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  1. #1
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    I've been bitten by the cycling bug again recently. I live in a very bike-friendly neighborhood, and want to get a 'beater' to ride around with. I test-rode a Langster and liked it; I'm also curious enough about fixed-gear that I'd get a flip-flop hub to try out both worlds.

    I liked the Langster, but I don't want to buy new. I want something a bit older in steel... nostalgic, a bit more stylish, as well as (hopefully) less theft-worthy. Something I can tool around on, but not sweat bullets while it's locked up out of sight. I'm even hoping for a frame that looks a bit beat-up, if that makes sense.

    However, the more research I do the more it seems I'm better served buying 'new'. I don't want to become a mechanic, so the 'cheap parts' route has a lot of time, cost and expertise investments that I don't want to make. If I find some cool old frame online, cool, but to get all the rest of the parts and have them put together is probably still more expensive than buying new, which defeats the purpose. If I find a complete 'beater' I like (hard for a 62cm frame) there's still the time/cost to convert.

    So, the more I research it, the lower my odds are of getting in to this world for under $500. It seems easier just to get a Mark V or Pista and be done with it. Am I missing something?

  2. #2
    poser/hipster/whatever xthugmurderx's Avatar
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    it's cheap if you know where to go/how to do it...there is actually VERY little mechanics involved, if you come equipped with common sense. go to your local bike collective/co-op...ask your friends for parts they have ditched. ebay is far from the best place to look. go to used bike shops and ask to look around at the "cheap stuff" (they probably have buckets of **** they aren't really doing anything with). just in dumpsters of bigger bike shops. just do it.

    -jason

  3. #3
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    heh, like that info would fit here...
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    No, you're not missing anything. Building up a bike from parts will be a serious investment of your time (and you money.) Cheapest decent option would be to buy a complete (or w/o wheels) used bike in good condition (maybe one to two hundred dollars), take off the extra parts, and buy a prebuilt wheel or wheelset (such as the IRO offerings.) Would cost 250-400 bucks and a few hours of work if you're not very experienced. Shouldn't require any tools that you don't have lying around a 'normal' house, either. But you still have to worry about used parts (headset, bottom bracket) and the wrath of the imperfect chainline *gasp* (actually not that big of a deal as long as it's close.) It still won't be as sound or solid as a new bike built up by a pro.

    Another option would be to invest serious time, scour craigslist and parts bins, find a diamond-in-the-rough frame (I found a 62cm masi frame/fork w/ campy headset and bb for $125, they're out there) and nice parts, spend a couple hundred bucks and lots of hours at your LBS borrowing tools and asking annoying questions until they kick you out (hint: they like beer, give it to them.)

    But since you consider your time to be of relatively high value, it sounds like the best bet is to just buy an off-the-shelf bike. This is a great time of year for it, as the 2006's are rolling out and lots of shops are blowing out 2005 models.

    For lots of us who build up our own bikes, though, spending time on them is more benefit than cost. I thoroughly enjoy the time that I spend wrenching on my bikes, and in the end, I would rather have a bike that I spend a couple afternoons putting together than an identical bike (even if the cost were the same) that someone else put together for me. It's all a matter of personal tastes.

  4. #4
    Patrick Barber weed eater's Avatar
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    One option that you haven't mentioned: looking around on ebay/craigslist for a "beater" fixed-gear that someone else has already built up/converted. You'll spend around the same you'd spend on a new entry-level bike, but often you'll get a nifty old school lugged steel frame and some interesting parts. also it's easier to find a fixie with fender eyelets, etc, this way.

    I speak from experience, as i did just this very thing last May. of course since then I have spent a few hundred swapping out parts and building a set of my own wheels, etc. But it was a reasonably priced way to get started, and more importantly I got to start riding fixed without having to figure out a lot of the mechanical issues in advance. (I have since learned them very well!)

    And I enjoy many of the advantages you cite, particularly that my bike is not one that attracts attention. It looks like an old touring bike.

  5. #5
    poser/hipster/whatever xthugmurderx's Avatar
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    if you want a ready made conversion that isn't the best, but definitely gets the job done, pm me.

    edit: nevermind...you're friggin' huge.

  6. #6
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    xthugmurderx, by 'cost' I mean time as well as money.

    I live in a 1-br apartment with a premium on storage. To me, the 'cost' of acquiring the tools and skills necessary to build from scratch are pretty high. I also work a lot, so I'd rather just get on the bike and ride.

    I remember trying to replace spokes and 'true' the rear wheel of my old Raleigh road bike, and I botched it horribly. It requires a level of 'touch' that I can see takes time and patience to develop, and I respect that. It's also not a skill that I necessarily want to gain.

    edit: xthugmurderx: haha. Yeah, 6-'3", about 245.

