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  1. #1
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    Just about overwhelmed, need some help converting

    I've been riding an old Univega steel frame road bike for a few years now and decided a month or so ago it was time to lighten the load, simplify, and enjoy riding again.
    So I (obviously) decided to convert to a SS setup.
    I was at the time completely oblivious to just about every bit of knowledge I would need to do this.
    I'm doing my best to saturate myself with the needed information but there are a few things I'm not wrapping my head around well quite yet.

    I'm basically just building the single speed freewheel around the frame, saving just the seatpost and handlebars for now. As I think the brakes are the only things that would maybe translate and I don't think they're worth salvaging.

    From what I've been able to figure out with calipers and too much time on the internet, these are the specs of the frame I'm working with..
    Front spacing: 98mm (100?)
    Rear spacing: 125mm (126?)
    Shell width: 68mm w/english threading
    Dropouts: Horizontal (forward facing, slightly downward.)

    I was planning on having a flip flop hub so I could ride fixed until I could afford brakes, but got a hold of a little bit more money so I'm planning on putting a 17t ACS freewheel on the back and 48t Sugino RD setup on the front and a Sugino 68x103 bottom bracket.

    I don't know how to ensure that the diameter of the shell on the frame is correct to accommodate that BB.

    I'm having troubles figuring out the chainline, with that crank/wheel I should be at a 45mm chainline but doesn't the rear hub factor into that as well?

    And from that, I'm not really sure what I'm looking for in the wheelsets beyond that I don't want tubular.
    What's 700c vs 27"?

    Also, I want just a front brake on the finished bike, and have no idea what I'm looking for there in any sense. I don't want to spend too much on it but I have no idea whats out there or even what specs I don't know anything about.

    I hope I'm not forgetting anything.

  2. #2
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    Oh, and incase anyone appreciates it...
    When I first got it it was pretty scummy so I took some time to clean it up and repaint it, put my also then new camera to use. (Cherrywood and Chrome Tachihara)
    Once it's converted I'll be painting it again, this time to match that camera, red with chrome everything-that-I-can.

  3. #3
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    I don't know how to ensure that the diameter of the shell on the frame is correct to accommodate that BB.

    It will be a standard 68mm English treaded bb.

    I'm having troubles figuring out the chainline, with that crank/wheel I should be at a 45mm chainline but doesn't the rear hub factor into that as well?

    You just need to make sure that the crank set and wheelset match. You might have an easier time with a crankset that gives you a 42mm chainline. There will be more hub options for you.

    And from that, I'm not really sure what I'm looking for in the wheelsets beyond that I don't want tubular.
    What's 700c vs 27"?

    Also, I want just a front brake on the finished bike, and have no idea what I'm looking for there in any sense. I don't want to spend too much on it but I have no idea whats out there or even what specs I don't know anything about.


    700c and 27" are two different, but very close sizes. 700c has 622mm diameter and 27" has 630mm. Your bike was probably designed for 27", but 700 is much more available. In terms of what you want. It mostly depends on what you want to spend. Any of the million internet wheel sets with formula hubs should be just dandy for you. I've had good experience with bicyclewheels.com and have also been happy with purchases (not wheels) from bike island. You will just need to make sure that whatever brake you have has 4mm more reach in the brake adjustment than what you have on their now. Tektro long reach calipers are nice, cheap, and have good reach.

    Also, paint the bike before you do the conversion (while it's taken apart) not after.

    Now for some unsolicited advice:

    1. If you are going to go to all this trouble, it will be cheaper (or damn close to it) to just buy a new ss bike. Then you get to have an ss and a geared bike!!! Or sell it on CL and buy an ss.

    2. If you will be freewheeling, use two brakes.

    3. If you really plan on using it freewheeled and not fixed, you will save yourself a lot of trouble and money by pulling the multispeed freewheel and spinning on a single speed one, rediching, and respacing. With some new bearings, grease, and proper adjustment you will be very very happy with the wheels you have now. Same thing goes for the cranks and bb. Assuming it is a 5 arm bolt on spider, you can just run the inside chain ring with some short bolts and, assuming that everything is in good shape, some new bearings and grease in that old bb and you will be a happy camper.

    Have fun and don't forget to post pics when it's done!!!

  4. #4
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    man, major props to you. conversions are the only legit form of single speed

  5. #5
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    Your current wheel set should be fine for a SS application. You can remove your freewheel and thread on a BMX single freewheel. You will need to adjust your axle spacers to correct your chainline and redish the rim to center it.

