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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 03-29-09, 05:04 PM   #1
Demens
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Buy New or Assemble from Parts?

So... I'm shopping for my first road bike, and I want a fixed gear... My question is, would it be cheaper for me to buy a complete bike, or to just shop around for frames and forks and wheels for a good deal? It seems like everything would add up to be pretty expensive unless I can find some sweet deals on used parts. (I don't mind doing a conversion on an old roadbike if the option arises).

Anyways, what do yall recommend? What is cheaper and in my best interest? Thanks
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Old 03-29-09, 05:13 PM   #2
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complete:
pros - cheaper; less work; since this is your first bike, you probably won't know what's what, so it may be a better idea to ride something already built to ride
cons - you have no control over what you're getting, so you'll spend money twice as you upgrade or swap out for your riding style; you often end up with at least some junkier components than what you'd buy yourself

custom:
pros - you end up buying exactly what you want, and will likely upgrade much less later on as a result; since this is your first bike, the initial research and subsequent wrenching will be a valuable lesson
cons - you may wind up spending too much on the wrong things, or buying stuff twice once you realize something doesn't work for you as you gain riding experience; it'll cost more to do this way; as simple as it sounds, one out of every three* builds by an experienced rider involves a snag or two, so you may get frustrated at some point.

one is more pragmatic, the other is way more fun. if everyone bought complete, this forum wouldn't exist. that could be a good or a bad thing.


*made up statistic
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Old 03-29-09, 05:17 PM   #3
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if you've got an unlimited budget go ahead and build yourself. Another thing to remember is that if you don't have the tools/know how you may have to factor shop labor rates into the cost of your build.
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Old 03-29-09, 05:39 PM   #4
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I've got a lot of friends that build bikes... So I don't think I would have to worry about shop fees for anything. But my budget is definitely not unlimited.

I think I will just keep my eyes open and wait for a bike to fall into my lap for dirt cheap, then just convert if need be... Though I am tempted to save up and get a Windsor Hour or something.
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Old 03-29-09, 05:43 PM   #5
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If you are a tinkerer by nature you would want to build your own.
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Old 03-29-09, 05:46 PM   #6
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go with a new for now to know what you like/don't like (or find an upgraded used bike for around the same or less $ as buying a stock)
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Old 03-29-09, 06:20 PM   #7
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If this is your first fixed gear bike, buy a complete bike rather than trying to build it yourself. Not only is it cheaper, but at this point you're not likely to know exactly what you will want/need on a custom assembled bike.
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Old 03-29-09, 06:39 PM   #8
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do you want something to ride now?
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Old 03-29-09, 06:49 PM   #9
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Another option might be something like IRO or Republic that let you pick colors and different looking and functioning components; sort of a custom made complete bike.
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Old 03-29-09, 07:19 PM   #10
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I bought a good decent old road frame and took it to a LBS and basically said, "fix this bike...cheap" While it wasnt as cheap as it could be, I got a very functional bike for a little less than buying new. Then as I learned about parts, or good deals on CL came along I upgraded. For instance I just scored an amazing 160mm crank off CL for about 1/7 of the cost it would be new.

If this is your first road bike as well as your first fixed, I wouldnt spend too much money, in case you learn you dont like fixed or that it doesnt meet your needs.
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Old 03-29-09, 07:21 PM   #11
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do you want something to ride now?
Well... The impatient, greedy part of me says yes.

However, I'm not in a position to drop any serious amount of cash on a bike. I don't really need one, either. I do all of my commuting on a long board right now, so I'm not really lacking in transportation either... I just want a fixed gear to get places a bit quicker than my board, as well as have a viable option for some decent fitness (I play rugby, and I hate jogging, so I figure I could mix bike rides in my regular workout for a nice change of pace).

So, yes, I want something to ride right now, but no, I don't need something right now.
As it stands, I think I will just shop for a used bike that pops up in CL or ebay or something... And, if I can get a fixed gear out of it, great... if I end up with a geared bike, I can always convert.


Does this sound reasonable?

