Can I change a single chain ring to a double?

I have an old steel frame with a narrow bottom bracket shell 66mm and a single 50 tooth chain ring. I would like to add a 36/40 inner and want to know what is needed and how to go about this.

Many thanks

  • 1
    66mm is what measurement? The BB axle is normally measured from end to end and is 100-120mm overall.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 8:22
  • @Criggie very likely OP means the BB shell and has a 68mm threaded type. Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 13:27
  • 1
    Can you add a picture of the bike's bottom bracket area? Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


You need a bunch of things.

  1. left hand shifter, or a left hand replacement brifter if your bike has integrated shifters
  2. front derailleur mechanism with a band-on (aka bolt-on) clamp mechanism and diameter of the same size as your seat tube
  3. new inner gear cable and cable housing for the front mech
  4. a pair of cranks that have the same length, and same size pedal mount hole as your existing pedals
  5. the right hand crank should have chainrings sized to suit your need. Since it takes a 50T now, smaller toothcounts should fit fine. Cranks should have the same BB interface as your current BB axle (probably square taper but others are possible)

Depending on the details you may also need

  1. new bottom bracket axle with more length
  2. bolt-on frame cable stop for the seatpost. May need to be angled, OR
  3. an "under-BB" cable guide. Generally it is a piece of plastic, and is screwed into a hole in your BB
  4. bolt on downtube cablestops or holders (if cable zip-ties aren't to your taste)
  5. new grips/bartape.

Sourcing parts

If you have to buy all this new, it may be cheaper to buy another bike.

If you have access to a donor bike, something that has been crash damaged could be good.

Or start exploring your local bike cooperative or ebay/CL/gumtree etc.

  • Actually I did suggest a crash-damaged bike, not a "not crash damaged bike" because the transmission generally survives okay other than scratching. Forks and frames, bars and wheels tend to get damaged leaving other parts as donors.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 21:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.