I recently built a bike for my partner who wanted to take up light training and commuting for work. I stripped down my existing Cyclocross aluminium, carbon bike down to harvest parts for this project. This left only the frame, fork and headset.

I advertised the remaining parts on various cycling forums. But all I was getting in the way of responses was people offering swaps or very low ball offers.

I didn’t want to give the parts away or take a knackered PS3. After a brief discussion with Project Manager David Glover, we decided to use a mix of off-the-shelf and refurbished parts to build a sturdy single-speed commuter bike.

David has spent years riding and racing single speed bikes, so it was easy to find the best solutions to create a good workable bike.

Pros of the use of only having one gear are the lack of parts to break or wear out. My occupation of being a mechanic is sometimes negated by being a bit of a rough and ready cyclist so this option sounded even more sensible.

My commute along the Fife Coastal Path from Burntisland to Kirkcaldy through Kinghorn already has a few difficult sections but the prospect of a new challenge piqued my interest. Only having one gear at my disposal would make me think a bit more when taking on hilly routes. I would no longer be able to simply click my way out of trouble.

The extra benefit of gaining more fitness and a solid transport whip made it seem logical. So, we hatched a plan to turn the erstwhile pigs lug into a stealthy silk purse.

We experimented with different gearing options, but settled on a 38-20t set up. As the frame was road-bike specific we utilised the rear mech mount to take a chain tensioner. This also makes it easier if the gearing needs changing in future.

Get in the bin

The spare parts bins at Lang Toun Cycles offered up a seat post, second-hand wheels, bars and stem. Even the tyres and inner tubes were good second-hand items. David kindly supplied one of his rear sprockets to get the bike up and running.

The only new parts needed for the bike were the tensioner, chain, bar tape and a set of shorty V-Brakes to give far better braking over the existing set. We also sourced a couple of new brake cables.

One nice touch was removing the wheel vinyl decals to just run black rims. This is a very easy job with a heat gun.

The plan was to get the aluminium frame painted or powder coated. But once I had cleaned the frame it looked fine in gun metal grey.

The weight saving of running the older rim brake wheels (opposed to discs) and doing away with a double chainset, mechs and shifters feels considerable. Overall, this bike is a tidy and functional little commuter.

Total cost

Tensioner: £22.00
Chain: £15.00
V-Brakes: £28.00
Bar Tape: £8.00
Wheels (S/H): £40.00
Cables: £10.00

Workshop Labour @£36.00 per hour: £72.00

Total: £195.00

Do you have a frame and fork languishing in a cupboard, loft or shed? Get in touch. We can quote you for your own custom built bike, whether it is something along these lines, or something a bit fancier.

John McComisky, Cycle Mechanic