Why Single-speed Mountain Bikes are Crazy Fun – Build & Ride

Why Single-speed Mountain Bikes are Crazy Fun – Build & Ride


On the metaphorical bike selection screen,
I never seem to choose my old hardtail anymore. Don’t get me wrong, my Sync’r Pro is quite
capable, it has good parts on it, and it fits my riding style perfectly. It’s just overshadowed now by fancier, higher
end bikes. It’s time for a change. Today, I’m going to reconfigure my sync’r
with different parts and radical changes that emphasize fun, and bad ideas. I want to ride this bike in jeans and a hoodie,
with no particular place to go. So I polled my YouTube audience about making
the Sync’r a single speed, and less than a third of respondents thought that was a
good idea. That confirmed that this was in fact, a terrible
idea. So I proceeded to remove my drivetrain and
set up a wheel for single speed. I removed the 11 speed cassette from this
Raceface wheel, and used this conversion kit to install a 16 tooth cog. For a rear tire I used this fast rolling WTB
trail boss, which was all I could find on Christmas eve. It wasn’t my first choice, but it ended
up working out. With a Maxxis Minion DHF up front, I’d have
the best of both worlds. There was only one problem—the rear wheel
was the wrong width. So, the Sync’r would be getting this carbon
wheelset instead—I’m fine with that. Switching the tire over wasn’t messy in
the least. To convert any bike to singlespeed you need
a way of putting tension on the chain to keep it from popping off. I ordered this bottom bracket mounted mounted
chain tensioner for this very purpose. It was the wrong size. On Sunday, on Christmas eve. In an act of desperation I tried to get the
tension right without it. I call this a unicorn gear, and I didn’t
do it intentionally. The spacing and cog sizes just worked out
perfectly with no tensioner at all. This almost never happens, and so I knew it
was meant to be. Look at how pure and simple it looks without
a chain tensioner! Time to throw a 150mm fork on this beast. That would make the geometry even slacker,
and more aggressive. I also installed these Box carbon handlebars,
and some other goodies. Just a few finishing touches, and my belligerent
hardtail was ready to do its dirt. Time for a weigh in. 25.5 pounds, or 11.5 kilograms. Not bad for a nearly indestructible bike. Except that most mishaps occur on the work
stand. I had overtightened a brake lever and put
a pretty big dent in my carbon bar, and had to replace it. Bummer. I should have used a torque wrench, but I
was excited. Feast your eyes on what is, for now, my new
favorite bike. I named it the murder machine because it looks
evil and brooding. Against the advice of my instagram followers
I left the dropper post on it. It just fits so perfectly and doesn’t add
that much complexity. This is my bike and I’m doing things my
way. How do you know someone rides singlespeed? Oh they’ll tell you. Singlespeeders are a passionate bunch, but
even they have trouble explaining why you would choose to eliminate all but one gear. But on a singlespeed you never need to worry
about being in the right gear—because you’re never in the right gear. Suck it up though and you can still climb
just about anything. Well maybe you can, not me. I guess that’s what getting stronger is
for. And hiking, there’s always hiking. Okay so the Murder Machine is not the best
for climbing, but I like this gear ratio because it allows me to sprint predictably without
getting caught in too low a gear. Let me demonstrate. With a smaller rear tire, a carbon rim, and
most notably the loss of the cassette, the rear feels noticeably easier to throw around. And how a bike feels can have a profound influence
on how you ride it. It can also influence where you ride it. Another lesser known benefit of single speed
is the ability to ride backwards without the risk of the drivetrain binding up—for what
it’s worth. Could I do most of these things on an 11 speed? Of course! But there’s always a chance of busting a
derailleur hanger. Having fewer gears, less chain, less on your
bars, less on your mind, and less to break, can have a big effect on your mentality. I’m well aware that these changes can make
a bike less capable, but I don’t care. It’s fun. So why are single speeders so passionate? You may never know until you get on one. All I know is that I can’t stop riding the
murder machine. It makes me feel like a kid again without
a worry in the world. If I could only have one bike it would most
definitely not be this one. It would be my 11 speed full suspension trail
bike. But while that bike is great for almost everything,
the Murder Machine fills a long standing void in my stable. It’s for days when I’m trying something
new, learning, or just acting on bad ideas. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of it. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Is it a dirt jumper? Err not exactly. A DJ would have 26” wheels, slightly different geometry, slotted dropouts, and a shorter, stiffer fork. To me, this is more versatile than a DJ—and with all the great parts!

  2. I just love this video. After 5 years off of MTB because of this video tomorow I m gonna buy one so I can enjoy riding mountain bikes again! Thanks Seth love this channel!

  3. Me and my brother rode single speed bikes throughout our childhoods (is that a word?). We never noticed the lack of gears. I recently found a surface rusted frame a neighbor was throwing away, and I took it home. The frame is absolutely bare, no handle bars, no crank, no seat, no wheels nothing, so I'm going to build it as a single speed and leave the surface rust on it. It's gonna look great.

