May
24

China Bike – A Carbon Rigid Single Speed 29er experiment

By Josh  //  cycling, MTB  //  25 Comments

NOTE: At the request of some friends from MTBR, I’ve added a gallery of all of the pics I’ve taken regarding this build.

Backstory…

I’m taking the plunge. I have a few buddies who have single speed mountain bikes, and riding with them using 20+ gears when they only have 1 available just seems unfair.
Other reasons for this project are that I wanted to try buying a frame directly from the source (chinese manufacturer), instead of through 3-4 additional hands, and that it seems like a fun bike to add to my stable.

The Process…

I sourced the frame a mixture of ways: I knew I wanted to go carbon, and 29er if possible (greatly due to the fact that I love my Santa Cruz Tallboy frame). To get inspiration, I was reading a forum thread on MTBR.com looking for single speed bike info & pictures, and realized that buying the frame direct from the manufacturer was an actual possibility.

That led me to eBay, where I didn’t find a carbon 29er frame for sale on there, but within a listing for a 26″ wheel frame I noticed a seller put in a picture with text in it inviting people to inquire about a carbon 29er frame. I did, and eventually found my way to gotobike.com.cn. They have several carbon 29er frames available, and I opted for what they call the MTB854 (many pictures to follow). I chose them over competitors mostly because they also had a carbon rigid 29er fork available, and they had a 21″ frame option.

Costs & Parts…

Part
Source
Cost
Weight
MTB854 frame direct from china -29er BB30 $600 1110g
Fork Carbon Rigid direct from china - tapered QR $130 606g
Seatpost Carbon direct from china $50 234g
Handlebar direct from china – MHD901-640mm $50.00 198g
Stem direct from china – SM301-120mm $50.00 152g
Headset Spacers   $10 16g
Headset direct from chinese manufacturer $15 104g
Shipping from China (two orders worth) $154  
Crank X0 BB30 2X10 Carbon Crankset 26×39 175mm $395 658g – unmodified
Chainring Homebrew Components 32 teeth $45  
Cog Homebrew Components 18 teeth $44  
bottom bracket SRAM BB30 Bearing Assembly    
Chain – 3/32" SRAM PC-991HP Chain 9-Speed $37.99 .62lbs/281g
Seatclamp Colorado Cyclist – Hope Bolt 34.9mm Red $26.99 24g
tensioner Treefort Bikes – Surly Singleator $36.95 124g
Rotors included with brakes   232g
Brakes SRAM XO Disc Brake Set 160mm $490 1.47lbs/666g
SS spacer kit Treefort Bikes – Surly Spacer Kit $29.99 44g
Skewers easton included with wheelset   124g
Front Wheel Easton EA90 XC 29\” Disc QR Front $435 772g
Rear Wheel Easton EA90 XC 29\” Disc QR Rear $490 952g
Front Tire The Captain Control 2Bliss 29×2.2 $55 760g
Rear Tire The Captain Control 2Bliss 29×2.0 $55 674g
Saddle FIZIK ALIANTE TWIN FLEX SADDLE BLK/RED $230 .216g
Grips Ergon GX1 Leichtbau Grip $39.99  
Pedals eggbeaters    

Parts from China

MTB854 21″ Frame Geometry
As I mentioned before, one of the primary goals was to see what buying a frame direct from a manufacturer overseas was like. Since I do importing for a living, I had a fairly good idea of how it would work, but several things took place along the way I couldn’t foresee.
I ordered a 21″ frame. I sent probably around 10 emails confirming specs and stuff from the manufacturer. The components I ordered were easier to come by than the frame and fork. Once I found a company that had both the frame and fork in stock and available, I pulled the trigger. The manufacturer stated that they had a 3K, 12K, and UD weave available for all of the frames. Via email, Ally with gotobike.com.cn informed me that the only finish they had was 3K. No big deal to me, as all of the other components I had ordered were 3K (it’s a classic weave after all).
When the parts arrived though the finish of the frame was UD Gloss! Not a deal breaker by any means, but it was still different than stated in our agreement. I emailed them about it looking for a discount, but had virtually no luck. They told me they’d throw in a free water bottle in my next order. Ridiculous. I ordered some additional parts from them so we’ll see if it shows up.
Overall the parts from them seem to be great. The frame uses an integrated headset, and the brand is Token, which I’ve never heard of before, but according to their website, they make some nice stuff so we’ll see.
Below are some pictures and weights of the chinese procured parts from gotobike.

