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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 04-18-08, 11:08 AM   #1
SuperMario5459
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To build.. or to buy? Advice for a new guy.

Alright, I'm looking for the most cost-effective way of building a fixed gear. I've read some posts saying making a fixie is pretty easy but I should also mention I know barely anything about building a bike. Cost is also a factor.. I'd like to have a cheap bike I can ride and eventually upgrade as I get more accustomed to riding fixed. Any suggestions?
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Old 04-18-08, 11:27 AM   #2
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If you are in a heavily settled area, try looking on craigs list. I got mine for only $200. It looks really nice and rides well, but most of the parts are really cheap, but new, so I don't know how long it'll all last.

I didn't know anything about bikes but I'm slowly learning by reading a lot online. I am going through the process of changing my gearing right now and it's been a nightmare pretty much. Not that it's hard persay, I just am stressing out over it because there seems to be so much variables in deciding what to buy and how to install it (I don't have any tools so I don't know if I should buy them and try to do it myself or just have a bike store do it), plus I don't want to spend a lot of money on parts/labor.

If you are looking to spend under $500 and interested in learning about bikes, my advice would be to find a cheap road bike fixie conversion and buy that and upgrade/change it as you go.

You could also find a really cheap road bike or get a free one from a dump or relative or something, and buy all of the fixed gear components and do it yourself that way. I think the hardest part with that method would be getting all of the right tools and parts. Putting it together would probably be fun.

If you are willing to spend over $500 there are new track bikes you can buy. I didn't want to spend this much money at first though.

Another piece of advice would be to research a ton about fixed gear bikes before you buy anything. Make sure your frame fits you and you are happy with the gearing it is in when you first buy it (probably aim for around 70 gear inches). I got stuck with a really really high gear ratio when I bought mine, and now I'm stressing out about changing it in time for this charity ride on May 10.

Also, use a brake and foot retention (toeclips/clipless). I've heard that the metal toeclips are better than the plastic/nylon ones. I'm still without any :\
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Old 04-18-08, 11:30 AM   #3
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If you know little about the mechanics of bicycle building, your decision is simple: buy a bike. Building a bike from the frame up is not *that* hard but...you not only are going to run into innumerable unforeseen issues (and likely have to start threads on here that will get you lots of angry replies) but you will need to spend $100-$200 on all the tools you'll need. Well, if you have a friend with all the tools, you could save money.

Can I inquire why you want a fixed gear? With a bit of searching and effort a beautiful mid-80s road bike can be found on eBay for $150. That is half of what you'd have to spend on a bottom barrel new complete fix.

If you want to jump into the tank now, get a complete bike. Don't upgrade. Ride it as it is, replace when necessary. Save your money on the next build. I think it is silly when people have a decent/average stock bike and then put $1000 into parts. Save it! Build a nicer whip.

If you decide you like pedaling all the time, then build your own.

My ascension: road rider, fixed gear buyer, 1-2 years of FG forum reading/researching, fixed gear builder.

DO NOT wade into the full build up waters if you know very little. You'll go insane figuring out threading differences, spacing, sizing, loose vs. captive bearings....and you'll be frustrated since you can't ride.
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Old 04-18-08, 11:40 AM   #4
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I have a roadie I had a shop build last year, and wanted to get a SS for commuting every day. I set out to build one up from the frame (see my sig line for a link) and while hunting for parts found a Redline 925 for $300 already done, and basically set up for commuting (fenders, light, etc) - so I did both. As the previous poster mentioned, I can ride while I take time, find parts, study and learn the parts and mechanics, and get decent deals on stuff I need. Already know I love the riding, now I want to know more about the mechanics of it, so that's a great way to do both.

Watch Craigslist, in the Portland area (not far from here) SS/FG bikes come up a few every day it seems. If you're in any areas near a decent city, you'll probably see the same.

Good luck!
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Old 04-18-08, 12:10 PM   #5
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I don't think a person can build a fixed gear bike as cheaply as a factory can put one together.

I like the Bianchi Pista and the Surly Steamroller.

They cost about the same.

Although I have a Pista frame set and love it, I give the nod to the Surly Steamroller because it comes from the factory with a front brake, and it has a lower and more friendly gear ratio for new fixed gear riders.

