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  1. #1
    my pedals are to big bmxkidinTexas's Avatar
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    Converting my vintage gitane to a fixed?

    Im in the process of restoring my gitane to ride back and forth to work(wich is like 30 miles total) and i thought itd be cool to make it a single speed instead of a ten speed.

    I have a few questions though.

    Do i need to change out my cassete?

    If i need a new cassete, couldnt i just modify my old one?

    If i cant modify my old cassete, could i use one from a bmx wheel, so that i get that clickclickclick sound?

    Would i need to shorten my chain?

    I wont be considered a "hippster" just because i have an old bike that i converted into a single speed will i?




    Thanks,Jeff

  2. #2
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    Do you have pics? How old is it? Need more info to give you reasonable advice.

  3. #3
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    If you're willing to just wrap the chain around one gear and leave the others, you could probably get away with just shortening the chain and removing the derailleurs. If you don't pick the gear that lines up with your chainring, the chain will come off more than you'd like. In general, you probably won't be happy with the results.

    To see what's involved in a more thorough conversion, look here:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/deakins/how-...onversion.html

    I know it says "fixed gear" and you just want singlespeed, but most of the concepts are the same.

    For more detail, go here:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html

  4. #4
    my pedals are to big bmxkidinTexas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
    Do you have pics? How old is it? Need more info to give you reasonable advice.

    Thirty five years old(1975)

    heres a link to a bunch of pictures of it.

    http://s453.photobucket.com/albums/q...20road%20bike/

  5. #5
    my pedals are to big bmxkidinTexas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    If you're willing to just wrap the chain around one gear and leave the others, you could probably get away with just shortening the chain and removing the derailleurs. If you don't pick the gear that lines up with your chainring, the chain will come off more than you'd like. In general, you probably won't be happy with the results.

    To see what's involved in a more thorough conversion, look here:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/deakins/how-...onversion.html

    I know it says "fixed gear" and you just want singlespeed, but most of the concepts are the same.

    For more detail, go here:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html


    Thank you for the links,

    whats the difference inbetween a fixed gear and a single speed?

  6. #6
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    OK, based on the vintage, it is safe to assume that you have 120mm rear dropout spacing and that you have a screw on freewheel and not a casette freehub. Also, the positions of the chainrings on your Stronglight 93 crankset are interchangeable. Since you have horizontal dropouts and old school internal cam quick releases, then you won't need a chain tensioner or nutted axles. The only issue is whether your hub threads for the freewheel are English/ISO or French. So, first you need to remove the freewheel (your LBS can do this) and see if a single speed freewheel with 3/32 wide teeth will screw on. If the threads are English/ISO they will, if they are French it won't. Gitane is a French Brand and many French brands in the 1970s used French threading. Otherwise, you can buy a new wheel with 120mm (track) spacing and a flip-flop hub and install the SS freewheel on it. Once the wheel is installed, you can choose the front chainring that gives you the best chainline, and remove the unused one (you may need some washers for the mounting nuts). You can also swap chainrings as needed to get the desired gearing with the freewheel cog size. I use a 52 x 20 on my SS conversion, which is also a mid 1970s French bike. Shorten the chain so the wheel fits about in the middle of the dropouts.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxkidinTexas View Post

    whats the difference between a fixed gear and a single speed?

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
    I'd rather ride a greasy bowling ball than one of those things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    If you're willing to just wrap the chain around one gear and leave the others, you could probably get away with just shortening the chain and removing the derailleurs. If you don't pick the gear that lines up with your chainring, the chain will come off more than you'd like. In general, you probably won't be happy with the results.
    This is a bad idea. Just spend the $10-20 on a BMX freewheel.
    Quote Originally Posted by Santaria View Post
    because physics has more street cred than tarckstars.

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    That's a nice frame with nice parts. It should make for a great conversion with a bmx freewheel. I strongly recommend that you not hacksaw anything off of it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mander View Post
    That's a nice frame with nice parts. It should make for a great conversion with a bmx freewheel. I strongly recommend that you not hacksaw anything off of it.
    +1 on that, especially the Stronglight 93 crankset is top tier, as good as Campy Nuovo Record of that era. I think the Shimano components may not be original. It would be worthwhile to service the wheel, BB and headset bearings. Overall, very nice vintage bike.

  11. #11
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    I converted a '77 Gitane this summer. The big thing you'll need to figure out as you work on it is whether it follows French standards or something more standard. My Gitane ended up following modern English/ISO standards almost everywhere. Mine was a much lesser model than your (judging from the components), so my experience may not be entirely applicable to your situation, but let me tell you what I did. This may be more than you want to know. (Pictures here if you're curious.)

