Posts Tagged ‘singlespeed’

EighthInch Scrambler Updates

September 17th, 2011 [print] No comments

I love my Scrambler V2, but as I’ve said in the past, the OEM paint job was pretty bad.  Even if it didn’t flake off in small pieces, the matte black still isn’t very attractive.  So, I’ve begun the process of re-painting it.

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Since I no longer have the use of a media blaster, I went the chemical route and used paint stripper.  It’s incredibly nasty stuff, and burns like hell if you get it on you (trust me), but it does the job incredibly fast.  Tip:  forgo the "environmentally safe" crap, which states that it may take up to 24 hours to work (and then never actually does), and get the hardcore stuff, instead.  Literally as I was painting this stuff on, I could already hear the paint bubbling up.  Scraping it off was then effortless.

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Beautiful, raw steel…

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Of course, stripping paint is the easy part; the hard part is re-painting.  At this point, I have it primered, and have spent quite a few hours wet sanding (and then re-priming spots I messed up, and sanding them again).

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I started out with 400-grit to take the roughness off the surface of the primer, then finished up with 800-grit, to get it as smooth as possible.  I’m going with a high-gloss finish, and don’t want any rough spots under the paint.

Speaking of paint, it took a long time to settle on colors, since I like so many different things.  In the end, though, I decided to somewhat mimic the well-known Ritte paint scheme, for a couple of reasons:  I like it; and it matches the Scrambler V3 sticker pack that EighthInch sent me.

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I was able to use FixieStudio and Photoshop to mock up something pretty similar to the finished product, to get an idea of how I wanted to do the colors.  It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough to give you an idea of what I’m shooting for.

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Because I already have black carbon fiber cranks, stem and fork (more on the fork in a minute), I wanted them to blend into the rest of the paint job.  That meant I couldn’t go with some other colors that I like even more, because they’d look better with polished components.  My seatpost is also carbon, but it’s going to be painted to match the blue on the frame.  The same goes for the seatpost clamp.

However, I’m not done desecrating the brand name of the bike just yet.  The name EighthInch is based on the classic chain size, which is still used on most fixed gear and singlespeed bikes.  About a year ago, I did the unthinkable and put a 3/32" chain on the bike, forever destroying its good name.  But it’ll soon get much worse… not only will it not be an 1/8", it won’t even be a singlespeed.

Back in 2008, a member of posted about a bike he’d just built around a Paul Components Melvin chain tensioner.  Basically, he wanted the simplicity of a singlespeed mountain bike, but with the option of an extra climbing gear.  With a 1-speed drivetrain, you have to find a balance between a gear that doesn’t result in you having to coast all over the place, but which will allow you to climb hills with some bit of ease.  On a road bike, it’s difficult enough, but due to off-road terrain being so completely random, it’s even harder to figure out a good ratio.  By using the Melvin in place of a typical chain tensioner, he’s able to have dual chainrings, while running only one cog.  That means you can go with whatever chainring feels best for the flats and downhills, but still have an awesome climbing gear when you need it.  The bike remains lighter and simpler than one with full gearing, without losing most of the simplicity of a singlespeed.

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I’ve always thought it was an awesome idea, but my frame posed a problem:  there’s no place to hang a rear derailer or tensioner.  That is, until I discovered these DMR chain tugs with a derailer hanger built in:

DMR chain tugs w/ derailer hanger

I already wanted a set of chain tugs to being with, and now I’ll have the ability to add a Melvin (or derailer) to my frame without having to find somebody to weld a hanger on.  This opened up the possibility to adding a second chainring, but I still had an issue with clearance for a small ring on a frame that’s designed for only one.  Since I’ve already been using a double crankset with the small ring removed, I simply bolted the 39T back on and did a test fit.  There’s not a huge amount of clearance, but there’s certainly enough that it will work.  In the process, I also made sure my 3/32" freewheel works with a 10sp chain, so I don’t run into any issues there.

