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  1. #1
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    conversion v. new - opinions wanted

    I recently purchased a new (to me) road bike and am now left with a spare. My old bike has horizontal dropouts. I'd like to convert it to a fixed gear. Will someone give me an honest assessment of the costs of having the conversion done at a bike shop versus purchasing a new fixed gear bike. I have terrible mechanical skills and will be taking the bike to a bike shop to have the conversion done.

  2. #2
    some dude jayrooney's Avatar
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    Just buy a new fixed gear bike with proper track ends, chainline, bb height, parts etc.
    most of the fun of conversions is doing the conversion.

  3. #3
    dkb
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    Thats like the question, Should I lace up my own hub and rims or should I just go out and buy a new wheelset?

    It depends on your skill set and and how you want to spend your time and money, and what you enjoy doing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member filtersweep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayrooney
    Just buy a new fixed gear bike with proper track ends, chainline, bb height, parts etc.
    most of the fun of conversions is doing the conversion.
    Yeah... better have the right BB height for street riding. Most of these new "me-too" fixed gear bikes really don't have proper track anything. Don't kid yourself. How can you say they have proper parts when they run a chain ring inside the spider?

    The fun of a conversion is knowing you'll never have to pay someone to wrench on your bike- ever again. And that you have a bike that you will ride anywhere, any time.

    On the other hand, if you really are that mechanically inept.... I mean, converting a bike, or building a fixed gear as about the easiest thing possible.

  5. #5
    >< neuron's Avatar
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    if you're going to have a shop do the conversion, just get a track bike.

    i second the diy-ness of doing the conversion yourself. you learn about the bike, its parts, and all the fun of ripping off deraileurs and cables (i kept my brakes). it's good to recycle a bike, especially if you've got a spare one around you know you won't be riding.

    think about it this way. a pista or a langster run around $500 and up once you add in upgrades. your conversion would be a lot cheaper than that. if you bought a new iro wheelset for $100 and kept the rest of the parts on the bike, you'd be good to go.

    i did exactly the above, and bought a decent set of wheels... went spendy and got the phil/open pro route. though my bike doesn't get any second looks, it rides like a dream. the front chainring lines up really nicely, and isn't inside the spider, either.


    i want a proper track bike for racing, though. different geometries etc.
    Last edited by neuron; 08-09-05 at 11:42 AM. Reason: i am an editing fool.

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    dkb
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    I guess I didn't really answer your question.

    I think you'll find that the cost of the parts involved will be about the same whether or not you buy them on your own or let the lbs buy/provide them. There may be some cost break if the shop provides them but this savings will be more than offset by the labor charges.

    On the other hand, you'll have to buy some bike specific tools to do the work yourself.

    In the long run, its better to know as much about your machine as possible rather than always running (maybe literally) back to your LBS when you have a problem. I suppose you don't have to do the actual wrenching yourself in order to learn about bikes, but practical experience always helps.

    If biking is just a casual once in a while thing, then pay the "experts" at the shop to work on your bike, you'll have confidence in your bike and can spend your time riding, on the other hand, you'll never learn anything about whats really going on between your legs.

    What Me, Pick up a wrench?, I pay people to do that. My time is too valuable. just kidding. It's not that tough, if girls like TIP can do their own wrenching, then I can do dishes and clean the bathroom also. How about the book "Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance"?

  7. #7
    antiquarian
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    Wow, I'm always amazed at the amount of money being thrown around in here. I just put together a fixie with help from the local coop for 35 bucks. I bought a cog, a chain and a new tube. If you already have a bike, I don't see how much more you will need. Those Pistas are nice, but you don't need to drop $500 for a serviceable fixie.

    edit: That being said, my rear wheel is **** and I need to get a newer (or less damaged) one.

  8. #8
    Senior Member eddiebrannan's Avatar
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    it's relatively inexpensive and easy to do the main part of the conversion yourself, which is to strip all the unneeded stuff off the old bike. you'll need an allen set and a chain tool (and a wrench to release the brake cables from the rear brake; the front you can either leave on or remove still attached to the lever as there are no cable guides for that brake). the most convenient way to go is to purchase a ready-built rear wheel and have your lbs get the chainline right (crucial), so the price of the wheel and the labor is all you'll be paying. should run you under $100. a new bike will cost you around $500 or so minimum, so the semi-diy conversion is a good way of dipping your toes in the water. if you find you're not into it you can stick all the junk back on and sell the wheel on ebay. but as has been said, take some time to learn basic stuff on your bike (brake and derailleur adustments, changing tires/tubes etc, lubing what needs to be lubed); it's fun and economical and makes you a better person!
    fyi i did this with an old road bike, rode it for a while, then sold it and bought a new dedicated bike, which i much prefer riding. but the conversion staggered the investment and got me going cheaply and quickly. go for it

  9. #9
    jack of one or two trades Aeroplane's Avatar
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    Another vote for converting here. If you're not going to ride it on a track, or for racing of any sort, why worry about whether your bike can race? If it rolls, and it's reliable enough for you, ride it.