Interestingly, this past year I have gone down to the Surly gear ratio myself, and I like it for riding in urban traffic.
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Old 04-18-08, 12:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperMario5459 View Post
Alright, I'm looking for the most cost-effective way of building a fixed gear. I've read some posts saying making a fixie is pretty easy but I should also mention I know barely anything about building a bike. Cost is also a factor.. I'd like to have a cheap bike I can ride and eventually upgrade as I get more accustomed to riding fixed. Any suggestions?
If you just want a bike to ride and you want it now, any of the budget fixed options (pista, 925, kilo tt windsor hour, iro, etc. etc.) will serve you well and used bikes and conversions pop up on ebay/cl with some frequency. When you decide, it is worth thinking about what kind of riding you will be doing. You may want a fixed road bike instead of a track bike.

There is definitely a learning curve for building up or converting a bike, however I think it's a ton of fun and can be cheaper than buying a new off the shelf bike. You can get a basic set of tools for about $50, plus add another $50 for new a cog, chain, and some grease and simple green and of course whatever the donor bike costs. Some things you might need to have done at a shop (at the very least if it's your first bike, you will want someone to check your work and make sure you are not going to kill yourself) If you have a bike co-op, they are also great resources. I strongly recommend you check out the Bob's Garage section of the fixed gear gallery for a step by step guide to converting a bike. It will tell you everything from selecting a good candidate for conversion to redishing and respacing your wheels. If you decide to convert, just know that it will cost a little more than whatever you plan and will take a little longer. I, for one, would welcome more threads about actually building and working on bikes in this forum, so don't be afraid to post questions.

Again, if you're the kind of person who likes to get her hands dirty, I highly highly recommend the experience. Of course, if you just want to ride a bike, go buy a bike and ride it. That's fun too.
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Old 04-18-08, 12:50 PM   #7
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http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/145...--21-Tools.htm

here's a good starter tool kit. It wont have everything u need, but its a good start. Riding a bike that you pieced together is really satisfying, but takes a while to hunt down cheap parts on ebay, and you'll always end up spending way more than you expect. Just use the search function on BF like crazy, and Sheldon's site. With some research, and advice from your LBS you should be able to do everything except installing the headset.
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Old 04-18-08, 12:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by muzzymuz View Post
http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/145...--21-Tools.htm

here's a good starter tool kit. It wont have everything u need, but its a good start. Riding a bike that you pieced together is really satisfying, but takes a while to hunt down cheap parts on ebay, and you'll always end up spending way more than you expect. Just use the search function on BF like crazy, and Sheldon's site. With some research, and advice from your LBS you should be able to do everything except installing the headset.
With a good conversion, you shouldn't need to buy anything but the cog, maybe some chain ring bolts, and replaceables (like maybe tires, chain, brakepads, etc).
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Old 04-18-08, 01:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperMario5459 View Post
Alright, I'm looking for the most cost-effective way of building a fixed gear. I've read some posts saying making a fixie is pretty easy but I should also mention I know barely anything about building a bike. Cost is also a factor.. I'd like to have a cheap bike I can ride and eventually upgrade as I get more accustomed to riding fixed. Any suggestions?
IRO Cycles - they have some nice fixed gear bikes. I have one of them (Jamie Roy) myself.
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Old 04-18-08, 01:37 PM   #10
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I would suggest looking in the classified section for a second hand fixed wheel. I GOT MY FIRST ONE FOR 100
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Old 04-18-08, 02:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ken Cox View Post
Interestingly, this past year I have gone down to the Surly gear ratio myself, and I like it for riding in urban traffic.
An important question I should've asked.. Gear ratio. If anybody is in the southern coastal Maine area they know how many hills there are. This might present a problem for FG bikes so I was thinking of having a low gear ratio anyway, plus I won't pretend I have Shwarzenegger's legs. Any ideas specifically on what low ratio can take climbs but also haul ass in the straights if you want?
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Old 04-18-08, 02:46 PM   #12
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I'd recommend quite a bit of bicycle repair/overhaul type practice before building up a bike from parts. I haven't yet started my first new build, but I've put in a substantial bit of planning, and I can say that it's non-trivial. I can also say that rebuilding a couple of vintage bikes (including a wheelset for one of them) has taught me an enormous amount about bicycles.

