singlespeed chain tensioner comparison

I’ve been running Big Red as a singlespeed since I got the frame late last August.  And in years past I have run the Great White Hope (formerly the Stumptress) as a singlespeed pretty much every Fall/Winter.  My go-to chain tensioner has always been my Surly Singleator.  However, I had a DMR Simple Tension Seeker sitting around, which I had bought a long time ago when I thought my Singleator wasn’t going to work out.  I recently decided to install the DMR and can offer some quick comparisons.

First off, the biggest difference in the two tensioners is that the Singleator provides tension by way of a spring, whereas the DMR provides fixed tension by simply getting the tension arm where you want it and tightening it in place.  I have always really liked my Singleator, but I didn’t like having to carry a cone wrench with me in case I needed to adjust the spring tension while riding.  I also had to install a half-link on my chain when I built up Big Red in order to get the length where it needed to be, and this half-link will occasionally grab at the Singleator pulley cog just enough while on out-of-the-saddle climbs to cause the tension to fluctuate very quickly (basically feels like a chain skipping on a geared bike).  Seeing as how a lot of my rides start out with a steep Cat 4 pavement climb, I was getting annoyed by that grabbing feeling.

With the DMR Simple Tension Seeker, the tension remains constant since there is no spring to worry about.  If it has a drawback while riding, it would be that it slips onto the quick-release axle, which means you might need to loosen it if you change a flat tire.  Luckily I have not had to do any such maintenance yet while riding.  Another minor drawback, which I originally thought would be a big deal, is that due to the spacer width surrounding my rear cog I am not able to get the groove in the tension wheel to line up with my chain, forcing it to simply push my chain up rather than let the chain sit within the groove.  But, even over some high speed bumpy terrain I have not yet had any issues with my chain falling off to the side….the tension is simply so tight that it maintains a good grip.  And if I started having issues with this, I could always widen the groove with my Dremel tool so that my chain remains tucked inside of it.

Weight-wise, the Singleator claims 157 grams, while the DMR claims 103 grams.  I did not bother weighing either of them, as I really don’t care that much about weight on such a small component.  With a weight savings of 54 grams, I was able to skimp 0.12 pounds.  Impressive, huh?

My overall opinion so far is that each device is more than capable for most singlespeed conversion scenarios, and I would be more than happy to run my bikes with either setup.  That being said, right now I am really liking the tightness of the DMR Simple Tension Seeker, as well as the fact that all I need is my multi-tool in order to make adjustments while riding.

***Quick Update: I rode Big Red at Oak Mtn last Friday and included the Cat 4 climb from the lower parking lot to the upper Peavine Falls parking lot and had zero issues with the DMR tensioner….it performed flawlessly, and reassured my original opinion that it is a very worthy product to use.

Surly Singleator installed

Surly Singleator installed

DMR Simple Tension Seeker installed

DMR Simple Tension Seeker installed

side by side comparison

side by side comparison


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