    I started out wanting to do the minimum to get it up and running. Mine was completely rusted over (it had been in someone's barn for about 30 years), so the minimum was a lot. You might get away with less.

    First thing I did was strip it down to the frame. Even if you're reusing parts this is a good idea because you'll want to replace bearings and add grease. Save absolutely everything, as you never know what you'll have trouble replacing (French sizing may haunt you).

    I dove into this head first with no caution. On my first attempt, I managed to get everything off but the stem, which had fused itself to the steerer, and the bottom bracket, about which I knew just enough to wait before applying excessive force (more on that below). Of course, these are the main places where bearings needed to be replaced, so that was bad news.

    Removing stuck stems is an ugly business. I tried everything that didn't involve a hacksaw, but none of it worked. I was able to unscrew the headset, so I just overhauled it as it was, carefully replacing the bearings and adding lots and lots of grease. That worked, and the stem was close enough to where I wanted it so I left it at that.

    The bottom bracket was a big question mark for me, and it will be for you. You need to figure out if it's French-, Swiss- or English-threaded. Again, Sheldon Brown is your friend. Depending on which it is, you may be tightening it when you think you're loosening it. The adjustable cup (left/non-drive side) turns the same for any of these (lefty-loosey) so you can muscle it off, along with the lock ring.

    Since I didn't know what kind of bottom bracket I was dealing with, my first approach was to clean it and replace the bearings without removing the fixed cup. This worked, and I used the stock crankset (a 53T SR SunTour in my case) with the small chain ring removed. FWIW, my bottom bracket turned out to be English threaded. There's a very good chance yours will be French.

    I replaced the old pedals with some Crank Brothers Smartys I had already. I was quite happy to see that the threads matched.

    The old wheels were completely covered in rust, so I just trashed them. I had a set of modern Alex/Shimano wheels with tires in the garage, so I got a singlespeed conversion kit with spacers and a 20T cog and put it on there. Going this route allowed me to use the spacers to adjust the chainline to match the crankset, thereby eliminating any worries over spindle length.

    My frame, like yours, had 120mm rear dropout spacing. Since my wheel was 130, I respaced it using the 2x4 and string method. This worked, but I later regretted it, when I bought wheels with a flip-flop hub and 120mm spacing. I'd recommend that you jump straight to that if you don't use the stock wheels.

    I had an old 8-speed chain in my garage, which I used to replace the rusted original.

    The handlebars were very rusty, but they cleaned up well enough. A little fresh bar tape and they were presentable.

    Switching from 27" wheels (original) to 700c caused a slight problem. The original brakes had enough reach in the front to make this work, but not in the rear. The rear was close and I was able to make it work by cutting a slice off the brake pads. I later found a replacement vintage Dia Compe which had the extra reach I needed. Nothing made today has enough reach, so I'm stuck with these calipers. The good news is that modern V-brake pads with threaded posts work with them. I installed new Tektro R200A brake levers, because I hate the old style.

    I cleaned up the original seat post and used that with a saddle I had in the garage.

    Finally, new brake cables and pads, and I was ready to go.



    I've done a lot since then, some of which may be relevant, but I'll leave it there for now. Ask if you want to know more. PM me if I don't respond, as I don't read this section regularly.

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    Great looking bike Andy! I love 27" -> 700c conversions. There has to be something around that has enough reach, that doesn't look astronomically huge. A BMX caliper or something would probably do it no?

    I have also had success filing out the bottom of the slots in caliper arms that brake pads go into, to gain 2-4 mm of reach. That part of the brake isn't structurally that important and you can get away with filing it if you have to.
    Last edited by mander; 10-21-09 at 02:20 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianjk View Post
    This is a bad idea. Just spend the $10-20 on a BMX freewheel.
    This is even worse advice.

    With leaving the derailleurs off, you can usually just slam it into a chainring/cog combo which results in a straight chainline. You will most likely have to redish the wheel for a bmx freewheel to line up correctly - which usually means undertensioned left spokes and overtensioned drive spokes.

    Assuming you can even get it far enough over for it to matter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    This is even worse advice.

    With leaving the derailleurs off, you can usually just slam it into a chainring/cog combo which results in a straight chainline. You will most likely have to redish the wheel for a bmx freewheel to line up correctly - which usually means undertensioned left spokes and overtensioned drive spokes.

    Assuming you can even get it far enough over for it to matter.

    Ever tried running this setup and have the chain want to hop up a gear while pedaling hard?

    You either lock up the cranks (kinda good), break the chain (not so good), bend the axle (not good at all), fold over the chainring (not too bad) or bend the seat/chainstay (very bad).
    Quote Originally Posted by Santaria View Post
    because physics has more street cred than tarckstars.

