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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 04-23-08, 01:42 PM   #1
deolmstead
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Budgeting a first SS build

Full disclosure: I'm a noob here.

I'm in the market for a bike to knock around town in, something between a commuter and a beater. I'm attracted to the idea of a single-speed, and of learning bike mechanics by attempting my own conversion, but I'm worried about getting too far in over my head.

My dad has an old (~'95) Trek 700 hybrid that he says I can have. What I'm wondering is this: can a conversion to SS realistically be done on this bike for about $200? More than that and I figure I could probably just get something used off CL. My LBS has a free-to-use DIY shop, so I don't think I'll need to buy the tools.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Old 04-23-08, 02:39 PM   #2
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easily be done. you should be able to re-use just about everything on that bike. you can even get away without getting a ss specific rear wheel by spacing out your existing rear. is the rear freewheel or cassette? does this frame have vertical or horizontal dropouts?
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Old 04-23-08, 02:51 PM   #3
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You can do this project for very cheap.

Look here first.

I'm guessing its a cassette rear hub. As such, you can simply remove the cassette from the freehub, put on a new single sprocket in the cassette's place, and add spacers to position the sprocket in the right place for your chainline. then take off the chainrings from the front that you dont want. strip the dérailleurs off. shorten the chain. put it back together. done. easy as pie, and can be done for the cost of spacers and a new sprocket.

Oh -- if you have horizontal dropouts on the trek, good -- adjust the chain tension by moving the wheel backwards or forwards in the dropouts. If you have vertical dropouts, you'll probably want to use a chain tensioner which is also very cheap.
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Old 04-23-08, 03:20 PM   #4
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Full disclosure: I'm a noob here.

What I'm wondering is this: can a conversion to SS realistically be done on this bike for about $200?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
You can do it for free if you have a chain breaker or hammer + nail (to shorten chain)
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Old 04-23-08, 03:46 PM   #5
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Very easy and cheap, way under $100, check out Sheldon Brown's website.
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Old 04-23-08, 03:46 PM   #6
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I am about 90% sure the '95 Trek 700 has a cassette. I like cassettes, because it makes chainline *much* easiser for someone with no experience when converting to SS.

Assuming I am correct, and it is a cassette:
I would strongly suggest NOT to re-dish the rear wheel. Re-dishing means adjusting a wheel so that the rim is oriented farther over with respect to the hub. If you want to know more, search around, but like I said, don't do it, so you don't really have to worry about it. I am guessing you have never trued a wheel before, so re-dishing could be frustrating. Leaving it alone also has the benefit that at any point in time, you can go back to gears with almost no work.

Look at the Sheldon article (Judge Posner linked to it) about how to space out a cassette for conversion purposes. You might be able to pick up a SS specific sproket from BMX folk on the cheap.

Unfortunately, I am also about 90% sure that your bike has vertical dropouts. This is going to be a little trickier to get a good chain tension for your first time out. You can try breaking your chain and seeing if it you can get the right length, but chances are slim. You can keep trying by getting a half-link to see if that helps get the correct length. This improves your chances considerably of getting correct chain length. Learning how to break a chain and get correct chainlength is a good thing to practice, so I like this approach, but an alternate approach is to do this:

There are also SS devices that are designed to take up the excess slack in your chain on a conversion project such as this. These also are good if you try different size cogs, and therefore need different lenght chains. The SS specific ones look kind of like rear derails, but in my experience, they all kind of suck (too much friction, too $$). If you are trying to take the cheap/easy way out - you can use your rear derail to do this job. I disagree with Sheldon, in that I think old rear derails are functionally better than the SS specific devices. I find that derails have less friction and keep the tension better. Unfortunately, it kind of sucks to have a single speed that is still lugging around a rear derail, and they are heavy (part of the joy of SS is dropping all the excess weight of shifting/gear stuff). BUT... if you are going for easy/cheap, reusing the rear derail is the way to go if you don't want to break the chain.

Good luck!

Last edited by geoffvsjeff; 04-23-08 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 04-23-08, 10:23 PM   #7
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Thanks for the help! I confess I was hesitant to post questions here for fear of getting noobstomped, but you've all been quite helpful.

I asked my dad to send me some pics of the rear wheel assembly - they are attached. I don't actually know yet how to recognize a cassette, but the dropouts do look vertical (I figured they probably would be). I'd love to get rid of the derail, so I might try my hand at chain-breaking/magic gear and, if that fails, go with a chain tensioner.

I'd really LIKE to learn more about building and maintaining my bike (bikeS, I guess, if I succeed with this), so I'm not afraid to muck around as long as the stakes are reasonably low.

