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  1. #1
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    Where to start...

    I'd like to find a nice, bedraggled old road bike, clean it up and convert it to a fixie to see if I like it. What's a good place to start (after here of course) and any other tips you can give me? I've been browsing Craigslist here in Minneapolis, but really all I've found are kids' 10 speed mountain bikes.

    I've already perused this: http://sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html

    Also where's a good place to get the parts for the conversion?

    I'm really loving this...



    Sorry if I'm the 23,040,783rd person to post a thread like this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member fluidworks's Avatar
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    If you want a conversion, first step is the frame. C-List, swap meets, yard sales, etc. This would be the most difficult, possibly most expensive route, as you'd need to be every part. The plus side is the bike will be exactly how you want, and ideally unique.

    Otherwise find a used bike and get a new wheelset with a track hub.

    Keep in mind buying an off the peg SS/FG bike will be cheaper.

  3. #3
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    Keep in mind buying an off the peg SS/FG bike will be cheaper.
    I was hoping not... this would be mostly for fun, not looking for the best performance ever. All the off-the-shelf fixies I've found are $600+. I was thinking of getting a used bike, first doing the conversion, then upgrading later.

    Maybe not...

  4. #4
    bank robber burger hockdub's Avatar
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    i just went through this. it can be cheaper in both directions, but theres plusses and minuses to both ends.

    build it yourself and you get to see the bike unfold into what your vision is. its your personal expression and your personal taste that is shown in the final product, your parts, your custom build.

    buy an off the shelf bike and you have a good solid factory built option, with all new nice parts, probably warranty.

    i just kept checking craigslist until i found a bike then i pursued the seller and told him i was serious about buying it and to hang onto it for a day. he did and i got my bike complete - needed most new parts anyways to be rideable, but i got the whole thing for 40 bucks.

    with a lot of elbow grease i re-painted the frame, kept the stock crank and arms, bars, stem, headset, seat/post and ditched the rest. bought new wheels, tires, tubes, grips, pedals, chain, and cog/lockring. polished a lot of the parts since there was rust on a few pieces and i came up with my first build/conversion. it was a lot of fun and i spent 150 on my wheelset, 5 bucks on my lockring/20 for the cog, 12 on my toe clips, 15 on pedals, 40 on tubes and tires, 5 bucks on grips, 10 bucks in paint, 12 on the chain, and 40 for the bike. so i built my entire bike for under 300, which is considerably less than some bike shops carry fixies for.

    its really up to you if you would rather spend the time finding the right bike, or just buying one from a shop that has decent components already on it.
    daily driver
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  5. #5
    Senior Member fluidworks's Avatar
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    That isn't a bad way to go, customizable, and it won't be as expensive as the total piece by piece route.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hockdub View Post
    with a lot of elbow grease i re-painted the frame, kept the stock crank and arms, bars, stem, headset, seat/post and ditched the rest. bought new wheels, tires, tubes, grips, pedals, chain, and cog/lockring. polished a lot of the parts since there was rust on a few pieces and i came up with my first build/conversion. it was a lot of fun and i spent 150 on my wheelset, 5 bucks on my lockring/20 for the cog, 12 on my toe clips, 15 on pedals, 40 on tubes and tires, 5 bucks on grips, 10 bucks in paint, 12 on the chain, and 40 for the bike. so i built my entire bike for under 300, which is considerably less than some bike shops carry fixies for.
    I'm pretty sure this is what I'd want to do. Building it myself would be a lot more fun. Anywhere a good place to get the parts for the conversion?

    BTW, nice car! I have a mk3 that's lowered on a cupkit for daily driving: http://www.twedten.com/vw/lowered.jpg

  7. #7
    bank robber burger hockdub's Avatar
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    nice golf! always loved 4 dr's. drop a vr in that sucker. sleepin!

    just look online! ebay sells parts for cheap that are good enough, local bike shops also have lots of cool stuff to check out. like i said, i got my wheels online. and the rest at local bike shops. performance bike always has stuff on sale too - pedals, tires - tubes, grips.
    daily driver
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    I will just add this: when you're searching for a frame (which I assume will be a 70s-80s road frame), a good rule of thumb is not to buy anything that cost less than $250-$300 (complete) when it was new. Most older, mid-level bikes fall in this category. Anything cheaper will generally be too crappy to be worth converting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joetotale View Post
    I will just add this: when you're searching for a frame (which I assume will be a 70s-80s road frame), a good rule of thumb is not to buy anything that cost less than $250-$300 (complete) when it was new. Most older, mid-level bikes fall in this category. Anything cheaper will generally be too crappy to be worth converting.
    How would I get this information? Any brands to stay away from completely?

