Thursday, March 18, 2010

Singlespeed parts swap...change for the better?

So I've been running my singlespeed as a 69'er, at least until the start of this past winter. I liked the big wheel up front helping me roll over things but with the the suspension corrected Surly fork and the 29" wheel just raked out the bike too much and handling suffered. I decided that I would bring it back to a 26" SS but try and make it better. I can still use the 29" wheel with the suspension corrected 26" fork if I want and may still do so. We'll see how things go.

First I got rid of the old wheelset. It was cheap and the front hub was wasted. I pulled an old set off my geared winter beater to use. The rear hub was also wasted so I had a Surly SS hub laced up to it with DT Swiss spokes (Thanks CK Cycles!). The rims are Mavic 221's and are light as hell. I have had good luck with these hoops and I think they will serve me well. I had a 17T cog on the back but it was killing my fucking knees, especially this early in the season. I swapped it for a 20T which feels just right.

For the front chainring I have a 34T SS chainring. Both this and the chain are showing signs of wear so I will be swapping them out for newer ones. Hopefully this will take care of the knocking/ticking noise I hear when I put the hammer down. I also removed the bash guard. One because I want to go with the minimalist approach and two I am selling the crankset the bash guard belongs to. The minimalist approach sounds more like I have some intentions so I am going to stick with that. I found some small Aluminum spacers that work perfectly.

One of the big problems I was experiencing was the harshness of riding a rigid Aluminum singlespeed. I had a set of 26 x 2.1 Kenda Kharisma II's on there last year and they worked really well but I had to pump them up to 40psi so I wouldn't pinchflat. Probably something to do with the 200lbs rider but I digress, let's stay focused on the bike. I swapped the 2.1's for a set of 2.3 Kenda Nevegals. Looks like this is the fattest tire, besides the one around my waist, I can fit on my frame. These tires are the dual tread compound so they're not super slow and roll fairly well. They really do a much better job of taking the edge off a rough trail. My wrists and knees told me so. I can also run lower pressure in these, right now they are at 30psi.

Rider position has always been important to me. How this bike handles when climbing is a big deal when you only have one gear. I've been playing with a few different stems to see what works and what doesn't. The shorter stem definitely makes more precise handling on tight trails and makes it easier to lift the front end but can lead to the front wheel coming up on tough climbs. Right now I have 90mm Bontrager stem and it feels fine, plenty stiff and responds well to rider input. It does tend to dance on the tough climbs so I am going to have to lower it or switch to a longer stem. I have a 100mm x 0 degree and a 105mm by 10 degree. Not sure which one to use yet but I don;t think I want to go longer than 105. Just a word to the wise, always leave a little extra when cutting your steerer tube. You can always cut it more if you find you don't need it but you can never add it back.

So far I like the changes that I've made. They all seem to improve on the ride with the exception of the stem maybe. One thing I don't like is the Bushnell eccentric I purchased last year to replace the one piece Aluminum eccentric that came with the frame. I cannot get the EBB to stop slipping. I followed the directions to a T and I made sure to measure the BB housing to be sure it was within spec to work with this EBB. I'll be removing it and sending it back to Bushnell and see what they say. I have to replace the BB anyway so I will do them both together. Anyway, looking forward to dryer trails and more sunlight afterwork to see how this newer version performs over the old.