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  1. #1
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    Convert vintage, or go new?

    I'm trying to decide whether or not to convert my vintage Fuji Del Rey 86 to fixed, or to just buy a new fixed gear bike.

    The Fuji is in excellent condition, minus some paint scratches here and there. All original parts. The main problem is that despite changing brake pads, the bike just doesn't brake well. I'm guessing there's something up with the rims..

    Any case.. If I were to convert to fixed, I'd definitely be changing the wheels. I have a spare ALX220 wheelset but I don't know if I should just buy another wheelset with a flipflop hub. That way I think I could avoid spreading the rear drop outs. I'd also need to buy long reach brakes. I believe that's all. Cost wise, it looks like I'm already half way to a cheap new fixie from some manufacturer. The new fixie will probably be a lot more maintainable..

    What do you guys think I should do? I read sheldon brown's site on converting so I know what I'd be in for, but until I actually do it I don't know if there will be any shortcomings I wish I had known about..

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    jerk store mathletics's Avatar
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    If the bike is in good shape and fits you well, convert. Conversions are great because every one is unique (at least in theory).

  3. #3
    my bike Owns me+my wallet Kol.klink's Avatar
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    Convert!

    Just because you are buying a new bike dosn't mean the you won't spend more money in it once you get it, and in the end i think it you will much more satisifed with somthing you built upyourself than with a bikesdirect special. Get a decent wheel set, new headset/stem/bars probably a new saddle wouldnt be a bad idea and you should be to roll
    Last edited by Kol.klink; 08-20-07 at 01:40 PM.

  4. #4
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Conversions take time. Time to gather the parts. Time to build. With a off the peg or used fixed, you can ride immediately.

    Conversions take effort and expertise. There's lots of easy stuff, then there's lots of stuff that's not so easy (like chainline management). Look at how many threads have "help" and "converting" or "conversion" in the titles.

    New bikes have warranties. New bikes get complimentary services at most shops. With a new bike, you know exactly what you got, not "God, I hope this works."

    It seems that most (not all) people convert because they don't have the cash to buy a fixed/track bike. Some people like conversions because it's a learning experience. If you can afford it and your conversion candidate isn't anything super-special (the Del Rey doesn't seem such), I say just buy a complete fixed bike either new or used and start riding immediately.

    Just about every major bike manufacturer makes a single speed / fixed bike nowadays. You have LOTS to choose from.

  5. #5
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, and it is *always* more expensive to buy bike parts a-la-carte than to buy a complete bike.

    By "buy a complete bike", I don't mean buy a cheap complete bike. There are lots of great mid-price-range bikes that are solid. When in doubt, stick to the major brands (Trek, Bianchi, Specialized, Lemond, Cannondale). They all have their pros and cons. But, they are all good bike manufacturers.

    Also, don't mistake buying a bike to ride with buying status and credibility. Lots of people on this forum look down upon people that ride stock bikes because "they aren't unique." So what?

    Now, if you ARE looking to be unique first and foremost, then that's a different story.

  6. #6
    lifewaster. helloamerican's Avatar
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    if you want to know about your bike, convert.

    if you want to ride your bike and take it to the lbs when something is wrong, buy new.

  7. #7
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Vintage, ftw






    Oh, and women on track bikes

    Last edited by bbattle; 08-20-07 at 02:10 PM.

  8. #8
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helloamerican View Post
    if you want to know about your bike, convert.
    True.

    Quote Originally Posted by helloamerican View Post
    if you want to ride your bike and take it to the lbs when something is wrong, buy new.
    This implies that new bikes are harder to personally maintain than converted ones. Is that your assertion?

    I would say that new bikes are actually easier to maintain. Here's why:

    1) They come with a manual.
    2) All of the parts are designed or arranged to fit that particular bicycle (by engineers, none-the-less).



    One last thing, if you ever do run into a problem that's beyond your skill-level, as it's been mentioned on this board, some bike shops won't accept conversions.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Oh yeah, and it is *always* more expensive to buy bike parts a-la-carte than to buy a complete bike.
    always = if you are paying retail.

  10. #10
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dutret View Post
    always = if you are paying retail.
    I assumed he was paying retail. He didn't mention any particular sales, hookups, employee discounts, or free stuff.

    Until any new information comes available, all that we really can assume is that he's paying full retail. Right?

  11. #11
    jerk store mathletics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    This implies that new bikes are harder to personally maintain than converted ones.
    No it doesn't.

    In any case, you can go either way with each. I dropped a frame off at my lbs to have them do the conversion for me. It didn't come with a written warranty, but my mechanic took care of service anyway. On the other hand, you could certainly buy a new bike and then do all the maintenance yourself. Self service vs shop service is simply a good general check for a first fixie.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    This implies that new bikes are harder to personally maintain than converted ones. Is that your assertion?
    I think he meant to say "you'll learn more about the mechanics of your bicycle, and learn it sooner, if you build a conversion."

  13. #13
    Ths Hipstr Kills Masheenz cc700's Avatar
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    buy new if it's what you're looking for. if i could change everything on my conversion that i wasn't 100% happy with there'd be a 100% new bike in front of me right now.

  14. #14
    Jewish Media Conspirator asherlighn's Avatar
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    Im glad I bought my bike new. Its shiny, its well put together, it has a warranty, and I didnt have to wait too long for it. my 2c
    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    The fact is that most peoples sense of what rides well is easily overcome by their sense of what looks cool.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    I assumed he was paying retail. He didn't mention any particular sales, hookups, employee discounts, or free stuff.

    Until any new information comes available, all that we really can assume is that he's paying full retail. Right?
    Well since he is starting with an old bike it is a pretty stupid assumption to assume he is going to replace everything on it with sparkly new stuff he bought at full retail price.

