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Should I Convert to Single Speed?

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Should I Convert to Single Speed?

Old 09-12-12, 12:33 PM
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_dylan
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Should I Convert to Single Speed?

I'm looking to keep this ol' beater and I'm going to replace some much needed parts on it--seat post, pedals, pie plate (or at least re-finish it)

But I'm curious as to whether it's a good idea to make it a single speed.

It's nice to have the gears, so that it's an easier commute around the hilly city of Knoxville, but I know there are positives to the single speed as well..

However, I don't know exactly what the positives and negatives are.. So can anyone sell me on converting? Or deter me from it?

Thanks!

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Old 09-12-12, 12:39 PM
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The positives of singlespeed are simplicity and weight. The negative is loss of versatility. As someone whose first adult bike was a single speed, and who has tried to integrate a single speed "beater" into my stable of bikes, I recommend against it. I didn't ride the single speed bikes I have owned much at all. In fact, I stopped biking for a couple years when the only bike I had was a single speed.

IMO, a better option if you want simplicity without sacrificing too much versatility is a conversion to an internal gear hub.
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Old 09-12-12, 12:45 PM
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It's not necessarily that I'm looking for simplicity--I had just gone to the bike shop recently and got into a conversation where dude suggested converting it. He never really told me why, he just thought it'd look cool, I think. Who knows? It just got me thinking.
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Old 09-12-12, 12:55 PM
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It probably would look cool. IMO, the reason single speeds / fixies look cool is because of simplicity. The drivetrain and chainline become less complicated and more attractive to the eye. After a while, the decreased versatility overruled the visual attraction for me. Although you achieve a very similar look with an IGH. Everybody's different and it might not be the same for you, of course.
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Old 09-12-12, 01:02 PM
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That Sekine has the nifty pie plate spoke protector, which would probably come off if you use a single cog freewheel.

I kind of like the idea of having a singlespeed around if it isn't your only bike.

Your bike has the bolt-on rear derailleur plate and clamp-on shifter bosses so it would be a clean conversion for the most part, and easy enough to convert back later on if you change your mind. You will probably end up with a different crankset if you want to do it right, which will add to the cost.

Figure out what gear ratio you might go with, then figure out which combination of gears on the bike now will get you close to that ratio, then ride the bike for awhile without any shifting to help decide if you can live with a SS bike. If you come to a hill and shift, then leave the bike like it is.

I think the biggest issue people in here have is when someone does a conversion that can't be reversed. But it is your bike, not the shop guy's, so if you want to try it then go for it. Brakes and a straight chain line are your friends.
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Old 09-12-12, 01:07 PM
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If your thinkin' about a SS might as well just go fixed gear and get it over with. Without the ability to coast, your cadence will improve and if you ride in traffic, your bike handling skills as well.
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Old 09-12-12, 01:08 PM
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Simplicity extends to practicality, especially in foul weather. Back in the day my friends and I used to ride fixed during the winter to save our road bikes. It's also good for off-season spinning to keep the legs in shape. Single speed has many of the same benefits, while allowing you to coast. That's either a good or bad thing, depending on your pov.

I live where it's flat, and although most of my bikes are geared, it wouldn't be that hard to ride FG or SS exclusively. In TN it doesn't seem like such a great choice, unless it's just for short errands on relatively flat ground. If this is your main bike or your only one, I'd strongly advise against it.
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Old 09-12-12, 01:11 PM
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That bike would make a fine fixed gear conversion. It's a fun project and a fun bike to have. Maybe try riding your commute on it as is, but without any shifting and see what gear would work for you.
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Old 09-12-12, 01:17 PM
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put it back together as built- them gears come in handy on the hills-you said it yourself!

if you find you are not using all of them remove the front deraileur and big chainwheel.

things are far easier this way- if you dont use the big chainwheel

I now hold my tongue.
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Old 09-12-12, 01:46 PM
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I wouldn't have just a single speed as my only bike here in Knoxville.

I ran a fixed gear here for years. My knees started to hurt if I rode it too much. I converted to an internal 3 speed fixed and my knees feel good now.

I'd convert that Sekine in a heart beat to a fixed gear or an internal hub gear bike. I'd keep that cool pie plate on though. I've got an older AW 3 speed hub built into a 27 inch wheel if you are interested in a 3 speed conversion. I've also got some flip flop hubs as well.
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Old 09-12-12, 02:00 PM
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I like the idea of a flip flop hub..
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Old 09-12-12, 02:33 PM
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They look cool. They are simple. They do have limits and can get boring after awhile. I have a specific couple of rides I take mine on because I get annoyed if its too hilly or I ride with people who have geared set ups that like to go faster than I can push one gear... guess I just need a bigger gear but you get the point.
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Old 09-12-12, 03:54 PM
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I see very little advantage to a single speed in a town like Knoxville. It makes climbing hills a lot more work, and you already have the gears.

I live in Haywood County, NC, across the border from you. I can't go more than about one block max from the house without facing a serious hill.

Now if you have a fleet of bikes (like many of us on this list), a SS makes a fun project, and a good bike to mess around with. But as your sole bike, not so sweet. My last SS conversion was a no brainer. It was a low end french bike, with broken plastic front and rear derailleurs, etc. Rather than dump a lot of $$ and parts into it, I just added a SS freewheel, SS chain, and respaced and dished the rear wheel.
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Old 09-12-12, 04:02 PM
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I use the same Sekine (decals removed) as my daily commuter. Converted to fixed gear a few years back. Then slowly swapped out parts on the frame. At this point, the only original part is the front brake caliper.