  10. #10
    Sailin' On solly81's Avatar
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    old department store s'hit, i.e. "free spirit", etc. also, all 'good' bike companies produce(d) s'hitty models, so stay away from those too, the specifics can be found with a little searching...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Netdewt View Post
    How would I get this information? Any brands to stay away from completely?
    Well, on the topic of bikes to stay away from, to paraphrase Sheldon, the dimensions and thread standards used on older French (Motobecane, Peugeot) and English (Raleigh) bicycles can make it difficult to find suitable parts for repair or upgrading if you're trying to keep the conversion cheap.

    Also, stay away from anything with ashtabula cranks as they can sometimes make obtaining a proper chainline very difficult (besides being heavy and crappy and usually indicative of a heavy and crappy bike all-around). Also, avoid any frame made out of high-tensile steel (Schwinn Varsity comes to mind): again, heavy and crappy. Your frame should be constructed from some type of CrMo steel tubing at least.

    As far as detailed catalog specs go on older models, you might have to do some creative googling to turn up some results. As far as older Treks go, http://www.vintage-trek.com is a good resource.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the info. I've done some more poking on Craigslist and there seem to be quite a few 70's-80's Schwinn Travelers available in my area. I also found some people on velospace that have converted them. I am assuming so, but does anyone know if they have the horizontal dropouts?

  13. #13
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    Also what's a good gearing to begin with?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Netdewt View Post
    Thanks for all the info. I've done some more poking on Craigslist and there seem to be quite a few 70's-80's Schwinn Travelers available in my area. I also found some people on velospace that have converted them. I am assuming so, but does anyone know if they have the horizontal dropouts?
    travelers are pretty low on the schwinn food chain.

    When building a conversion you want a decent frame with as many of the parts you need working well as possible. That means:
    headset
    brake
    brake levers
    bb
    crank
    chainring
    seatpost
    saddle
    stem and bars
    Possibly wheels.

    Avoid bikes with suicide levers and stamped dropouts(google for pics) as that is indicative of a less than decent frame. Fender mounts are a bonus.

  15. #15
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    I just noticed a few single speeds around $300.

    Scattante Americano: http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=3040

    Mercier Kilo TT, Windsor The Hour, Motobecane Messenger:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/trackbikes.htm

    Are these pretty shoddy, or are any of them decent?

    Also, if I was to do buy a vintage and convert, is it worth it to get a kit like this (Forte $22):
    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=5129

  16. #16
    Sailin' On solly81's Avatar
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    Now you're asking too many questions without searching first.

  17. #17
    Senior Member fluidworks's Avatar
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    Yeah, you need to make up your mind on which route, prebuilt or conversion.

  18. #18
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    Sorry, just trying to figure everything out.

  19. #19
    otherwiseordinary lymbzero's Avatar
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    If you're really good with bikes (taking apart and building) a conversion is great fun.
    However if you just want to ride ride ride. I'd say get a complete.

  20. #20
    bank robber burger hockdub's Avatar
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    good call.

    if you want a sweet one off bike, build it yourself. if u want a good every day bike, buy it built. either way u will get new parts.
    daily driver
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    your drinking club has a biking problem
    fifty two eighty

  21. #21
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    I think I'm going to build one. I just like building things... sometimes just for the sake of building something. There's a local guy with a Fuji S12-S available that I might check out. It doesn't have wheels though and he wants $100.

    EDIT: I also found a bike shop here in Minneapolis that deals with SS/FG, so I'm going to check them out soon. Maybe I'll get a better idea of what I want then.

    http://www.thehubbikecoop.org/
    Last edited by Netdewt; 07-22-08 at 11:11 AM.

  22. #22
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    I went to the above bike shop today and test rode a Surly Steamroller. It was great! I'll definitely want a flip-flop hub though. The fixed gear thing will take some practice.

    One question: the guy at the shop said I need a whole new rear wheel to convert an old bike to a single speed. Is this true? I'm assuming hubs can olny be switched out if the wheel is re-laced? He said putting spacers on a hub meant for a multispeed bike would be too dangerous...

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