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Sheldon’s kludges for derailerless bikes

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Sheldon’s kludges for derailerless bikes

Old 12-31-22, 09:19 PM
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Sheldon’s kludges for derailerless bikes

One Kludge involves the shortening of the rear axle so that the skewer is the only thing passing through the vertical dropouts. Idea being, you now have a little bit of adjustment for chain tension as the rear hub can now move a little bit, front to back. And the QR skewer can tighten more than enough to prevent slippage, so this is of zero consequence.

OK, so when doing this, do you dump the springs? I just put this particular kludge into action and I found the springs to not be of any value as they would no longer be in contact with the axle. I got it all together, the kludge gave me adequate range of adjustment, and I intentionally left out the springs. Haven’t ridden yet, but it looks good.

So, springs or no springs?
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Old 01-01-23, 04:01 AM
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I would save the trouble and time and just spend ~$40 for an eccentric bottom bracket.
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Old 01-01-23, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by acoustophile
I would save the trouble and time and just spend ~$40 for an eccentric bottom bracket.
Without getting into a long story, lets just say anything eccentric is a no-go in this particular case.

So back to the springs that come on the skewer.
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Old 01-01-23, 01:32 PM
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It will slip and your chain will loose tension. Get a frame which is designed for SS/FG use.... if this is just a singlespeed conversion, use a chain tensioner.
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Old 01-01-23, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
It will slip and your chain will loose tension. Get a frame which is designed for SS/FG use.... if this is just a singlespeed conversion, use a chain tensioner.
It will slip?

Thats contrary to Sheldon and everyone that’s actually done this.

I am just trying to figure out the springs.
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Old 01-01-23, 03:38 PM
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In thinking this through, the conclusion I come up with is that the springs aid in pushing the nut end and cam end away from the hub to aid in wheel removal. And, the springs aid in installing the wheel by centering the skewer in the dropout.

I can’t see how the springs missing can be a problem. They have nothing to do with the functionality of the QR skewer system. They just make certain aspects of wheel removal and installation a little easier. Unless I am missing something.
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Old 01-01-23, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mrmb
It will slip?

Thats contrary to Sheldon and everyone that’s actually done this.

I am just trying to figure out the springs.
Yes it will slip and not only that, but your chain will also stretch and become longer and make it impossible to get a proper tension, there just isn't enough room for adjustment. A quick release skewer is also not designed to support the weigh of the bike and the rider, that's why all quick releases have a hollow axle which goes into the drop out to support the weight and the stresses of riding. There is a reason why fixies come with nutted axles.
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Old 01-01-23, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
Yes it will slip and not only that, but your chain will also stretch and become longer and make it impossible to get a proper tension, there just isn't enough room for adjustment. A quick release skewer is also not designed to support the weigh of the bike and the rider, that's why all quick releases have a hollow axle which goes into the drop out to support the weight and the stresses of riding. There is a reason why fixies come with nutted axles.
To your point about chain stretch and no adjustment, see the pics. There is actually a decent amount of adjustment. As pictured, chain tension is perfect.





See the skewer as it passes through the dropout. It is close to centered. A good amount of adjustment. That is a pic of each dropout.

To your point about the skewer shaft not handling weight, I agree that if all the weight on the rear were transferred to the skewer shaft it would not likely handle the weight. But the skewer shaft is not bearing any weight. It is not making contact with any part of the frame. It is centered from front to back and top to bottom or pretty close to it. There is air space above the skewer shaft, so it’s not as though the frame is riding on it. The frame is gripped between the axle nuts and skewer nuts and THAT is what is holding the weight.

I have been on a 1 mile test-ride so far and so far so good.
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Old 01-01-23, 10:01 PM
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Those pics are a little blurry because I zoomed in. Here are the non-zoomed pics.



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Old 01-01-23, 10:22 PM
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if you're running a SS why not just get a chain tensioner?
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Old 01-01-23, 11:25 PM
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The springs are just there for convenience installing the wheel. If it goes on easy without, skip 'em. Or try 'em and see if that's an improvement. Worst that can happen is you mangle the springs. I can assure you a few springs have already died violent deaths and to my knowledge, the earth is still spinning just fine. (Those bikes are still going strong also.)