    Also, you just want a front brake and single speed? If you are looking for a fixed gear then disregard the above advise. If you do in fact want a SS then keep both brakes on or build a coaster brake rear wheel.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

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    i ride ss and only have a front brake, it works just fine

  7. #7
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by okay View Post
    i ride ss and only have a front brake, it works just fine
    until it doesn't.

  8. #8
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    no, it will always work. the key is not cranking down on the lever and using some finesse

  9. #9
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    Rob I would do this for real cheap (new freewheel on the existing wheel, short chainring bolts) or not do it at all. The Kilo TT and its ilk are so inexpensive that you're better off going with that than putting significant money into a beater.

    You should probably have a rear brake if you are going to ride that thing in all conditions, especially if you are taking it into traffic. You need a rear brake when traction is bad.

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    true. thank you for using logic and reasoning instead of lording your idea of how things should be like some other people.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by okay View Post
    man, major props to you. conversions are the only legit form of single speed
    What is this supposed to mean?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mander View Post
    Rob I would do this for real cheap (new freewheel on the existing wheel, short chainring bolts) or not do it at all. The Kilo TT and its ilk are so inexpensive that you're better off going with that than putting significant money into a beater.
    I don't want to ride fixed all that much, the Kilo TT from what I can find would run about 350$ and I'd still have to buy a freewheel and brakes (Plural, after your point.)

    I've been pricing things out via Bens in Milwaukee and a bit of ebay and it seems I can put everything together with my current frame/bars/seat for about the same.

    Lets see if I'm forgetting anything here....
    I'm keeping my old frame, fork, seat, handles bars, and I already have the stripper and paints I want.
    MKS GR-9 Pedals : $20
    ACS CLAWS Freewheel - 17t : $15 (Do I need a lockring for a freewheel?)
    KMC - 1/8" Chain : $8
    Sugino RD Track/Fixed - 170mm : $75
    Sugino BB (68x103mm) : $29
    Cloth Handlebar Tape : $12
    Wheelset via ebay : under $150 (example)
    ________
    Total: $309

    Leaves me saving almost $50 towards brakes if I haven't forgotten anything, plus the bike will be MINE.
    How do the parts I've been looking at compare to those in the Kilo? And the weight of the frame?
    I don't think I want toe clips and straps, I suppose I could just remove those from the Kilo.

    I'm still confused as to how to check and make sure my rear hub will match with the chainline. I don't see any of the specifications that would help me tell that in any of the wheelsets I've looked at, ebay or elsewhere. Do I just get the right spacing for my frame and deal with lining it up with spacers after it's all together?

  13. #13
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    Also, I converted an old Univega (Viva Sport) also about two months ago, and I didn't buy a new BB. It took a lot of tedious adjusting of both the BB and the rear hub, but I got it to go straight, so you might be able to save a few bones there.

    Unless you're hot to buy new parts, in which case, go crazy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Glatfelter View Post
    (Do I need a lockring for a freewheel?)
    Nope. A fixed cog tightens when you pedal it, just like the lid on a pb jar. When you resist or back pedal, it loosens, again just lika a jar lid; that's why the lock ring is necessary. A freewheel tightens from pedalling and just ratchets when you spin it counterclockwise.

    KMC - 1/8" Chain : $8
    Sugino RD Track/Fixed - 170mm : $75
    Sugino BB (68x103mm) : $29
    Cloth Handlebar Tape : $12
    Wheelset via ebay : under $150 (example)
    ________
    Total: $309

    Leaves me saving almost $50 towards brakes if I haven't forgotten anything, plus the bike will be MINE.
    How do the parts I've been looking at compare to those in the Kilo? And the weight of the frame?
    I don't think I want toe clips and straps, I suppose I could just remove those from the Kilo.
    That parts list sounds more or less on par with a Kilo. But you should be thinking about a Motobecane Messenger, it's a ss with brakes. Your frame is almost certainly made of straight gauge tubes. The bikesdirect offerings are butted (the tubes get thinner in the middle, then thick again at the end where they have to be tigged). So yeah it will be lighter. To save a lot on that parts list you could always buy the bikesdirect bike and flip the frame for $100-150 on craigslist, then use all the parts on your Univega... except that that would be nuts.