By the way, thanks for all the response, it is great
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Old 03-29-09, 10:19 PM   #12
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Another thing I was thinking about (and I posted this in the road cycling section), but what size frame can I get away with? Since I am budget shopping for a used bike, the more options I have the better... I have ridden a 56cm frame and think that is ideal (I am 5'11" with about a 34" inseam)... But if I can get away with as low as 52cm and as high as 60cm, that would open up bikes to me.

What do yall think? Or is it too tough to tell?
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Old 03-30-09, 12:18 AM   #13
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What do you want your bike for?

If you just want a fixie to ride around on, bikesdirect has a good variety at good prices.

If you want something cool that reflects your taste and want to learn how to build up fixed gear bikes, and don't mind spending a little extra, then build one up. Just know that it WILL be more expensive, unless you cut a lot of corners.

And make sure it's the right size. If you're 5'11" with a 34" inseam, a 52 is probably not going to work without looking silly.
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Old 03-30-09, 12:35 AM   #14
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i just recently finished building my first bike. i got the frame from my friends back yard then spent some time (a lot) on ebay and other places looking for deals on parts. it took around 6 or 8 months to finish. only one part i got was not as advertised and had to buy another (the first saddle was not advertised as a womens so i had to buy a second). had to buy a few tools too. in all i spent right around $500 but i have something i like a lot more than i would one of those like the hour or the kilo tt (not to put those down) and had a lot of fun putting it together. im already looking for another project.
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Old 03-30-09, 01:12 AM   #15
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What do you want your bike for?

If you just want a fixie to ride around on, bikesdirect has a good variety at good prices.

If you want something cool that reflects your taste and want to learn how to build up fixed gear bikes, and don't mind spending a little extra, then build one up. Just know that it WILL be more expensive, unless you cut a lot of corners.

And make sure it's the right size. If you're 5'11" with a 34" inseam, a 52 is probably not going to work without looking silly.
Well, I love to learn how to build stuff... I work on my motorcycle all the time and just recently got into the idea of having a fixed gear after riding a few friends... At the same time, I don't have the money required for a ground up build or a new bike from BD. I was kind of hoping that a DIY bike would end up being cheaper, but it seems like it is not.

I think I will just sit back and soak up as much knowledge as I can from this forum. I will keep stashing away stray bills in an effort to save for a new bike like an Hour or something, but if I find an used bike for a good deal, I will go ahead and pounce as well.

Patience is a virtue, I suppose.

What are thoughts on converting an old roadie into a fixed? It seems like people are torn over the idea here.
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Old 03-30-09, 01:12 AM   #16
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Oh, and, again, thanks for all the info, it is great
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Old 03-30-09, 02:52 PM   #17
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If I may add my 2 cents. I was in your position about two weeks ago and decided build my own bike just because of the pride that I could feel in having my "own" bike. Being someone who is very impatient and would like to receive all my parts at one time and build it all in one day, I have to say that I would have been better off purchasing a complete bike off the bat. I considered myself very skilled with tools and such, but I find that some car mechanic and general house repair skills aren't easily translated to a bike, there a lot of specialized tools that often require you to go to your LBS, so just take that into consideration.
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Old 03-30-09, 03:23 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Demens View Post
Well, I love to learn how to build stuff... I work on my motorcycle all the time and just recently got into the idea of having a fixed gear after riding a few friends... At the same time, I don't have the money required for a ground up build or a new bike from BD. I was kind of hoping that a DIY bike would end up being cheaper, but it seems like it is not.

I think I will just sit back and soak up as much knowledge as I can from this forum. I will keep stashing away stray bills in an effort to save for a new bike like an Hour or something, but if I find an used bike for a good deal, I will go ahead and pounce as well.

Patience is a virtue, I suppose.