Other upgrades include a front derailer, obviously, as well as a set of drop bars and brake levers (the left lever will also be a shifter for the front derailer).  I also bought a new fork with clearance for 32c tires–which also fit the frame; I checked–and some medium-reach brakes to clear the larger tires.  Once I’m finished, the bike will primarily be a rail-trail bike, but the smaller chainring will assure I can take it for some light singletrack riding should the opportunity present itself.  It’s also a 30-minute swap of parts to get the bike set up back how it used to be: a SS roadie on skinny tires, or even a fixed-gear track bike.

But that’s not all...  White Industries makes a dual-cog freewheel, called the DOS ENO, with 16 & 18 tooth cogs on it.  I’m playing with the idea of adding a shirt cage derailer and Shimano downtube friction shifter, which could give the bike 4 speeds.  I don’t know how well that’d work, nor do I know if I want to go through the extra hassle, but it’s certainly a possibility.  It’d also give the bike an extremely unique drivetrain.

More photos later as the project rolls on…


I was looking around today, and found this other bike that’s set up how I plan to do mine.  The owner is lucky to have a derailer hanger on his frame to make things easier, but otherwise this gives a really good idea of how mine should end up if I just go 2×1.

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ACS Claws Double Preview

March 12th, 2011 [print] No comments

Riding a singlespeed has its advantages–simplicity, silence and lack of weight, for starters–but it also has one glaring disadvantage:  you can’t shift gears.

Ever since I put my new crankset on, I’ve gone back and forth between a 16T and 17T freewheel.  The 17T gets around my hilly town pretty well, but the 16T gives me much better speed down hills.  Because of the latter, I’ve been riding it more often than the 17T.

(my bike with 53/16 gearing)
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Yesterday’s ride was a little rough, with the wind being more of a pain in the ass than usual.  Still, I dealt with it for a 30mi ride.  Today, however, it was worse:  20mph sustained speeds, with gusts well above that.  To make matters worse, it seemed to change direction every time I did, so I never got a break from it.  It got to the point, about midway through the ride, where I was no longer enjoying the fight, and wished for easier gearing.

When I got home, I decided it was time to try out my new ACS Claws Double freewheel.  It’s basically just like any other freewheel, except it has two sets of teeth on it:  16T and 17T.  You pick which one you want to go with, re-adjust the rear wheel, and you’re off.

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Weighing in at 194 grams, it’s only 56g heavier than my 16T, and about 30g more than my 17T.  In other words, it’s not enough to notice.  However, one thing I will notice is the louder ratcheting mechanism, since it’s about twice as loud as either of my two Dicta freewheels.  Fortunately for me, it uses the same removal tool as the Dictas, so I didn’t have to buy an extra one specifically for it.

Installation is a breeze; just add some Polylube to the threads, start it by hand, and finish of tightening with the adapter.  After a couple blocks of pedaling, it’ll tighten itself completely.

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Since I swapped to a 3/32" chain months ago, there are no clearance issues between the teeth, but I’m not sure if you’d be as lucky using an 1/8" chain (if anyone knows, please leave a comment).  I’ll spend the next few months adding miles to the freewheel, probably going 50-50 between the two cogs, depending on wind, muscle soreness, and how many hills I have to climb.  At the end of the season, I’ll report back with a follow-up review.

More pics:

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By the way, these freewheels can be a bit hard to find.  You best option is to check eBay or do a Google search.

Also, White Industries offers two different types of doubles, in 16/18 and 17/19.  They’re definitely higher quality, and have a wider difference between ratios.  However, they will run you anywhere from $80 to $120, whereas the ACS can be found for under $20.

WANT: Montague Boston Singlespeed

August 21st, 2010 [print] 2 comments

This Montague Boston singlespeed belongs to a guy named Mark Scott, who decided he couldn’t leave his bike in stock form.  Normally, I wouldn’t give a folding bike a second thought, but Montague seems to know how to do it right, and this particular modified version looks good enough to use as a primary ride.

I may have to look into getting one for myself someday, for use as a travel bike (sure beats shipping it or paying $100 or more to take it on a plane).  Now that I know they can be modified to look pretty sweet, and they fall into a reasonable weight category (24lbs stock), it’s definitely on my list.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get one under 20lbs.

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More info on Mark’s bike can be found here, and Montague says the quick-release skewer can be replaced with a lower-profile bolt-on, for those of us who wouldn’t want that metal handle so close to our junk.

