It seems like everyone wants to be on the singlespeed bandwagon these days. The prospect of a silent drivetrain and the simplicity of a handlebar unadorned with shifters has many tossing their faithful derailleurs in the bin, without a thought for the accelerated knee degeneration this may cause.
Most people build their singlespeed with a hardtail frame. It’s simple and cheap, and nothing says “I’m more indie than you’ll ever be” quite like a converted steel frame. For those with a full suspension bike, creating a singlespeed is more difficult. For most fullys, the distance from the bottom bracket to the rear axle increases as the suspension compresses, causing chain growth. There are a lot of chain tensioners available on the market, but not many of them are built with suspension induced chain growth in mind.
Yess manufactures a range of chain tensioners for different frame configurations, and the ETR/D is the model designed for full suspension bikes. Looking like a cross between a simple tensioner and a derailleur, it’s got a jockey wheel with metal retention guides, and a plastic roller. Spring tension is adjustable to stop your chain from flopping around, and the whole unit is stiff and solidly built. The ETR/D wraps around the standard derailleur hanger, which it is bolted onto. Set screws at the back of the hanger provide an extra strong grip.
I mounted an ETR/D onto my Turner 5 Spot for the Single Speed World Champs at the end of 2010. Following the philosophy that practising is cheating, I had never ridden a singlespeed before, and converted the bike in a holiday camp the night before the race. The ETR/D was easy to fit, although I needed to file the back off the derailleur hanger (Turners have quite large hangers) to make it fit.
On the bike, the ETR/D was excellent. It kept the chain on without fuss (I had an MRP 1X guide over the chain ring), and the chain never dropped or jammed. It was silent and efficient, and pulling the wheel off the bike with the tensioner in place was easy. The same couldn’t be said for my ability to tighten chain ring bolts; with six kilometres left in the race, the chain ring fell off and I had to run and coast the rest of the race. JONO BADDILEY