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  1. #1
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    Making a fixed gear (new at bikes)

    Hello,
    I want to convert this bike into a fixed gear bicycle. Will this frame work? I am getting new wheels and tires (the current ones are just in pitiful condition) and the wheels will come with a flip-flop hub to aid my transition to fixed gear. What else do I need to do other than buy a new, shorter chain and new hubs?
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    tight pants

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    No offense, but find a new bike. That thing is a junker and you'll spend a lot more money than it's worth to build it up. You also aren't gonna find a replacement for that dumpy 1 piece crank.

    Look for something a bit nicer if you want to convert. If not, just save some coin and buy something used.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquie Phelan
    Until mountain biking came along, the bike scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm.

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    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I'd probably just spend $30 on new tires and tubes for that thing, sell it for $100, take that and your wheel/tire fund and get one of those $299-$319 flip-flop hubbed bikes from Bikes Direct. It'll probably work a lot better and be much less hassle.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    what's a crank? So far as I know it will cost me around $200 to get new wheels (which I would need for any bike), new tires and a new chain. The hubs come with the wheels. So... couldn't I just do that until I get the $650 needed for the IRO I hope to get one day? Why would it be such a bad decision to use this frame? It's the only one available right now.

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redcannon View Post
    Hello,
    I want to convert this bike into a fixed gear bicycle. Will this frame work? I am getting new wheels and tires (the current ones are just in pitiful condition) and the wheels will come with a flip-flop hub to aid my transition to fixed gear. What else do I need to do other than buy a new, shorter chain and new hubs?
    http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed/index.html

    Read, absorb, & comprehend everything on that site. Seriously. Then and only then do you post questions back here. Otherwise you will likely get wisecrack answers (like the one above).

    Just about everyone started by reading that site at some point early in their journey into the single speed / fixed world. There is lots of good, unbiased info there.

    If you ask a question that the late Sheldon Brown covered, you might get a silly answer.

  7. #7
    shiz bichiz
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    Quote Originally Posted by redcannon View Post
    what's a crank? .. Why would it be such a bad decision to use this frame? It's the only one available right now.


    But - the Sheldon links above will teach you well!
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  8. #8
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redcannon View Post
    what's a crank? So far as I know it will cost me around $200 to get new wheels (which I would need for any bike), new tires and a new chain. The hubs come with the wheels. So... couldn't I just do that until I get the $650 needed for the IRO I hope to get one day? Why would it be such a bad decision to use this frame? It's the only one available right now.
    Seriously, man. If you don't know what a crank is, I doubt that you know enough about bikes to pull off a conversion alone.

    Save yourself some headache, drama, and lots of money and buy an off-the-shelf bike brand new and get rolling. I wouldn't even go as far as to say buy used because it is likely that you will unwittingly buy someone else's headache.

    Be patient. Save your money. Consult your local bike shop. That's why they are there...to put you on the right bike for you.

  9. #9
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    Don't listen to some of these people. The internet is meant to be a place where people get helped and its just a shame that some don't offer it.

    Back to your question. The picture is a unclear but as long as your rear axle dropouts are not vertical (which those don't appear to be) you should be fine. The spacing of the rear axle might not be ideal for fixed wheelsets, I'm not sure, but its nothing a little cold setting can't solve. Just be careful when doing so as that frame looks a bit old and may be brittle.

    You're going to want to replace the one piece crank (if its a one piece) for something else which means you'll need a new bottom bracket as well as a crank (chainring included). Also new wheelset, tires, tubes, cog, lockring and chain at a minimum.

    You're already looking to drop at a minimum of 300 or so (cheaper if you can source used parts). At that price, you're better off buying a new bike from bikes direct that is

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Seriously, man. If you don't know what a crank is, I doubt that you know enough about bikes to pull off a conversion alone.

    Save yourself some headache, drama, and lots of money and buy an off-the-shelf bike brand new and get rolling. I wouldn't even go as far as to say buy used because it is likely that you will unwittingly buy someone else's headache.

    Be patient. Save your money. Consult your local bike shop. That's why they are there...to put you on the right bike for you.
    Well, to be fair, I didn't say anything about an unwillingness to learn. I looked a Sheldon's site, lots of good stuff for people like me. He says that during the early 70's (which I honestly think post-dates this bike) a lot of French bikes were brought to the US, most of them not worth putting more than a few dollars into. However, he mentioned the low-end bikes as being 10-speeds, this is a 15-speed. It does have cottered cranks though.

    How can I tell if this bike is worth converting? I searched Sheldon's site and I couldn't find an answer. Is there anything that a good look at the bike can tell me so far as quality is concerned?

