Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
Reload this Page >

LBS converting your multi-speed to singlespeed

Notices
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)

LBS converting your multi-speed to singlespeed

Old 08-29-20, 01:14 AM
  #1  
gios
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
gios's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NV
Posts: 404

Bikes: 1990 Gios Compact Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 95 Post(s)
Liked 130 Times in 78 Posts
LBS converting your multi-speed to singlespeed

Has anyone had their LBS do a singlespeed conversion (from milti-speed)? Was it costly?
gios is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 06:33 AM
  #2  
crankholio
Senior Member
 
crankholio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Trapped near the inner circle of fault
Posts: 108
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 47 Post(s)
Liked 28 Times in 19 Posts
I have not had a LBS do this, but I found it costly enough just doing it myself. If you use quality parts and don't totally ghetto-rig the bike, you can easily spend $200-$500 on the conversion. Add at least $300 to that if you factor in your LBS doing the work. At that point, you should probably just buy a new single speed bike unless you have strong sentimental attachment to your current one.
crankholio is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 06:47 AM
  #3  
TugaDude
Senior Member
 
TugaDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,424
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 259 Post(s)
Liked 144 Times in 118 Posts
I have converted several bikes, none of which I'd considered "ghetto-rigged" and the cost in each case was either zero or close to it. I fail to see the problem unless you choose a poor candidate to begin with.

The biggest expense has been a quality SS freewheel.
TugaDude is offline  
Likes For TugaDude:
Old 08-29-20, 07:10 AM
  #4  
TugaDude
Senior Member
 
TugaDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,424
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 259 Post(s)
Liked 144 Times in 118 Posts


Paint and chrome are unbelievable for mid 70s.
TugaDude is offline  
Likes For TugaDude:
Old 08-29-20, 07:15 AM
  #5  
crankholio
Senior Member
 
crankholio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Trapped near the inner circle of fault
Posts: 108
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 47 Post(s)
Liked 28 Times in 19 Posts
Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
I have converted several bikes, none of which I'd considered "ghetto-rigged" and the cost in each case was either zero or close to it.
If you actually did it for zero cost, it's probably because you have a big parts drawer, and aren't counting any cost for those.

Some ghetto-rigged examples I've seen:
  • Leaving a multi-speed cassette on the rear.
  • Using ramped and pinned chainrings when the chain line isn't perfectly straight.
  • For older bikes with screw-on multi-speed freewheels, replacing the multi-speed freewheel with a SS rather than doing the proper thing and getting a new wheel.
  • For vertical dropout frames, trying to get the chain length just perfect and omitting any means of adding tension.
  • Using an old derailleur for a tensioner.
If you happen to have an older road bike with horizontal dropouts and a freehub, you can do a reasonable conversion with a cog and spacer kit. If you trust any 'ol off brand for those things, you might find them for $20-$30. Something better is more like $70-$80. If you have vertical dropouts, you'll need a tensioner, so add $50 for a good one.

If you have vertical dropouts and you want to ride mountain or fixed, you really should avoid a tensioner and use an eccentric rear hub. So that'll run around $300 for the wheel on its own.
crankholio is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 07:48 AM
  #6  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,296

Bikes: 29 frames + 72 wheels

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 772 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 44 Posts
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, trying to use vertical dropouts with a fixed gear is just plain dumb.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Likes For TejanoTrackie:
Old 08-29-20, 08:25 AM
  #7  
TugaDude
Senior Member
 
TugaDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,424
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 259 Post(s)
Liked 144 Times in 118 Posts
Originally Posted by crankholio View Post
If you actually did it for zero cost, it's probably because you have a big parts drawer, and aren't counting any cost for those.

Some ghetto-rigged examples I've seen:
  • Leaving a multi-speed cassette on the rear.
  • Using ramped and pinned chainrings when the chain line isn't perfectly straight.
  • For older bikes with screw-on multi-speed freewheels, replacing the multi-speed freewheel with a SS rather than doing the proper thing and getting a new wheel.
  • For vertical dropout frames, trying to get the chain length just perfect and omitting any means of adding tension.
  • Using an old derailleur for a tensioner.
If you happen to have an older road bike with horizontal dropouts and a freehub, you can do a reasonable conversion with a cog and spacer kit. If you trust any 'ol off brand for those things, you might find them for $20-$30. Something better is more like $70-$80. If you have vertical dropouts, you'll need a tensioner, so add $50 for a good one.

If you have vertical dropouts and you want to ride mountain or fixed, you really should avoid a tensioner and use an eccentric rear hub. So that'll run around $300 for the wheel on its own.
like I said, the candidate matters. Choose wisely.