He also said that one of the wheels is "significantly out of true." He didn't say which one. So given that, am I better off asking my LBS to true the wheels, learning how to do it myself, or just buying a new wheel (or two)?



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Old 04-23-08, 11:33 PM   #8
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Thanks for the help! I confess I was hesitant to post questions here for fear of getting noobstomped, but you've all been quite helpful.

I asked my dad to send me some pics of the rear wheel assembly - they are attached. I don't actually know yet how to recognize a cassette, but the dropouts do look vertical (I figured they probably would be). I'd love to get rid of the derail, so I might try my hand at chain-breaking/magic gear and, if that fails, go with a chain tensioner.

I'd really LIKE to learn more about building and maintaining my bike (bikeS, I guess, if I succeed with this), so I'm not afraid to muck around as long as the stakes are reasonably low.

He also said that one of the wheels is "significantly out of true." He didn't say which one. So given that, am I better off asking my LBS to true the wheels, learning how to do it myself, or just buying a new wheel (or two)?



for 200 bones you can get a decent wheelset with a flip flop hub, so you could ride it as a fixed gear if you feel like trying that out, and still have money left over for other parts. That frame has horizontal drop outs, so you will have to get crafty with chain tension, though for a bare bones set up you could just pop the freewheel off that rear wheel and toss on a BMX freewheel and use the derailuer as a chain tensioner.
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Old 04-23-08, 11:38 PM   #9
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for 200 bones you can get a decent wheelset with a flip flop hub, so you could ride it as a fixed gear if you feel like trying that out, and still have money left over for other parts. That frame has horizontal drop outs, so you will have to get crafty with chain tension, though for a bare bones set up you could just pop the freewheel off that rear wheel and toss on a BMX freewheel and use the derailuer as a chain tensioner.
Looks like a vertical dropout or short horizontal?
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Old 04-23-08, 11:42 PM   #10
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Looks like a vertical dropout or short horizontal?
Hard to tell from here, but there doesnt appear to be any room for wheel play in the dropout, so it might as well be vertical.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:18 AM   #11
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vertical dropouts are so depressing
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Old 04-24-08, 09:26 AM   #12
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$20 for a single speed kit ( should come with spacers, 3x cogs, and a chain tensioner), $5 or less for a set of single speed crank bolts.

and a 6 pack of good beer for you and the buddy that's going to let you use his tools.

you'll have yourself a nice single speed.
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Old 04-24-08, 09:37 AM   #13
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I like your choice to try to get the right chain length and resort to a chain tensioner if need be.

Since this is a learning project, take a stab at trying to true the wheel. It is a great skill to learn. Initially, you are probably better off economically in terms of time/tool costs to have your lbs do it, but it is remarkably simple once you get the hang of it, and it really helps performance. The only issue is that we now need to talk about tools. Truing a wheel (like any repair project), goes best when you have the right tools. You *must* get a spoke wrench. They come in different sizes. Take the bike to your lbs, ask them to check what size you need, and buy it. Next, you have to decide if you want to drop the $$ for a truing stand. The cheapo alternative is to try using the brakes on your bike as guides, but that kind of sucks.

For wheel truing, I really like Park Tools' website:
http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=81

There might be an alternative to buying all the tools - find out if your area has a bike coop or community bike shops or bike kitchens or basically somewhere that has more or less a shops worth of tools and the general public can come in and use them. The rules at different places vary (you might have to pay a membership fee, etc), but these also have the advantage that people are supposed to help each other out, so someone might help you with your project. Some "regular" local shops also do clinics (sometimes free), and other programs to teach people about maintenance. However, I seriously doubt you can walk into a regular lbs and ask to use their tools and they will say yes - mainly out of liability reasons (sucks, but true).

If you don't have any tools at all, this is a nice place to start:
http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/145...--14-Tools.htm

I started with a slightly different variation on this (if you go to other websites, you will see what I mean), and it worked pretty well for early trial and error projects. The quality is not great, and you will probably find that certain things do not function as well as you might like, so over time, for the tools you use frequently, upgrade to good stuff (as a former Minnesotan, I go for Park). Anyway, this kit has a multi-size spoke wrench and a chain breaker, so there are two tools needed for this project right there. It also has a cassette removal tool (in order to tell if the bike has a cassette for sure, it would help to remove the rear wheel), although I will warn you there are lots of different sizes for cassette removal, so there is a chance the one that comes with the kit will not work (it probably will, but there is definately a chance). It also has a chain whip, which is also necessary for cassette removal.

