4. How many single speed frames have you built?
Oh crap...you know, I don't keep tabs on how many of this or that that I've made. At least not in my head (I'm sure it's on paper somewhere). Lets just say that I've built more Singlespeed bikes than any other style of bike. Mainly because you attract like-minded customers in this small world we call framebuilding.
5. Now that we have disk brakes and thru axles, what’s your preferred method of chain tensioning?
I'm still stoked on Paragon Machine Works Sliding Dropout as a standard. I also like the HACS (Horizontally Adjustable Chainstay System), basically a telescoping stay, that I use with permission of it's creator, James of Black Sheep.
6. I haven’t ridden a coaster brake bike since I was a kid. I’m going to be converting my Retrotec to one soon. Can you give me some tips on riding a coaster brake off road?
You the man Paul!!! Coaster brake mountain bikes are SO FUN!!!
My riding pal Corbin got me hooked when no one else realized he was riding one during our Pirate Rides - which tend to get a bit gnarly. I figured if he can do it, I should at least try. It really makes your local 'boring' trail 'like new' all over again. Like being that kid again.
As far as tips... I'm no expert. But here are a few things I feel helps you not die:
1) Know where your brake is going to engage at all times! Feather your feet back and forth when your typically level, so you know where and are ready to hit that coaster brake! Keep the braking below the level mark, or you'll have a harder time controlling a skid.
2) You will learn to just, not brake! Coaster brakes suck, and you'll just figure out really quickly that you've been braking way too much on your regular MTB. Just go for it!
3) Use a heat sink on your hub! Coaster hubs get hot, then they fail, then you die. Don't die Paul, get a Hub Cooler.
4)Upgrade your axle, grease and bearings (Coaster Culture). Makes a HUGE difference in a hubs performance. Especially since all coaster brake hubs currently in production suck for modern mountain biking. It is what it is.
5) Don't get hung up on a bunch of fancy parts. A coaster brake MTB should be a real piece-of-shit compared to your other bikes. A parts-bin-special for sure. You'll ghost ride the bike a few times during the learning stages. You don't want to care if things get thrashed on day one.
6) Have Fun! If it's not fun, do something else.
7. Morrow, Bendix or New Departure?
Those sound fancy. We've been using a modified Shimano CB110 with pretty good luck. We've also used unbranded crap that has made for a good time as well. I'm sure you will come up with something WAY cooler than I have. But damn... go do it, try hard, and keep smiling!