The Singlespeed Project – New Life for the Trek

The Build Candidate: Trek 7.9fx

I really didn't think it would play out like this when I bought my custom Enigma Eulogy frameset earlier this year. The Cervélo SLC-SL and Trek 7.9fx had co-existed happily despite their obvious differences. I enjoyed alternating between them and didn't play favorites. The SLC-SL was surprisingly comfortable for a pure race bike and the Trek was light and fast for a hybrid.

The Enigma changed everything; the titanium and carbon Eulogy has been nothing short of a revelation since Mykle built it up for me with his typical meticulous skill. The Record drivetrain runs like a Swiss timepiece, the 32-spoke tied & soldered Pave wheels are bombproof and wherever I point the unique Deda Phazer bar the bike unerringly follows. Climbing or descending it has made me a better rider.

Even shod with Edge Composites' 38mm carbon clinchers the Cervélo seldom gets out the garage and the Trek has been relegated to rain bike status in a state were it seldom rains. I recognized I needed to do something or sell the other bikes and move on (it may yet come to that).

While I continue to ponder the long term future for the Cervélo I've decided to re-cast the Trek as a singlespeed in the hope I might ride it more. At 16.9 lbs with a CX2.0/AX3.0 Topolino wheelset, it stands to go sub 15lbs when it sheds the extra bits and pieces. On the chopping block both derailleurs, two chain rings (it runs a Shimano 105 triple), the 12-27 cassette, the shift cables, the Bontrager Satellite bar, Deore shifters and Ergon grips.

A Little Re-constructive Surgery

Replacements include a FSA K-Force Compact bar, Campagnolo Veloce brake levers, Shimano Alfine Chain Tensioner and TRP CR950 Canti brakes. I'm not sure about gearing at this point so I'm going to keep the 50-tooth outer ring on the 105 crankset and experiment. Chris King is sending along a 20-tooth cog which will give me a 2.5:1 ratio which might prove serviceable for my flat commute. If it suits me I may eventually buy a more appropriate singlespeed crankset. With a bit of luck I can pull this together before Christmas and get my fenders on in time for our two months of rain come the new year.

The latest news from Enigma is a singlespeed production model is due shortly. Oh, no!

16 Responses to The Singlespeed Project – New Life for the Trek

  1. erikv says:

    Where did you find the Veloce levers?

  2. Patrick says:

    Single Speeds and fixed gears are great, they teach you to get over a hill, they improve your spin, they’re efficient and easy to clean. However, only a fixed gear really does all of this, otherwise you’re just riding with one speed. Some unsolicited advice:

    I would not build up a trek hypbrid with different geometry from your other bikes as a single speed. I would also get a real single speed frame, one with horizontal dropouts.

    You’re riding over 5k miles a year. That’s some real riding. Getting on a bike with different geometry and different measurements could really hinder your muscles even if you’re already very limber. I would go to huge pains to ensure measurements are spot on and I suspect it’s not possible to get their with a hybrid. You might want to sell it and get something with horizontal dropouts and as close to possible geometry wise to your Enigma.

    I had an old landshark I turned over to a singlespeed and used the chain tensioner. It was a singlepseed and not a fixed gear, then I got a dale major taylor track bike and love it and can flip the wheels to single speed or fixed and it’s a huge difference.

    In New England we have four months of snow and sand on the roads. A fixed gear handles slightly better and it’s just easy to maintain so we do a lot of fixed gear riding.

    Just a thought. Good luck.

  3. erikv,

    Chicagoland Bikes (cbike.com). It’s the full lever with shifters. I may have my mechanical genius, Mykle Kong, remove the shifting mechanicals when we put this together. He’s skilled enough to rebuild them if I they are needed for another project later on. I wouldn’t know where to start.

  4. Great advice Patrick… so many options.

    We did some preliminary measuring and it should be possible to get the Trek in perfect sync with my current position on the two road bikes. We’ll be careful though. I definitely like the idea of a “proper” frame with horizontal dropouts, I just want to make sure I really like the experience before I commit to another frame. This may be a little ass backwards way of finding that out but the 7.9fx is such cool bike it’s a shame to waste it.

