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  1. #1
    up hill both ways commutr4life's Avatar
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    How important are horizontal dropouts?!

    I was advised against building a fixie from an old steel frame that did not have horizontal dropouts. But I've seen (on this board and around town) plenty of fixies with all manner of dropouts...what gives? Why are horizontal dropouts desirable/necessary anyway? As you can tell, I'm new to SS/FX. Can someone drop some science on me?

  2. #2
    No plan. peabodypride's Avatar
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    There are not "all manners of dropouts" -- they're either semi-horizontal (the dropouts open towards the front and slope down), vertical (one small notch with a hangar that allows for a multi-speed wheel's axle), or completely horizontal (track ends).

    You don't want to use vertical dropouts because they cause a headache when adjusting chain tension. But old steel frames on the whole didn't have verticals. So I'm assuming you mean you have semi-horizontal dropouts, which are just fine to build with.

  3. #3
    I like my car ShadowGray's Avatar
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    Because the chain is not going to be perfectly tight without having to move the wheel slightly forward/backwards, and the horizontal drop out allows you to do that. Vertical dropouts are designed to keep teh wheel in one place while the derailleur applies tension to the chain. You can mimic this with a chain tensioner: http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true which can apply tension to the chain to keep it tight.
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    I am going to go out on a limb and say they are probably more important than tires or handlebars.

  5. #5
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Not having to deal with vertical dropouts makes life easier.

  6. #6
    extra bitter kyselad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
    You can mimic this with a chain tensioner: http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true which can apply tension to the chain to keep it tight.
    For SS, yes. If going fixed as the OP mentioned, then you can't rely on a tensioner. Fixed is still possible with vertical dropouts (e.g. eccentric bb, messing with chainrings, cogs, and half-links), but I wouldn't endure that headache without some very compelling reason.

  7. #7
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    What kind of frame is it? Old steel with vertical dropouts are often good quality. You might be able to trade it or sell it and buy something more suitable.

  8. #8
    up hill both ways commutr4life's Avatar
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    It wasn't a specific frame, but I've been trying to find an old beater frame to build a cheap fixie to see if I like it. But I've found it hard to find any with horizontal dropouts for cheap...

    Thanks for the responses so far.

    Are horizontal dropout significantly better/easier to work than semi-horizontal?

  9. #9
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    Look around at garage sales, pawn shops, and charity shops. Most of the horizontal drops
    bikes around were made in the 80's. Those places are where you'll find a lot of older bikes.

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

  10. #10
    extra bitter kyselad's Avatar
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    As already mentioned in post #2, semi-horizontal drop-outs are fine. They're actually termed "horizontal" dropouts and common to most conversions. Track ends are truly horizontal but uncommon outside of track frames. You can find the details on Sheldon's site: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html.

  11. #11
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyselad View Post
    As already mentioned in post #2, semi-horizontal drop-outs are fine. They're actually termed "horizontal" dropouts and common to most conversions. Track ends are truly horizontal but uncommon outside of track frames. You can find the details on Sheldon's site: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html.
    Very true!

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

  12. #12
    vonzip
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    track ends are key when switching your gear ratio, aka swapping cogs, without messing with your chain. plus track ends are sexy

  13. #13
    extra bitter kyselad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vonzip View Post
    track ends are key when switching your gear ratio, aka swapping cogs, without messing with your chain. plus track ends are sexy
    ?? By messing with the chain you mean removing it? This isn't necessary with horizontal dropouts either.

  14. #14
    vonzip
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyselad View Post
    ?? By messing with the chain you mean removing it? This isn't necessary with horizontal dropouts either.
    Sorry I'll be a bit more precise next time. when changing your gear ratio with track ends, adding or removing a chain link isn't usually necessary. if you have a road frameset with vertical or angled dropouts there isn't as much leeway.

    hypothetically, your at the velodrome an you decide to go a gear higher, you could swap your chainring or cog, adjust the rear wheel and be back on the track before the practice session ends.

