1/8 or 3/32 chain for a poor man's single speed bike?
June 3, 2014 10:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing a poor man/ lazy woman single speed conversion, and am not sure which chain to buy. I am going to leave the sprocket where they are (knowing that my chain line won't be perfect but that's fine) and just ride only on the cog I like. No deraillers, nor chain tensioners (I have horizontal dropouts). Based on my research, I should get the 3/32 because of the width between sprockets, right? Can I make do with an 1/8 chain if I am never, ever, ever going to shift? It's just so much cheaper and so much easier to find a 1/8 chain!

also, where in Toronto can I find very cheap-- off brand or used are totally fine-- bike parts? Thanks!
posted by atetrachordofthree to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
This is impossible to answer without any information about your bike. How many cogs are on your cassette?

You can almost certainly shorten your existing chain (e.g. by buying a new master link) more cheaply/easily than you can buy a new one. Have you looked into this?
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:25 PM on June 3, 2014

I have, but my existing chain is stretched out and needs to be replaced. I have 6 cogs on the cassette. 2 chainrings.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 10:35 PM on June 3, 2014

1/8" on 3/32" gearing will wear them out more quickly, which is more expensive than using the correct chain in the end. Here's a good compromise, a 3/32" KMC chain that you can bust and remount.
posted by kcm at 10:45 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

A 1/8" chain won't do the trick. It'll ride rough if at all.

You definitely need a 3/32" chain. Look for ones that are sold as 'singlespeed' or '8 speed' chains, they'll work the best for you.

This SRAM chain is as expensive as two beers, and one I've used a few times.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 10:46 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

If your chain is stretched and you've been using it on that cassette and chain ring, you most likely need a new set. They all wear out together.
posted by bensherman at 11:03 PM on June 3, 2014

Have you dropped by your local bike shops, the greasier and grimier the better? They often have a big box (or boxes) of used parts that might be useful to you.
posted by RoboKaren at 3:18 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can probably get away with a single speed 3/32" chain, even though 6 speed is technically wider than 7/8 speed.

Though to be the voice of uncomfortable truth, slinging a chain on an old 6s freewheel and what's likely the original chainring is not going to give you a great cycling experience. You may be lucky in that your freewheel is likely* a standard thread-on type, in which case you can buy a single BMX freewheel for about $20 in the same size as your preferred cog.

*IIRC there were a few standards during the 6s time but the weird ones are less common and French
posted by a halcyon day at 8:17 PM on June 4, 2014

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