Friday, 15 July 2011

How to make a quick single speed (Part 1)

Following the blog about my day out in the woods i've had a surprising amount of questions about the bike I was using on the day, or more specifically about its single speed-edness. As with most of the bikes I ride the most it's a remarkably good (but ugly) bike made out of a combination of lots of not very special bits, which have come together to fulfill a specific task really well.

I use the single speed for quick trips to the shop, bashing around the woods and for when I want to put a smile on my face. Whenever I use it it reminds me of how great it felt to ride my bmx when I was ten, when my knee's didn't bash off the handlebars and I wasn't too worried what might happen when I went down devil's dungeon (a local hole in the ground that doubled as a bike jump) . I'm sure there's a proper way to make a single speed and i'm also sure that there are lots of very compelling reasons why the way in which I made my bike will ultimately destroy it- but i've used this for a long time and its still I thought i'd show you how.

Now this is a final warning- if you value your bike or are likely to damage yourself with basic tools please don't try anything that follows.

Okay the first thing you're going to need is an old bike, the more broken it is the better as you'll be throwing most of the bits away. Ideally the wheels will be almost straight and they'll be nothing too nasty happening with the frame. I tend to keep away from anything with suspension, they are usually rubbish and weight a ton- two qualities you'll not want for your grown up bmx.

Next you'll need to start stipping all the bits off so disconnect all of the cables and start stripping it down

Use an allen key to loosen the handlebars, sometimes it gets a bit stuck so once you've undone the headset bolt until its sitting proud of the handlebar, give it a sharp tap with a hammer and that should free it up.

Next you'll need to take off the crank and gears. The trickiest bit here is removing the crank, especially if its been sitting for a while. Ideally you'll need a crank puller, which you can pick up from Halfords for around £5, but if you're not keen on spending money you can remove it with a hammer and chisel- I don't recommend this as you can end up with a mangled mess.

After you've unscrewed the front and rear derailleurs and taken off the chain you'll be left with a bare frame. If you want to paint your frame now is the time- make sure you give it a proper wash to get off all the muck and grease and sort out any rusty bits.

I've had to split this into several parts to fit in a barbecue, but i'll show you how to make your single speed rear wheel in Part 2