    With it’s internal cable routing and huge tire clearance I was thinking it might become a singlespeed cross bike eventually. Minus the bottle cages it would be easy to carry.

    It’s going to take a few more sessions at the track riding fixed for me to know if I like it, I’m still pretty awkward and can’t imagine riding one in traffic yet. A rear hub that can be flipped is a great idea.

  5. BR says:

    My view is that fixed gear is the way to go vs. single speed. I see riders on the road with single braked Pista’s which I personally would never ride 10′ on any road. Track bikes are just that – track bikes. My experience with track bikes is that they have super aggressive geometry, exaggerated fit combinations for max aero and power curves, shallow bars, etc. Reversed drop outs are intended to keep the rear wheel in the bike during repeated explosive accelerations. Same idea for legitimate time trial bikes (not TRI bikes).

    Road bikes converted to fixed gear training bikes allow the rider to have comfortable, useable, and familiar geometry for 2-3 hour fixed rides. We trained on fixed road bikes from Nov-Feb to keep our base mileage and develop a smooth pedaling rotations.

    Again, my personal opinion here and not intended to criticize any rider out there. Single speed bikes are for kids bikes with 16″ wheels, cruiser bikes with baskets and pin-striped wheels, <1 mile rides to fetch a yogurt or a newspaper, etc.

    Fixed gear road bikes should used for spinning and base mileage in reduced weather/daylight months.

    Track bikes on the road are for urban hipsters in search of chicks and I wish them well.

    Convert the TREK to a fixed gear (85-100 inch), slap a fender(s) on it, run 700×25-28-32′s for foul weather handling and go ride the hell out of it.

  6. OK now you’ve got me thinking Brendan. I wouldn’t mind going back to a single speed with a coaster brake. I loved that feeling and the skids were awesome.

  7. BR says:

    You are off of my Santa list if I see you with 8″ cuffed low rise jeans, a white rhinestone belt, cards in your spokes, and bright orange wheels. :-)

  8. Tim Cox says:

    >>cards in your spokes

    And why not – the cards make you go faster!

    Possibly my moment of maximum gullibility was when I was about 8 and was totally convinced that neighborhood friend Alexander Brandon’s card mechanism on his rear wheel enabled him to freewheel for longer than I could.

    I rode into the back of parked car while riding alongside him, trying to figure out how this ‘motor’ on his bike worked! Truly spectacular.

    tc

  9. John P. says:

    A lightweight single speed with coaster breaks and 27c Ruffy Tuffys would be great for tooling around and commuting with during the winter. I’m just not much of a track bike for the road guy myself.

    And yeah, the skids were AWESOME! back in the day, especially in town where the squealing tire scared dogs and old ladies.

  10. For all the skidding we did back then, I never remember replacing a tire on my bike.

  11. BC says:

    BR,

    You forgot to include us kids who work at Google. As you know, we have single speed bikes all over the place, with baskets and pin-striped wheels. Very handy for latte runs and making it on time to that Rock Band gig at the far end of campus.

    By the way, I saw the Felt Curbside at Full Cycle in Boulder over the holidays. Looks like a very nice fixie commuter. I’m very tempted…

  12. BR says:

    Hi BC – Yes that does prove my point. Cross campus jaunts for Gummy Bears and a mosh pit – I’m jealous. Every road rider should have a fixed road bike and take 2-3 hour rides with as few stoplights and steep hills as possible. Load the miles up and enjoy that new and improved pair of legs in Spring.

  13. P says:

    I converted my CX bike to a 1×9 and was surprised at how much weight I saved dropping the front derailler and left shifter. Try the Tektro aero brake lever. It has much the same geometry as Campy Ergo, is much lighter than a shifting Veloce lever, includes a Campy style brake release pin, and is reasonably priced, so you won’t feel bad if you end up going back to gears.

  14. GenghisKhan says:

    The SS Trek project sound fun–good luck wiht it!

  15. jerome says:

    What are you going to do with the old Satellite bars? I wouldn’t mind having them.