The one thing I would want to see is an all steel QR with a steel nut and aggressive pattern on that nut and head on the other side. And I would probably try to figure out a way to support the frame vertically over the QR skewer to make the vertical height (and threefore BB height) consistent and easy. Perhaps a near semi-circle almost the width of the dropout or say easy to shape aluminum. (Semicircle to fit the top of the dropout, then cut down 1/2 the QR thickness so there is a horizontal flat across the dropout. Now the QR will slide forward and back nicely like an axle in a horizontal dropout. For both sides. Could be epoxied in place or for quick removal, held in with double sided tape or chewing gum.)

Now, I have been researching and thinking about this concept for exactly the time it took me to type this. So take it with that in mind. (Or quote me with further questions but wait a few days, I have to tell Bike Forums I just changed E-mails so current quotes and PMs are getting sent to a black hole.)

Edit: I suppose an aluminum spacer could bend the skewer if the bike slipped. That spacer could be made out of wood. (Even easier to make.) Wood won't support much weight and is very unlikely to damage the skewer. Plus - skewers are cheap. You see its status every time you take the wheel off. It isn't breaking the first bend. In fact, you probably have months or more to replace it. If it were me, I'd opt for easier wheel mount and accept it costing me an occasional skewer. (If mounting the wheel and setting the chain slack is tough, I am guaranteed to flat in waning sunlight, under-dressed for the cooler dark and wasted after hard riding. An "epic" ride I neither need nor want.)

Last edited by 79pmooney; 01-01-23 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 01-02-23, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by acoustophile
if you're running a SS why not just get a chain tensioner?
If I was, I would.

But…..it’s fixed.

Hence, no tensioner.

Last edited by mrmb; 01-02-23 at 01:55 AM.
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Old 01-02-23, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mrmb
If I was, I would.

But…..it’s fixed.

Hence, no tensioner.
The QR and photos of a freehub led me to believe that you were running a SS. A freehub QR fixed system sounds janky as ****, but good luck!
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Old 01-02-23, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by acoustophile
The QR and photos of a freehub led me to believe that you were running a SS. A freehub QR fixed system sounds janky as ****, but good luck!
The pic shows an empty free hub and a cog mounted to the end opposite the free hub. The cog is bolted to the disc brake flange. Works very well.

Hopefully this Sheldon Brown Kludge works equally well!
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Old 01-03-23, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
A quick release skewer is also not designed to support the weigh of the bike and the rider, that's why all quick releases have a hollow axle which goes into the drop out to support the weight and the stresses of riding.
The skewer does not support the weight of the bike and rider; it merely provides tension to keep the axle locknuts secure against the dropout face. It is the interface between the dropout face and the locknut that supports the weight.

There is a reason why fixies come with nutted axles.
No. Pedal forces on the hub are no higher for a track bike than a road bike, where quick releases are proven reliable. Track hubs historically have been available with quick releases until UCI decided they were a safety risk in that in close pursuit, a following rider's wheel could dislodge a leading rider's quick release and cause a crash. They banned quick release wheels in sanctioned track events.

From a 1960s Campagnolo catalog:


.
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Old 01-03-23, 11:17 AM
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Others have given good advice- you do not need springs and the key is to use a good quick release. I like Shimano steel internal cam only for my fixed and single speed. I even use them for single speed mountain biking and no issues. I am working a Bianchi Project 5 with "semi-horizontal" dropouts and thought I would need to trim the axle for a little more play, but this one magic geared it - 64 GI road fixed and flip for 55 GI singlespeed dirt and easier MTB trails on 29x2 tires. It works because there are 2 front chainrings to accommodate differences in the fixed and single speed sides of the rear hub.
Go for it and post pictures please.
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Old 01-04-23, 07:44 AM
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In the fifteen years I've run my Mercian Vincitore fixed-gear with a quick release unit, it hasn't ever slipped. I have been using the same mid-70s all-steel M.M. Atom skewer for the last 10 of those years. It's worth noting that I ran quick release skewers for some fixed-gears as early as 1998, when I first started riding. I set up my '73 Raleigh Competition with the overly-complicated drivetrain (Surly Dingle 17/19 fixed cog on one side, White Industries Dos Eno 20/22T freewheel on the other with 42/44T chainrings for 70 and 60 in fixed or 60 and 52 ss freewheeling gears), using a replacement hollow axle in the the Surly New Track hub with an old French steel skewer. I would do the same thing with my Gitane fixed-gear conversion, but my understanding is that the old Kogswell hubs won't accomodate a conventional hollow axle.
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Old 01-07-23, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
Yes it will slip and not only that, but your chain will also stretch and become longer and make it impossible to get a proper tension, there just isn't enough room for adjustment. A quick release skewer is also not designed to support the weigh of the bike and the rider, that's why all quick releases have a hollow axle which goes into the drop out to support the weight and the stresses of riding. There is a reason why fixies come with nutted axles.
Update….about 70 miles this week on this bike and this set-up worked perfectly. Will it work it the long run, we’ll see!

