Hicks

Singlespeed Steed

Riding a singlespeed can help bring back the unfettered joy you experienced riding your bike as a child. You don’t realize how much mental energy you devote to shifting until you relinquish your derailers, and discover that a whole corner of your brain that was formerly wondering when to shift is now free to enjoy your surroundings and sensations.

Sheldon Brown

After buying a new road bike last summer, I was pondering what to do with the now-redundant Peugeot. I really fancied a retro/modern project bike to work on, and after seeing pictures of a Charge Plug (below – a bike with exactly the aesthetics I was after) I set about converting the Peugeot to a Plug-style singlespeed to use on the commute to the office.


The Charge Plug

The first stage was quite cathartic – remove all the surplus components from the bike, stripping it back to just what it needed. Off came the front and rear derailleur, cogs, large chainring, bottle cage and brake levers/shifters. Once the relevant cables were cut, this was all very straightforward.

I loved the process of sourcing parts and learning how to put them together myself. From the original Peugeot, I kept the frame, cranks, calipers and seatpost along with pedals I’d bought for my Globe Daily (now sold to a new owner). Then off ebay I got the following:

  • ‘New’ Rigida wheels: These weren’t necessary, but I liked the style of the deeper rims, and silver colour, as opposed to the skinny black ones that came with the Peugeot originally. They were also a complete bargain at £30!
  • Charge Spoon saddle: My favourite bottom perch
  • Charge Slice Bullhorn Bars: Bullhorns give more hand positions than a standard flat bar, and the extensions are great for extra leverage when you need more power going up hill. Its great to ride. They’re only £20 brand new anyway.
  • Chain tensioner: Because the length of the chain is restricted by the width of the links, you’ll most likely end up with a bit of slack. ‘Proper’ singlespeed/track/internal hub frames have horizontal dropouts at the rear, so you can just adjust the position in the dropout to take up the slack. However as I wanted to use my road bike frame, it has vertical dropouts, so I needed a chain tensioner. More on that later…
  • Velo Orange stem: Used, but was immaculate! Shinnnnyyyy!

And then the parts I had to buy new:

  • Short chainring bolts: The inner chainring needed remounting onto the front, with shorter bolts. A few pounds from Charlie the Bikemonger
  • The gaps left by the removed rear cogs was filled with nice polished alloy Hub Spacers from Velosolo.
  • 25mm Schwalbe Marathon tyres: I wanted slightly wider tyres, with more tread than my road bike, and found these with a reflective wall – ideal for commuting!
  • Cyclo cross style Tektro brake levers: These were a Christmas present :)
  • Fizik bar tape in brown to match the Charge spoon saddle

And here’s the end result:

The hardest parts of the process were getting the chainline dead straight (a lot of fiddling but got there in the end!), and setting up the chain tensioner correctly. I tried all sorts of fettling with it, but it was always too noisy once engaged with the chain. The chainline was definitely straight, and ran smoothly without it (just a bit loosely) so in the end I got a Charge Masher ‘half-link’ chain which did away with the need for a tensioner altogether. No noise, the right tension, and no extra gubbins needed!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out! Its fun to ride and ideal for commuting, keeping my proper road bike (currently a Canyon Ultimate AL self-build) setup for my jaunts around the countryside.