  15. #15
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Perhaps the antecedent of my statement "In general, you probably won't be happy with the results." wasn't clear. I agree that leaving the gears in place and picking one is a bad idea. I also agree that putting a BMX freewheel on the old wheels is a bad idea (unless you have wheel building skills).

  16. #16
    my pedals are to big bmxkidinTexas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    I converted a '77 Gitane this summer. The big thing you'll need to figure out as you work on it is whether it follows French standards or something more standard. My Gitane ended up following modern English/ISO standards almost everywhere. Mine was a much lesser model than your (judging from the components), so my experience may not be entirely applicable to your situation, but let me tell you what I did. This may be more than you want to know. (Pictures here if you're curious.)

    I started out wanting to do the minimum to get it up and running. Mine was completely rusted over (it had been in someone's barn for about 30 years), so the minimum was a lot. You might get away with less.

    First thing I did was strip it down to the frame. Even if you're reusing parts this is a good idea because you'll want to replace bearings and add grease. Save absolutely everything, as you never know what you'll have trouble replacing (French sizing may haunt you).

    I dove into this head first with no caution. On my first attempt, I managed to get everything off but the stem, which had fused itself to the steerer, and the bottom bracket, about which I knew just enough to wait before applying excessive force (more on that below). Of course, these are the main places where bearings needed to be replaced, so that was bad news.

    Removing stuck stems is an ugly business. I tried everything that didn't involve a hacksaw, but none of it worked. I was able to unscrew the headset, so I just overhauled it as it was, carefully replacing the bearings and adding lots and lots of grease. That worked, and the stem was close enough to where I wanted it so I left it at that.

    The bottom bracket was a big question mark for me, and it will be for you. You need to figure out if it's French-, Swiss- or English-threaded. Again, Sheldon Brown is your friend. Depending on which it is, you may be tightening it when you think you're loosening it. The adjustable cup (left/non-drive side) turns the same for any of these (lefty-loosey) so you can muscle it off, along with the lock ring.

    Since I didn't know what kind of bottom bracket I was dealing with, my first approach was to clean it and replace the bearings without removing the fixed cup. This worked, and I used the stock crankset (a 53T SR SunTour in my case) with the small chain ring removed. FWIW, my bottom bracket turned out to be English threaded. There's a very good chance yours will be French.

    I replaced the old pedals with some Crank Brothers Smartys I had already. I was quite happy to see that the threads matched.

    The old wheels were completely covered in rust, so I just trashed them. I had a set of modern Alex/Shimano wheels with tires in the garage, so I got a singlespeed conversion kit with spacers and a 20T cog and put it on there. Going this route allowed me to use the spacers to adjust the chainline to match the crankset, thereby eliminating any worries over spindle length.

    My frame, like yours, had 120mm rear dropout spacing. Since my wheel was 130, I respaced it using the 2x4 and string method. This worked, but I later regretted it, when I bought wheels with a flip-flop hub and 120mm spacing. I'd recommend that you jump straight to that if you don't use the stock wheels.

    I had an old 8-speed chain in my garage, which I used to replace the rusted original.

    The handlebars were very rusty, but they cleaned up well enough. A little fresh bar tape and they were presentable.

    Switching from 27" wheels (original) to 700c caused a slight problem. The original brakes had enough reach in the front to make this work, but not in the rear. The rear was close and I was able to make it work by cutting a slice off the brake pads. I later found a replacement vintage Dia Compe which had the extra reach I needed. Nothing made today has enough reach, so I'm stuck with these calipers. The good news is that modern V-brake pads with threaded posts work with them. I installed new Tektro R200A brake levers, because I hate the old style.

    I cleaned up the original seat post and used that with a saddle I had in the garage.

    Finally, new brake cables and pads, and I was ready to go.



    I've done a lot since then, some of which may be relevant, but I'll leave it there for now. Ask if you want to know more. PM me if I don't respond, as I don't read this section regularly.


    Right now im almost down to a bare frame, all i have left is the cranks,stem,forks,and seat tube. IM probably going to take it to a bike shop and have them get it to a bare frame for me. then i have to strip the paint off(someone spray painted it at some point) and get it repainted.

  17. #17
    The bus, Gus mrvile's Avatar
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    While I was considering doing a conversion I took my old schwinn road bike, removed all the derailleurs and whatnot, kept the chain on one cog and left the rest on. I couldn't find a comfortable combination that would result in a decent chainline so I kept dropping the chain while pedaling hard. This is why I ended up just going all out and fully converting it.

    Leaving the cogs and just picking a gear is an okay idea to try out singlespeed to see if you'd like it (I ended up loving it, despite the chainline problems) but it's really sketchy and I definitely wouldn't recommend doing it for long.

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