're trying to do this for under half a grand. Singlespeed kits are usually pretty cheap. In fact, On One sells one that you could order along with the frame. Basically, all that does is replace a normal cassette with a single cog and spacers. You might want to grab on On One rigid fork while your at it (I think they run about $80, but I've seen them on sale for $50) since your doner bike will probably have a crappy lowend suspension fork.

So, you buy a 26er, disc brake, donor bike. Strip all the parts. Chuck or sell the geared bits (and crummy fork). Reinstall everything else on the Inbred frame. That's what I would do in your shoes, anyway.
 
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