Anyone attempting their own conversion should learn how to properly re-dish a rear wheel. There is absolutely no reason to change wheels if you have that basic skill.
TugaDude is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 08:48 AM
  #8  
crankholio
Senior Member
 
crankholio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Trapped near the inner circle of fault
Posts: 108
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 47 Post(s)
Liked 28 Times in 19 Posts
Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
like I said, the candidate matters. Choose wisely.

Anyone attempting their own conversion should learn how to properly re-dish a rear wheel. There is absolutely no reason to change wheels if you have that basic skill.
I agree, candidate matters. But I believe OP is talking about a specific bike they already have.

As far as re-dishing, there is absolutely reason to get a new wheel. If you're re-dishing, then you're likely working with an older wheel that takes a screw-on freewheel (since there's no reason to re-dish a modern freehub wheel for SS conversion). And if you're working with an older wheel, complications can crop up from rusted nipples to broken spokes, to worn-out parts in general. It's much easier and simpler to just buy a new wheel.

There are all manner of short-cuts one can take to save a buck. But generally they end up costing in other things such as time and frustration. If you've got the free time and don't mind spending it that way, by all means. But it's not typically what I'll give as a plan A recommendation.
crankholio is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 11:12 AM
  #9  
Miele Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 4,255

Bikes: iele Latina, Miele Suprema, Miele Uno LS, Miele Miele Beta, MMTB, Bianchi Model Unknown, Fiori Venezia, Fiori Napoli, VeloSport Adamas AX

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1154 Post(s)
Liked 704 Times in 497 Posts
I converted many bicycles to single-speed ones.

I would not get a bike shop to do it because labour would be a lot.

I had parts on hand and thus the cost to me was either zero or very low.

Here's an example of one I did by using a single-speed freewheel and an existing double crankset with one chainring removed and the mounting bolts shortened.




It can be a fun and extremely satisfying project. I tell people to check their local bicycle co-op for donor parts if they don't have them on hand.

Good luck and cheers
Miele Man is online now  
Likes For Miele Man:
Old 08-29-20, 11:14 AM
  #10  
ofajen
Cheerfully low end
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 514
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 150 Post(s)
Liked 225 Times in 142 Posts
Originally Posted by gios View Post
Has anyone had their LBS do a singlespeed conversion (from milti-speed)? Was it costly?
I havenít. Iíve always done it, and it was cheap and easy, but I have parts, tools and experience.

If you have a LBS do it, the cost will obviously depend on the cost of needed parts and the amount of time it takes.

Do you have a current bike in mind for conversion?

Otto
ofajen is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 11:18 AM
  #11  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,296

Bikes: 29 frames + 72 wheels

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 772 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 44 Posts
Originally Posted by crankholio View Post
If you're re-dishing, then you're likely working with an older wheel that takes a screw-on freewheel...And if you're working with an older wheel, complications can crop up from rusted nipples to broken spokes, to worn-out parts in general. It's much easier and simpler to just buy a new wheel.
Also, sometimes the spokes on the non-drive side are longer, and the nipples bottom out on the spoke threads when they are further tightened to re-dish the wheel. If the spokes are galvanized rather than stainless steel, then the nipples are often hopelessly seized.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me

Last edited by TejanoTrackie; 08-29-20 at 12:56 PM.
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Likes For TejanoTrackie:
Old 08-29-20, 12:33 PM
  #12  
fietsbob
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,598

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,288 Times in 807 Posts
Originally Posted by gios View Post
Has anyone had their LBS do a singlespeed conversion (from milti-speed)? Was it costly?
another DIY type, I paid for the freewheel the rest came out of being left by the dumpster or from my parts bin...
fietsbob is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 12:55 PM
  #13  
ofajen
Cheerfully low end
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 514
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 150 Post(s)
Liked 225 Times in 142 Posts
Actually, come to think of it, I did get a bit of help from a LBS on the original SS conversion on my Ď88 RockHopper.

The bike had a semi-horizontal dropout on the non-drive side but a sort of faux dropout on the drive side, where the dropout was partly filled in to help easily position the rear axle.

I wanted a bit more room to adjust the rear axle for SS, but I was feeling lazy, so I paid the owner of a LBS $20 to extend the dropout. A fair bit of not fun work with a hacksaw. It does help, though I canít get too carried away on moving back before I exceed the reach of the U-brake. Luckily, 42/16 locates nicely and is just about right.