Lessons Learned…

USE FIBER GRIP on your seatpost. I made the mistake of forgetting to do this on my first ride, and broke my seatpost clamp bolt trying to get the smooth surfaces to bind.

The Finished Product – V1 – Chain Tensioner

All of the parts for the bike finally arrived. I had to wait for 4 weeks to get the cog and the chainring from Homebrew Components. I bought the SRAM XO crank purposely because it did not use a built in spider. I wanted a removable one so that I could run the spiderless chain ring.
It was very easy to swap out, and doing so provided a weight savings on of 160 grams. Even better it’s pretty looking ;).

For the mean time I’m running a Surly Singeator, which helps keep tension on the chain. It works really well, but I’m also going to be trying an alternative tensioning system in the next couple weeks, which brings me to part 2…

The Finished Product – V2 – Beer Components EBB

Since I’m new to the Single Speed MTB world, there were a few things that I had to learn about. The most important of which is chain line and chain tension. Chain line is an easy enough concept, and is even easier to accomplish with a good set of spacers.

Chain tension though, is a little more complicated, not because it’s a tricky concept to wrap your head around, it’s actually simple. What’s confusing is that there are enough was to accomplish tension it’ll make your head spin! Frames with Horizontal dropouts are the best option normally for a single speed setup because they are easy to create tension and super easy to adjust.
Since I opted to save some money buying my frame direct from the carbon manufacturer in China, I was limited to the dropout selection they had available, which in my case was a traditional vertical dropout that you would usually use with a geared setup.

Traditionally, if you have a vertical dropout, you’re going to be forced to use something like the Singlenator I used originally above. But, one of the coolest things about the frame I purchased is that the Bottom Bracket shell is made to the BB30 spec, which is a relatively new system that allows for the bearings to be directly pressed into the bracket, eliminating the need to have threaded BB cups that are made of metal, and therefore increase the weight of your bike.

The BB30 bottom bracket cup is larger in diameter then a threaded external bottom bracket, which allows enough space for an ECCENTRIC BOTTOM BRACKET! An Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB) allows you to “twist” the crank so that you can get tension in the chain at the bottom bracket, eliminating the need for a spring loaded tensioner in the rear.
The benefits of this are:

  • potential weight savings
  • cleaner looks
  • other things I’m sure I’ll come up with
  • To my knowledge there’s only one company that offers an eccentric bottom bracket for a BB30 cup, Beer Components. I have one on the way, and as soon as I get my hands on it I’ll install it complete with pics.

    much much more to come…

    25 Comments to “China Bike – A Carbon Rigid Single Speed 29er experiment”

    • Hey Josh-

      Just found your post and am very interested in tracking your progress. I would love to know how your experience is with gotobike… I have ordered through e-hongfu-bikes, and am very happy with a road frame. Were you unable to find a SS specific 29er frame? I have been searching with no success, but not exhaustively.
      I see your gram counts… I am interested in the final build weight when it all comes in. Please keep posting and add pics!
      I am kicking around my own build list, waiting to pull the trigger. I have been stuck deciding to go with a Niner One Nine and build up a true SS, or to follow your lead, and build a single speed on a geared 29er carbon frame.

    • How long did it take for them to ship you the frame ?
      From paying to your door. Thanks

      I really like the UD gloss. Too bad fork does not match. Still pretty good deal and no worries once it gets dirty.
      Post closeup of the frame please.

    • The frame shipped and was to my door within about 5 business days. Fast, considering it’s coming form China.
      I was disappointed that the frame and fork didn’t match, but I was in essence just buying a sample in their eyes, so I can see why it’s not a big deal to them.