It's pretty heavy, but I love the way it rides. I have 32 mm tires, coupled with the slightly longer wheelbase (compared to a race bike), this thing rolls like a tank.

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Old 09-12-12, 04:23 PM
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I would say no on converting this to a single speed. For basic around town riding it wouldn't really improve much, maybe even hurt rideability and could cost quit a bit work and parts wise to do nicely likely a wheelset, BB, crank, freewheel and chain. I think your time and money would be much better spent on some basic upgrades to the existing drivetrain such as a new chain and modern ramped HG type freewheel and maybe a good used cheap set of alloy wheels. It just seems that a lot of the under 30 crowd think almost any road bike with a clean older frame few braze ons and vertical drops should be converted which is just not the case.
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Old 09-12-12, 04:36 PM
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I love riding single speeds.

Pretty flat here in the Twin Cities and works well when the snow starts flying.

No derailleur to muck up with snow, sleet or road grime.
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Old 09-12-12, 04:42 PM
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Convert a bike that is a mongrel or missing drivetrain parts. Don't convert a complete, original, perfectly functional, and nice-looking bike like that.

What functional advantage do you expect to get from a single-speed conversion? You will struggle up any real hill. You will fall behind on fast flat rides. The chain line will be straight, but the chain line is already pretty straight in the current gear combination that probably approximates what you'd choose for a single speeder (like 39 X 16, etc). You will not have to maintain the derailleurs and shifters, which will save you maybe 15 minutes a year. The bike will be a few pounds lighter, that is about it.

I think most single speed conversions are just about style. People think it is cool to ride a faux track bike on the road. I think the stripped down speed machines look pretty cool too, but on my commute I blow by single-speed riders all the time, and I think it must not be so cool to be getting routinely blown away by some 50 y/o guy on a 30 y/o bike.

Anyway, you can test it out. Stick the bike in one gear and ride that way for a few weeks or months, no shifting ever, no cheating no matter how much your knees scream, get off and walk instead of shifting. Maybe even use the limit screws and lock the drivetrain in that gear. See if you like it.
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Old 09-12-12, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Convert a bike that is a mongrel or missing drivetrain parts. Don't convert a complete, original, perfectly functional, and nice-looking bike like that.

What functional advantage do you expect to get from a single-speed conversion? You will struggle up any real hill. You will fall behind on fast flat rides. The chain line will be straight, but the chain line is already pretty straight in the current gear combination that probably approximates what you'd choose for a single speeder (like 39 X 16, etc). You will not have to maintain the derailleurs and shifters, which will save you maybe 15 minutes a year. The bike will be a few pounds lighter, that is about it.

I think most single speed conversions are just about style. People think it is cool to ride a faux track bike on the road. I think the stripped down speed machines look pretty cool too, but on my commute I blow by single-speed riders all the time, and I think it must not be so cool to be getting routinely blown away by some 50 y/o guy on a 30 y/o bike.

Anyway, you can test it out. Stick the bike in one gear and ride that way for a few weeks or months, no shifting ever, no cheating no matter how much your knees scream, get off and walk instead of shifting. Maybe even use the limit screws and lock the drivetrain in that gear. See if you like it.
Good points.

I bought the Casati at a garage sale.

Already was converted from a full Record gruppo to single speed.

A real rocket scientist idea!

I've been too lazy to do anything about it.

So I ride it the way it is and have some fun.

Oh btw, I'm 54 and I love passing folks on their "racing bikes."
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Old 09-12-12, 05:17 PM
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Well, I'd have to vote NO on SS / fixie...... If it is working as it is now, why muck it up ? The pros and cons have been pretty well covered already.

Cheers,

Joe
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Old 09-12-12, 06:27 PM
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Convert a bike that is a mongrel or missing drivetrain parts. Don't convert a complete, original, perfectly functional, and nice-looking bike like that.
On the other hand, converting it won't ruin it. Save the parts and you can put it back to original. I love riding fixed gear, it's not "style thing", you ride differently when you only have one gear, I find myself thinking about terrian, timing traffic etc. plus it makes you work harder which is one of the reasons I grab the fixed gear so often ( see Doc. I'm listening)

Anyway, I wouldn't have a fixed or SS for my only ride, while they are fun and have certian advantages...gears have some serious functional advantages too. Sounds like youre gonna be needing two bikes...huh?
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Old 09-12-12, 06:35 PM
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I need 5.
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Old 09-12-12, 06:37 PM
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I have a 2 speed kick back hub on my regular commuter. It's waiting on a new headset right now so I have been riding an older Nishiki Pro that I temporarily set up as a single speed. I do miss the 2 speed but the SS is lighter so hills seem the same. I do spin out at a slower speed too. I really like the simplicity though, but I have to say that the SA 2S hub is just as simple and adds some flexibility.

-G
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Old 09-12-12, 07:25 PM
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"It's nice to have the gears"
I think you answered your own question. Keep it as is.
I ride fixed because I like the challenge. When I ride a geared bike I never change the gear so why would I bother with a geared bike. If you use gears, keep them.
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Old 09-12-12, 07:47 PM
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If you are young, strong, and lightweight, you should try it.
If you live in a hilly city, you probably won't last long.
I live in a flat town, and all I have is SS.
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Old 09-12-12, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by _dylan View Post
I need 5.
It would be fairly easy to convert this to a classic 5 speed using what you have just strip the crank to one ring and remove the fd. Then maybe change some spacers around on the rear wheel to set the chain line.
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