  7. #7
    garbage picker the homealien's Avatar
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    You can do it. I scavenged a 62cm Schwinn Traveller frame from the 70's and fixed it up entirely by my own hand. I've never worked in a shop or been taught how to work on bikes, I've just been fiddling, reading and asking my friends for years. I repacked the headset, replaced the bottom bracket, put on a new wheelset including a front wheel hand built by me, put on new saddle and bars, fiddled with ratios and chainline, and now I have a hunky-dory solid-as-hell fixie. The whole project cost me around $225. That said, I am a pretty serious dumpster diver so I got everything except wheels, bars, tires and tubes for free, but you get the idea.

  8. #8
    poser/hipster/whatever xthugmurderx's Avatar
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    yes, i hear that...i'm the guy with all of the tools/know how (not saying much) to build a fixie in a matter of well, less than an hour, if i have all the pieces within arms reach. if you need some parts, let me know and I can tell ya what i have lying around.

    -jason

  9. #9
    ass hatchet slopvehicle's Avatar
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    We should have a sticky called "So, you'd like to convert a road bike..."

    Here's what you should look for:

    1. long horizontal dropouts (as opposed to the modern, short/vertical style) so you can adjust your chain tension.

    2. three piece aluminum cranks (as opposed to the ancient cottered type). 170mm or shorter will work fine on most fixies. preferably with removable replacable chainrings so you're not stuck with a stamped granny gear on the inside. if you can run your chainring on the inside OR outside of the spider, you've got a better chance of getting a good chainline.

    3. somewhat lightweight tubing (cro-mo, renyolds, etc-- look for stickers on the seat tube) so you won't be lugging a 40lb bike around.

    4. aluminum wheels. if you're planning on making a "bum bike" or "suicide" fixie you can remove the freewheel and spin a track cog on in its place. if you can't afford $60 for a cheap rear wheel, that could be an option. however, be sure to read all the cautionary mumblings about riding sans proper lockring.

    If you look for these traits, chances are you can convert the bike into a relatively slick-lookin' one speeder with a minimum amount of lameness. It might even be a pretty solid ride.

    Of course, these are merely suggestions. It's mostly function-- if you find a bike that fits my checklist, you've eliminated a good 70% of project-halting convsersion headaches. On the other hand, you could convert that tank-like Schwinn Varsity with cottered cranks, built-in chainrings and steel wheels. It's possible, and nobody's stopping you.

    But it's easy to find a more worthy candidate for very little cash. I picked one up at a pawn shop a couple weeks back for $30. I picked another up at a thrift outlet for $10. Check Goodwill and Savers. Or your local bike co-op. Or a garage sale. Or craigslist.

    Or find one abandoned on the street. Ask your neighbor about that rotting Fuji in his backyard. Or ask your landlord about the pile of abandoned-lookin' bikes in the basement (got a sweet 80s Trek, 80s Specialized and 90s Gary Fisher that way). Check the curb on trash day. Wait for college students to go home for summer break. Check the dumpster behind your local bike shop.
    Last edited by slopvehicle; 12-24-05 at 04:27 PM.

  10. #10
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    buy a pista and u will be set (lmfao)

  11. #11
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    Been spelunking Craigslist and the San Diego Reader. Lots of neat bikes for sale... none over 58cm.

    Thanks for the offer, xthugmurderx (mind if I just call you 'murder'?). Very generous. You're making it easier to consider the 'build it up' route.

    slopvehicle, great stuff, but clarify a couple more things for me?

    If I can't find horizontal drops, is it still worth it to work around verticals on an otherwise good frame? Check the ebay thread, I saw a 2001 Bianchi Veloche 63cm that looks pretty sweet for about $100 original bid. If I'm lucky, say I get it for $150.

    The ENO eccentric hub on Sheldon's site would work with it, and it's about $160. Looks about $100 more than your typical fixed hub. With all the noise about how 'hip' singlespeeds are, I'm wondering if it's getting that much harder to find a good horizontal drop-out frame for cheap, and the cost will balance out.

    I mean, hell, most bike shops I've been to don't even carry 62cm bikes new. Many companies don't even make 'em that big.

  12. #12
    consistent inconsistency habitus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    I live in a 1-br apartment with a premium on storage. To me, the 'cost' of acquiring the tools and skills necessary to build from scratch are pretty high. I also work a lot, so I'd rather just get on the bike and ride.
    i hear you, but try not to get stuck in this mindset. things WILL go wrong, so you can either try to fix them yourself, have a shop or friends fix them, or just bring your whole goddamned bike back to walmart.

    i have, like most people here, over the last couple of years, accumulated tools as i've needed them, with some guidance from my LBS. this is one way to learn. i'm not in ther market for a headset press because that's not the kind of maintenance i plan to do, but i have enough wrenches for pretty much anything that comes along.

    i know it can get expensive, but so can paying shop labor.
    every scar has a story

  13. #13
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    everyone is telling u the same thing buy a track bike on e-bay and f the beater finish it the way u reallly want it done

  14. #14
    consistent inconsistency habitus's Avatar
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    anyone remember "trackfresh" from summer '04?

    yeah, seems apropos.
    every scar has a story

  15. #15
    ass hatchet slopvehicle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    If I can't find horizontal drops, is it still worth it to work around verticals on an otherwise good frame? Check the ebay thread, I saw a 2001 Bianchi Veloche 63cm that looks pretty sweet for about $100 original bid. If I'm lucky, say I get it for $150.

