Friday, July 02, 2010

Unchained

If you've hung around here awhile, you probably have figured out that I like my single speeds. Road, gravel, and in the dirt, it's all good with one gear. Really! Ya ought ta try it some time. Anyway, this isn't about trying to convince you of that....

Nope! This is about something else having to do with single speeding, and that a very integral part of the single speed bike: The Chain.

The Single Speed Nation has a triumvirate of power. These are The Chain, The Crankset, and The Cog. The Three C's. You can not have single speeding without The Three C's. Well, you couldn't, that is, until some devious beings came up with a spawn of evil called The Belt.

The Belt has been lauded in certain circles as being The Savior of Single Speeding. It is not.  Believe me, it is a terrible lie.

They said the belt would rid us of the greasy chain. Hmm...........really? I never have had a problem with that part. Okay, they said The Belt would be quieter. Hmm............how can it be quieter than "quiet"? (And I've heard some pretty squeaky belts, by the way) Well, then they said The Belt was lighter, and "almost as efficient as The Chain. S'cuse me, but I'll take "heavier and more efficient" any day. They said The Belt was better than The Chain in bad conditions. Really? I've ridden a chain in horrible conditions, never had an issue. I've seen The Belt fail in dry dust, and I've seen The Belt fail in mud. Oh yeah, and when The Belt fails, you need an entire "The Belt" to fix it.  The Chain can be fixed easily, without breaking the frame, with a simple tool and a couple spare chain links, or "quick links". Simple.

And I won't even get into the "ratcheting" deal involving The Belt.

As far as I'm concerned, going "Unchained" is only good if you're a Van Halen fan. Otherwise, I'll take The Chain every time on my single speed, thank you very much.  (Best use of a flanger EVER! by the way)

Have a great 4th of July weekend and ride those bikes folks!

12 comments:

Captain Bob said...

Yeah, I always wondered what the pros and cons were on the belt vs chain. I've never ridden The Belt and I also don't have any desire to. It might be better, or not, but I don't think I will ever try. Hmm, it's interesting how so many people on forums use the phrase "How about a belt drive version" "Why don't they offer a belt drive version"...... To each their own I guess.

And thanks for the Van Halen Youtube link......I clicked it not knowing a song would start playing. Woke up the misses and got a dirty look. :-)

Guitar Ted said...

@Captain Bob: Ha! Yeah, that song starts out with a bang, doesn't it?

Have a great weekend!

George said...

Thank you for starting my day off right! I am now rocking out a huge Van Halen playlist on my ipod.
I also totally agree on the chain

Guitar Ted said...

@George: Your welcome. Rock and Ride!

Cornbread said...

Yeah, I hear ya GT. The single speeds (running chains) that I own are dead silent, work flawlessly in the mud, and if they were to ever break, would be a easy fix. The only practical application I foresee belt drives would be for commuters.

Ari said...

I imagine it must be a pain to change a flat on a belt system in the winter. I don't imagine liking a split frame. Certainly would be a concern riding in soupy gravel. A great 4th to all out there.
ari

SS:Mtn Biker said...

Never had a desire to trade in my chain on the old Monocog,always served me quite well,thankyouverymuch =)

Hope y'all have a great weekend/4th as well,GT my friend =). As for me,I'll be riding a new-to-me gravel grinder with DeadheadDave up in KY (no actual gravel on it...would that just be a fire-road? =P),then watching fireworks with the kids and the Lovely Mrs Tina. Ahh....good times indeed =D

Steve

Guitar Ted said...

Thanks everyone for the comments.

@Cornbread: Yeah, I agree 100%. It's totally going to appeal to those folks not using bikes now because of the chain/grease issue. Commuters will be okay with The Belt. I think it won't really take off until the tires are dialed for little chance of flats. Then it's game on!

@Ari: Yeah, I wouldn't want to have to deal with The Belt in cold temps either. Imagine dealing with the split frame in the field too. Nope! Not for me.

Steve: Yeah man, why mess with something so near to perfection. I see The Belt as something that is a compromise in too many areas.

Have a great 4th and be safe, ya'all!

Travel Gravel said...

GT, that throws me back to my earliest days of music, taping albums and programming off of the radio, onto my "ghetto blaster." I had taped a special presentation of the King Bisquit Flour Hour where the headline act was Van Halen. The show started with about a minute of extreme crowd frenzy, then the PA announcer says, "Ladies and Gentlemen...are you ready...VAN HALENNNNNNN" and Eddie starts that bass E string chugging, mayhem ensues, THE REST IS HISTORY! Thanks Dude! Later!

Bruther said...

dumb question I am sure but how hard is it to convert a 1988 Cannondale Mtn bike to a single speed? It was my first, i do not want to give up the sweet red and white oversized aluminum baby but I have sufficiently geared newer mtn bikes now and want to make use of it. My email is ruther@seialaw.com

Guitar Ted said...

@Bruther: I haven't seen that old of a Cannondale for a long time, so I am not sure, but if it has semi-horizontal drop outs, or horizontal drop outs, you will have an easier time of things. Those drop outs are longated so you can position the wheel in a couple different spots in the drop. This allows for tensioning a chain.

Otherwise, you may have to use a tensioning device, like a Surly Singulator, which replaces your derailleur and takes up whatever chain slack you have after choosing you rear cog and front chain ring.

You probably have a freewheel cog set out back, but that could be a cassette. Best to have a bike mechanic guide you through this that can see your rig, because several details may need to be handled differently than others. Like the cassette vs freewheel thing. That'll make a big difference in how you tackle this conversion.

Good luck!

Bruther said...

Thanks for the help. Amazingly GT despite abuse while living in Colorado and after moving back here for a while before I moved on to a Fisher Tassajara and now a carbon fiber Felt , the frame is intact with no cracks. After resurrecting the Cannondale into singlespeed I am thinking of turning my brothers old (circa 1974) Peugeot into a cross bike - now that is scary.