Friday, October 14, 2011

Forte Single Speed Conversion Kit Review

A couple of years ago, my brother asked me if I had a "spare" bicycle for him to ride to the gym. Asking if I have a spare bike is like asking a smoker if they have an "extra" cigarette - of course not. However, I had some extra parts, and after sending him out to purchase a Forte single speed conversion kit, I built a modern Fuju Ace road frame into a simple bike he could ride to the gym. When I built the bike I didn't have the component knowledge that I have now, and I ended up putting a fairly rare set of Suntour XC brake levers on the bike. Eventually I realized the error of my ways and took the bike back so I could put some less rare levers on and stop tossing and turning at night. I figured that that was as good a time as any to put up some detailed photos of the Forte single kit, so if someone is looking for a review, here it is.

The Forte singlespeed kit is a pretty easy install, and looks fairly nice when it's all together. The lines aren't as "clean" as on a bike with horizontal dropouts, but this is a utility conversion. 

Fuji Ace
In order to install the kit, you have to remove the cassette and put spacers on the freehub in order to put your rear cog in the right place so that your chainline is correct. You could do this and still run a double chain ring up front, but I decided to remove the inner ring because I knew that he would never want to convert this back to a road bike - and if he did, I'm pretty sure I know who his mechanic would be. 

The kit comes with several cogs and spacers so you can get your gear ratios and your chainline correct. While the front ring on this bike is huge, the rear cog I put on makes it a pretty easy ride with just about the right ratio for his neighborhood. (Talk about custom!) 

View from the top
The chain tensioner bolts right into the derailleur and works great - once you get the chain the right length. I would not hesitate to recommend this kit to someone who wanted to take their bike down to a single speed but doesn't have horizontal dropouts. For $29.99 you get everything you need to ride a bike designed for multiple gears as a single speed bicycle, if that is your particular kink. Even better, if you go to Performance on Tuesdays at lunchtime,  they do a "discount happy hour" and you can get an additional 10% off the kit.

Drivetrain Closeup
When I took of my rare Suntour motorcycle style levers off of this Fuji, I replaced them with a set of Forte "team" levers - at 14.99 they get the job done, and don't look too bad in the process. Plus, this bike now has a complete Forte guppo for single speed.
My miniature helper couldn't quite keep it still. 

For those of you who don't know, the beaming gentleman in the picture I put up yesterday is Gary Fisher. Since I had a press pass at NAHBS I got to go to a private party at Mellow Johnny's with the luminaries of the bicycle world - including snazzy dresser Gary Fisher. He and I talked for a few minutes about life, bikes, and good food, and he was gracious enough to take a picture with me.

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