Giving my singlespeed some TLC

Having put my steel-frame singlespeed through a season of abuse, I have not really given it as much love as it deserves recently. Last week, one of the rear spokes snapped and I decided to use the opportunity to replace both wheels (both from a previous bike, with rusty spokes)

I have a spare front wheel I bought from Gumtree for 15 quid a while ago. It is laced to a Quando track hub but its 3/8 inch axle turned out to be too big for both my road bike and my singlespeed, so it has just been sitting in the corner gathering dust.

For the rear, I found an eBay shop selling a Raleigh Tru Build wheel (Omega rim) with an unbranded flipflop hub for just under 40 quid.

The rear wheel arrived yesterday and I could not wait to get my hands dirty. It involved two things I had never tried before:
  • filing the front (steel) dropouts to fit the 3/8 inch axle
  • removing the singlespeed freewheel from my old wheel do that I could install it on the new wheel

Filing the front dropouts

With a round metal file, I started filing the back (forward-facing) side of the dropouts. I was being very cautious at first, but I soon found out that I was not really taking any bit of metal off. With a bit more courage and a lot more patience, I finally managed to take off the 1mm needed to slot the front wheel in. Just remember to file each fork-end bit by but in turn to make sure that you don't accidentally take off too much on one side, and end up with a misaligned wheel!

Removing the freewheel

I borrowed the singlespeed freewheel removal tool from my friend. I have neither a vice or a workbench at home, so I had to resort to using a spanner. It turned out to be an absolute nightmare. Making sure that I got the direction right (anti-clockwise to undo), I kept whacking the spanner arm for 20 minutes until the freewheel came loose. Putting it on the new wheel was no problem, as the freewheel is meant to be self-fastening as you pedal.

I covered the spoke holes on both rims with Velox cloth tapes, and spaced out the rear hub with a couple of hardware-store washers on each side (being an old road frame, the rear end is 126mm wide, as opposed to 120mm). The chainline (pretty standard 42mm) ended up being pretty straight.

End result:

Note the use of washers as spacers

Again using washers as spacers

Perfect chainline!


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