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Old 01-19-09, 08:13 PM   #1
cccorlew
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I made a fixie. Yikes.



It used to a Gitane Tour de France from the early '70s. I got in '75 and used it as a road bike for years.
But over the past many years it just sat.

So I did a fixed conversion. Really, I got a flip-flop hub, so if I regain my senses I can go single speed.

So far, after seven miles, I can report that riding fixed is weird. Really weird. The riding itself is fine (the old steel bike feels great.) I haven't been bucked off, but I have been kicked a couple of times when I foolishly tried to coast. Trying to stop is interesting. Even with brakes it feels awkward. Going downhill is a special kind of oh-no-thrill.

I'm relieved to find getting started is not bad at all. I think I rode so long in toe clips that it getting my feet in just happens.

I'm going to try commuting a bit on it and see if I learn to embrace it, as so many have. I'm may find that I'll fine my knees are too old, and I'm too set in my gear-changing ways to adapt. Or maybe I'll just become super cool.


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Old 01-19-09, 08:28 PM   #2
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Son **puts arm around his shoulders and leads him down the driveway ... so he can whomp him with that hat with no-one watching**, it's FIXED GEAR, not flamin' fixie

Now that we've got the juvenile pedantry out of the way that's a nice looking build.

How many gear inches? Gear it low until you get used to it - it'll make starting easier, stopping easier and will actually make it possible to learn how to use your legs both ways which you can't if you go too high.

Once you learn not to try to coast, you'll jump on a geared bike and for a moment think 'OMG it's broken!' Dead set, I remember, not that long ago actually, leaping on the Jamis and then stopping 100m later because I was scared something had come adrift ... it hadn't.

Once you learn how to control your speed, you'll discover that brakes are for stopping in an emergency and little else ... until you climb aboard something with a freewheel and wonder why on earth you feel so out of control and why you're always reaching for the brake.

Down hill? Mate, that's when you learn what spinning really is. When you hit 140 odd and get the spin smoothed out, you suddenly feel like you're part of a turbine and it's a massive thrill.

I don't have a problem with toe clips either, find it easier to get into clips on the fixed than the geared bike for some reason, maybe because you HAVE to do it as the pedal begins to move whereas on the geared bike, you can cheat which I think just makes it harder.

As for changing gears, that won't bother you at all. I'm always using my gears on the Jamis but never feel the need on the Europa - there's something in the way the power flows to the rear wheel that discounts the need for gears and don't ask me to explain it because I can't. Conversely though, I am awaiting the new Sturmey Archer hub so I can get up my big hills.

It's a fascinating new world. Embrace and enjoy it.

Richard
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Old 01-19-09, 08:30 PM   #3
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Very nice looking bike....
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Old 01-19-09, 08:55 PM   #4
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I am more impressed by folks who convert fixed gear or single speed to multigear. I do like the look of the red cable housing with the black paint.

I am glad you left the derailleur tab intact.
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Old 01-19-09, 08:58 PM   #5
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Fixed gear.. Yes sir. Won't happen again, sir.

I kept the 42 tooth chain ring and put an 18 in back. Somewhere around 62 inches I think.
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Old 01-19-09, 09:05 PM   #6
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Very nice build...
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Old 01-19-09, 09:15 PM   #7
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Fixed gear.. Yes sir. Won't happen again, sir.

I kept the 42 tooth chain ring and put an 18 in back. Somewhere around 62 inches I think.
That's a good starting point ... and I can understand why you take a deep breath at the top of downhill runs.

Seriously, that's where I started and doubt I'm any stronger than you. That ratio gives you plenty of feel and leverage for braking with your legs, allows you to fine tune the technique for slowing the bike which to me, feels more like a pinch of the thigh muscles high in the stroke rather than back pressure on the pedals - it takes surprisingly little to slow these things.

Ride with that until you're comfortable and then start moving up.

I now ride 42x16 which is about 70 gear inches. This is easy to get off the line, easy to brake with and gives me a cadence of 90 at about 30km/hr which isn't a bad town speed.

As for your knees, read this article on Sheldon Brown's site.
My personal view is that unless you over gear (which you aren't even close to), them geared bikes are more likely to cause knee problems because it's easier to mash when you've got high gears to choose from, the fixed gear bike just builds up speed until you're spinning without thinking about it.

In the early days, I found riding fixed to be far more intense than riding with gears for the simple reason that you're working all the time. However, I've recently discovered that with a bit of cunning, particluarly on a tight, rolling track, it's easier to loaf on my fixed bike than my geared bike - how weird is that?

It's a whole new skill set. I love it ... and still ride that broken bike with all the cogs on the back

Richard
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Old 01-20-09, 12:32 AM   #8
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Beautiful garage door. Nice bike, too.
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Old 01-20-09, 01:17 AM   #9
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Beautiful garage door. Nice bike, too.
Nah, the garage door is cream, it's supposed to be white isn't it?

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Old 01-20-09, 04:42 AM   #10
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No quick release on the rear wheel? Don't plan on getting any flats?
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Old 01-20-09, 06:03 AM   #11
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No quick release on the rear wheel? Don't plan on getting any flats?
Generally not a great idea on a fixed gear bike because of the force you put through the chain ... in both directions. Cripes, I used to suffer wheel slip on the Europa ... while she was still a geared bike because of the horizontal dropouts and the quality of the quick releases available in the 80s.

The problem with a fixed gear is that if the chain gets too loose it can jump ship, which isn't a problem on a bike with a freewheel but which can be dramatic with a fixed gear.

Added to that, most fixed hubs have a track heritage and quick release aren't allowed on the track so the hubs come with a solid axle. Yes, they can be changed if you want.