  4. I got a a temporary bike from Walmart and 2 months after that I broke my wrist hitting to sharp of a turn , when I came back to the bike after 3 months I realized that the gears weren’t changing back nor the the front , I was only 15 at the time so I only had a. Reach to certain tools so I looked up how to fix the gears and tried fixing it, I didn’t fix the gears from shifting up and down but I could now peddle the bike kind of being like a single speed , licky enough the gears ended up right in the middle where it wasn’t too lose nor too tense and I had a blast with the bike, I really do recommend it , I actually ended up not getting the bike I was actually having so much on that one it was very sturdy for what it was and lasted me 2 1/2 years , it was a “Hyper HPRS”

  5. Hey Seth, imagine something between this, and your eleven speed. 130/100 travel full sus, 1×4 speed, 26” rear wheel, and 27.5” front wheel. It could go from bmx, to dirt jumps, to xc, to flow trails, to enduro, all in one day

  6. I always ran single speed. For multiple reasons. 1. I mostly rode park and DJ so really not much need for gears. 2. If I was riding trails, I sucked at climbs anyways so I was hiking a lot anyways. Downhill it didnt matter. 3. I was cheap, single speed was cheaper and easier then dealing with cheap gears, or spending the money on good ones. lol

  7. Seth's BMX background is slipping through his love of mountain bikes. Next thing you know his MTB will be brakeless with just a plastic slammed seat and the suspension turned off…

  8. Because it is light without that complex many things and with the lighter modern carbon wheel, you feel like flying in the sky first after changing. Only known to the experienced one including me. When you climb with your foot, you can train your leg muscle with balance than bike climbing. And the time difference between foot and bike climbing is not a big issue cause all are slow.

  9. Hey Seth, I have got a old giant stp 0 (2016) and i want to make it single speed. i don’t really want a tensioner because like you said it looks weird and i agree. It has vertical dropouts so i’m pretty sure i need one 😕. Do you know if there is a way to do it so i can or do i just go with it.

  10. Siiiick ride! I only know single speed road bikes, but I can relate: they are light, simple and uncompromising which makes for massive fun.

    On another note: A friend of mine wants to start doing street again. He has an history in BMX and wanted to try a trails bike. I consider proposing to go single speed MTB, what do you guys think?

  11. I have a 26 inch mongoose am in love with I am about to turn it into a single speed my self frame light fast up hills and but the gearing on sux badley hangs up all the time

  12. Possibly dumb question, but when you convert a bike to a single speed can you choose what "gear" the bike is permanently in? Does it always feel like a lower gear or higher gear or something in the middle?

  13. My daughter's bike has more gears than mine now. She's 5 and I rebuilt her rear wheel with a 3 speed hub gear. I went the opposite and decided to ditch the 1×10 and singlespeed my DMR Bolt. I love it. It has bmx style dropouts and the rear suspension cleverly pivots on the bottom bracket.

  14. Bike in a skatepark! Be careful! Do tosser, sorry, I meant thrasher magazine still have their "BMX jihad" going on?

  15. I swapped to singespeed because the derailleur hanger snapped all the time on a bunnyhop, me and my friend milled a aluminium derailleur hanger and the derailleurs broke instead, so i swapped to singlespeed. I dont regret a single bit, and on my old 24’ bike with a dirt jump frame with a dropout. I swapped that to singlespeed and made a few more details to a dirt jumper. Its now brakeless but i’ll get something going for it to have rear brakes and barspinnable

  16. A buddy of mine had done this long time ago. We both do odd custom bikes. I rebuilt this old gravity radar BMX given to me. Missing a lot of parts. Now it's a beach cruiser with a banana seat, sissy bar and ape hangers. I'm in love with it. And there's more I am going to fix up. My bikes turn heads for sure but Lethbridge Alberta is BAD for bike theivery. They will literally mug you and take your bike ☹️

  17. Hey Seth, listen I’ve got a Kona dirt jumper single speed with 150mm of travel for the front suspension, would it be a good choice putting a cassette and derailurs on it as I’m starting trail riding in a week and I’m trying to find out which one is best for comfort but also speed and control.

  18. I'm 245lbs I'd struggle, but I love simplicity, and it's lighter, gravity ss on bikes direct is $199, get it in 27.5.

  19. Dude, I watched this video when it came out and 8 months ago I converted to singlespeed on my 29" 2018 rockhopper, 36/14 is the gear.

    At first it takes a while to get used to and when I have wind against me it' horrible. But all the other aspects made it worth it. Almost no maintenance (only cleaning and lubing), no noise, and the best thing ever.

    ULTIMATE RELIABILITY. If the chain is tigth enough, the wheels are pumped up and you have at least one brake, you can absolutely ride wherever you want to go.

  20. Kid at the skate park that just climb and run around makes me so mad it's why cant your parents bring you to a actual park not the damn skate park where people are trying to do stuff I got into a hugeeeeeee fight with a lady over this cause she thought it was totally cool to bring her 25 kids to the skate park to play parkor or how ever it's spelled pissed me off so much and most of the other skaters there

  21. I ride a fat bike and I barely never use more than one gear. Strength and weight replace the most uses of gears. The more you ride using only one gear, the more you get used to it, to the point gears are more of a nuisance than a benefit. Another thing I learned from leaving my gearshift as a cosmetic item only is pacing. Applying the correct amount of strength at the right pace is better for climbing than changing gears.

  22. "you never have to worry about being in the right gear- cuz youre never in the right gear!" hahahahaha i ride the crap out of my Specialized P3 DJ bike!! single speeder!!

  23. That’s all we ever had as kids. Everything was fixed. Didn’t even have hand brakes. We all survived. Climbed crazy hillsides. Rode insane amount of miles daily looking for friends. Iconic and epic.

  24. I keep coming back to this video all the way from the future. I've got my old Giant Yukon that's going to get this treatment pretty soon.

  25. Seth: Asks his followers and subscribers what to do with his bike
    Also Seth: disregards and does the opposite of what they say

  26. *has higher end mtb*

    *also rides in jeans and hoodies almost exclusively*

    Apparently Im a bad boy in the mtb world 😎😎🤓🤓

  27. I made a single speed out of an old mountain bike. I cut off all the cables and brake levers, took off the bad grips and threw some nice odi grips, and now it’s like a bmx but perfect for dirt jumps. I love the single speeds they’re sickk

  28. heck yeah 😀 I´m a BMX rider so technically I`ve been riding single speed for the last 15 years now. Its a lot of fun and you have a more direct feeling with a single speeder

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