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    The bike is only worth converting if you think it's worth converting. If it holds sentimental value go for it. If its just a junker that you picked up for dirt cheap then save yourself the headache and go for a complete used bike.

    You say that the bike has cottered cranks. Well based on the skills that I think you have, you're going to have a difficult time swapping out cranks.

    I would cut my losses now and look for something better. It'll save you money and you'll be happier in the long run.

  12. #12
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    I'll say this and move on...

    There is a rampant rumor going around that ANY road bike, from any generation, in any condition can EASILY be converted to a quality fixed gear for "just a a few bucks". You know, "Just throw a fixed wheel on the back, shorten the chain and you are rollin' for $100!!"

    That, my friend, is what I call The Great Hipster Myth.

    Similar myths have had better men than you or I do much much more and get much less (Cali gold rush, Hollywood, Art School, ...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    I'll say this and move on...

    There is a rampant rumor going around that ANY road bike, from any generation, in any condition can EASILY be converted to a quality fixed gear for "just a a few bucks". You know, "Just throw a fixed wheel on the back, shorten the chain and you are rollin' for $100!!"

    That, my friend, is what I call The Great Hipster Myth.

    Similar myths have had better men than you or I do much much more and get much less (Cali gold rush, Hollywood, Art School, ...)
    well, on that note I think that it might be a better idea to get a new fixie. Although I don't see why the Great Hipster Myth shouldn't be accurate, right now I can accept the idea that such knowledge will come with time and that it might be a good idea to listen to people who have spent more time around bikes then I have.

    Oh well, some of these new ones look great, and they aren't as expensive as I thought they'd be.

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    Can you post a better picture? I'm curious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crushkilldstroy View Post
    That thing is a junker and you'll spend a lot more money than it's worth to build it up.
    don't listen to this guy.


    You also aren't gonna find a replacement for that dumpy 1 piece crank.
    It is a cottered crank, found on older (often nice older) bikes. A simple spindle swap on the bottom bracket would allow you to use a modern square taper crank.

    Post some pictures so we can ID the bike

  16. #16
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redcannon View Post
    ...Although I don't see why the Great Hipster Myth shouldn't be accurate...
    Plausibility is what gives good myths their power.

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    Need more detailed pics to get a good idea.

    Question

    Are the wheels in good condition?

    Does the rear hub take a cassette or screw on hub? See Sheldon's page to find out the difference.

    If it is a freehub (takes a cassette), then it will cost you more to make a proper fixed wheel. As in, a new hub and rebuilding the wheel (or just a new wheel).

    I had that problem, I bought an old bike, realised it was a freehub, so I turned it into a single speed, not ideal but meh

    No rust on the frame?

    If you're lucky, then all you'll need to do is take the rear sprockets off, screw on a track cog, put loctite and a lockring on (this is called a suicide setup, not ideal), and you're good to go.

    If you need to replace components, it will get expensive (but you'll learn a bit about bikes, plus it is rewarding to put something together yourself as opposed to buying it)

  18. #18
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    eh, doesn't look sooo bad from the pic. before you dump any money or time into it, make sure the frame even fits you. all you really need to get rolling is a new rear wheel with fixed or flip flop hub (and maybe new cranks/bb).

    that said, i wouldn't bother if it were me.
    i won't deny it i'm a straight ridah

  19. #19
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    You can quite successfully convert that bike, and probably a lot easier than you think.

    Buying two wheels is a good start. They don't have to be expensive and it's often worth talking to a local wheel builder. For example, the wheels on my Europa were built to the 'best' price and feature some reasonable quality hubs with el cheapo but reasonable rims - they weren't a 'list item' or something the wheel builder had on hand, I just asked the question, the wheel builder had a think and made a few phone calls and a week later, I had wheels. They do the job very nicely even if they aren't super duper high expense items - there's a lot of rubbish written about wheels, much of it ego driven. Although I rode for many months on my original wheels with a suicide hub (Sheldon explains), seeing your wheels are shot, getting new wheels with a track hub is a good idea.

    Provided the chainline works out, you don't have to do anything about your cranks and bottom bracket except to pull it all apart and regrease it. Even bottom end setups work well enough if maintained.

    Again, my Europa wore twin rings for a long time though the components were anything but bottom end. If your chainrings aren't rivetted to the crank ie, they are held on with bolts, you can take off the unused chainring and buy a set of shorter bolts - your lbs will set you right there and they'll cost you a few dollars.

    Having said that, sourcing some more modern cranks and bottom bracket would probably be a good idea. Try your local velodrome or racing club and see if you can get some second hand track cranks, but even second hand road cranks will work. Ride with what you have and keep an eye open for 'the right deal'. Or you can lash out and buy new but that doesn't seem to be the thrust of your project.