What are thoughts on converting an old roadie into a fixed? It seems like people are torn over the idea here.

yea man, patience is where its at right now if you dont feel you can afford an hour or tt off bikesdirect, save up if you can and buy new...i built a miyata 110 (road bike) up in january for about 275 (i was really lucky with what i got, $25 frame/fork and drivetrain/wheels were about 180, etc)..and i was totally new to the whole mechanical side of biking but it was realllly fun...though, if i could, i would probably go back and buy a complete bike for the sake of me not having to return all the things i had to because i didn't know exactly what i was doing and so i could learn more with a bike that was built professionally

but, words of wisdom:
-the right size bike is key, you will injure/wear yourself down if you get a bike too big or too small (+ or - 2cm is acceptable though)
-you can't convert vertical dropouts into a fixed gear unless your a pro at sizing your chain up
-make sure your pedals have cages and you have at least a front brake
-www.sheldonbrown.com will get you through anything

have fun!!
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Old 03-30-09, 03:29 PM   #19
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Yup, I've read through Sheldon Brown's site a few times... I've been toying with a fixed gear over the past several months and have been reading up as much as possible.

The info on your conversion cost is helpful, because it puts some things into perspective. If I can get ahold of a decent older bike that has been maintained, then I should be able to spend less than your complete cost (since I will not have to spend as much on tires and stuff)

Anyways, I will keep my eyes open and lurk in this forum for good information about riding fixed. When the time comes to make a purchase, I will definitely drop in for further opinions.
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Old 03-30-09, 04:43 PM   #20
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one of each is your best bet,
but it is always cheaper to buy complete.
i own one of each. one to work on while riding the other, and therefore it is never a rush to work on my bike.
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Old 03-31-09, 05:33 PM   #21
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I found my first pawn shop/goodwill road bike today... Was pretty stoked coming from the distance, got up to it and realized it had vertical dropouts... Bummer city.
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Old 03-31-09, 05:52 PM   #22
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So... I'm shopping for my first road bike, and I want a fixed gear... My question is, would it be cheaper for me to buy a complete bike, or to just shop around for frames and forks and wheels for a good deal? It seems like everything would add up to be pretty expensive unless I can find some sweet deals on used parts. (I don't mind doing a conversion on an old roadbike if the option arises).

Anyways, what do yall recommend? What is cheaper and in my best interest? Thanks

You can do it on the cheap but I don't recommend it. Have you read all of SheldonBrown.com on the subject of ss/fg?

Depending upon where you live, you can get good deals on older bikes. Use whatever on that bike that you can to achieve your goal of riding fixed. Then go from there.

What often happens if you buy parts one at a time is you'll rationalize spending a little more here, a little more there, only a few bucks. But come judgement time, those few bucks have added up to a whole lot of dough and that "project" cost you more than simply buying a new complete Kilo or IRO.

I test rode a Bianchi Pista and didn't like the aggressive, "I'm halfway over the handlebars" feeling and went instead for the Bianchi San Jose and people are sick of hearing me praise it. Then I built up a couple of conversions which I will again share:

Raleigh Sprite 27


Peugeot Iseran


If you backtrack the links of the pics you can see lots of before and after pics. Both projects cost way more than buying a new bike but were a lot of fun and they ride fantastic.

I still have some frames to build up. Be careful, once you get that first bike, the N + 1 rule kicks in.

Last edited by bbattle; 03-31-09 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 03-31-09, 06:00 PM   #23
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I opted for a Kilo TT Pro to figure out how I ride, etc. I would have rather built a bike up from parts, but everything I was looking at was quite expensive. Also, I figured most of the parts on the TT would last me a bit because I am not that hard on bikes (yet), so I can swap things out as I see fit.

I really need to find a good deal on some clipless pedals and shoes.
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Old 03-31-09, 06:09 PM   #24
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eBay or Performancebike.com or Nashbar for the pedals; I recommend Shimano SPD (mountain bike pedals).

Shoes are something you really need to try on and I suggest you ride around or jog for a bit to make your feet swell as they will do when riding for a few miles. Then try on some shoes.
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Old 03-31-09, 06:20 PM   #25
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eBay or Performancebike.com or Nashbar for the pedals; I recommend Shimano SPD (mountain bike pedals).

Shoes are something you really need to try on and I suggest you ride around or jog for a bit to make your feet swell as they will do when riding for a few miles. Then try on some shoes.
I will look into those pedals, thanks. I was looking into the Shimano R540 pedals for a while (and they recently had a thread over in the RC forum about them), but they said to hold out for the newer models.

Also, I always try on shoes. I can ride over to my local Performance sometime soon once I decide on pedals.

Thanks for the recommendation and info!
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