    The ENO eccentric hub on Sheldon's site would work with it, and it's about $160. Looks about $100 more than your typical fixed hub. With all the noise about how 'hip' singlespeeds are, I'm wondering if it's getting that much harder to find a good horizontal drop-out frame for cheap, and the cost will balance out.

    I mean, hell, most bike shops I've been to don't even carry 62cm bikes new. Many companies don't even make 'em that big.
    People here have had good things to say about the ENO. It should work just fine.

    It sounds like you're willing to drop a decent amount of money on the project. IRO makes 62cm frames with track dropouts, and you can get a basic Mark V model for $550. If you went with the Bianchi...

    $160 for rear wheel
    $150 for frame
    +front wheel
    +cranks
    +chainring
    +chain
    +cog
    +lockring
    +pedals
    +seatpost
    +saddle
    +tires
    +stem
    +bars
    +tape
    +brake?
    +?

    It'll probably be cheaper to buy a complete IRO / Pista / Langster / Rush Hour / etc. Lots of options these days.

  16. #16
    poser/hipster/whatever xthugmurderx's Avatar
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    that's what i was going to say. add another 20-50 for your lbs to build the damn wheel.

  17. #17
    robots in disguise beppe's Avatar
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    I don't know where you are exactly, but you can always try the Bici Cocina.

    Good luck.

  18. #18
    The King of Town manboy's Avatar
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    My GF and I built a bike yesterday for about 50 bucks.

    Too bad the front hub is cracked.

    I know people like to talk trash about riding fixed on a non-fixed hub, but I've done it and had no problem. As long as you get that cog on there good and ride with a brake, you're good.

    Options:
    -Get a used bike with a freewheel. Take off the freewheel and extraneous parts, add a fixed cog with whatever combination of threadlocker or lockring appeals to you, respace and redish the wheel, shorten the chain, put it on the proper front chainwheel, and go.
    -Get a used bike. Take off all extraneous stuff plus the back wheel, get a new back wheel with cog and lockring from IRO, shorten the chain and go.
    -Get a complete bike.

    In this area and from what I've seen for the most part, the first two options are the cheapest. The first takes the most time, but you can do it in a day if you have the right tools. The second option is both cheap and easy, plus your bike has character.

    I think there shoul be some kind of catch-all tutorial on converting bikes to 1 speed and fixed.

  19. #19
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    I think there shoul be some kind of catch-all tutorial on converting bikes to 1 speed and fixed.[/QUOTE]

    sheldonbrown. hes not too into the suicide stuff, but its a good resource nonetheless.

  20. #20
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    [/QUOTE]I think there shoul be some kind of catch-all tutorial on converting bikes to 1 speed and fixed.[/QUOTE]

    sheldonbrown.com. hes not too into the suicide stuff, but its a good resource nonetheless.

  21. #21
    poser/hipster/whatever xthugmurderx's Avatar
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    jb weld. there are plenty of people in here that will advocate it...mix jb weld, put on hub threads, put on cog threads, (work it in) screw on cog. jb weld around cog (on either side) let cure. BANG!

  22. #22
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    buy a pista and u will be set (lmfao)
    Your h8tred will only make me stronger!

    Well, well, what have we here?
    http://cgi.ebay.com/COLNAGO-SUPER-62...QQcmdZViewItem

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbikerbrian
    I think there shoul be some kind of catch-all tutorial on converting bikes to 1 speed and fixed.
    Consider contributing to the Fixed Gear Guide: http://kili.metanovus.com

  24. #24
    I bet
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    I have been doing this bike stuff for about 2 years and there is no fixed scene here in town so i went by trial and error. Actually i would buy a bike then learn i didnt like it and buy another. I'm about to the point where i know what i want and i have the spare parts of like 6 bikes laying around my house.

    The best advice i can give you is to find something i couldn't-- someone who is into fixies in your town and have them hook ya up and help ya out. Be patient, buy just one correct sized bike and NEVER EVER EVER buy another until you ride that one til it breaks or is stolen.

    Man i wish i was at that point again.

  25. #25
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    The thing is, when I look at new bikes, the only one that grabs me is the IRO Mark V. The Rush Hour and Langster look too much like my Stumpjumper, and the Pista looks like a breath mint. Most of the bikes I see on FGG have character. I suppose I want that, but not in a way that says 'brand new blingy $$$$ steal me!'. Definite conflict of interest.

    I suppose there's no rush, I can keep looking around and see what's out there, but it's still an interesting dilemma. The more I think about it, the less likely I'll get out for under $700 if I buy new, and even though that's cheaper than my Stumpy that's still a hefty chunk of change.

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