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  1. #1
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    Look to build a SS bike

    So I've been looking to build myself a commuter SS bike, probably built off an old 10 speed frame. I've got a road bike but for commuting I just don't feel comfortable locking something that expensive up to a rack. So I've got a couple questions because I have no idea where to start or where to really look.

    Any recommendations on bikes? What's a decent common, old, good, not too heavy, frame? What should I avoid? I'm looking at going with bullhorns and TT brake levers, a decent crank and definitely clipless. Also what are common gear sizes? Most my riding is going to be on flats, with maybe a couple rollers, nothing serious, plus I like climbing so it's not too big of a deal.

    Another thing that I'm going to be lost with is components. What modern components would be compatible with older frames? Any recommendations?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Depends on where you live what you'll be able to get used ... in a big city I can have my pick of stuff from CL ... but back in my home town (in Kentucky) it would be slim pickins ... troll your city's CL imo ... see what you can find.

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    I'm in the LA area...so I think I've got a fairly good selection. Problem is I have no idea what frame/bike to buy.

  4. #4
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wcoastbikr View Post
    I'm in the LA area...so I think I've got a fairly good selection. Problem is I have no idea what frame/bike to buy.
    Well, the as conversions go, because of the sheer amount of bikes you see on CL, it is hard to say "look for this frame" etc.

    If I had to attempt to say, I do see a lot of Schwinns on CL ... that's how I got my Le Tour which I was very pleased with. The Traveler is also good from what I hear as far as Schwinns go.

    I've always thought that Peugeot makes really nice steel frame that makes for a good conversion.

    Most old frames will be fairly heavy though, just thought I would mention that. You can get a pretty light, new frame for decent prices also ... but if you wanted to do a vintage conversion then that's not an option for you.

    I guess what I am trying to say is look around and see what you might like. I am sure plenty of people here will want to tell you what they think of the part or frame.

  5. #5
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    46/16 is the usual gearing.

    avoid Peugeots, common Schwinns (Le Tour, Varsity, World Sport), and French bikes (Compatibility). Frames are heavy.

    One piece cranks and vertical drops should obviously be avoided.

    Most modern components would be compatible. Youre probably looking at a quill stem and the usual 68mm BB size. 1" steerer...blah blah

    Tubing to look for:
    Columbus SL, SLX
    Reynolds 531, 631
    Tange #1
    Tenax

    Bikes to look for:
    Centurion Dave Scott Ironman
    Bridgestone RB1
    Fuji (Some with the better tubing)
    Schwinn - Prelude, Tempo, Premise, Super Sport


    I actually have a Centurion Technium 450 I'm building up right now... Mainly because its extremely light.

  6. #6
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnhoang86 View Post
    46/16 is the usual gearing.

    avoid Peugeots, common Schwinns (Le Tour, Varsity, World Sport), and French bikes (Compatibility). Frames are heavy.

    One piece cranks and vertical drops should obviously be avoided.

    Most modern components would be compatible. Youre probably looking at a quill stem and the usual 68mm BB size. 1" steerer...blah blah

    Tubing to look for:
    Columbus SL, SLX
    Reynolds 531, 631
    Tange #1
    Tenax

    Bikes to look for:
    Centurion Dave Scott Ironman
    Bridgestone RB1
    Fuji (Some with the better tubing)
    Schwinn - Prelude, Tempo, Premise, Super Sport


    I actually have a Centurion Technium 450 I'm building up right now... Mainly because its extremely light.
    Whaaat I LOOOVE my Le Tour. Who cares if the bike is a few pounds heavier anyhow?

    EDIT: P.S. Most people on CL aren't going to list the material the tubes are made of. Also, some bikes change materials depending on the year. I've asked people to weigh their bikes before as a result of this because so few know the year much less the material. So ... yeah. And most people selling on CL wouldn't even have that expertise anyhow ... 2/3s of CL is a picked over garage sale. I did pick up a nice Panasonic frame for my friend recently so maybe you could find one of those ... but anyhow back to my original point, if you are THAT concerned about your frame, why not just get a new one? They are cheap as hell, like $125 starting price?
    Last edited by devilshaircut; 11-19-08 at 04:00 PM.

  7. #7
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    Haha. Dont get me wrong. I helped my friend build up a Le Tour and it looks and rides great.

    I had a Varsity myself that I built up and I learned from that experience.

    Its just that after riding other people's bikes (which were way lighter than mine btw) I realized how important it was to have a light frame.

    With most bikes on craigslist youre going to have to go check them out. You can usually tell the tubing by the sticker on the bike. If the people advertise it... then usually they know what theyre talking about and you wouldn't get that great a deal.