    Most of the time a conversion will be better, cheaper and/or better suited to you then a complete bike.

  16. #16
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    Thank you all for the replies! To me, I always tinker with my bikes so converting from vintage to fixed will be fun for me. In my experience, it has been a lot easier for me to work with my modern road bike than with the vintage bike.

    The Fuji Del Rey's frame is made of "quad-butted valite." It seems light enough for being a steel composite so I thought it might be worth turning into a bike that I ride more often. I actually had ridden it quite often as a beater until the lack of ability to brake became a safety hazard.

    I need to change the brakes and wheelset regardless of whether or not I convert, so I just figured to myself that it might be a good idea to try a fixed gear at this point in time.

    I like that a new bike will most likely be more serviceable, the rear drop outs are the modern width, etc. That's the main plus. If I converted the fuji, I would need to replace the brakes and wheelset, and that's about it. I may need to spread the rear drop out as well, depending on the wheelset I pick up. I hate 27"!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Chrysiptera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antchen View Post
    Thank you all for the replies! To me, I always tinker with my bikes so converting from vintage to fixed will be fun for me. In my experience, it has been a lot easier for me to work with my modern road bike than with the vintage bike.

    The Fuji Del Rey's frame is made of "quad-butted valite." It seems light enough for being a steel composite so I thought it might be worth turning into a bike that I ride more often. I actually had ridden it quite often as a beater until the lack of ability to brake became a safety hazard.

    I need to change the brakes and wheelset regardless of whether or not I convert, so I just figured to myself that it might be a good idea to try a fixed gear at this point in time.

    I like that a new bike will most likely be more serviceable, the rear drop outs are the modern width, etc. That's the main plus. If I converted the fuji, I would need to replace the brakes and wheelset, and that's about it. I may need to spread the rear drop out as well, depending on the wheelset I pick up. I hate 27"!
    Hey.. when I wanted a ss last year I just bought a used Specialized Langster; and that was great because I didn't have to mess around with building a bike. It only cost me $400 and I had a very nice ride that day.

    But I had always really wanted a conversion, so about 2 weeks ago I picked up a used fuji and went for it. Its going to cost about $600 for a mid-level build, but I'm 100% happier with it than the off the shelf bike. Well, 90% happier, I like the cranks on my Langster better.. I know the bike inside and out, and I enjoy riding it much more.. (check my sig for the buildup)...

    If I were to do it again I'd probably still have started with an off-the-shelf; just because SS/fixed is much different than a geared bike and you might not like it...

    chry
    ... I'm the center of attention in the walls inside my head ...

    1984 Fuji Berkeley: Fixed conversion build thread
    2006 Specialized Langster SS, 197x Motobecane Mirage: crummy SS
    2005 Trek 2100, 1953 Raleigh Sports: Restoration on hold

  18. #18
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    Would you rather create a masterpiece or buy a print.
    That is the question you have to ask the person in the mirror.
    Quote Originally Posted by SBFixed View Post
    You're a dick, if your bike gets stolen I hope that you don't get a thread.

  19. #19
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    Would you rather create a masterpiece or buy a print.
    That is the question you have to ask the person in the mirror.
    Not many masterpieces happen on the first try. And especially not on the cheap

  20. #20
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Not many masterpieces happen on the first try. And especially not on the cheap
    I must have just been lucky then.
    Of the 20 bikes I own and the dozens I have built for others I have to say my first conversion is still a masterpiece.
    I could describe it to you here but how does one convey emotion through a keyboard?
    Quote Originally Posted by SBFixed View Post
    You're a dick, if your bike gets stolen I hope that you don't get a thread.

  21. #21
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Convert. Just don't cut off the bosses or anything.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Alright thanks guys! I guess I'm convinced.. I'll convert. Tonight I will take photos and strip it down. Hopefully the process can help someone else.

  23. #23
    *****es love tarck kemmer's Avatar
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    Convert. It can be as cheap as you want it to be. My conversion cost me $110 dollars, $40 for the bike, $10 for the chain and $60 for the wheel. Everything else was dumpstered and it rides great! It has seen a couple of upgrades over the years but the only one that was completely necessary was the crankset.

  24. #24
    lifewaster. helloamerican's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post

    I would say that new bikes are actually easier to maintain.
    thats why i think it's better with a conversion. a lot of my learning process has been helped with having ot improvise ways to make things work, i.e. 'these chainring bolts are stuck, even with a chainring tool they dont come easy- ok, allen key, friend, screw driver, hammer = not stuck anymore. IMO it helps your brain to think in a way that just might save you a couple hours when you have some bike trouble with minimal tools.

    I'm definitely not saying conversions are easier to maintain- i'm saying they're better because of the opposite of that.

    as for the lbs not taking conversions, maybe some don't i think they're silly then, but i think you'd be hard pressed to find a town where if there is only one bike shop, and they don't take conversions- that in that extreme situation no one at the store would at least give you advice if they wouldn't take the bike. example:

    (LBS)"sorry we're the only bike store in town, and we don't take conversions"
    (you)"shat."
    (LBS)"yeah but try some WD40 a long allen key and a chisel"

    i've said it before i just think bikes should be similar to getting your first car, you start with a crappy one then after awhile get a good one and it means something entirely new.

    I started with a bare bone conversion, road a busted ass BB original cranky bearing front wheel and a cheap ass rear wheel for 7 months. now i have a new bike with dura-ace hubs and bb, i feel the difference and i really appreciate it more, and i feel more confident riding it after having delt with teh conversions subtle issues for so long.

  25. #25
    THIS SPACE FOR RENT
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    "I don't buy new frames, it just encourages them."

    -T.G.

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