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  1. #1
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    What to look for in a frame?

    I have been riding a road bike for about 6 months and have been really interested in building a fixie. Not only will it help my cadence and power, it looks like a lot of fun. (And it will help my wrenching skills.)

    I have been reading sheldon browns website and I am almost ready to begin. One question though. I am planning on looking around for an old road bike to convert. What things should I look for?

    Obviously a horizontal drop out, but other than that?

    And are there any brands to either stay away from or look for?

    Thanks
    Started cycling 12 months ago, and down 105 pounds. Only 13 more to do.

    Current weight - 168 lbs

  2. #2
    kit
    kit is offline
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    Maybe you know this already but the stickers are the most important part of the frame:
    http://www.whycycle.co.uk/stickers.htm
    http://www.gtgtandems.com/tech/materials.html

  3. #3
    jerk store mathletics's Avatar
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    Look for forged dropouts instead of stamped. The different styles are on Sheldon's website, but you can basically spot them by looking for the following: a forged dropout will have a raised edge around the opening; it will look a little thicker where the nut clamps onto the frame. This is usually a sign of better quality. Stamped dropouts are just flat metal with no embellishments.

    Depending on what you want to do, you should probably look for a frame with eyelets for fender/rack mounts and bottle cage bosses (though there are plenty of options if you end up with a frame without cage bosses). If you're not going to use a back brake, get a frame without cable guides.

  4. #4
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    Road bike with 700c wheels. As much of the bike as possible in good servicable condition - brakes, bars, headset, bottom bracket, cranks, etc. The less you have to replace beyond the rear wheel the better. And make sure it fits.

  5. #5
    na975
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    look for a frame called Pake, there good frames for less $.

  6. #6
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    I'm kind of against road conversions these days. The nice ones were meant to stay as classic derailleur'd bikes in my opinion, and the trash ones are just that - janky and all that stuff.

    But what to look for in a frame... hmm... fit is probably the most important thing, make sure it's in your size range and the measurements match up. Geometry would be next, and that's pretty subjective as far as people's preferences are concerned. Also important is worksmanship, one of the reasons I consider buying a keirin frame to be a 'good investment', because hand built stuff rides like nothing else. Tubing also makes a difference in how things are going to feel - don't get stuck with some ****ty 70's Hi-Tensile road frame steel...

    But yeah, I'd recommend a KHS track frame for building somethign up on the cheap. They're factory frames but for the money I think they're okay. Not exactly top-tier but they'll take abuse with that good old Reynolds 520 tubing.

  7. #7
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    These are all great answers. Thanks for all the quick replies. But am i understading that the only part of the bike that is really a necessity is to have a horizontal drop out? Nothing else (other than fit and quality) really matters.

    That will make my search so much easier.
    Started cycling 12 months ago, and down 105 pounds. Only 13 more to do.

    Current weight - 168 lbs

  8. #8
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    yeah, that's all that matters if you have low standards. go for it. you don't even need horizontal dropouts if you have a white industries eno hub or whatever it is.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Stay away from French and Raleigh frames. Most of these use non-standard parts for the BB and HS. Finding spares can be a real chore.

  10. #10
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    I'm kind of against road conversions these days. The nice ones were meant to stay as classic derailleur'd bikes in my opinion, and the trash ones are just that - janky and all that stuff.
    I disagree with this. Although I almost always prefer to leave a geared bike geared, there are plenty of old, quality road bikes out there that make perfect fixed gear conversions for someone starting out, especially a roadie who has (it would seem) no interest in track riding. Fuji, Nishiki, Trek, and a slew of others turned out well-made, lugged 4130 (same as Reynolds 520) frames all throughout the 1980s which lend themselves perfectly to conversion to fixed gear.

    Also, I think it's disrespectful to tell this guy that he has "low standards" because he doesn't want to drop a bunch of money on a bike that won't necessarily suit his purpose.
    Last edited by bonechilling; 09-10-07 at 01:47 AM.

  11. #11
    Ths Hipstr Kills Masheenz cc700's Avatar
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    suite his purpose, lolcano


    really, fit and condition are up to you. unless you want a poor fitting, rusted out bike, you should probably pay attention to it.

  12. #12
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonechilling View Post
    I disagree with this. Although I almost always prefer to leave a geared bike geared, there are plenty of old, quality road bikes out there that make perfect fixed gear conversions for someone starting out, especially a roadie who has (it would seem) no interest in track riding. Fuji, Nishiki, Trek, and a slew of others turned out well-made, lugged 4130 (same as Reynolds 520) frames all throughout the 1980s which lend themselves perfectly to conversion to fixed gear.

    Also, I think it's disrespectful to tell this guy that he has "low standards" because he doesn't want to drop a bunch of money on a bike that won't necessarily suit his purpose.
    Yeah, I'd say you're right. I just get a little sad from time to time when I see some very nice Italian steel that was probably originally outfitted with a full Campy grouppo now stripped to fixed gear.