Otto
ofajen is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 01:07 PM
  #14  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,296

Bikes: 29 frames + 72 wheels

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 772 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 44 Posts
Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
The bike had a semi-horizontal dropout on the non-drive side but a sort of faux dropout on the drive side, where the dropout was partly filled in to help easily position the rear axle.

I wanted a bit more room to adjust the rear axle for SS, but I was feeling lazy, so I paid the owner of a LBS $20 to extend the dropout. A fair bit of not fun work with a hacksaw.





Otto
Doesn't look like your LBS did a very good job of cutting it straight. Is the wheel still aligned vertically with the frame ? When I've done something like this, I used a grinder. It takes a long time, but the results are quite good.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 01:53 PM
  #15  
ofajen
Cheerfully low end
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 514
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 150 Post(s)
Liked 225 Times in 142 Posts
Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
Doesn't look like your LBS did a very good job of cutting it straight. Is the wheel still aligned vertically with the frame ? When I've done something like this, I used a grinder. It takes a long time, but the results are quite good.
Wheel is still aligned. It ended up not mattering much. The 42/16 spot isnít really in the part that was modified and in the few mm I have to work with it is actually pretty good. I could at most go to the next position, such as a 42/15. Turns out the rearward part is irrelevant because the U-brake would not function.

Otto
ofajen is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 08:38 PM
  #16  
gios
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
gios's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NV
Posts: 404

Bikes: 1990 Gios Compact Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 95 Post(s)
Liked 130 Times in 78 Posts
I wish I could diy it.

gios is offline  
Old 08-29-20, 08:43 PM
  #17  
veganbikes
Clark W. Griswold
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: ,location, location
Posts: 6,621

Bikes: Foundry Chilkoot Ti W/Ultegra Di2, Salsa Timberjack Ti, Cinelli Mash Work RandoCross Fun Time Machine, 1x9 XT Parts Hybrid, Co-Motion Cascadia, Specialized Langster, Phil Wood Apple VeloXS Frame (w/DA 7400), Cilo Road Frame, Proteus frame, Ti 26 MTB

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1654 Post(s)
Liked 496 Times in 343 Posts
We had a kid who was trying to get their Huffy Motorcycle converted to single speed because I think they can't shift the freewheel or don't know how or their derailleur is broken because I don't know maybe the Huffy wasn't designed as a foo fightin' lawnmower and is barely functional as a normal bicycle.

If I was doing a conversion to single speed I would want to make it look really nice and perform well as a shop. I wouldn't want to do some home-brew stuff as I normally would consider for something like this. If I am looking to go cheap I would do it at home, if I want it to be super awesome I would give the shop a reasonable budget and let them build something cool.
veganbikes is offline  
Old 08-30-20, 01:08 AM
  #18  
acoustophile
Senior Member
 
acoustophile's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Calgary
Posts: 145
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 29 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 26 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by crankholio View Post
I have not had a LBS do this, but I found it costly enough just doing it myself. If you use quality parts and don't totally ghetto-rig the bike, you can easily spend $200-$500 on the conversion. Add at least $300 to that if you factor in your LBS doing the work. At that point, you should probably just buy a new single speed bike unless you have strong sentimental attachment to your current one.
Why would it be the price of a new bike ($300?!) just to have the rear wheel set properly lmao wtf?

This is an absolute lie. Even if you had the most vertical dropout without any means of tensioner and had to buy new tools, theres no way it would amount to (a minimum) $200. A chain tensioner is ~$30 (if you're converting a road bike with vertical dropouts) and freewheel (minimum ~$15). If you dont have the tool and need to buy them, a freewheel and/or cog tool should be less than $20, and a freewheel removal tool (assuming that's what you need) is literally $10-20. Redishing the wheel might cost a pretty penny, but if you're running single speed it's a negligible difference running a crooked chainline.

EDIT: just saw that you're looking to convert a multispeed freehub to single. You basically use one of the gears and add spacers to it. The tool for that is ~$20 and the spacers are literally pocket change.
acoustophile is offline  
Likes For acoustophile:
Old 08-30-20, 09:06 AM
  #19  
IAmSam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,380
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 307 Post(s)
Liked 68 Times in 34 Posts
Originally Posted by acoustophile View Post
EDIT: just saw that you're looking to convert a multispeed freehub to single. You basically use one of the gears and add spacers to it. The tool for that is ~$20 and the spacers are literally pocket change.
Finally!
IAmSam is offline  
Old 08-31-20, 07:52 PM
  #20  
mack_turtle
n00b
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 833

