Surly has long been the king of singlespeeding and pared-down adventuring, and its new two-part conversion kit is a good way to have a crack at lactic acid-rich, zero-maintenance push-biking.
The first element is the Singleator chain tensioner (£40), which fits to your derailleur hanger to keep your chain tight over chattery sections via two internal springs. It can be easily configured in either ‘down’ (chain round the back) or ‘up’ (chain over the top), with only an easy swap of the internal springy bits required.
A 4mm bolt allows the jockey wheel to be adjusted to achieve the straightest possible chain line. Despite its sturdy weight, the Singleator is of course, a lot lighter/cheaper than a mech/shifter/cassette combo.
The second part is the Cassette Cog kit (£16), which comes with a cog, a range of spacers (six) and a lockring nut. We found it takes a bit of fine tuning to perfectly line up the front and rear rings, but that’s to be expected and it’s nowhere near the faff of a cassette falling apart on the workshop floor. Not that we’ve ever been that clumsy [cough].
If you’re in love with the idea of scraping every aspect of your bike back to fractions of a gram, there are lighter ways to go singlespeed. However, if you err on the side of fit-and-forget then the Surly kit is a beefy, easy and well-thought out package.