    I'm still confused as to how to check and make sure my rear hub will match with the chainline. I don't see any of the specifications that would help me tell that in any of the wheelsets I've looked at, ebay or elsewhere. Do I just get the right spacing for my frame and deal with lining it up with spacers after it's all together?
    Adjusting chainline is daunting for a noob but pretty easy if you know what you're doing. If you get a formula or dimension fixed hub, your chainline will be around 42 mm which will line up fine with rds' inner ring position on their recommended bb size.

    Are you sure you want a new wheelset? What's wrong with running the old one with a ss freewheel?
    Last edited by mander; 04-20-08 at 04:30 PM. Reason: nivega

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mander View Post
    Are you sure you want a new wheelset? What's wrong with running the old one with a ss freewheel?
    I'm not sure that I want a new wheelset, I just assumed it'd be difficult to space my old rear wheel for SS riding.
    Can I just remove the gears and put on the freewheel or do I need to get a new hub and re-build the wheel?
    I'm pretty sure I personally wouldn't be able to adjust the chainline but I have quite a few friends that I'm sure would be more than capable.
    Bike polo fanatics abound and all that.
    I mean, it is Chicago eh?

  16. #16
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    I don't want to ride fixed all that much, the Kilo TT from what I can find would run about 350$ and I'd still have to buy a freewheel and brakes (Plural, after your point.)

    The messenger is the same price and ships with brakes and freewheel.


    Leaves me saving almost $50 towards brakes if I haven't forgotten anything,


    Do you have tools, a co-op, and/or a shop labor budget? Also don't forget to add shipping to your budget for those parts, unless those are prices at your local bike shop. You will also need to drill your fork to accept new recessed brakes and probably buy a new hex nut for the front, again this might mean a shop budget. Also, your current (I assume) 27" tires and tubes won't fit those wheels, so figure another $30 or more for some decent tires and tubes.


    plus the bike will be MINE.


    The best reason to go this way IMO.

    How do the parts I've been looking at compare to those in the Kilo? And the weight of the frame?
    I don't think I want toe clips and straps, I suppose I could just remove those from the Kilo.


    You will have a better crank set. Everything else will be about comparable. I would worry more about the comfort and geometry than weight (which is impossible to say without knowing a bit more about your current frame, though I would guess they will be similar). Your current bike surely gives you a plusher ride than the Kilo will.

    I'm still confused as to how to check and make sure my rear hub will match with the chainline. I don't see any of the specifications that would help me tell that in any of the wheelsets I've looked at, ebay or elsewhere. Do I just get the right spacing for my frame and deal with lining it up with spacers after it's all together?

    Call or email whoever is selling it and ask what chain line the hub will give you. Almost all of the cheaper wheels have formula hubs which will give you 42mm in back. Again, it will be much easier to adjust the chain line with your crank set/bb than with the hub. Unless you have wheel building skills, you would need a shop to re-dish and re-space the rear a few mm to get both a good chain line and a centered rim (which you will need with a rear brake)

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    Check this out:

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/.../messenger.htm

    Bike building is super fun even though it's also expensive and painful for a noob, and if you really want to do that you should.

  18. #18
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Glatfelter View Post
    I'm not sure that I want a new wheelset, I just assumed it'd be difficult to space my old rear wheel for SS riding.
    Can I just remove the gears and put on the freewheel or do I need to get a new hub and re-build the wheel?
    I'm pretty sure I personally wouldn't be able to adjust the chainline but I have quite a few friends that I'm sure would be more than capable.
    Bike polo fanatics abound and all that.
    I mean, it is Chicago eh?
    You need a special tool and a vice to pull the current freewheel. It's not too hard to re space and re dish. Watch the videos here: http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/colu...age/indexb.htm

    You could certainly get a shop to do it for less than the price of a new wheel set.

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    Do you have tools, a co-op, and/or a shop labor budget? Also don't forget to add shipping to your budget for those parts, unless those are prices at your local bike shop. You will also need to drill your fork to accept new recessed brakes and probably buy a new hex nut for the front, again this might mean a shop budget. Also, your current (I assume) 27" tires and tubes won't fit those wheels, so figure another $30 or more for some decent tires and tubes.


    Noted on the shipping and tire/tube prices. Though I suppose I could go pick up the parts, gas would likely be more than shipping.
    I have full access to all the tools I'll need.
    A shop budget around here on a Tuesday night is a sixer.

    Tires and tubes getting knocked off by the fact that you've convinced me I can re-use my wheelset.

    Off to google to find out more about recessed brakes I suppose?



    The best reason to go this way IMO.


    Definitely.

