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The story of my latest love

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
(Originally posted 11/5/2007)

For some odd reason, I have decided to test my bike mechanic and riding skills by converting a standard mountain bike to a single speed, all by myself .

I started out with an older Diamond Back, but the frame was REALLY too big for me, so hubby graciously donated his older hardtail for the final project.

Click each pic for a larger view!
Pics of the Diamond Back partly through the conversion:

The 10 pounds of parts I stripped off it!

It started out at 36 lbs and ended up at 24 lbs 8 oz before hubby put it back together to loan it to a friend. Complete conversion would have taken another 1-2 lbs off it!

Here's the current conversion project:
Before conversion

The full drivetrain

Front view

Handlebars before conversion

Starting weight - 26 lbs even.

The process:

1. Remove barends and handlebar grips.
2. Remove shifters, cables and housings, and brake levers.
3. Remove front derailleur.
4. Adjust set screws on rear derailleur to keep chain on appropriate rear cog until the rear conversion kit arrives (this also allows me to manually move the chain around the rear cogs to find "the right" gear combination for my riding style - it looks like a 32 tooth front and 16 or 15 tooth rear may be it for me).
5. Remove the crankset from the drive side of the bike and eliminate the small and large chainrings.
6. Using shorter chainring bolts, reassemble the crank with the middle ring only.
7. Reinstall the crankset.
8. Remove old, heavy pedals and install lighter weight clipless pedals.
9. Reinstall brake levers.
10. Install full length handlebar grips (no shifters or barends to require short grips!).
11. Change out his awful, uncomfortable Specialized saddle for my lovely Terry Butterfly .
12. Check spoke tension and "true" on both wheels (these wheels were my first wheelbuilding project from spring....time to adjust, retension, and check just on GP).

So, here's what it looks like right now:
(Oh, ignore the skis in the background! It's NOT ski time yet!)

Current weight with both wheels : 24 lbs 4oz (This one started out with a light frame and fairly light weight components, so the weight loss won't be quite as dramatic as the Diamond Back).

Tools used in this project so far:
  • 6, 5, 4mm allen wrenches
  • phillips screw driver
  • pedal wrench - just a thin 9/16" wrench
  • crank puller - a specialty tool that allows you to remove the crank (arms that the pedals attach to)
  • chain tool - a specialty tool that allows you to separate and reassemble the chain
That's it!

I also used a truing stand for my wheels, but that's not usually needed for this project if you have stock or professionally built wheels. I only trued the wheels because I built them this spring and hadn't checked them since.
post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 


(Originally posted 11/13/07)

Well, I took my first ride on the SSS (Semi Single Speed) tonight.

We did the medium loop at Cadillac Pathways, including the unmarked singletrack. I found myself riding harder and faster than on either my hardtail or full-susser. I powered up several hills that I normally granny-gear on, and only had to walk one (TrekChick's favorite hill coming up to marker 5 ). At the top of one of the longer climbs, I stood there gasping like I was gonna die - it felt GREAT!.

Our buddy's 14 year old son and I rode our favorite swoopy section so fast we were actually slingshotting around corners and getting big air off the whoop-dee-doos! We both got to the bottom of that section laughing and woo-hooing at the top of our lungs ! He was even ready to ride back up the hill to do it again .

There are some places we ride where I wouldn't want to ride a SS (places with stunts, jumps, and tight switchback hills), but otherwise I think this will end up being my off-road ride of choice. Who woulda thunk it????

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a pic of the current state of conversion (current weight 23lb 15oz). Now all I need is the conversion kit to change out the cassette to a single cog and ditch the rear derailleur - then it will be a RSS (Real Single Speed) .

For comparison purposes....
"Before" side view -

"Current" side view (stripped of everything but the cassette and rear derailleur) -

Gotta love the goofy reflectors and rear blinky light hubby put on because I've been riding at dusk (and occasionally in the dark)

Look how clean the front view is now:
Before -

After -
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Updates - Lovin' it

(Originally posted 11/21/07)

The conversion kit arrived today. The spacers and cog are installed and the tensioner will be installed tomorrow. Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to get in its maiden trip as a TSS (true single speed)!