You can use a quick release, but you need to use a top quality quick release (Sheldon tells you what to look for, I forget the proper terminology). All in all, it's just easier to just go with the nuts and carry a spanner, unless you use a flip flop hub and regularly change it around.

Richard

flip-flop hub - one that's threaded on both sides allowing you to have a different sized cog on each side, thus offering two gears. Generally, if you go to this trouble, you have a bmx type freewheel on the off side with lower gearing for those trips when you're in the hills or feeling tired.
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Old 01-20-09, 08:00 AM   #12
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I second everything europa said-- ohm and welcome to"the dark side"

train safe--
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Old 01-20-09, 08:46 AM   #13
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Congratulations on your excellent fixed gear build! I converted my '77 MASI, that was collecting dust, and now it gets ridden a lot, and I'm loving every minute of it!

My gear is higher, i.e. 42 x 15, but that works for me. Richard has it right, so I may be over-geared, but in any case it's relatively easy to change. On down-hills I max out at about 27 - 28 mph, so I need to work on my spin some too.

Re: Toe Clips, I passed on them in favor of Crank Bros. Egg-Beaters since these pedals have four "snap-in" points and it's easy to hit one of the four by thrusting my foot in the right general direction.

I'm using the same seatpost as you are, plus I have a QR front, but otherwise the builds are completely different! Just another one of the beauties of a fixed gear bike! I won't post a photo since I've already posted it in prev. threads.

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Old 01-20-09, 08:51 AM   #14
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You took the bike I longed for in 1975 and made a fixie, shame on you! Was it originally orange in color with white bar tape and sewups, that's the one I wanted while it sat all by it's self in the front window of a LBS in Butler PA? I even had a "dark side plan" to break the window and steal that bike on a quiet night. Nice build by the way, and at least the bike will be ridden now.
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Old 01-20-09, 11:37 AM   #15
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that chain is too tight. enjoy your self.
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Old 01-20-09, 02:12 PM   #16
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You took the bike I longed for in 1975 and made a fixie, shame on you! Was it originally orange in color with white bar tape and sewups, that's the one I wanted while it sat all by it's self in the front window of a LBS in Butler PA? I even had a "dark side plan" to break the window and steal that bike on a quiet night. Nice build by the way, and at least the bike will be ridden now.
Orange with bad chrome tips.
I got is used, and it was set up for touring, with bar end shifters. It had some wider-than-1-inch clincher rims, and amazingly bad Weinman centerpull brakes.

I had the braze ons added when I had it repainted in the 80s.

About all that's left from when I got it is the frame (I had to replace the fork) and the Sugino cranks.

I'm rode to work today. What a smooth ride. I'd forgotten.
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Old 01-20-09, 02:52 PM   #17
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Oh gawd, he's commuting on it. He's HOOKED!

There's a real joy in finding a second life for an old bike isn't there, getting her back on the road rather than dying in the shed. It doesn't have to be fixed, any setup will do, as long as it's got a life.

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Old 01-20-09, 04:51 PM   #18
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Nice build. I like your choice of red as the accent color. Now if you just find a set of tires with a red sidewall strip, I've got some red cable ends you could crimp on to pimp this thing out even more. Come to think of it, I may even have a set of red valve caps too.
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Old 01-21-09, 12:16 AM   #19
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I'll just jump on the love train here and +1 what they all said. It's purty, and you done good, and I love the classic lines of the bike.

I'm just that much more disappointed that the Simonetti doesn't fit me. I guess I have a classic steel frame in ? gearing in my future.

Nice rebuild -- who painted your name?
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Old 01-21-09, 08:26 AM   #20
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who painted your name?
Sometime around 79 I had the bike repainted and the fork replaced. The threads had gone south on the steering tube. The painter, who's name I don't remember, was a very nice guy in Concord who did bike stuff out of his house. He added my name.

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Now if you just find a set of tires with a red sidewall strip, I've got some red cable ends you could crimp on to pimp this thing out even more. Come to think of it, I may even have a set of red valve caps too.
I didn't want to shell out for new tires until I fond out if I really liked it. But maybe I will anyway. And I'd love red cable ends. Where did you find them?
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Old 01-21-09, 08:41 AM   #21
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Son **puts arm around his shoulders and leads him down the driveway ... so he can whomp him with that hat with no-one watching**, it's FIXED GEAR, not flamin' fixie
Not that I know anything, but I thought a "fixie" was a fixed gear bike. What's the difference? And why would anyone do such a thing to a perfectly fine bike?
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Old 01-21-09, 08:46 AM   #22
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Not that I know anything, but I thought a "fixie" was a fixed gear bike. What's the difference? And why would anyone do such a thing to a perfectly fine bike?
There is no functional difference between a "fixie" and a "fixed gear" other than the former term is used by a much younger crowd and can be quite annoying. The latter term is the only one allowed vin the 50+ forum.

Why anyone would do this to a bike? I dunno... Why would anyone pierce their nipples?
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Old 01-21-09, 09:09 AM   #23
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I call my fixed gear bike a fixie sometimes. I don't know of or care about any arbitrary rule saying that term shouldn't be used.
Why do it? Why not? I had a good bike that needed a unique role so tht I would ride it more often. I had wanted to try riding a fixed gear bike just to experience it. I did and I find it to be another enjoyable way to ride a bicycle. It is not for everyone and it is not for me all of the time. But I will keep a fixie in my fleet for those times I feel like riding one.
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Old 01-21-09, 09:44 AM   #24
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...I didn't want to shell out for new tires until I fond out if I really liked it. But maybe I will anyway. And I'd love red cable ends. Where did you find them?
I actually got them at my local Performance Bike shop. I don't know if this was just something this particular store had, or if they all do. It never hurts to ask.
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Old 01-21-09, 09:52 AM   #25
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No quick release on the rear wheel? Don't plan on getting any flats?
New to fixed gears?
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