Unlike single-speed bikes, geared road bikes are likely to suffer more wear and costly maintenance due to their many parts. So, converting them to single-speed makes sense. But you’ve to ask, ‘how do I convert my road bike to single speed?’
If your bike has a horizontal drop-out, shorten the chain, and remove the derailleur and its accompaniments. Then straighten out the chain, attach the rear wheel, pick a gear ratio, adjust the tear tension and lastly, tighten the axle nut.
I’ll explain all these steps under the general guide. However, the guide is for those who are not ready to spend money on a conversion kit.
So, the second method that’ll share is using a single-speed conversion kit.
Let’s get into it!
How Do I Convert My Road Bike To Single Speed? (8 Steps!)
Essentially, there are two ways you can convert your road bike to single-speed, and they include:
Option 1 – Single Speed Bike Conversion On A Budget
If you don’t have the money to spend on a single-speed kit (which is option 2), you can still convert your road bike on a budget.
I should mention, however, that even though you’ll be saving money, this option is a lot of work than using a conversion kit.
Now, here’s how to convert your road bike to single-speed on a budget:
Step 1 – Confirm That Your Bike Has A Horizontal Drop-Out
Usually, it’s easier to convert any bike into single-speed if it has a horizontal drop-out. The drop-out allows you to place the wheel in different positions.
Horizontal drop-outs are generally essential for bikes with no derailleurs.
Since you’ll be removing the derailleur in step 3, the horizontal drop-out should be there for you to do the conversion.
But if what you’ve is the vertical drop-out, get a chain tensioner to hold the wheel from moving about.
Step 2 – Shorten The Chain
Now that you are converting an old road bike to single speed, your chain is likely to be longer.
So, shorten it, and you can do that with chain pliers like the Oumers Bike Chain Pliers or any other pliers or chain tool.
Step 3 – Remove The Clutter Plus Rear Wheel
Now, remove the derailleur and things like shifters and cables as you don’t need them when switching to single-speed.
Remember also to remove the rear wheel and put it aside.
Step 4 – Straighten Out The Chain
At this point, the chances are that your chain has a few bends that may cause it to skip when cycling. So, straighten it out, and you can use a chain plier or any other chain tool to do it.
Step 5 – Pick Your Gear Ratio
Here, determine which sprocket lines up best with the chain wheel and then pick your preferred gear ratio.
Most people who convert old road bike to single speed go for a 2:1 gear ratio. So, consider it to be safe.
In such a case, the front chainring has twice the number of teeth of the rear chainring.
Step 7 – Adjust Your Chain Tension
Even after shortening the chain, it’s still likely to be loose.
Adjust its tension, and you don’t have to use a chain tensioner here. Just move the back wheel further back to tighten the chain.
You can try to run it. If it’s loose, it will buzz up, but if it’s short, it’ll bind.
Step 8 – Tighten The Axle Bolt
Once you attain the correct chain tension, tighten up the bike’s axle nut using a wrench.
Lastly, jump on the bike to take it for a spin test.
That’s how to convert a road bike into single speed. Congratulation!
Option 2 – Use A Single Speed Conversion Kit
Essentially, this is the simplest way to convert your road bike into single-speed since you don’t have to do a lot.
Prepare, however, to spend about $20-$50 on a single-speed conversion kit.
While you can get any single-speed conversion kit, it must be compatible. And once you get your conversion kit, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fit it.
Note that the kit comes with a sprocket, lockring, and spacers to make the installation seamless. The sprocket and the spacers are usually held on the bike’s freehub by the lockring.
So, you’ll require a lockring tool to tighten the lockring and hold the sprocket and spacers in place.
If you are looking for a conversion kit compatible with a 7-11 speed SRAM or Shimano hub, get the CyclingDeal Conversion Kit Single-Speed Compatible.
This conversion kit doesn’t just convert a road bike to single speed but an MTB too.
