My last single speed mountain bike was a 2003 Bianchi SISS that my dad bought for me when I was 11 years old. This bike made it though hell and back and I’m proud to say I still own it, even though it’s just a frame hanging on the wall. The easiest way to get back into biking after nearly 15 years was to buy a complete bike. Which I did in December of 2015. But, the real fun is in building a bike. I used some new parts and some old parts and put together my very own bike. To save a ridiculous amount of money, I went single speed. Drivetrain group sets are over $200 for the lower end sets, and up to $1000 for something really decent. I put the bike together, got some cheap v-style brakes, used an old frame and fork, and got some cheap rims and tires from Amazon. We had bars, saddles, seat posts, and stems all laying around, so I took the best I could find. The bike was almost done, and I was excited to ride a single speed for the first time in many years.
The real problem occurred when I went to go put the chain on. I realized that I made a huge mistake. I had been trying to build a single speed bike on a frame with a vertical dropout. With a horizontal dropout, you can simply loosen the axle and pull the rear wheel back to make the chain taught. This is not the case with a vertical dropout. With a vertical dropout, there is a spot on the frame to mount the derailleur, so you need the wheel to be in a non-static position. This makes is impossible to achieve the proper chain tension for riding. Luckily, my dad had come across this problem before, possibly even with this same frame. He has a chain tensioner that mounted on where you put the derailleur. So, everything was fine and dandy, I mounted the chain tensioner, made some adjustments and it rode. Now that I had two bikes, my girlfriend (now my wife) took our daughter Avalee on a bike ride. We biked quite a long way actually. We biked and biked until something I should have known was going to happen, happened. The chain broke. The chain tensioner was kind of half-assed and didn’t provide enough tension. So, when my fat ass was really cranking on that bike, it didn’t disburse the pressure on the chain, and it was trapped on one side of the hub. So, I rode the bike scooter style for the next mile or two. The bike hasn’t been rode since that day in spring of 2016. Until yesterday.
I finally purchased a new chain tensioner. A Shimano Alfine Chain Tensioner. The Alfine seems to be working amazing. It looks and acts like a regular derailleur, with two pulley cogs instead of just one. The spring in this thing is no joke. I am very impressed with this product, and I’m glad I can ride my single speed again. I paired this with a SRAM Snap Lock chain. I’ve never used a snap lock chain until yesterday and I got to say, it’s pretty neat. I can’t say too much about it yet, as I haven’t rode a long distance or a challenging run yet. I hope to take it for a spin this weekend. So this is what the beauty look like. I think I may have made a slight mistake when installing it. My bike was on a bike stand at a slight angle, and I installed the alfine perfectly vertical. Then when I took the
bike off the stand, my perfect vertical was now pretty crooked. When I have some time, I may add a link to the chain to make that right.