    I find a lot of underpriced bikes on craigslist but theyre really rare. You just have to be patient, be willing to go check out the bike even if it doesn't have a picture...and wake up EARLY.

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    Senior Member jaggd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wcoastbikr View Post
    So I've been looking to build myself a commuter SS bike, probably built off an old 10 speed frame. I've got a road bike but for commuting I just don't feel comfortable locking something that expensive up to a rack. So I've got a couple questions because I have no idea where to start or where to really look.

    Any recommendations on bikes? What's a decent common, old, good, not too heavy, frame? What should I avoid? I'm looking at going with bullhorns and TT brake levers, a decent crank and definitely clipless. Also what are common gear sizes? Most my riding is going to be on flats, with maybe a couple rollers, nothing serious, plus I like climbing so it's not too big of a deal.

    Another thing that I'm going to be lost with is components. What modern components would be compatible with older frames? Any recommendations?

    Thanks.
    In addition, if you've checked out other similar threads, you'd see lots of people pointing out that you could pour more money into a conversion than a new bike would cost. You didn't mention wheels at all, which are a huge factor in converting an old road bike. So on top of the drivetrain, bars, and brakes, you'd have to buy a new rear wheel (unless you want to deal with redishing the existing one.)

    The Dawes SST might be something you'd want to consider since it comes with bullhorns and TT brake levers. http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/sst.htm

    That said, I have a fixed gear conversion, which I love. Maybe you're a sucker for old lugged frames. It's a relatively high-end Raleigh frame from the 70's, but I was lucky, and got the bike itself for next to nothing.

  9. #9
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    If he wants a light bike, imo, get a new frame set.

    Aluminum or even ChroMo ... and a carbon fork.

    I'm not sure I can justify a vintage conversion for performance reasons.

    EDIT: +1 to the poster above me ... unless you are rummaging through used parts at a bike co-op, you could, like he said, easily spend more money than a new bike from BikesDirect.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnhoang86 View Post
    46/16 is the usual gearing.

    avoid Peugeots, common Schwinns (Le Tour, Varsity, World Sport), and French bikes (Compatibility). Frames are heavy.

    One piece cranks and vertical drops should obviously be avoided.

    Most modern components would be compatible. Youre probably looking at a quill stem and the usual 68mm BB size. 1" steerer...blah blah

    Tubing to look for:
    Columbus SL, SLX
    Reynolds 531, 631
    Tange #1
    Tenax

    Bikes to look for:
    Centurion Dave Scott Ironman
    Bridgestone RB1
    Fuji (Some with the better tubing)
    Schwinn - Prelude, Tempo, Premise, Super Sport


    I actually have a Centurion Technium 450 I'm building up right now... Mainly because its extremely light.
    Not all World Sports are terrible frames for a beater conversion. I have one I'm waiting to give to a friend, and it has a double-butted 4130 main triangle.

  11. #11
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    Yeah. I guess the 3 World Sports I've converted were pretty crappy. What year is it?

  12. #12
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    Weight really isn't too important to me, although it would be nice. I've got a road bike for fast rides. This is going to be a commuter bike.

    Well I'm going to stake out craigslist and give it time to find a cheap frame and build around that. Really the main components that are important to me are the crank, fork(carbon, for comfort reasons), and brake calipers (being able to reach 700c, probably tektro).

    Handlebars I'll probably flip and chop them into bullhorns. I've already got shoes and cleats, just need some used SPD-SL pedals from ebay which can be had for cheap. TT brake levers and calipers are cheap as well on ebay. The only real expensive things would probably be a crank. I want a nice crank.. Which leads me to two questions, are modern bottom brackets compatible with most older frames? Also what are some decent track cranks? Shimano only makes Dura Ace...which is a bit expensive for what I want.


    Also what are my options for a cheap decent SS wheelset? I would prefer not to be riding on 30 year old wheels.

  13. #13
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    Like I said most modern bottom brackets are compatible with older frames. I haven't run into much trouble yet bottom bracket wise.

    Whats your budget for cranks?

  14. #14
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    Cranks really depend...probably go used. No more than let's say $150 used, I want something nice but the cheaper the better.

  15. #15
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    If you wanna do a conversion for the fun of it, more power to you.

    But the way you are talking almost makes it sound like you just want something for commuting. In that case, I'd say just get a new bike. They are very affordable.

  16. #16
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    Yeah. $150 bucks is a lot for a crankset for a conversion.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnhoang86 View Post
    Yeah. I guess the 3 World Sports I've converted were pretty crappy. What year is it?
    '87, I think.

    Don't get me wrong: I have seem some pretty crappy World Sports too. The '80s mid-end Columbus Tenax frames you listed are superior choices.

