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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 02-22-10, 12:30 PM   #1
retrorabbit
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my introduction/build thread/short story

the time has come for a somewhat formal introduction and to hopefully begin contributing to the community that has helped me out tremendously in my first bicycle project.

let's start with the basics first, and we'll progress from there. i'm michael from the mullet-tastic city of louisville, kentucky. a master certified automotive technician by trade, one would assume a fixed gear road bike project would be a breeze... if only that were the case.

back in 1981 there was a man who fancied a gal enough to buy her a shiny blue schwinn le tour road bike right off the shelf from broad ripple schwinn in indianpolis, indiana. four years later they produced a charming young son (me!) and promptly decided to call their relationship quits.

after countless moves, and thrashings by children with no business on such a large frame, the old schwinn appeared destined for the dumpster. just how many dirt jumps can an old le tour endure? i lost count in the mid 90's, but trust me, it was a lot! however, as the years rolled by the old schwinn hung around and finally nestled its way into the hay loft of my mother's barn. the chicken took a liking to it as well as some very peculiar looking species of arachnid.

fast forward to mid summer 2009. the boy has become a young man destined to be the next ben spies, if only in his mind. on a trip down to my mother's to help out on the farm over a long weekend i ventured into the barn to take inventory of some old air cooled bug parts i've stashed up there over the years for safe keeping. low and behold there was the old schwinn with the affectionately named "mr. rooster" perched on the top tube daring me to challenge his roost. three pecks and a few scratches later i was on my way home studying the war wounds for signs of infection and celebrating my victory with the schwinn in tow.

safely home!



the best i can recall the old schwinn has been under water at least four times. been through four different states, two garages, one storm cellar, two pole barns, one hay loft, and finally my garage. not too shabby looking for such a rough life. after the picture was taken i hosed it off and filled up the tires. remarkably the tubes still held air. according to my mom they are original to the bike, pretty cool. further inspection revealed frozen cables for the shifters, one brake shoe fell off on the maiden voyage and the rear wheel needed to be trued.

at this point it was my intent to give the entire bike a once over, pitch a couple bucks at it, and then strap on a baby seat and take my daughter for rides around the neighborhood, just like my mother did for me when i was her age. unfortunately mid summer is prime motorcycling season which left little time for bicycle restoration. after being bumped around in the garage for a month or two the schwinn went into the attic of the garage to wait it's turn on the ever growing project list.

not that the project list has shortened, but i finally brought the schwinn back down from the attic and began to ponder what to do with it. i also just transferred jobs and my commute is only 2.5 miles each way. so a bicycle seems to be an excellent idea for strength building and cost savings. with this in mind, i set out to build a simple, cost effective bicycle that will take me from point a to point b with the least amount of trouble.

simplicity in mind a fixed gear/single speed was the only option. and based on aesthetic preferences, i decided to go fixed (i think rear brake surfaces look tacky). with the fixed gear decision made i stripped the bike down to a frame to see what exactly i was working with.



and a shot of the front emblem that somehow stayed in place all these years.



after some browsing on this very forum, and late nights reading sheldon brown's excellent articles i knew that it was time to start the process of buying parts and putting this thing back together.

first up was removing all the braze on pieces and checking the frame and fork for cracks or metal fatigue.



next up was to have it sand blasted and powder coated. i made the decision to have the bicycle match my daily ridden motorcycle. i'd hate to open the garage to see a pretty white motorcycle then a neon orange bicycle, it just wouldn't look right. i built the bike with parts off ebay. some are used, most are new. and it is with great pleasure i present the somewhat mostly finished product that is my fully restored fixie conversion 1981 schwinn le tour.

the insperation.



as a rolling frame,





the badge made it's way back onto the frame!



installed the drive side crank to get a feel for the overall look. (i purchased the wrong bottom bracket originally, new one should be here in the next few days)



resting against her younger sister,



on a side note: measure twice buy once! little did i know that some road bikes of this vintage have some squirlly measurements for seat post and steering stem diameter. i had to mill down both to make them fit. the aluminum steering stem had tons of material to remove, so no biggie there. the carbon fiber bontrager seat post also had enough material, however i did put another coat of resin on the outside and one layer of 2x2 twill on the inside just to be safe.

foot retention is next up along with installing the front caliper and lever. more pics are sure to come from the various places she will take me.

now the blasphemy begins...

i built this bike 100% off ebay. with that being said i'd like to leave this section open to review the quality of the parts and how well they last, or don't for those of us who would rather not pay the premium of shopping with a local vendor but are worried about the inexpensive components found on the internet.


hopefully you guys enjoyed the story and the pictures.
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Old 02-22-10, 01:01 PM   #2
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awesome story, thanks for sharing !
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Old 02-22-10, 02:48 PM   #3
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Nice job, man!
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.
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Old 02-22-10, 03:11 PM   #4
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nice conversion job. hope it didn't cost you more than $300 total.
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Old 02-22-10, 03:36 PM   #5
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Wow, it looks great. Nice job!
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Old 02-22-10, 03:49 PM   #6
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Hey that's a great looking conversion. I don't like the white chain however, but thats just me.
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Old 02-22-10, 03:50 PM   #7
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thanks for the compliments!