Bikes: Surly Karate Monkey, Twin Six Standard Rando

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 192 Post(s)
Liked 126 Times in 75 Posts
Originally Posted by gios View Post
Has anyone had their LBS do a singlespeed conversion (from milti-speed)? Was it costly?
Tell us what you're starting with. We don't know how much is involved. This could be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. If you're removing drop bar shifters, you can sell your old shifty bits and recoup some costs.
​​​
what does "costly" means to you? that's subjective.

if you're starting with a modern road bike, ideally you will need:
  • a single-specific chainring of your preferred size
  • short chainring bolts to install the new chainring
  • singlespeed cog (can't go wrong with Surly cogs)
  • spacers for the cog to line it up on the freehub
  • chain tensioner
  • brake levers that are just brake levers, not shifters
if you're buying name-brand but basic parts, that's easily $150+ worth of parts. you LBS is not going to buy ebay specials for you, so you'll need to buy the parts yourself and bring them in (any decent bike shop that's not stuck in the 1970s will accommodate this) if you want to save money on parts.
it would be totally possible to use the old shifter/brake controls on your bike and just remove the shift cables, but the cost will be a wash if you sell your shifters, assuming they are in good shape.
places to save money:
  • if you have a 2x "standard" crankset with a 39t chainring, you can use that smaller ring and just bolt it on with shorter bolts. I've been doing this for years with a 16t cog in the rear. if you have any sort of hills where you live, 39/16 makes a good starting gear. the ideal gear combo for you is a personal decision based on how and where you ride and your preferences. don't let anyone tell you specifically what gear to use. I mention mine because it's easy to start with and you'll know after a few rides if it's too low.
  • you can source spacers from old, worn out cassettes or buy a cheap, generic spacer set. for some reason, spacers can be expensive, but they are really, really basic.
  • use your rear derailer as a chain tensioner. plenty of guides to this online. you might have to install some longer limit screws, which will cost you less than a buck at your local hardware store.
not recommended:
  • rear cogs and front chainrings that were designed to shift. these will inevitably drop your chain.
  • replacing a multi-speed freewheel with a singlespeed freewheel. this can work, but unless you take the time to adjust the spacing on the hub (if that's possible) and reset the dish of the wheel, the front chainring and rear cog will not be on the same plane. the chain will have to reach laterally quite a bit in a way that will suck under pressure.
this is something anyone can do at home. it's not rocket surgery. you'll need to buy a few tools which, as a cyclist, you'll end up using a lot and save yourself hundreds of dollars in labor costs over the years.

Last edited by mack_turtle; 08-31-20 at 08:16 PM.
mack_turtle is offline  
Likes For mack_turtle:
Old 09-01-20, 02:56 PM
  #21  
the sci guy 
bill nyecycles
 
the sci guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Houston TX
Posts: 2,970
Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 612 Post(s)
Liked 131 Times in 71 Posts
assuming your dropouts are viable, just get a new set of wheels that are specifically for SS/FG riding. They aren't that expensive - $300 tops maybe. Just get the set that matches your rear spacing. buy a $20 freewheel, screw it on. ride.
start there. from there you can fuss with a new crank and/or bottom bracket spindle length if you want to make it real nice - otherwise most likely 1 of your chainrings on your multi-speed crank will line up with the back pretty well.
__________________
Twitter@theSurlyBiker
Instagram@theSurlyBiker
the sci guy is offline  
Likes For the sci guy:
Old 09-02-20, 05:58 AM
  #22  
mack_turtle
n00b
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 833

Bikes: Surly Karate Monkey, Twin Six Standard Rando

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 192 Post(s)
Liked 126 Times in 75 Posts
Originally Posted by gios View Post
Has anyone had their LBS do a singlespeed conversion (from milti-speed)? Was it costly?
what bike are you starting with?! throw us a friggin bone here. some bikes are going to be easier to convert than others, and therefore less "costly."
mack_turtle is offline  
Old 09-02-20, 10:13 AM
  #23  
ofajen
Cheerfully low end
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 514
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 150 Post(s)
Liked 225 Times in 142 Posts
Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
what bike are you starting with?! throw us a friggin bone here. some bikes are going to be easier to convert than others, and therefore less "costly."
Absolutely. You gave a good list of what would be needed to convert a modern road bike to SS.

OTOH, an 80s road bike with a semi-horizontal dropout and plain chainrings would need different treatment. No need for tensioner and probably the flat inner chainring will work. Plus you can add a SS freewheel and re-dish if your wheel is in good shape. I did this type of conversion a few weeks back and it cost $25: $10 freewheel, $10 chain and $5 chainring bolts. Plus about an hour to re-space and re-dish.

Otto
ofajen is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.