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    Go look at the projects at

    http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/

    You'll see some great bikes and maybe get ideas for frames, etc.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnhoang86 View Post
    46/16 is the usual gearing.

    avoid Peugeots, common Schwinns (Le Tour, Varsity, World Sport), and French bikes (Compatibility). Frames are heavy.

    Tubing to look for:
    << snip >>

    Bikes to look for:
    << snip >>
    Aiming a little high on those recommendations? The OP wants economical and you suggest high end 80s frame material and the Bridgestone RB-1? Your brush paints broad.

    The Le Tour can be a great candidate for an SS conversion. Many frames held this name in the 70s and 80s. IMO mid-80s Japanese frames are the sweet spot for value. I've got an $25 1984 Le Tour in my basement waiting for my first SS conversion. It's double-butted 4130. Also had a Japanese made 1986 Puch with a Tange 900 frame that would have been good. Low to mid range Univegas make reasonably light conversions too.

    If the OP is concerned about weight, you may want to avoid older frames of 1020 and 2040 steel. I brought back an '83 Motobecane Super Mirage as a commuter this year. It's very pretty, but the frame is 2040 and it's heavy. Rolls ok, but the slightest hill is tough.

    And please don't shave off the brazons. That makes a C&V'er cry.

  20. #20
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    Some old school mountain bike frames can work, assuming they have semi-vertical drop-outs or you don't mind a tensioner. These can be had for pretty cheap and the brakes on these bikes I find are usually better than what you get with "vintage" ten speeds. Also ten-speed bikes are 27 inch wheel territory which are no longer made by anyone outside of someone's basement, whereas 26" wheels are much cheaper and easier to find. I commute on a SS MTB and like it a lot, but my commute is pretty short.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordBass View Post
    Aiming a little high on those recommendations? The OP wants economical and you suggest high end 80s frame material and the Bridgestone RB-1? Your brush paints broad.

    The Le Tour can be a great candidate for an SS conversion. Many frames held this name in the 70s and 80s. IMO mid-80s Japanese frames are the sweet spot for value. I've got an $25 1984 Le Tour in my basement waiting for my first SS conversion. It's double-butted 4130. Also had a Japanese made 1986 Puch with a Tange 900 frame that would have been good. Low to mid range Univegas make reasonably light conversions too.

    If the OP is concerned about weight, you may want to avoid older frames of 1020 and 2040 steel. I brought back an '83 Motobecane Super Mirage as a commuter this year. It's very pretty, but the frame is 2040 and it's heavy. Rolls ok, but the slightest hill is tough.

    And please don't shave off the brazons. That makes a C&V'er cry.
    $150 for a crankset is hardly economical. I'm just letting him know to keep an eye out for those types of frames. If hes patient/lucky enough those complete bikes can be had for really cheap. Hell I've seen an already converted Dave Scott for $140. It just wasnt my size.
    Last edited by bnhoang86; 11-19-08 at 11:48 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member JimmyOneSmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wcoastbikr View Post
    So I've been looking to build myself a commuter SS bike, probably built off an old 10 speed frame. I've got a road bike but for commuting I just don't feel comfortable locking something that expensive up to a rack. So I've got a couple questions because I have no idea where to start or where to really look.

    Any recommendations on bikes? What's a decent common, old, good, not too heavy, frame? What should I avoid? I'm looking at going with bullhorns and TT brake levers, a decent crank and definitely clipless. Also what are common gear sizes? Most my riding is going to be on flats, with maybe a couple rollers, nothing serious, plus I like climbing so it's not too big of a deal.

    Another thing that I'm going to be lost with is components. What modern components would be compatible with older frames? Any recommendations?

    Thanks.
    I live in the LA area as well. I would say nothing is wrong with buying a bikesdirect.com bike- they are already pretty much done and they are light and good. I have recommended these bikes to several friends. However there is something to be said for conversion, a little post modern flair in our modern world.

    I love old raliegh, pugeot, bianchi, and scwhinn frames- all work great just find one that fits your style. You can get a brand new wheelset from any lbs for about 100 bucks installed, and if you get to know them, a decent crank should only cost you around 45 bucks.

    From there you can upgrade every part as you get into it.

    But i would check out this dude on the LA CL, he is a cool guy and really knows his ****. He can get you started down the right the path

    http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/bik/925583875.html

    I have purchased frames, wheelsets, and cranks off this guy and he always has good prices and willing to help.

    I ride an SS in LA and commute with it, and actually i recommend MKS mini clips- perfect for SS use. Also i rock a 44/18 for the hilly hollywood and los feliz area though i also have a 16 cog that i throw on from time to time and a 52T crank when i feel up to it.

    Most importantly, make it your own and feel good riding. An SS for commuting is perfect when you love riding just to ride.

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