Should I 96er my cheapo singlespeed project?



Some background. My only bike is a CX bike, used mainly for commuting, and I'm now trying to build up my 1st mtn bike (singlespeed) on the cheap. I am an entirely new trail rider. My base is a steel Nashbar frame I got on sale at $45. It's got both disc and v-brake mounts. This is all I've got so far; I don't have a parts bin of any kind, so all the components are going to be bought (used and new on sale) or scrounged.

My question is, if you were building up a SS bike from this frame, and trying to keep it under $400, would you give any thought to putting a 29" wheel up front? What are my options? The Zion forks look pretty nice at $65 at Jenson, but necessitates disc brakes, at least up front. Would a Kona Project 2 Cross fork work, and be burly enough? Is it even worth the hassle of 96'ing my bike, or should I just go 26" on this one, and then in a couple years do a full 29er if I stick with it and want to upgrade?

Any input is appreciated.

PS- I've actually read that you need 440m+ of Axle-Crown to get a 29" wheel into a fork. The Zion 26" fork runs 457mm, and the Zion 29" fork runs 475. Would the 26" work better for a 96er, leading to less of a chopper effect?
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New Member
To be honest (I know its fun to build up your own bike) but I would be on the look out for something like this instead.

dont get me wrong, I am sure you like to tinker and try to save a few bucks here and there, but if you can pick up a 29er for under 400 then why bother. Plus the monocog is loved by all that ride it. I have yet to hear a neggative thing about it.

But to answer your thread title. Yeah build it up as a 96er and let us know what you think. Always good to hear of people's experiences trying stuff out.


entirely thrilled
you could probably through a surly karate monkey fork on the front. it would be a little cheaper. it's non-suspension corrected for a 29" wheel, which should be around the height of a susp corrected 26" fork.

i would definitely recommend a 29er though, if you're coming from cross. 26" wheels will feel really awkward for you. i have a friend who rides mostly cyclocross and fixed gear bikes, and he hates his 26" mtb, loves my karate monkey, and thus just ordered a 29er.


entirely thrilled
oh, and it might work for you, the 96er. and that way, as you upgrade parts up front, you'll be upgrading for the long run. when you finally switch over to 29er, as well as frame, all you'll need to swap out is the back rim/spokes/tire.


I did come very close to buying a Monocog, but never pulled the trigger. I know that building from scratch generally won't give you the same punch per dollar, spec-wise as buying a full new bike, but I do have my reasons, illogical as they may be.

I'm not hurting for cash, but am digging out from underneath the costs of a recent wedding, and am trying to learn to play nice with joint checking such, $50-60/month works slightly better right now than a flat $450 chunka change. This also fits in with the timeframe of giving me a winter project- I've never built a bike before, so I thought a SS might be a good place to start. Finally (and prob most selfish and illogical) is the fact that when this bike is done, it'll be a unique one-of-a-kind, in terms of parts, looks, etc.

Anrothar, that's a good idea, re: upgrading the 29er front end in anticipation of swapping out the back wheel and frame for 29er down the road. Thanks.

Gonna keep window shopping, parts-wise, and will be sure to ask more questions and/or show everyone the build when it eventually is completed...


Shop: Halter's Cycles
Shop Keep
It seems like every week someone brings in a nearly worthless frame with the desire to try singlespeeding.

Unfortunately for the most part if you cheap out on a singlespeed you are looking at pyhsical injury.

Unless you never ride offroad the chain seems like it is always falling off of bikes that use tensioners.

I have seen a few guys slam their knees really hard into their stem and lay on the ground in tears. SS bikes are tough enough on the knees already..

I am sold on the White Industires ENO hub. This is (IMHO) THE best way to convert an old (or new) hardtail with vertical dropouts into a SS.

So many of the troubles that you might run into will dissapear if you use a ENO.

The hub sells for $150
A cheap-o Freewheel will be less than $20.

You can reuse the chain and relace an old rim on the new hub.

I would also reccomend a Surly Steel Non-Ramped Chainring up front..$40ish

I know this is not the cheapest way to go, but when you don't have to worry about a jumping chain on a bucket-o-bolts rig things get a lot more funin a hurry.

With many bike companies selling complete SS bikes for around $500 it sometimes seems the best way out is a dedicated new bike.

If you are looking at frames I would prefer a frame that uses an Eccentric bb or paragon dropouts. That way you can use any mt bike wheel you have. More importantly when you trash a rear wheel you can steal the wheel off your wife's bike..

btw.. If spending $100 a month is all that you can swing than a layaway might make sense?

Good Luck either way

Ride safe.

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entirely thrilled
if you can find a 'magic gear' to work with your chainstay length, it will be alot better than a spring type chain tensioner. my road singlespeed is a raleigh bottom of the line hybrid frame with a regular old ramped aluminum chainring up front and a magic gear. i hammer the living shlit out of it and have never dropped the chain.

there is a spreadsheet somewhere, that i think i have linked to in the past, but i forget the link. i'll try to find it and edit it in.

edit: this is it,

just enter the max and min c-ring and freewheel you're willing to use, enter your c-stay length(center of bb to center of axle), tire size doesn't matter for your purposes. i like "display as chart" better.
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