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Originally Posted by Catnap View Post
nice conversion job. hope it didn't cost you more than $300 total.
it cost more than that to build, but i never really considered total cost during the build. i work extremely hard to be able to have play money and as long as i am satisfied with my investment that is all that should matter. not to sound high and mighty, but i spent more for my motorcycle leathers than this whole build. i'm sure i could have picked up a used bike already converted that would be a better riding frame for the money, but this one has significance to me and is a great start for a practical good weather commuter.

a general guideline for cost
powder coating - $80 (i paid more to help a friend who is out of work at the moment)
wheels - $165
bullhorns - $25
cranks with chain ring - $30
pedals - $15
clips and straps - $15
tires and tubes - $30
stem - $10
seat post and saddle $30
chain $15
rear cogs (i bought several) - $30

costs add up quickly, and i'll list exact prices when i begin to ride the bike and review some of the components i selected for the build.
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Old 02-23-10, 05:16 AM   #8
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Bike will look good once you get that front brake installed.

On an unrelated note-
Why did you take the mirrors off a street ridden motorcycle?
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Old 02-23-10, 05:23 AM   #9
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nice conversion job. hope it didn't cost you more than $300 total.
That's like saying, "Good work on that, hope you didn't waste too much money on that piece of ****e, because seriously, you were just pissing money away on that!"
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Old 02-23-10, 05:26 AM   #10
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Why did you take the mirrors off a street ridden motorcycle?
Because no one will ever come up behind him because he is going so fast!
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Old 02-23-10, 07:23 AM   #11
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Mirrorless is the new brakeless. Duh!
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Old 02-23-10, 11:05 AM   #12
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That is a sweet conversion my friend. You'll enjoy the he'll out of that bike!
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Old 02-23-10, 12:01 PM   #13
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nice conversion job. hope it didn't cost you more than $300 total.
Why should that matter?
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Old 02-23-10, 01:02 PM   #14
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Why should that matter?
Because north of $300 he'd be well on his way to a lighter frame and nicer looking components. [I'm lookin' at you stem.]
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Old 02-23-10, 01:13 PM   #15
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Because north of $300 he'd be well on his way to a lighter frame and nicer looking components. [I'm lookin' at you stem.]
If you go back to the original post, you'll realize this isn't the point.
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Old 02-23-10, 01:49 PM   #16
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If you go back to the original post, you'll realize this isn't the point.
If the OP doesn't care how much it cost vs. what he ended up with, I don't care how much he spent vs. what he ended up with. It looks like a fun bike and I believe it will give him many happy miles. I was simply answering the question why this conversion, north of $300, may not have been a strong investment. (Like hanging a new chandelier in a haunted house if you will)
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Old 02-23-10, 05:47 PM   #17
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thanks again for all the compliments guys.

again, i invested money into this particular bike because it has sentimental value to me. i set a budget and stayed within that budget. i believe for the amount of money i spent, i'll get at least that much enjoyment out of it, if not more. while i could have easily gone out and purchased a bike for the same (or less) amount of money, it just wouldn't be the same. i've invested tons of time and money into my street bike without much regard for resale value because it is after all, my money. if i didn't piss it all away on motorcycles, tools, and now bicycles then i'd blow it at a casinos and strip clubs. i'm more than pleased with the investment, and thats all that should matter.

when i post a thread asking if i made the correct financial decision, then be my guest to bash me for dumping money into a 29 year old bicycle that is worth less than a case of old milwakee's best light.

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On an unrelated note-
Why did you take the mirrors off a street ridden motorcycle?
i'd be lying if i didn't say looks was a big part of it. i'm a cautious rider and shoulder check before every lane change and often when maintaining lane position in heavy/moderate traffic. the stock mirrors are also pretty buzzy at any useful speed. and lane splitter mirrors are blocked when stopped at traffic lights. so no mirrors, its my accepted level of risk i guess.
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Old 02-23-10, 05:50 PM   #18
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Because north of $300 he'd be well on his way to a lighter frame and nicer looking components. [I'm lookin' at you stem.]
i knew before i bought it that it wasn't a popular stem, along with the saddle. but i fancy both the items, so i went with them. besides, my ugly stem just makes yours look better, right? haha.
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Old 02-23-10, 08:57 PM   #19
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For the record, that bike would have endured more off road abuse than any one teenage boy could even dish out.
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Old 02-23-10, 09:06 PM   #20
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Love the bikes, have a gixxer myself=) Great job
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Old 02-23-10, 09:26 PM   #21
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For the record, that bike would have endured more off road abuse than any one teenage boy could even dish out.
that is great news. i really don't know much about what makes a good bicycle frame. obviously quality steel, lugs seem popular, and high quality brazung. the bike seems sturdy enough from my completely unscientific testing. wish i could find some more interest and information concerning the older schwinns.

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Love the bikes, have a gixxer myself=) Great job
yes,awesome! it seems there are a lot of riders that also enjoy cycling. suzukis have over run my garage. the white 01 1000 is the daily beater that i get to experiment with (05 1000 slipper clutch, swingarm, and cylinder head!), 03 hyabusa with hard bags for touring, 98 tl1000r that is my old track day bike, and an 06 600 that will be the new track bike. hopefully i can make some room this year for a hyper motard, but i'm scared of leaving the suzuki camp just yet.
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Old 02-23-10, 09:31 PM   #22
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if i didn't piss it all away on motorcycles, tools, and now bicycles then i'd blow it at a casinos and strip clubs.
As though that's a bad thing?
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Old 02-24-10, 05:40 AM   #23
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i knew before i bought it that it wasn't a popular stem, along with the saddle. but i fancy both the items, so i went with them. besides, my ugly stem just makes yours look better, right? haha.
The stem is fine. The stem on my bikesdirect bike is no fancier. I was just .
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Old 02-24-10, 07:41 AM   #24
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The stem is fine. The stem on my bikesdirect bike is no fancier. I was just .
why poke fun of me for wanting a big thick black stem between my arms?... oh... wait... now i get it!
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Old 02-24-10, 09:28 AM   #25
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Awesome looking conversion! Very classy
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