EighthInch Butcher Frame

August 16th, 2010 [print] 1 comment

Awhile back, EighthInch mentioned they were working on a cyclocross frame for this year.  Well, today they’ve released a sneak preview of their new Butcher freestyle frame, but is this the cyclocross frame they had talked about before?

Sidenote:  "sneak peak" apparently means releasing specs and nearly a dozen HQ photos of the frame.  They seem to have a lot to learn from the auto industry.

Anywho, here’s some info on the frame:

– Sizing: 50, 53, 56, 59cm
– Double Butted 4130 Chromo
– 45/45 Integrated Headset
– Mid Bottom Bracket
– Removable 990 Brake Mounts
– Removable Cable Mounts
– 700×45 Tire Clearance (maybe more)
– Bar Spin Clearance In All Sizes
– Includes Mid-BB and Integrated Headeset

Oh, and here’s a profile photo:

EighthInch Butcher - Click for larger image

Now, tell me that doesn’t look like a singlespeed cyclocross frame to you.  If that’s the case, it looks like an excellent frame, although I’m not sure I’m too happy about the mid bottom bracket (it uses press-fit bearings instead of a standard threaded bottom bracket).  The integrated headset is a nice touch, though, as are the butted tubes and extra gussets aft of the head tube.

If this isn’t the CC frame, then it’s at least a great platform for it.  I wouldn’t mind seeing disc brake braze-ons and a normal BB shell on that bike should it still be in the development phase, though.

For more info and pics, check out their blog:  Butcher Sneak Peak

EighthInch Scrambler V3

July 26th, 2010 [print] No comments

I’m really happy with my EighthInch Scrambler V2 road frame–great compliancy, stiff bottom bracket, strong, but on the heavy side–but now its replacement is coming (not for me; I plan to build my own frame eventually).  Today, EighthInch opened up pre-order sales for the new, improved Scrambler V3 frameset for $170.

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The new frame has laser-cut drop-outs, as opposed to the stamped ones on the V2.  It also comes with rear brake cable mounts, which the V2 lacks completely.  Instead of using typical braze-ons, though, they’re using the type you normally find on mountain bikes for attaching hydraulic brake lines (like this), that require full brake housings and a zip-tie.  Either system works fine, but I prefer the typical type of braze-on, where you don’t have to run full housings, and save a few grams of weight.  The upside to using full housings, though, is that your cables stay cleaner if you ride in wet conditions.

The V2 came in satin black or glossy white, but the V3 adds Raw to the color mix.  If you don’t drool at the sight of a raw steel frame (w/ clearcoat), then I pretty much don’t want to be your friend.  The downside is, clearcoat doesn’t stick to steel as well as primer and paint do, so you’ll have to keep an eye on it or risk eventual rust.

Check out the EighthInch blog for more info or to get a pre-order in:

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

July 7th, 2010 [print] No comments

I’m doing a fairly half-assed job of putting together a resource website dedicated to singlespeed bikes.  It’s mostly going to consist of bookmarked links that people may find helpful, and I doubt I’ll add much content, at least for the time being.


Categories: Miscellaneous Tags: ,

What’s Old Is New Again

July 4th, 2010 [print] No comments

This April, I took a trip to Manhattan to visit my older sister and brother-in-law, and since I’ve never been to NYC before, I shipped my road bike there ahead of me (suck it, airlines).  I pretty much had the best time of my life on a bike, partly because it was all new to me, and partly because Manhattan is such a great place to ride fast.

Darren bikes, too, so he mapped out a few long rides for us, one from Manhattan’s Upper-West side down to Coney Island in the bottom of Brooklyn.  On another trip, we headed over the George Washington bridge to New Jersey, then went South to Liberty Park so I could get my first close-up look at the Statue of Liberty.  On what was to be our final ride before I packed my bike and headed home, we once again went south, this time crossing the Williamsburg Bridge into Queens… at rush hour.  That rush hour part is actually what became the issue.