  13. #13
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    Only you can know what the right frame for you is. Personally, I like a frame that's always up for new things. It's gotta like Thai food and it absolutely has to be a little adventurous in the sack. Communication is important, I know, but it has to know when to just let me be quiet. I'll make up for it later. And it can't be jealous when I look at other bikes. Looking ain't riding. That said, it isn't all about what your frame can do for you. You have to be willing to make some compromises, too. It's a responsibility. You shouldn't lock it up outside for long. You need to clean it. If it's steel, you gotta rust-proof it. Ride it in the rain, you should remove the BB often and re-grease. Take the seat tube out every now and then, lube it up. Show it some love and it'll be with you till the end or until you get hit by a bus.
    Last edited by pino pomo; 09-10-07 at 08:42 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    Yeah, I'd say you're right. I just get a little sad from time to time when I see some very nice Italian steel that was probably originally outfitted with a full Campy grouppo now stripped to fixed gear.
    What if you find a frame by itself with no parts, and it's a classic 80's Pinarello frame? Do you spend the money to get all the original campanolo parts or do you spend a lot less and ride the **** out of it? I'll take the latter, I've done it twice now.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
    Stay away from French and Raleigh frames. Most of these use non-standard parts for the BB and HS. Finding spares can be a real chore.
    Raleigh? Really? I've never had a problem with converting/repairing/replacing their parts.

  16. #16
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    In addition to the above, hold out for an old road bike with nicer tubing. No need to jump on the first gas pipe bike you find with horizontal dropouts.

  17. #17
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    I don't know, I've been getting way more excited recently with picking up the cheapest "gas pipe" bikes I can find and building them up to give them another go-around. I found a Camel cigarettes frame and just finished building it, I love it more than all my other bikes and I made it all from junk.

  18. #18
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    Hey, I'm not knocking made-all-from-junk fixed conversions. I just wouldn't recommend one as a person's first foray into this type of riding.

  19. #19
    for drinking Straws's Avatar
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    Why not? They build up a real beater POS for cheap as hell then move on building a nice fixed with the knowledge of what they want. What purpose does an $800 fixed gear serve if the person riding it has no clue why it was 800 bucks?

  20. #20
    jerk store mathletics's Avatar
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    I saw a Dr. Pepper branded Murray on CL the other day. I thought it would make a sweet conversion since it was probably junk, but it was FLASHY junk.

  21. #21
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    Yeah, I'd say you're right. I just get a little sad from time to time when I see some very nice Italian steel that was probably originally outfitted with a full Campy grouppo now stripped to fixed gear.
    Does this really happen though? The few that I've seen like this (a handful of local guys) have been in the hands of serious riders for who bought these bikes new, back when they were racing. They're older now, they're riding modern aluminum or CF bikes, and they're giving their old frames another go as fixed gears. All the Campy parts are sitting in a box in their house; they're not spray-painting them black, shaving off braze-ons, or anything stupid like that.

    Looking at a place like Fixed Gear Gallery, it would seem that cheap Japanese "bike boom" frames are the other of the day. I think this idea that people are buying old Italian frames to convert to fixed gear is basically a myth.

  22. #22
    some new kind of kick Suttree's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=andre nickatina;5237617]I'm kind of against road conversions these days. The nice ones were meant to stay as classic derailleur'd bikes in my opinion, and the trash ones are just that - janky and all that stuff.

    QUOTE]

    + 1 get a Pake if you want a decent track bike without the conversion hassles

  23. #23
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Pake is really crap, guys. It's ****ing SEAMED, single-butted Cro-Mo tubing, which is absolute garbage, plus it's ugly, and it costs like $225, right?

    Bikes Direct was/is selling the Kilo TT/KHS track frame for $175 shipped. It's full 4130 tubing, double-butted, and has a crowned fork. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

    But I don't think this guy even wants a track bike to begin with.
    Last edited by bonechilling; 09-10-07 at 11:12 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaiju-velo View Post

    + 1 get a Pake if you want a decent track bike without the conversion hassles
    What if you don't want a track bike? Is the pake even one?

    Really there is plenty of room between **** and irreplaceable collectors item with frames of any nationality and these frames are generally a lot nicer that comparable ss specific ones even with some decent parts hanging off them. You don't see that many of them owned by people other then old roadies because once indoctrinated hipsters want to say they have something "track" and beforehand they lack the knowledge to pick out the right frame.

    As long as you're not hacking stuff off or slamming them against racks and leaving them out in the rain why not convert anything but the rarest of bikes? Theres nothing magical about old record stuff that is lost as soon as you put it in a box.

  25. #25
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    horozontal dropouts (or as horonztal as you can get)

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