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  1. #1
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    Surly Big Dummy, Nexus 8 speed w/ singulator - chain slippage problem?

    Posted this in the Mechanics forum, but it was suggested I post here also.

    Original Thread

    Hello all,

    Shop recently built up a Surly Big Dummy for me. I moved over most of the drive train parts from my Breezer Uptown 8, which previously had the standard xtracycle kit attached. Drive train is internal hub red band nexus 8 speed with single 38t chainring.

    When this was setup on the Breezer/xtracycle combo the chain was tensioned using the forward facing horizontal dropouts on the breezer frame, moving the xtracycle free-radical attachment back in the dropouts to tension the chain. However, the Big Dummy frame has standard vertical drop outs, so to use the same system some sort of chain tensioner was needed. We decided to use the surly singulator to accomplish this.

    With this singulator setup on the Big Dummy I'm experiencing chain popping/slippage when putting power to the rear wheel. Under normal pedal it's OK, but as soon as I stand on the pedals or put much power (usually up hills) the chain starts popping. This happens frequently, with no extra load on the bike, and I'm concerned that with the singulator there isn't enough chain wrapping around the cog to ensure a complete connection. This is complicated by the hub's cable/shifter arm posing an obstruction to the singulator. I've noticed that some use the singulator in a "push up" mode opposed to the standard "push down" mode but the configuration of the Big Dummy's chain stays prevents this.

    With the old setup on the Breezer frame I never experienced this problem, leading me to believe this is a result of not having the chain in contact with enough teeth due to the use of the singulator. I haven't found any other feedback, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Maybe the singulator isn't the cure to my problem... should we consider an eccentric bottom bracket like those used on single speed mountain bikes? Would this provide enough movement to properly tension the chain (long, long chain) to use this internal hub on the Big Dummy?

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Here is some info from the Surly Blog:

    "Most single-speed hubs and internal-gear hubs, with 135mm O.L.D. spacing, will work on the Big Dummy, but a chain tensioner is required. Single-pulley tensioners, like the Surly Singleator, will only work in the “push-down” position due to the configuration of the chainstays. In some cases…when using a small cog or a worn drivetrain, there may not be enough chain wrap to prevent the chain from slipping over the teeth of the cog under high torque. A double-pulley tensioner (Pauls Melvin, Rohloff tensioner, or short-cage rear dérailleur locked into place with its high-gear limiting screw) may provide more chain wrap."



    I don't think you can use an eccentric BB on the Big Dummy as it was not designed to use one. Your simple options are to get a different chain tensioner as noted above and/or get a bigger rear sprocket on the IGH if it will accept one.
    Last edited by vik; 04-05-08 at 08:33 AM.
    safe riding - Vik
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  3. #3
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    That popping can cause your IGH damage.
    The Rohloff chain tensioner is a good one and stopped the bounce induced slipping in my drivetrain all together. OnOne makes a good tensioner as well, called the Doofer. I have not used a Surly Singulator before but have had good results with both the On-one and Rohloff products.

    And Vik is right, the bottom bracket shell on the BD is not large enough to accommodate an eccentric bottom bracket.

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    Thanks for the tips! I have an older short cage RD I'm going to throw on there to act as a tensioner and see if it gives more chain wrap on the rear cog. Hopefully this will be a good fix for now and it will let me know if something like the Rohloff or the Paul Melvin will be suitable fixes.

  5. #5
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    A little off topic, but I am just eaten up with a palpable sense of jealousy every time I read about you guys buying one of these. I absolutely love my LHT, and had a blast building it from the frame up. You guys get a cool bike, and have the pleasure of building it from scratch, I can barely take it.

    When school's over I'm gonna go on a buying spree.

  6. #6
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    A little off topic, but I am just eaten up with a palpable sense of jealousy every time I read about you guys buying one of these. I absolutely love my LHT, and had a blast building it from the frame up. You guys get a cool bike, and have the pleasure of building it from scratch, I can barely take it.

    When school's over I'm gonna go on a buying spree.


    Yeah it will be a tough decision - do I ride the LHT or the Big Dummy... Sorry to torment you....
    safe riding - Vik
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    I don't know why the dummies at Surly couldn't have put in a long horizontal dropout or least offer a version with a track dropout! It would have solved a lot of problems setting up an internal gear hub/singlespeed hub without a kludgy chain tensioner! What in the world where they thinking?

