So you’re thinking about going single

Single speed to be more specific. Recently I converted my geared mountain bike into a single speed and I’ve had a number of issues trying to get it to work properly. Though, this conversion was made for riding the dirt, the same principle applies for your commuter bike.

This was the project bike, a Redline D600. Originally it was equipped with a 24 speed drive train. But I yanked all that out and replaced the drive train with a 32t front chain ring and a 21t rear cog. I also used a chain tensioner since the bike is built with vertical dropouts. By the way,for street use, you could go with taller gears for faster cruising speeds.
Notice the rear cog and see the tensioner position. Apparently this was causing some chain skipping issues. I thought upgrading the chain to this pretty red single speed chain would help and the use of a spring loaded tensioner would be better than the one I originally had, but all that was in vain.
I still had chain skipping issues, and that’s when I decided to ask our very own Jack Sweeney about the situation I had. He gave me a very simple tip that ended up making the thing work. He said for me to pull the tensioner forward and zip tie it so there was more chain wrap around the cog. Made sense right? I also used a half link to shorten the chain enough to work with the tensioner. Anything shorter would have prevent me from connecting the links. Looks good so far right? Well it really was until I hit a bump, then the chain would fall off. There was still some slack on the line and so I needed to do something about it
So I grabbed an old Shimano Alivio derailleur and used one of the pulleys to replace the stock one that came on the tensioner. Since it was bigger, it took up much needed space off the chain line.
Here’s the new set up. Less chain slack and it doesn’t drop anymore. One thing I did was add another zip tie just in case the other one breaks.
So the lesson in all this, the cog needs as much chain wrap as possible and always consult Jack about special projects if I want to avoid headaches!


  1. Hermes

    Good in depth explanation. I always wondered how to do a single speed conversion.

  2. Ghost Rider

    I still think you should measure the chainline front and rear…there’s GOT to be an offset issue or something, because I never had to crank my tensioner that tightly to avoid the skip (even with a much smaller cog in back).

  3. marc

    New chains do this until broken in. Multi-speeds do this all the time until they “stretch”. With the single speed you notice this more because of the added torque. Great idea, what ya did-it distributes the torque more evenly so all the force is not on one link. Cool.

  4. bigbenaugust

    My conversion (36×15 on a 26″ wheel MTB frame) threw chains regularly. New, old, chain length, whatever, didn’t matter. Maybe I should have run it over the tensioner as pictured. But then it also did this as a 1×8. Royally frustrating.

    My current SS bike with the horizontal dropouts does nothing of the sort.

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