    • So, I pulled the trigger with Gotobike and ordered the same frame and fork. I also ran into the same mismatch in finish. I will be building mine up as a fully rigid singlespeed; we’ll see how long that lasts…
      I also ordered their FM757 road frame and some handlebars. The box arrived yesterday, so I haven’t gotten anything onto a scale to check the claimed weights, but the finish quality looks nice. Tonight I ordered another frame, an MTB750 26″ hard tail for a friends, so we’ll see how that one goes.
      I will keep checking back on your progress. It seems like you are a couple of days ahead of me, and I might be able to learn from any snags you hit.
      Thanks for posting.

      J

    • What is the method on the MTB854 for adjusting chain tension for the single speed setup? The BB looks like a std 68mm. Are the dropouts adjustable or are you running a tension device? Thank,

    • Rob, it’s a vertical dropout so I’m most likely going to have to use a tensioner. I have a Surly Singleator that I have hooked up to the derailleur.

    • +1 on the singleator. Not sure about Josh’s frame, but mine is BB30, and I am running an adaptor to get BB24 (fsa) cranks in BB30 bearings.

    • Josh — It’s super cool that you created this blog — thank you! The 1000 post thread on Chinese carbon frames on MTBR is pretty unwieldy. Love your frame, love your build, and love the idea of using an eccentric in the BB30 for chain tension.

    • Hi,

      Great build how is the bike going?

      Cheers,
      Steve

    • Steve, the bike is great! I’ve been putting it through lots of “tests”, and so far it’s held up like a champ. I’m getting ready to switch out the Surly Singleator setup for a Beer Components Eccentric Bottom Bracket. Should be pretty cool. Check back in a week or two and I should have pics and some documentation on the switch.

    • Great work mate!!

      I am about to order one but struggling with doing a paint job or going the gloss UD – not doing single speed but am seriously considering 1×10.

      Will be back for more pics – the bike looks really cleanly finished.

    • Josh,

      You got the new beer components in there yet?

      What type of riding have you been with it – street or you getting of the road and dirty?

      How does it handle?

      Got mine on the way:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/2cWZiQ3bjW_FOrY5vfocqw?feat=directlink

      Looking forward to the new pics when get the bike updated.

    • I did get the eccentric in. I haven’t had a chance to throw it on yet, I was waiting for a crank.
      I’ve been riding lots of dirt with it. It’s a completely different experience from a full suspension bike with gears, but I love it.
      It handles like a dream for the most part. I have a pair of Ergon grips on it now, and I may swap them out of something super cushy.
      It makes you pay much more attention to your speed and the trail too. I’ve lost control of my line several times from not being used to a rigid front and bouncing off of rocks, although I was riding some burly terrain.
      http://connect.garmin.com/activity/107504220
      It should be sometime early next week that I get it all converted over. Keep an eye out for pics then, and thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks Josh. It looks like you answered most of my questions. I would prefer a 20″ but a 21″ maybe ok. I am 6’2″. How tall are you?

    • I’m 6’3″.

    • Thanks!

    • Josh,

      Have you received your EBB30 from Beer yet? I’m curious about the installation process.

      Thanks

    • Hi Josh,

      Anything new about the EBB? For the BSA there is an Otter posibility called ‘Ex-centiker’
      Nice project!
      Best regards
      Xiron

    • Did you ever get the eccentric set up? how did it work?

    • How is the bike doing? Any issues? What was the final build weight? Did you switch to the eccentric BB?

    • I am dying to find out how the Beer adapter works. The Chinese 29er frames are around $359 landed now on Ebay. One thing you said, I don’t agree with is that sliders are the best way to do a SS bike. I have 3 Niners with the eccentric bottom brackets and I much prefer them. I think you will be quite happy with that form of adjustment. I am wanting to build up a Chinese frame to compare it to the High end Niner frames. I am thinking they will be around 80% as good for 25% of the money.

    • Josh,
      Do you know where to get a spare derailleur hangar for the MTB854? Preferably forged?

    • Also, do you have a source for the seat post? Your link for it is no longer functioning. Thanks again! Dave

    • The same company still appears to have the seatpost available.

    • I’d just recommend emailing GoToBike.com. I picked up a spare when I purchased the frame, but honestly it appears to be a standard piece. As such, the local bike shop should be able to source it also.

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