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  1. #1
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    Can fixed/singlespeed wheelsets be used as 5-speeds?

    So as many of you probably know, it's hard finding a quality, good-condition, 5-speed (120mm OLD) wheelset. I was wondering if it's possible to screw a 5-speed freewheel on the "free" side of a modern fixed-gear/singlespeed wheelset and call it a day. I'm not very keen when it comes to wheelsets or building wheels, however, my experience with them suggests that this should theoretically work. However, some redistribution of the washers or spacers would be needed as well as a redish of the wheel I'd imagine.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    26 tpi nut. sailorbenjamin's Avatar
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    Yup. You might even need a longer axle. Turns out Raleigh used to put flip flop hubs on some of their Grand Prix 10 speeds so you could do just what you're talking about but in reverse.
    I have spoken.

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    26 tpi nut. sailorbenjamin's Avatar
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    Here's the picture of the one I used to have;
    I have spoken.

  4. #4
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toosahn View Post
    So as many of you probably know, it's hard finding a quality, good-condition, 5-speed (120mm OLD) wheelset. I was wondering if it's possible to screw a 5-speed freewheel on the "free" side of a modern fixed-gear/singlespeed wheelset and call it a day. I'm not very keen when it comes to wheelsets or building wheels, however, my experience with them suggests that this should theoretically work. However, some redistribution of the washers or spacers would be needed as well as a redish of the wheel I'd imagine.

    Any ideas?
    No way. Typical new single-speed/fixed hubs are much wider across the flanges than a "normal" 5/6-speed freewheel hub. (I compared some I have, and the difference is about 12mm.) It theory it could be done with a couple spacers and a very long axle, but I think the hub would end up being 140mm OLD.
    Jeff Wills

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  5. #5
    Mote of Dust degan's Avatar
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    It would have to need some redishing as well I would assume.
    When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Jonathan Swift.

  6. #6
    Senior Member randyjawa's Avatar
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    Those Flip-Flop hubs were also commonly issued on mid-seventies Holdsworth Equipes. Every one I found was fitted with the same wheel set. Wonder if I have any of those hub sets kicking around in The Old Shed...


    No reason why you could not do that with a set of hubs like these. I bought them a few years ago for a project that never came to be. Not an unusual story, it seems...

    Formula_FlipFlop_4.jpg Formula_FlipFlop_5.jpg

  7. #7
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    No way. Typical new single-speed/fixed hubs are much wider across the flanges than a "normal" 5/6-speed freewheel hub. (I compared some I have, and the difference is about 12mm.) It theory it could be done with a couple spacers and a very long axle, but I think the hub would end up being 140mm OLD.
    I have to agree on this that the difference in the width of the hub body which is as if not more important than axel spacing when trying to interchange wheel types sets is just to much. It would be easy on most old road bikes to fit a 126mm wheel set and get it to work.

  8. #8
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Just out of curiosity......why? keeping older 5 speeds going?
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  9. #9
    Unimatrix Zero whatwolf's Avatar
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    I, too, have been curious about how this works because I recently came across one of those Brampton flip-flop fixed/free (5 spd??) hubs. It's technically up for sale (see signature) but I'm still debating whether I have a use for it. Thus far I haven't felt the need to have the same bike function as both a fixed gear and a multi-speed...

    Apparently back in the day it was common practice to switch over to fixed for winter training with these hubs, but it's kind of a commitment, since with a 5-speed it wouldn't be a matter of just flipping the wheel over...

    I like to always keep a fixed gear commuter among my (currently two) bikes.

  10. #10
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    A lot of the older English flip flops had compact 3,4 and even 2 speed freewheels on them originally. A lot of riders ran 2 freewheels and fliped the wheel to get different gearing. These setups pretty much disapeared with better dr's and freewheels in the lat 60's early 70's.

  11. #11
    Senior Member XLR99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    No way. Typical new single-speed/fixed hubs are much wider across the flanges than a "normal" 5/6-speed freewheel hub. (I compared some I have, and the difference is about 12mm.) It theory it could be done with a couple spacers and a very long axle, but I think the hub would end up being 140mm OLD.
    I scoped this out in the basement with a 5spd fw and my SuperCourse with flip-flop Iro hub- the outboard cog ends up co-located with the dropout.
    That Holdsworth hub is pretty neat!

  12. #12
    Large Member realestvin7's Avatar
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    I'm guessing toosahn likes the cool factor of affordable modern selaed bearing high flange hubs.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post

    No reason why you could not do that with a set of hubs like these. I bought them a few years ago for a project that never came to be. Not an unusual story, it seems...
    I want to see you do it. I have a set of Formula hubs that I would convert if I thought it was possible. How do you intend to narrow the rear hub?

  14. #14
    Senior Member acoffin's Avatar
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    My guess is there are some fine folks on here that have some old five speed wheelsets just sitting in a corner. Is there anything specific you are looking for in terms of quality and size?

  15. #15
    Large Member realestvin7's Avatar
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    I have in excess of 15 wheelsets, I'm sure. What toosahn is trying to accomplish, is to have a modern high flange laced to a strong V rim. Am I correct? If not, then who knows.
    Build a drop bar do-it-all MTB!
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    Trek 7000 MTB F/F -17" ST/55cm TT
    Alpine MTB F/F - 23" ST/59cm TT
    Ross Hi-Tech MTB F/F - 20" - 21" ST/57cm TT
    Peugeot PR10 Road F/F - 62.5cm ST/60cm TT

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by realestvin7 View Post
    I have in excess of 15 wheelsets, I'm sure. What toosahn is trying to accomplish, is to have a modern high flange laced to a strong V rim. Am I correct? If not, then who knows.
    No I don't really care about having a strong V rim. Actually I'm mostly interested in all the Open Pro+formula hub wheelsets that pop-up on craigslist.

    It would be nice to have a ready supply of relatively cheap and not overused wheelsets with modern sealed-bearing hubs.

    I have six wheelsets myself.

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