Product Review: Paul Melvin

You may be noticing more and more single speed bikes on the roads, especially in the winter. Over the years bike component makers have developed products that employ more and more gearing options and we’re certainly not knocking the top end 33 speed road bikes on the market today, but sometimes one gear is all you need. For winter commuting you really just need one speed, and one gear means much less potential for trouble from muck gumming up your drivetrain.

If you want to buy a single speed specific bike that’s great – we have plenty in stock. If you have a very old bike with semi-horizontal dropouts you can probably convert it to a single speed without much difficulty. But, if you have a newer bike with horizontal drops you’ll need some sort of chain tensioner to replace your rear derailleur in order to make sure there’s tension on your chain after a single speed conversion.

There are plenty of chain tensioners on the market, and we have a few in stock including the No-Railleur from Axiom, the Shimano Alfine, the Surly Singleator, and the Paul Melvin. Prices range from $32 to $116.

Today we’re featuring the top end $116 Paul Melvin. The Melvin has the nicest finish of any tensioners we’ve seen, and unlike the others it employs two pulleys. This means it picks up more chain slack and as a result it can actually be used with two front chain rings. Therefore you could, for instance, have a second ‘bailout’ chainring on the front and in case you needed an easier gear you could manually move the chain to the smaller ring for easier spinning without changing anything else. In essence you’d have the full benefit of an efficient and low-maintenance single speed but with an extra gear. Kinda cool.

Of course if you’re not looking to spend over a hundred clams on a chain tensioner we’ve got the others in stock too, but sometimes it’s fun to look at the best.

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