The good thing about this conversion kit is that you can use your original bike chain
The kit comes with single set spacers, sprocket, and lockring as expected.
Why Convert Your Road Bike to Single Speed?
You must agree that multi-geared bikes are efficient since they allow you to pick a gear ratio to go at a maximum speed and cover more ground.
You must also agree that multi-geared drivetrains make hill climbing more seamless as you can shift quickly, depending on terrain.
Here’s the flip side;
Even though a multi-geared bike offers you speed and climbing power, there are a few what-ifs.
For example, what if the bike was more mechanically efficient to allow you to pedal more but still go faster?
What if you could ride seamlessly on flatter roads?
And what if the drivetrain was easy to maintain and didn’t have to wear faster?
Well, a road bike to single speed conversion answers all those what-ifs.
A single-speed bike is extra mechanically efficient as it allows you to pedal more and go reasonably fast on flatter terrains.
A single-speed also has a simple drivetrain and fewer mechanical parts that make its maintenance cheaper.
What’s more, the simplicity of the design also makes the bike easier to ride on flatter and gentler terrains.
So, if you are interested in simplifying your bike and gain more pedaling leverage, convert road bike into single speed.
1. Can You Convert Any Bike to Single Speed?
Provided the bike has a horizontal drop-out for wheel positioning and is compatible with the single-speed conversion kit of your choosing, you can convert it into single-speed.
If it has a vertical drop-out, then you should fit a chain tensioner first.
2. What Is a Single Speed Bike Good For?
Single-speed bikes are best for commuting, especially on urban roads, cruising around town, and running errands on smoother and plainer terrains.
3. How Much Does A Single-Speed Bike Conversion Cost?
A single-speed conversion kit costs about $20-$50. If you factor in labor, you’ll pay about $40 to $50 extra. So, going DIY is recommendable as it saves you money.
4. Can Single Speed Bikes Go Uphill?
Lack of gears means single-speed bikes are not the best for cycling uphill. They are much more suited to flatter and smoother terrains.
However, on smoother terrains, single-speed bikes can be just as efficient and fast as their geared counterparts.
5. Is A Single Bike Good For Long Distance?
Single-speed bikes are not the best for long-distance given that there is no shifting. The absence of gears makes it hard to attain optimal cadence when riding a single-speed bike.
But still, if you have the leg power and pick a gentler terrain, you can ride long distances.
6. Do You Need A Chain Tensioner For Single Speed?
If your bike frame only has a horizontal drop-out, you don’t need a chain tensioner for a single speed. But if it’s vertical, then a chain tensioner is essential for holding the wheel from moving about.
7. Is A Single Speed Faster Than Geared?
A single-speed bike depends on your pedaling power. The faster you pedal, the likelier it is for the bike to go faster.
In contrast, geared bikes save you from putting too much effort into pedaling. Additionally, they allow you to shift more seamlessly. As a result, you are likelier to go faster on a geared bike than a single-speed.
8. Are Single Speed Bikes More Efficient?
Single-speed bikes don’t have a lot of mechanical parts, and they lack gears. As a result, they are extra mechanically efficient than geared bikes.
You, however, have to push yourself harder to generate more leg power, necessary for efficiently riding a single-speed bike.
9. Are Single Speed Bikes Bad For Your Knees?
Single-speed bikes require you to pedal a lot, unlike geared bikes. So, you invest a lot of your foot power to move the bike. Without the correct technique, you could stretch the knees and hurt them.
10. Is A Single Speed Bike Hard To Ride?
On flatter and smoother roads, single-speed bikes are easier to ride. But since there is no shifting due to the absence of multi-gears, single-speed bikes are harder to ride uphill and off-road.
Closing Thought: How Do I Convert My Road Bike To Single Speed?
Generally, the easiest way to convert your geared road bike to single-speed is using a single-speed conversion kit that you can buy from any bike repair shop or online.
But still, you can do it on a budget using the DIY guide I’ve shared above.