    Your biggest issue will be the frame. I'd be amazed if it doesn't have horizontal dropouts (check Sheldon again) so that isn't a problem. The big question is - how good is this frame and how much should you spend on it? That's something only you can answer. The photo suggests this is a low end bike so the frame is probably straight guage tubing (rather than butted) and probably low quality steel. This means it's heavier and it won't ride as nicely as better frame. But many of those old bikes rode fairly well, even the low end stuff, plenty good enough for an urban hack.

    The project can be staged - you don't have to do it all in one hit.

    My Europa started her fixed gear life with a simple removal of the gears, spinning on a track hub and getting the chain line right. The second phase occured when I bought the above mentioned wheels with a track hub at the back. Phase three involved removing the spare chain ring and a few other mods. All this occured over six months and it kept the costs manageable but I was able to ride and enjoy my bike throughout that time. You don't have to go out and do it all in one hit. Phase four is yet to come and will involve a new crankset and bottom bracket, but I'm also looking closely at the new Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub so that's probably when I'll lash out and build some really good wheels. See, the project continues and in the meantime, I'm riding and enjoying my bike.

    You can't put a value on building up a project bike - it's a great experience. Sure, you can buy an elcheapo thing that a factory put together and if money/image is all that counts, there's a lot to be said for that but don't underestimate the personal value of building it yourself. The ugliest bike in the world can be a thing of beauty to the bloke who built it.

    The danger is spending too much money ie, spending more than the end product is worth to you. You can compensate by either building a low end bike that will later serve as a hack, or by buying good components that can migrate to a good frame when one finally comes up. The middle (safe) road actually is to buy the elcheapo bike the others have referred you to.

    Whatever you do, don't spend money you can't afford and enjoy what you build.

    Richard
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

  20. #20
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    See!! It's soooo easy! Especially for a guy who doesn't know what cranks are nor has any tools.

    You guys are crazy.

    Maybe he just wants to ride and skip the whole "Learn how to be a Bike Mechanic" deal. Everybody doesn't want to learn. I once knew a professional BMX flatlander (this dude was in XGames...twice) that couldn't even install a set of brakes. He even worked at a bike shop.

    My point being, everyone doesn't want to learn how to be a full-on mechanic (which we all know will be necessary to successfully convert this bike) to enjoy their bike. Everyone knows that this bike will require A LOT of skill, patience, luck, hope, work, and some cash. Everyone except the most important person...redcannon, the guy who owns the bike and will have to pay for the project in time and cash.

  21. #21
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    It looks like a raleigh.. grand prix possibly? It looks like it has that three armed cottered crank dealie..
    Last edited by gkopperl; 01-22-09 at 08:46 AM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Maybe he just wants to ride and skip the whole "Learn how to be a Bike Mechanic" deal. Everybody doesn't want to learn. I once knew a professional BMX flatlander (this dude was in XGames...twice) that couldn't even install a set of brakes. He even worked at a bike shop.
    he said he was willing to learn. You didn't know what cranks were at some point too.

    @ the OP: You can surely use that frame. Start by stripping that bike of everything that you don't need. Buy a set of wheels. get some tires, tubes, new chain. shorten your chain, and get rolling. Don't sink a ton of money into it, and see if you like riding fixed before you put a ton into it.

    fixed gear bikes are simple things. learn to do the wrenching yourself (using sheldon brown, and Parktools has a bunch of tutorials), and when in doubt go to your local bike shop. They're there to help.

    happy riding!
    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    I learned this the hard way. They say that experience is the best teacher, but I would have been preferred to just read about it on the internet.

  23. #23
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nahh View Post
    he said he was willing to learn. You didn't know what cranks were at some point too.
    Well, if that's the case. He's going to learn a hard lesson starting with that bike. That being that he should quit now and start with a different bike. If he tosses that bike and starts with a better foundation he will be ahead of the game.

    Just like he can choose between dozens of parts for his conversion, he can also choose a different frame/bike as his starting point.

    In my opinion, he would be building a castle on a foundation of sand using that bike.

    And, since you made it personal, I knew what cranks were when I was about 8. Some people have been playing tennis, skateboarding, or musical instruments all their lives since they were kids. I've been into bikes.

  24. #24
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    You've had some good responses on here. A short answer.

    Yes that bike would convert fine. The cheapest you could make that bike a fixed gear is by replacing the rear hub. $40-50 hub and cog.

    That is a starting point. Then you can build from there. I think your priority would be a crank.

  25. #25
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    Judging from the photo, you should ride that bike down to the nearest river and throw it in, it is junk.

    Your time and money will be much better spent on buying a complete fixed gear bike.

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