  15. #15
    roll'em high shants's Avatar
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    Vonzip, both track ends and horizontal dropouts are available in a variety of lengths. Some track ends are obnoxiously short and some dropouts (e.g. Simplex and the Campagnolo 1010) are quite long. It is true that the longest track ends are likely longer than the longest horizontal dropouts, but you're really overestimating how much this matters. On a conversion that I own that has sizable horizontal dropouts, I can put on a cog with two more teeth with no problem, assuming that my chain was properly sized initially. If anything, when it comes to swapping wheels, horizontal dropouts make for faster changes.

    That all said, I like the look of track ends and find them to be perfectly functional, but your argument that they're superior for swapping gearing is specious at best.

  16. #16
    son of a son of a sailor lanOGiro's Avatar
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    If the bike has completely vertical dropouts, ditch it and start with another bike. You will hate your bike before you ever get to ride it.

  17. #17
    One skid from blown knees bigbris1's Avatar
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    Just get a real track frame. You don't want to risk that rear wheel walking out from under you when you lock up your legs.

    I personally despise conversions.

    There. I said it.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbris1 View Post
    Just get a real track frame. You don't want to risk that rear wheel walking out from under you when you lock up your legs.

    I personally despise conversions.

    There. I said it.
    Has any wheel ever walked out from under you?

    I love conversions, especially with vertical dropouts and fenders.

  19. #19
    One skid from blown knees bigbris1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vobopl View Post
    Has any wheel ever walked out from under you?

    I love conversions, especially with vertical dropouts and fenders.
    Yes.

    I became a bike messenger in NYC in 1992 using my father's bike, which was a 10 speed road bike. I don't remember the name but I know it was really nice. Eventually I went through a lot of frames riding SS freewheel conversions. When I switched to fixed gear in 1995, still with the conversions, I always had problems with the rear wheel moving, the chain getting loose, etc. especially under the daily grind working in the city. I had a wheel pop completely out, and since the seat tube is typically farther away on a road frame the wheel can travel more.

    It was unsafe. Finally I scored a Miyata frame with horizontal dropouts. I then knew what riding fixed gear was all about. Now I will not even go close to a conversion. I know a lot of people disagree, and there are some frames that are beautiful to be used for conversions. But when you depend on your chain to stay tight & your rear wheel to stay put, it becomes a gamble.

    But I feel like if it wasn't made to be ridden with a fixed gear, then it shouldn't be converted. Period.

    But that's just me. You do what you like.

    For instance, this wheel is just begging for freedom from the frame:


  20. #20
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    If you have vertical drop outs, you can always get a White Industires Eccentric Eno hub. It's expensive but will solve your problem.

  21. #21
    One skid from blown knees bigbris1's Avatar
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    The frame is your foundation. Build on a solid one.

  22. #22
    vonzip
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    Quote Originally Posted by shants View Post
    Vonzip, both track ends and horizontal dropouts are available in a variety of lengths. Some track ends are obnoxiously short and some dropouts (e.g. Simplex and the Campagnolo 1010) are quite long. It is true that the longest track ends are likely longer than the longest horizontal dropouts, but you're really overestimating how much this matters. On a conversion that I own that has sizable horizontal dropouts, I can put on a cog with two more teeth with no problem, assuming that my chain was properly sized initially. If anything, when it comes to swapping wheels, horizontal dropouts make for faster changes.

    That all said, I like the look of track ends and find them to be perfectly functional, but your argument that they're superior for swapping gearing is specious at best.
    point taken, but isn't asking 800 for a 580 frameset also a specious.. f a i l

    an in the end, I'm always stoked to see a fixed rider no matter how much cash they dropped

  23. #23
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbris1 View Post
    Just get a real track frame. You don't want to risk that rear wheel walking out from under you when you lock up your legs.

    I personally despise conversions.

    There. I said it.
    Pearls of wisdom from the poorly informed. If you have a rear wheel "walking out", then you haven't put it in correctly.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  24. #24
    One skid from blown knees bigbris1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    Pearls of wisdom from the poorly informed. If you have a rear wheel "walking out", then you haven't put it in correctly.
    What do you ride?

  25. #25
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    they're meant for the track....
    because there isn't a chance of the hub slipping out of the drop outs in a sprint, it's possible for it to slip forward but not out.

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