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3/32″ EighthInch

June 18th, 2010 [print] 1 comment

I’m not sure if this is technically legal, and it’s certainly not moral, but I kind of don’t give a crap:  I just replaced my 48T 1/8" chainring with a 50T 3/32", and slapped a 3/32" chain on it, too.  Yeah, I know, it’s called an EighthInch Scrambler for a reason (the old-school 1/8" chain, if you’re not paying attention), but you sometimes have to do what’s necessary.

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Categories: Cycling, Photos Tags: , , ,

EighthInch Scrambler V2 Review (preview)

October 6th, 2009 [print] 2 comments

I’ve spent the last 11 years riding a hardtail and/or rigid mountain bike on singletrack, rail-trails, roads, you name it.  It’s pretty much suited me fine, but the constant tire swap has always been annoying.  It seems no matter where I want to ride on any given day, I always have the wrong tires on my bike, so I have to spend 10-20 minutes swapping them and then re-calibrating my cyclo-computer before I can go ride.  Nowadays, I replace my large chainring with a BBG bashguard for trail riding, but put it back on for the road.  Along with it, I have to re-mount my front shifter and derailer.  Typically, spring and fall mean road or semi-slick tires, two chainrings and a front derailer, while the summer is spent on the trails running a 1×9 gear set-up.  As I said, this has been fine for quite a while, but I finally decided to try something new.

After putting way too much thought into the matter, I decided on a singlespeed road bike to get me through the colder months.  For one thing, having only one gear means I don’t have to screw around with shifters and derailers when they decide to act up.  It also means I’m forced to use muscle when I ride, as opposed to selecting a gear that’s easy to spin up a hill while I stay planted on my seat.  I have plenty of endurance, so I’ve chosen to focus on building muscle.


While browsing around eBay for parts (I planned to just piece a bike together with whatever worked) I stumbled across a posting by Cycling Closeouts, suppliers of the EighthInch Scrambler.  After a Google search, I discovered it’s actually a house brand of Wheel & Sprocket, a bike shop in Wisconsin.  Most of the parts are re-branded (or non-branded) OEM parts, but the frames are made specifically for them by an unknown (to me) Taiwanese frame supplier.  I spent about a week reading reviews online and scouring bike forums to see what other owners had to say about them, and the impression I got was mostly positive.  In fact, just about the only negative comments I found were from people who had never owned or ridden one.  That, plus the relatively low $600 starting point helped me make my decision…  well, at least my decision about which bike to buy; picking out colors and options turned out to be much more difficult.

So, let’s get this straight:  Wheel & Sprocket is the bike shop, Cycling Closeouts (.com) is the website, they go by Wheelandsprocket on eBay as a secondary way of selling online, and EighthInch is their brand name for their bike parts.  They also have a blog on WordPress, a Facebook fan page, a YouTube channel, and post regularly on Twitter.  It’s almost as though they want people to be able to find them anywhere.  I can’t find them on MySpace, though, which, in my opinion, is a good sign.

Okay, now on to the bike…

Unlike a lot of companies that let you choose a red bike with black stripes, or a black one with silver stripes, and nothing else, EighthInch gives buyers a huge say in what their bike looks like.  Most parts are anodized (or painted) aluminum, so letting you pick a gold stem, blue rims and a polished crankset doesn’t cost them any more than if you picked other colors.  The upside to this is, you get to order the bike with any color combo you can dream up; the downside is, you eventually have to make up your mind.  You can also select between three different types of handlebars–track, bullhorn or riser–crank arm length, freewheel and fixed cog sizes, and whether or not you want brakes (a no-cost option).  I think one way they keep prices so low is by not paying marketers to research what options buyers may want, and letting us pick them out for ourselves.  Novel concept.

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As you can see, I’m not very creative.  I went with all black, with white rims and tires, after seeing a Specialized Langster L.A.  I also ordered black cranks, but they called to inform me they were out of stock; I selected polished silver instead, and they look so good, I’m glad I didn’t get black afterall.  I also picked a white chain, knowing I would swap it with a black one (they don’t offer black for some reason), and bullhorn handlebars, because they give me similar hand positions to a flat MTB bar with bar-ends, like I’m used to.  Oh, and I picked a carbon fiber fork in place of the normal steel one (more on that later).

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