MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

BIANCHI SS - INTRO

FINDING THE BIANCHI SS

BUILDING THE BIANCHI SS

RIDING THE BIANCHI SS

 

BICYCLES OF JAPAN 

BUILDING THE BIANCHI SS

Given the opportunity to ponder the situation, one would have to wonder why anyone would take a bicycle, fitted with multiple gear choices, and famous because of it, then turn that bicycle into one sporting a single gear choice.  Why convert from Ten Speed to Single Speed?

Though I could never pretend to know the actual answer to that question, if there even is a single answer, for me the answer is simple.  Simplicity!

The Single Speed is about as simple a bicycle design as one can get.  Removing the need, or opportunity is perhaps better put, to shift gears is liberating.  Pedal, steer and brake.  No need to wonder what gear should be selected to go up, or down, the next hill.  About the one thing one has to decide to do on a bike, other than steer/stop is choose between gears.  That choice, for me, is invasive, when out just enjoying the ride.

There is also, in my mind, a safety related advantage to the Single Speed bicycle, particularly those converted from vintage road bicycles.  No down tube shifters!  No need to remove one's hands, from the bars, to reach down and wiggle a lever into the exact spot it should next be in.  No need to resist the urge to look very down with hopes of determining what cog the chain is engaging.

With the shift need eliminated, most bicycles become easier to use in tight situations, traffic being amongst the tightest.  For around town errand running, or even the daily commute, few bicycle designs can beat that of the Single Speed, for ease of use and practicality in most situations.

Building a Single Speed is not a difficult task to accomplish, most jobs being well with-in the capabilities of most would be bicycle mechanics.  With that in mind and having converted quite a few vintage road bicycle to SS design already, the conversion process is pretty straight forward, these days.

Remove those components that will not be used on the build.  This automatically includes the rear derailleur, front derailleur and shifters.  So too must the transmission cables and any cable guild brackets be removed.  The removed parts are best put away, and stored, in case you ever wish to return the bicycle to its original state.

Next to go will be the freewheel, being replaced with a much smaller, thinner and certainly lighter single cog freewheel, commonly used on most Single Speed conversions.  These single cog freewheels are available at most bicycle shops and for very little cash outlay.

I would recommend not going below a 16 tooth cog, and feel that eighteen would be a better choice for me these days.  The larger the rear cog, the easier the bicycle will be to pedal but the slower it will go, thanks to the gearing choice.  But the bigger cog will prove friendly to the rider's knees and should be considered when planning the build.

With the cog selection out of the way, the builder's attention need turn to the crank set.  A single speed or track crank set can be purchased for the build, but be prepared to pay lots for such an item.  With that in mind, why not simple take the time to convert the original crank set to single speed design?  It is easy to do, requires no special tools and, if you take the time to tidy up your work, looks just great.  Oh, it works just great, also.  Keep in mind that converting the crank set, or even just the rings, will make it impossible to use again if restoration ever becomes the build target.

Single Speed converted wheels are always an issue when converting from multiple to single gear design.  The multiple geared freewheel is considerably wider, or thicker is a better word, than is single cog cousin.  Because the single cog FW is thinner, the original hub must be re-spaced, to ensure that the cog is in-line with the drive ring on the crank set.

Of course, once the hub is spaced to accommodate the narrower freewheel, the rim will be sitting too close to the drive side of the bicycle.  And here-in lies the one task that will freak most would be Single Speed Converters out - wheel truing.

By loosening the drive side spokes and tightening the non-drive side up an equal amount, the rim will move back towards the center-line of the bicycle, where it should be.  The task is not all that difficult to accomplish, but wheel building/truing skills are a must.  This task can be contracted out to your local bicycle shop, if it appears to be too daunting.

Everything else on a Single Speed conversion is pretty straight forward.  Seat posts and saddles install the same.  Handlebars install the same.  Brakes are no different on a Single Speed than they were on the multi-geared bicycle.  So too are tires, bottom brackets, head sets and anything else one can think of.  The conversion applies to the crank set, freewheel and rear wheel, only.

NEXT - RIDING THE BIANCHI SINGLE SPEED

 

 

 

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