    You will have a better crank set. Everything else will be about comparable. I would worry more about the comfort and geometry than weight (which is impossible to say without knowing a bit more about your current frame, though I would guess they will be similar). Your current bike surely gives you a plusher ride than the Kilo will.

    Plusher ride?

    Call or email whoever is selling it and ask what chain line the hub will give you. Almost all of the cheaper wheels have formula hubs which will give you 42mm in back. Again, it will be much easier to adjust the chain line with your crank set/bb than with the hub. Unless you have wheel building skills, you would need a shop to re-dish and re-space the rear a few mm to get both a good chain line and a centered rim (which you will need with a rear brake)

    And if I keep my current wheelset I should just take them in and have the shop tell me what kind of chain line the rear hub will get me?

    EDIT: Looking at that messenger really makes me want to keep working with my bike.
    Man, you'd think they could make them a little prettier?

  20. #20
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    First of all, I highly support this project over buying a bikesdirect bike. The parts will be better, it will be custom to your own tastes, and you get the satisfaction of doing it yourself. Don't listen to the haters who are in love with the kilo tt -- they've just spent too much time on this board hearing how awesome bikesidrect is. Its way more fun to build a bike than to get one in the mail.

    Second, with regards to the wheels... I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think almost any wheelset you get with formula hubs will have a 42mm chainline. I'm no authority on the subject, but I think you can get a combo of sugino bb/cranks that will give you a similar 42mm chainline, and if not, you can work with spacers on the cranks to make it right. Also, the wheelset you pointed out on ebay is probably not the best deal you can get. BellsBikesShop, which posts wheelsets on ebay all the time, will make you a set of silver weinmanns+silver formulas for $130, and if you don't see the right wheelset on ebay, just call Steve and he'll build you anything you want without charging any additional labor costs. Mention that your rear dropouts are 126mm spacing, and he'll space the hubs for you too.

    People here are right that you could probably make the current wheelset and crankset/bb work, but theres also something to be said for buying new ones. Its totally your call. Have fun with this!

    edit - I'm assuming that plusher ride refers to the fact that laid-back roadbike geometry is more comfortable for riding on streets (for some people) than the upright track geometry of a kilo tt.
    Last edited by Judge_Posner; 04-20-08 at 04:48 PM.

  21. #21
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    Off to google to find out more about recessed brakes I suppose?

    Go here: http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ra-e.html and scroll down to recessed brakes. It's not hard. I've done it, but it trashed the drill bit, so add $5 for a cheapie.

    Plusher ride?

    Hard to explain how things feel. Go borrow a friend's track bike and ride it a mile and then ride your bike a mile. The feeling will immediately explain what I mean.


    And if I keep my current wheelset I should just take them in and have the shop tell me what kind of chain line the rear hub will get me?


    Your rear hub can give you pretty much any chain line you decide you want. It just has to be adjusted on the axle. Then you will have to re-center (re-dish) the rim to make sure it is centered for the rear brake. Check out the videos above for a clear how to/explanation.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    What is this supposed to mean?
    its supposed to mean that people who convert geared bikes into single speeds are way cooler than those who just go out and buy a pre-made single speed.

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    I don't understand the need to have recessed brakes instead of a new set of the type of brakes I already have on there?
    Or maybe even just new wire and some cleanup work on the brakes, I believe they're suntour, so they should be holding up alright if I put some work in right?

  24. #24
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Glatfelter View Post
    I don't understand the need to have recessed brakes instead of a new set of the type of brakes I already have on there?
    Or maybe even just new wire and some cleanup work on the brakes, I believe they're suntour, so they should be holding up alright if I put some work in right?
    You might find it difficult to find new brakes that are not designed for recessed mounting, and especially center pull brakes like you have on their now. I would imagine that they would be expensive if you could find them new.

    I was under the impression you needed (or wanted) new brakes. If the ones you have now work, then by all means keep them. I'm sure replacing the cables, housing and pads wouldn't hurt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by huerro View Post
    You might find it difficult to find new brakes that are not designed for recessed mounting, and especially center pull brakes like you have on their now. I would imagine that they would be expensive if you could find them new.

    I was under the impression you needed (or wanted) new brakes. If the ones you have now work, then by all means keep them. I'm sure replacing the cables, housing and pads wouldn't hurt.
    They definitely don't work ok, but after the revelation about not having to replace the wheels I was thinking they would likely be salvageable.
    Guess I'll have to buy a sixer and new cables and pads, have one of the co-ops help me out.
    Suppose I'd probably need that in order to re-space the wheel as well.

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