    One of the other benefits of converting is that if/when you do upgrade to a new bike, or a bike built up with new parts, you will appreciate quality parts. Nothing makes you want to shoot somebody more than messing around with a 20-year-old brake set for 3 hours.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Irwin Goldstein
    Men should never ride bicycles. Riding should be banned and outlawed. It is
    the most irrational form of exercise I could ever bring to discussion.

  10. #10
    Just tighten everything
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hickory
    Will someone give me an honest assessment of the costs of having the conversion done at a bike shop
    A lot of other people have more intelligent and informed opinions on the merit of doing this, but I recently did almost exactly what you describe (having a mechanic more or less convert a road frame to a fixie) so I thought I'd share my experience with you.

    I had a shop do it because two months ago I knew very little about bike mechanics but needed to have something to ride and figured eventually I'd learn how to do it myself.

    The total cost came to about $350. Here's the breakdown:

    0. Bought a road bike off craigslist ($50).

    It was a good condition lugged steel frame with the front wheel, cranks, 42 tooth chainring, headset, bottom bracket, brakes, seat tube and saddle in good condition. Tires were completely wasted, but the tubes were still fine.

    1. Rear Wheel Build ($140):
    $40 Iro Flip/Flop Hub
    $30 Sun CR18 Rim
    $20 Spokes
    $5 Nipples (might have been less)
    $5 Rim Tape
    $40 Mechanic Fee for build

    Admittedly, this was a mistake. I should have bought a pre-made wheel, but at the time I didn't know enough about the market to go online and buy one. Anyway, it was a really well made wheel and after two months of daily riding in tough conditions is still true.

    2. Drivetrain ($100)
    $26 16 tooth freewheel
    $14 Chain
    $20 16 tooth track cog
    $10 Lockring
    $30 Labor

    Don't know what to say. I paid $30 and the guy installed both sides of the flip-flop hub, adjusted my bottom bracket so that the chainline was perfect (and it really is dead on) and made my chain length just right so that the wheel sits right in the middle of the dropout. While I could probably do all this myself at this point, I'm positive I couldn't do it as well as he did.

    3. Tires ($60)
    Bontrager hard-case. Nice tires.

    So it sounds like you already have the frame and the tires. So long as you're happy with the inner chainring on the bike, it might cost about $30 plus parts and a new rear wheel to have the bike converted. Now that I've been exposed to this forum for a while, I understand that I probably could have bought a new fixed gear bike for only a few hundred more, but I'm really not complaining. After I build a front wheel for this bike, I'm not really sure how it'll differ from anything with road geometry that one could buy new.

    This is not a pro-conversion post or anything like it. I don't have an opinion on the matter and read this forum to see what people who have more experience than I say on all these issues. But you asked for a straight-up assessment of costs and there it is.
    Last edited by herst; 08-09-05 at 01:14 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by filtersweep
    The fun of a conversion is knowing you'll never have to pay someone to wrench on your bike- ever again. And that you have a bike that you will ride anywhere, any time.
    Better to do this with the proper frame like you say and do the work yourself. You'll enjoy riding fixed gear more if you start off with a better platform.

  12. #12
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by filtersweep
    Yeah... better have the right BB height for street riding. Most of these new "me-too" fixed gear bikes really don't have proper track anything. Don't kid yourself. How can you say they have proper parts when they run a chain ring inside the spider?
    Hmmm. My Sugino RD cranks are designed to have chainring mounted on either side of the spider. My 1980s Centurion has a BB height that is 1" higher than my Lemond Poprad cyclocross bike, gives fantastic clearance on the street even with 170mm cranks.

    Not at all a track bike, but that not its purpose.

    Al

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all of the helpful responses. I was secretly hoping I could recycle my old steed without breaking the bank, and it sounds like it can be done. The inner chain-ring has 39 teeth; cranks are 172.5; wheels are 700c. What size rear cog would everyone suggest? It's very flat where I ride and I'd like to be able to ride at 18 - 20mph at 90 - 100 rpm. I'll probably go the route of an on-line-purchased rear-wheel and then see how close I can get on assembly/chain-line before I ask for more help.

  14. #14
    jack of one or two trades Aeroplane's Avatar
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    With a 39t ring, and looking for 18-20 mph @90-100 rpm, you're looking at:

    15t - 20.7 mph @100rpm
    16t - 17.5 mph @90rpm

    ye takes yer choices.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Irwin Goldstein
    Men should never ride bicycles. Riding should be banned and outlawed. It is
    the most irrational form of exercise I could ever bring to discussion.

  15. #15
    Senior Member eddiebrannan's Avatar
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    you might find you'd prefer a shorter crankset too, ultimately. no need to get it starting out but be aware of potential pedal strike/overlap when preparing to turn. if you find you're too limited in corners then that'll be something of a solution.

    bear in mind also that while crank length has no impact on cadence/speed in the above eqquation, it will affect the effort needed to achieve that cadence.

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