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  1. #1
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    Conversion to Single Speed

    Hello, I bought an old bike on the cheap and would like to convert it to a single speed commuter bike. The serial number, N44955, appears to be a mid 50s Schwinn. The front spacing is 100mm and the rear is 135mm. The rear spacing is confusing me because Sheldon Browns website says that is common mountain bike spacing. The tires that came with the bike are steel Araya's, 27 1/4", the rear wheel has a JC Higgins 3 speed hub. I want to change to alloy rims because I live in a wet climate. I'm having trouble finding 27 1/4" wheels with 135mm spacing, most are 126mm. Do I have to stick with 27" wheels? Or could I switch to 26" wheels with 135mm spacing?

  2. #2
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    if the hub still works, 3 speeds are better than 1
    and seeing as how the gearing is internal, the hipsters won't know the difference
    just remount the shifter someplace inconspicuous, like the downtube or back of seatpost
    dont forget the spraypaint


    no, 26" wheel wont reach the brakes
    700c might though

    and you can always change axle spacing

  3. #3
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    IGH is the new fixie. Be ahead of the curve!
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

  4. #4
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    I think the 3 speed planetary gears thing is cool, but it looks like it needs a good cleaning and thought for my first project, might be a bit much.

    I'll give the axle re-spacing a go.

  5. #5
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    Did you measure the rear spacing correctly? A 3-speed Higgins (Sears house brand, probably made by Bendix) hub is likely spaced 120 mm which was also the common (5-speed) spacing in the '50's so your measurement is quite puzzling. You do know dropout spacing is measured between the inside faces right?

    No, you can't change to 26" wheels because the brakes won't ling up.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My AD Puch-JC Higgins 3 speed hub was A Sturmey Archer AW3 with just a different looking hub shell (3 rings raised around the center)

    any issues here is your local Guy . Aaron's Bicycle Repair, Inc.


    FWIW My wet weather (non disc frame) favorite is Drum brakes , but those are a whole new chore ..
    S-A made, in 3 speed, too..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-30-14 at 09:21 AM.

  7. #7
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    I measured from inside of rear dropouts. That measurement seemed odd to me too, I had read that older bikes tend to have narrower rear spacing. I'm going to try re-spacing the axle for a more common road/commuter wheel. Thx for the info about the 3 speed.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nebulan View Post
    I measured from inside of rear dropouts. That measurement seemed odd to me too, I had read that older bikes tend to have narrower rear spacing.
    Yes they did which is why I asked if you measured correctly. In the 50's and through the 60's 120 mm spacing was all but universal and 126 didn't become common until the 1970's when 6-speeds and narrow 7-speed freewheels made their appearance. If your frame does date from the '50's, someone cold set it REALLY far to go from 120 to 135 mm.

  9. #9
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    Thx for the info, helps me get an idea on how to start. I could be wrong about the frame date, but what I could find out appears consistent with Schwinn numbering from that era. I appreciate the replies.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Simple single speed can be done with a simple freewheel hub-wheel

    I used my spoke wrench and added and moved some spacers on the axle

    to turn it into a serviable rear wheel with a 1 speed freewheel .

  11. #11
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    I strongly suspect that you have a 1980's Giant made for Schwinn bike; the serial numbers were re-used......
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

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