Last weekend I did my first techinical ride on it....even on the stunts it was sweeeeet. Not once did I wish for smaller gearing or bar ends. On lap 2, however, I DID wish I hadn't fallen off this:

The head-on view (taken during lap #1):

I made the fatal mistake of second-guessing the bike and then looking down . I fell off at the highest point (of course), almost directly across from where the bike is sitting in the second pic. After an awesome first loop, I finished most of the second loop with a fat and bloody lip, a bruised chin, stiff neck, and totally frozen left shoulder. Ow. Hubby, of course, just laughed at me.

Additional tools used for the final conversion:
  • Cassette lockring tool - a specialty tool that allows removal and assembly of the cassette retaining ring
(Originally posted 1/5/08)
I finally got some pics of the finished single speed:

Final weight is 22 lbs, 14 ozs. Gearing is 32/15.

(Orignally posted 4/22/08)
Well, my SS experiment is paying off in a big way already!

The last 7 times I've ridden the medium loop at Pathways, I've done it on the SS, walking the hill up to marker 5 each time. Today I rode the same loop on the FS for a change. I had my fastest loop so far and managed the hill to 5 without shifting to the granny ring for the first time ever!!! (OK, so I shifted in back, which was not unexpected since it outweighs the SS by 6lbs and the suspension soaks up a lot of the effort, ending on a 32/34 combo, but still..... ) I knew SSing would make me a stronger rider in lots of ways, but I never expected results this fast!

Found out the 32/15 combo can be run on that frame without a chain tensioner and I've had no problems at all using the "geared" front chainring.

(Originally posted 6/22/08)
Last week I changed the 15 tooth rear cog over to a 14 tooth. I had to re-install the chain tensioner because the cog size is just enough different that the chain was really sloppy, but not different enough to be able to take out a link.

My first ride was on our normal Wednesday ride loop. Wow. Who would have thought 1 measly single tooth would have made THAT big a difference in how it rides????? After bailing earlier on a couple of hills, I was very curious about how I'd do with it on more technical terrain. Then, yesterday, I was talked into riding it at the BOW clinic. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either. The group did tons of stopping at the top or bottom of all the hills and at every stunt or obstacle so I couldn't carry any speed off the downhills to help power up the uphills. I also kept getting stuck behind the "shifties", many of whom were less experienced riders, resulting in getting stalled on all the really tough climbs.

I don't know that the change in gearing had any real effect on any of that, but I DO know that the couple of times I got into trouble in the super-techinical stuff and needed to be able to smoothly pedal through and/or out of it, the new gearing was too big for me to do this without losing form, traction, or balance (I crashed once and bailed once on a really weird log pile).

So....tomorrow, after our Monday road ride, I'll be swapping back to the 32/15 combo, at least for a while longer.

1997 Cannondale CAD3 frame with Headshock DD60
Coda PX3 crank with 32t chainring
Ritchey clipless pedals
Older XT hubs laced 3-cross to Sun CR-17 rims
IRC Mythos XC II 2.10
Coda Headshock stem 120x5
Titec Hellbent 7 deg 7075 bars, uncut
Schwinn grips
Avid Arch Rival brakes with Avid SD Mag levers
Gore Ride-On brake cables
Rockshock suspension seatpost (new since last pics)
Selle Italia Lady Sport saddle
Sram PC-90 chain
Nashbar 15t cog
Really cool anodized red SS hub spacers
post #4 of 7
The joint collaboration between me and lonnie weighs 20lb...my guess if with 500 bucks it could weigh 15ish.....
post #5 of 7
You need to add lightness. Sweet though.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
I could obviously cut some poundage by going with a SS specific rear hub and ditching the suspension seat post, and the Hellbent bars are a little heavy; but it was a project bike, I'm too old and decrepit to ride an aluminum frame without some cush, and I loooove the sweep and width of the Hellbent. So, I'll just suffer for now I guess .

My next big $ purchase (after other things are paid for) will probably be a Redline Monocog Flight. I rode the rigid 29er the other day and was pretty impressed.
post #7 of 7
Redline....cant go wrong.
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