  8. #8
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
    I don't know why the dummies at Surly couldn't have put in a long horizontal dropout or least offer a version with a track dropout! It would have solved a lot of problems setting up an internal gear hub/singlespeed hub without a kludgy chain tensioner! What in the world where they thinking?
    Even with track or horizontal drops a longtail will have enough chain bounce to occasionally hop the chain over the teeth on the IGH's cog. I can adjust my free radical enough to tension my chain, chain bounce still caused problems.

    You really always need a tensioner with a longtail.

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    Oh well. I wish there was a more elegant solution than a chain tensioner. But one has to be used due to the longtail's distance between the front crank and the rear hub and there's nothing to support the chain over that length other than a tensioner. When the chain extends on its own that far out, there's chain bounce.

    A horizontal or track dropout does provide more gearing options. The vertical dropout on the Big Dummy's fine if all one is running is a conventional MTB derailleur drivetrain.
    Last edited by NormanF; 01-16-09 at 10:45 PM.

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    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    That's been my experience.

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    Change the tensioner configuration from pushing down to pulling up. That should fix your problem.
    Internal Gear Hub Guru
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    Previously owned hubs: Shimano Nexus 8 speed, Sturmey AW 3 speed, Shimano 3 speed coaster, SRAM S7 Drum, Sturmey XRF8 8 speed
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  12. #12
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K6-III View Post
    Change the tensioner configuration from pushing down to pulling up. That should fix your problem.
    See bold and underlined text below:

    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    "Most single-speed hubs and internal-gear hubs, with 135mm O.L.D. spacing, will work on the Big Dummy, but a chain tensioner is required. Single-pulley tensioners, like the Surly Singleator, will only work in the “push-down” position due to the configuration of the chainstays. In some cases…when using a small cog or a worn drivetrain, there may not be enough chain wrap to prevent the chain from slipping over the teeth of the cog under high torque. A double-pulley tensioner (Pauls Melvin, Rohloff tensioner, or short-cage rear dérailleur locked into place with its high-gear limiting screw) may provide more chain wrap."
    safe riding - Vik
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  13. #13
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
    Oh well. I wish there was a more elegant solution than a chain tensioner. But one has to be used due to the longtail's distance between the front crank and the rear hub and there's nothing to support the chain over that length other than a tensioner. When the chain extends on its own that far out, there's chain bounce.

    A horizontal or track dropout does provide more gearing options. The vertical dropout on the Big Dummy's fine if all one is running is a conventional MTB derailleur drivetrain.
    There is another way to drive a long bike but it's very ugly. That way is a driveshaft.

    Like I said.........ugly, very ugly.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
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    One forgets one's pet peeve when one discovers the ride is like a limo!

  15. #15
    Gear Hub fan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    There is another way to drive a long bike but it's very ugly. That way is a driveshaft.

    Like I said.........ugly, very ugly.
    Drive shafts require good engineering of a frame specifically designed for them. From posts I have seen here the current crop of shaft drive bikes appear to have design problems and have been designed to fit pretty much standard frames and gear hubs as a factory retrofit.

    A truly well designed frame and properly integrated shaft drive that is strong enough to take a 200+ pounder really stomping on it in long term use would be of interest. I know of no such animal.

  16. #16
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    Not to mention the inherent inefficiencies of shaft drives.

  17. #17
    Mike McCrank
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    i know the original post was a while ago, but the issue here was more likely that you put a new chain on an old cog. I had the same issue with my Alfine hub and my Pugsley. Once I replaced the 18t cog at the back, no more problems. The singulator should be ok after that.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    A little off topic, but I am just eaten up with a palpable sense of jealousy every time I read about you guys buying one of these. I absolutely love my LHT, and had a blast building it from the frame up. You guys get a cool bike, and have the pleasure of building it from scratch, I can barely take it.

    When school's over I'm gonna go on a buying spree.
    Well, for what it's worth, we may have early-adopted on the Dummies, but you own one of the best User names on any forum.
    ......_ .
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  19. #19
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    Just wondering, for those who have owned a Breezer Uptown or similiar, have they found a chain tensioner or chain tug which will work? I would prefer one that mounts on the rear axle at the dropout rather than a spring loaded type (derailleur).

    Thanks.

  20. #20
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    Even with track or horizontal drops a longtail will have enough chain bounce to occasionally hop the chain over the teeth on the IGH's cog. I can adjust my free radical enough to tension my chain, chain bounce still caused problems.

    You really always need a tensioner with a longtail.
    What kind of chains do you use? Maybe a 1/8" or 3/16" chain would be more stable?

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