I've known people who can build up a bike for a smaller total (parts) cost than a complete bike with similar components. This takes more a more patient and vigilant shopping style than I have.

Now converting an old road bike to fixed-gear? That would be quite a nice intro to bicycle mechanics! It also would be by far the most cost-effective way to get into this. An old road bike - nice frame, but a fixer-upper - may only run you US$100-US$200 if you look around.

http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html

Enjoy!
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Old 04-18-08, 04:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by SuperMario5459 View Post
An important question I should've asked.. Gear ratio. If anybody is in the southern coastal Maine area they know how many hills there are. This might present a problem for FG bikes so I was thinking of having a low gear ratio anyway, plus I won't pretend I have Shwarzenegger's legs. Any ideas specifically on what low ratio can take climbs but also haul ass in the straights if you want?
The problem with a ratio low enough to get you up the hills is that you have to spin like a madman to get back down them. I find about 70gi to be a good balance, but it's all relative. If you're worried about it, why not just rock a geared bike?
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Old 04-18-08, 05:07 PM   #14
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I was working on a conversion, but said "screw it" b/c of the mounting cost of tools and parts, and bought a bike. Now, if I need to replace or fix something, I buy that tool or part and do it myself, so I feel like I'm getting the experience, just nice and slow like.
As for gear inches, I ride about 75, but in a mostly flat city. I feel like I'd be comfortable on about 70 in a hilly area, but can't be sure.
Edit: A decent LBS will let you come back and change your gear ratio if you ride it for a week or a few and don't like it.
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Old 04-18-08, 05:51 PM   #15
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Ok, so most of the bases here have been covered, I'll shoot in my 2 cents.

1) tools needed arent that expensive, pending you have a garage and a basic tool set. You can do NEAR everything to convert a bike with an allen key set($5), 2 screw drivers($4), an adjustable crescent wrench/socket set($5-$15), a lockring spanner ($10) and a chain breaker($10-$20). So for $35 you will have the tools you need to keep any bike in good order. Believe me, if you ride for more than a month, you'll want these tools. Even less if you already have a crescent wrench/socket set or any of those common tools in your house.



2) A conversion can be done on the cheap. Some people suggest suicide hubbing a road wheel, I wouldnt. Spend 110 dollars on a wheelset from bikeisland, bicycle wheels, ebay. It should come with tubes and tires. Then purchase a decent cog and lockring, I would suggest surly or dura ace, and a DA lockring. That should be a total of about 25 dollars. A decent cog and lockring will prevent stripping a hub. Make sure if you are using the cranks off the bike you are starting with you get the right components, if you are, get a 3/32" chain and cog to match the 3/32" road ring.



3) invest in a bicycle repair book. The park tools blue book or something like it will provide you with a handy manual. You can learn everything you need from Sheldon Brown's site, but I always like being able to look something up in a book without running to the computer with my greasy fingers. Also read about what you are doing BEFORE you start, Sheldon is the man.



4) strip whatever bike you find down, part by part. Figure out how it works. The exception here being the cranks, as you will need a crank puller and a bottom bracket tool. Most of the time, the cranks will be in ok working order and you can leave them as is, if you want to get a bottom bracket tool and a crank puller (probably another 20-40 dollars) and lube up the bottom bracket, it's a task worth learning. Lube up the headset, pull the stem out, take the wheels off, take off the brakes, etc. After it's pulled apart, start putting it back together. Install the new parts as you go.



If you are careful, you can do a conversion for less than 200, including tools. Thrift store a frame, and go from there. Building a bike can be a hair pulling experience, but it allows you to learn loads. I cant suggest buying or building specifically, everyone goes about it differently. I've built all the bikes I ride. I've found it allows me to figure out how things work and it makes repair times much lower. It's really up to you, just please, please put a brake on the front. As for gear inches, about 70 is good. If you convert the inside ring on old road doubles is usually 42, and i would put a 17tooth cog on for skid patches and ease of learning (I think it's about 68 gear inches)

Hope it helps.
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Old 04-18-08, 07:35 PM   #16
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CL is ur best bet
i haggled my bike down from 200 to 140
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