To your point about skewer not handling the weight….well, it doesn’t have to. It’s the frame to nut interface that handles the weight, no different than a solid axle and nuts. It’s the clamping force at the serrated nuts to frame dropout that supports all the weight.

To your point as to why fixed gear bikes are typically done with nutted axles, it’s because at the velodrome, the QR set-up was deemed unsafe because riders would bump into each other and the risk of a QR loosening upon getting hit was too great. Better to force everyone to use nuts or bolts and ban the QR at the track. The idea that the QR can’t hold is a fallacy and it’s ability to hold in a fixed gear set-up has zero to do with why it is not allowed at the velodrome.
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Old 01-15-23, 09:04 AM
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Well I am glad some people have had fun using skewers on single-speed conversions, but it is still a "kludge". If it were not then pros would have been using it for racing, and manufacturers would have quit making track bikes and equipment a long time ago.

I, with a total bike/rider weight of about 240 pounds, broke a solid rear axle this year hitting a bad spot on a road going about 20mph. I did not crash, but it is certainly a failure that could cause a crash, and a fatal one too. The axle broke between the hub bearings, not outside them in the dropouts.

If you need to ride a kludge around your town at moderate speeds and/or on smooth roads to go pose at coffee-shops or anywhere else you can show it off in a non-demanding way then you will probably be fine, but if you are a real long-time mechanic or have engineering experience and put real use and strain on your machinery as a track-racer or a heavy rider over bad roads may, then you would favor better mechanical and engineering solutions over a Kludge.
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Old 01-15-23, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by beng1
Well I am glad some people have had fun using skewers on single-speed conversions, but it is still a "kludge". If it were not then pros would have been using it for racing, and manufacturers would have quit making track bikes and equipment a long time ago.

I, with a total bike/rider weight of about 240 pounds, broke a solid rear axle this year hitting a bad spot on a road going about 20mph. I did not crash, but it is certainly a failure that could cause a crash, and a fatal one too. The axle broke between the hub bearings, not outside them in the dropouts.

If you need to ride a kludge around your town at moderate speeds and/or on smooth roads to go pose at coffee-shops or anywhere else you can show it off in a non-demanding way then you will probably be fine, but if you are a real long-time mechanic or have engineering experience and put real use and strain on your machinery as a track-racer or a heavy rider over bad roads may, then you would favor better mechanical and engineering solutions over a Kludge.
So you did everything by the book (except avoiding the pothole) and your axle still snapped?

I don’t think that proves or disproves anything.
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Old 01-15-23, 10:27 AM
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The reason hub nuts are kinda nice is that they allow setting chain tension by "walking" the hub forward or back by tightening the nut on one side, loosening the other and pushing the tire at the chainstays to the side. This requires zero skill or coordination and is easy with old, mangled hands. Those same hands might not be able to hold a rear wheel to the correct chain slack and centered tire and close the QR at the same time.

Ben - working on the age bit and got the hands. Quite happy that nutted track hubs are easy to find.
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Old 01-15-23, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1
Well I am glad some people have had fun using skewers on single-speed conversions, but it is still a "kludge". If it were not then pros would have been using it for racing, and manufacturers would have quit making track bikes and equipment a long time ago.
Campy made track hubs with skewers for track use. They got banned at the track because of the risk of the skewer getting hit and loosening. So Campy quit making them. Nothing to do with the design not being adequate. It’s just that bikes bump into each other. Skewers can get hit and come loose.
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Old 01-16-23, 01:09 PM
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Ditch the springs.
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Old 01-18-23, 09:25 AM
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I've done this a few times, ~20yrs ago with no problems even on singletrack. I might not put down the power of another rider, but it works.
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Old 01-21-23, 10:41 AM
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Another 100+ miles in.

No problems!

The whole “it will slip and the skewer can’t handle the weight” is a fallacy from those that don’t know any better. It’s no more prone to slip than a nutted axle and there is no weight on the skewer.
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