If you like the idea of a Jeff Jones style customised and polished singlespeed XTR chainset but want to spend a little less cash or want to try transforming a chainset yourself there is a great budget alternative.
Underneath this little beauty is a very humble Deore M532 chainset as below.
A Jeff Jones XTR original is a lovely thing indeed but the reliable old Deore chainset can be transformed with a few basic tools (and a chunk of patience) at very low cost. In the UK a complete M532 chainset can be purchased for as little as £45 including HTII bottom bracket and rings. The hardest part is stripping the arms for polishing. Deore cranks are powder coated and most DIY paint stripping solutions will struggle. Easiest method is to drop them off at your local powder coaters and ask them to chemically dip them.
These ones below were stripped after 'conversion' making it a little easier to see how they are 'machined'. Firstly, mount the chainset in a vice ensuring the arms are protected. Drill out the two inner chainring mounting holes furthest from the arm with a 7mm bit - this ensures the thread remains and can still be used. Do not drill the two next to the arm!
Flip the chainset over and with a Dremel or similar chamfer the new holes slightly. This will need smoothing and finishing later.
Using a chainring bolt and suitable washer gives an excellent template for scribing the chainring mounting tabs.
Using hand files carefully remove the excess material. Go easy - not much to play with and you may want to take off less metal than we have here.
Here the result of more work with a range of grades of emery cloth and wet and dry abrasive paper. The 'step' in the chainring mount arm has also been softened a little.
That's about it for the tool work. Obviously the more time spent on smoothing things the better. Once the powder coat is stripped then the polishing work can begin. A bench top polisher and various compounds make things easier but it can all be done by hand - just takes a little longer. As always the finish is dependant on the hours put in. However, if you are using them through a typical UK winter they won't stay looking like this for long.
Final pic here is of the chainset mounted not on a singlespeed but on a 1 x 8 set-up. As all the chainring tabs and threads remain you can run the chainset with 1, 2 or all 3 rings.
© VeloSolo Ltd 2009.