I really hope I'm starting a trend here. Well 'starting' probably isn't the right word but definitely facilitating on a regional scale at the very least. Full suspension single speed is nothing new but it is being pondered much more heavily lately at least as far as I can tell from my own blog reading and seeing the various new tensioner designs that are coming out.
I was of course drawn to the concept because its in that limbo area of not ideal, why would you build that, doesn't that defeat the purpose, dude are you nuts?! It's been in the back of my mind for awhile and lately I've been getting the itch for an off season fun build project. Two years ago was the goofy 96er monster cross which morphed into my now very functional touring bike last year. So now in a normal cycle I am back to 'goofy'. A few weeks ago the FS singlespeed idea popped back into my head so I started poking around for ideas.
I stumbled across some folks pondering the use of old URT (Unified Rear Triangle) bikes from the mid 90's or so. URT was one of the earlier rear suspension designs that has since been completely abandoned for the most part. Most contemporary designs are far superior with far more pro's and way less con's than URT. URT has one huge pro for this application however. URT bikes were sometimes also called 'floating drivetrain' because the bottom bracket was part of the suspension swing arm and would pivot along with everything else.
This keeps the distance between the cranks and the rear hub intact even when the suspension is doing its thing. No chain lengthening or shortening = SS friendly. So now I have a concept I like and is definitely a bit goofy now I just have to find a bike...
Queue memory banks and I have a flashback to poking around in the attic space above Naro's parents garage a few years ago looking for bike parts (how appropriate) and coming across a relic from years past that I thought was quite hilarious at the time. You guessed it, that relic was an old Trek Y11, one of the finest URT frames of it's time. A quick call to Naro along the lines of "is that thing gonna just sit up there for the rest of time?....if so can I frankenbike that thing and get it back SHREDDING?"...we work a quick barter deal and TA-DA!!!
It is in surprisingly awesome shape considering it is probably pushing 15 years or so. I'm still trying to decide how much $$ I actually want pour into this thing. I'm thinking more along the lines of giving this thing some hand me down parts and maybe a few fresh parts here and there. It would be nice to find some of the old purple/green/pink/ridiculous anodized parts from the mid/late 90's but finding stuff like that will probably be a lot of work. Maybe it makes sense to whip up a "version 1.0" just to see how it rides and then pimp out a version 2.0 later.