Again, good luck.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:51 PM   #14
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I'm lucky in that I have a co-op a block from work (Missing Link), that has a free-to-use shop and free weekly classes in bike maintenance. Hopefully I can find someone there to hold my hand through some of this.
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Old 04-24-08, 01:04 PM   #15
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Perfect, that will help greatly. Go to it, hope there are some nice people there, and good luck.
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Old 04-24-08, 01:48 PM   #16
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$20 for a single speed kit ( should come with spacers, 3x cogs, and a chain tensioner), $5 or less for a set of single speed crank bolts.

and a 6 pack of good beer for you and the buddy that's going to let you use his tools.

you'll have yourself a nice single speed.
$20 from a LBS? Or online? If online, link me plx! kthxbye! (yes noob)


lol anyway, I tried truing my bike using my brakes... Yeah.. it's ghetto and I couldn't do it HAHA

Luckily my community has a local bike place where volunteers come out and help you learn how to do this stuff and you donate how much you want It's pretty cool. I ended up going to this place and using the truing stand. That truing stand works wonders!
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Old 04-24-08, 01:56 PM   #17
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i got an old fuji frame and wanted to make a cheap ss........to mix up with my track bike
and I got all into it and ended up over 300
woops....but I love it
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Old 04-24-08, 02:03 PM   #18
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$20 from a LBS? Or online? If online, link me plx! kthxbye! (yes noob)


lol anyway, I tried truing my bike using my brakes... Yeah.. it's ghetto and I couldn't do it HAHA

Luckily my community has a local bike place where volunteers come out and help you learn how to do this stuff and you donate how much you want It's pretty cool. I ended up going to this place and using the truing stand. That truing stand works wonders!
Performance has a kit for less than $20 when onsale. $20 should be regular price. PM in stire if it's higher there.
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Old 04-24-08, 02:11 PM   #19
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Performance has a kit for less than $20 when onsale. $20 should be regular price. PM in stire if it's higher there.
Wow, thanks.

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true

Going to my LBS this afternoon. If they don't carry something like this, I'll order from online.
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Old 04-24-08, 02:18 PM   #20
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Wow, thanks.

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true

Going to my LBS this afternoon. If they don't carry something like this, I'll order from online.
I dont know if it has been established or not yet, but this kit wont work on a freewheel hub, so make sure you have a cassette hub before you go buy it.
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Old 04-24-08, 02:37 PM   #21
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Well, disappointing response from the LBS. The guy I spoke to clearly did not support the project. When I told him what I wanted to do, his response was "Why would you want to go singlespeed? You could just put it in a gear you want and not change it." When pressed to see if they had a kit or chain tensioner, he said "we don't carry that. I could order one for you, but it would be..$80 or $90."

So, yeah. I'll check that it is in fact a cassette (thanks frankstoneline), and order the kit online. Then I'll just nod at the guy when I walk my bike past him to the free tool area.

Honestly, as someone with a background in tech, I can understand not wanting to hold every noob's hand each time they come in with some cockamamie plan to void their warranty, but I had hoped for more support from a local bike co-op that seems to place such an emphasis on learning.
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Old 04-24-08, 02:56 PM   #22
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Well, disappointing response from the LBS. The guy I spoke to clearly did not support the project. When I told him what I wanted to do, his response was "Why would you want to go singlespeed? You could just put it in a gear you want and not change it." When pressed to see if they had a kit or chain tensioner, he said "we don't carry that. I could order one for you, but it would be..$80 or $90."

So, yeah. I'll check that it is in fact a cassette (thanks frankstoneline), and order the kit online. Then I'll just nod at the guy when I walk my bike past him to the free tool area.

Honestly, as someone with a background in tech, I can understand not wanting to hold every noob's hand each time they come in with some cockamamie plan to void their warranty, but I had hoped for more support from a local bike co-op that seems to place such an emphasis on learning.
Well, the deraillers and cassette take up some weight. Also having a single speed means less maintanence.

Less weight = FASTER. Which is why I want to convert to single speed before i can get all the stuff for a fixed

Also, can't you see directly if your hub is a cassette hub if there is a cassette on it?
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Old 04-24-08, 03:11 PM   #23
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I dont know if it has been established or not yet, but this kit wont work on a freewheel hub, so make sure you have a cassette hub before you go buy it.
Hope this helps:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html
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Old 04-24-08, 03:21 PM   #24
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It definitely does!
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Old 04-24-08, 04:12 PM   #25
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its a 7 speed rear, made in 1995 --> its almost certainly a freehub cassette, not a freewheel

double check to make sure though
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