Are you looking to convert your geared mountain bike to a single speed? Its easier than you think, and you can always convert your bike back to a geared bike if you don’t like your mountain bike as a single speed. The good news is that it will be lighter after you have converted it to a single speed, you will potentially be fitter, and you might even become a better rider.
There are four things you will need to convert your bike to a single speed:
1. A single speed spacer kit. There are many options available. Most spacer kits come with either a 14t or 16t cog, and in some cases, both. Its best to start with the 16t cog and go down from there, because if the 14t cog makes pedaling too difficult for you, you are going to get a new chain. Personally, I have used the Wheels Manufacturing Single Speed Spacer Kit with great results.
2. A chain tensioner. What this does is puts tension on the chain (duh). Basically, if you do not have a chain tensioner, the chain will skip all over the place and possibly dismount. You don’t want that, as this can be very frustrating. Simply put, if you don’t have a chain tensioner, your single speed conversion will not work properly. In my experience, the DMR Chain Tensioner works awesome.
3. A single speed cogset. Usually this will come with your single speed spacer kit. If the cog that comes with your spacer kit is too big or too small, these can be ordered separately.
4. Single speed crank bolts. An often overlooked item are the single speed crank bolts, which usually do not come with any of the conversion kits. The reason you may need to use single speed crank bolts is because if you want to go from a triple crankset to a single speed crankset, you might need “shorter” bolts, than the ones that come with your current configuration. What most people do is remove the outer and inner chainrings, and use the one in the middle for their single speed set up.
Sometimes, you can get an all in one single speed conversion kit that includes a single speed spacer kit, single speed cogs, and a chain tensioner. Other times, you will need to purchase these items separately. Usually the bolts will need to be ordered separately.
The Following Items Are Optional
A single speed chain. You may or may not need a single speed chain. Sometimes your bike will work fine with the chain that came with your geared bike, others not so much.
A chain guide. Some people will purchase a chain guide for their single speed set up, while others will simply leave their front derailleur on and use that as their chain guide. A chain guide can improve the performance of your single speed mountain bike conversion, and will also save weight as it will allow you to remove your front shifter and your front derailleur.
A single speed crankset or chainring. Most of the time, your geared components will work just fine with your single speed conversion. That being said, for optimum performance, the more of your bike that is made up of a single speed specific components, the better it will perform.
A bicycle chain breaker. You can either break the chain yourself, or you can have a bike store do it. The latter of the two options will the the more expensive, and if you do purchase a chain breaker tool, you will be able to re-use it for any other bike projects you might have.