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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 05-12-10, 05:39 PM   #1
givemeyourlunch
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First DIY bike build, help a lady out!

Hey everyone -

So, I rescued an old Atala frame from a dumpster, and painstakingly sanded it down and re-painted it. I'm finally ready to put some parts on it and get it out of the basement.

I've been riding a fixed gear (a great IRO) around NYC for 5 years or so, and doing plenty of maintenance on it. However, I'm totally inexperienced when it comes to putting together a bike from scratch - and I know I could probably just take the frame down to the bike shop and have them do their thing - but I'm psyched to finally put together a bike on my own, and, you know, learn something!

As far as the build goes, I don't need anything too fancy/expensive (this is going to be my laid back single speed for coasting around brooklyn on the weekends, right down to a freewheel), just solid, good looking stuff that works. I was thinking of ordering some new parts or ebaying some used parts, but here's the thing: bike parts apparently come in 2398502395 sizes. So, I need a bit of help figuring out, specifically, what size & threading (I'm assuming Italian on this) bottom bracket to get so that it fits the frame. Can anyone point me to a good resource to help figure this out? Also, how do I figure out what seat tube & headset sizes I need? Finally, any recs on what specific parts to look at for the drivetrain?

Also, general tips & wisdom for putting together a bike for the first time are much appreciated. Also, is doing this DIY more trouble than it's worth? I hope not!

THX
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Old 05-12-10, 07:26 PM   #2
Germanicus
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Good Luck,
I am doing the same thing myself, and am about 2/3 done. You will learn a lot. One thing I can say is that before I started I thought I knew a bit about bicycles, but after getting involved I realized there were many things I knew absolutely nothing about.

You probably want to start with this website:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/
It has a lot of answers to the questions you will be asking. Also go to the DIY thread in this website.

Firstly, you you should determine how much you want to spend and how much you really want to do yourself.
Do you want to build the wheels by buying the hubs spokes and rims and lacing them all together or just buy a set?
Do you wish to install the BB and Headset yourself or have a shop do those tasks for you?
You will also need special tools for some jobs. Some of which are expensive and which you may never use again.

For a SS freewheel, I would start by separating the buildup into the following categories and research them:
1. fork/stem/headset/handlebars
2. wheelset/crank/BB/chain/hub/cog
3. brakes/levers/cables

The two biggest hurdles you are likely to encounter with the drive train are chain-line and chain-tension (If your bike has vertical dropouts)
They will give you the biggest headaches and effect which cranks, BB hubs etc. will work together.

As for your frame, I would go to a Home depot, and purchase a cheap pair of vernier calipers so you can measure the tube diameters on your frame yourself, so you know what size components to buy.

Anyway, have fun and welcome to the forum.

Last edited by Germanicus; 05-12-10 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 05-12-10, 07:34 PM   #3
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BB you can sort of figure out by measuring.
70mm width = italian
68mm width = english/ISO

but sometimes BBs can be 69mm...
only way to know for sure is to disassemble the BB. if they both spin in righty tighty, lefty loosey, then it's italian. If they don't, english.

a vernier caliper can aid you in measuring certain parts, like fork crown race and seatpost diameter.
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Old 05-12-10, 07:39 PM   #4
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You have to take your frame to the shop to face bottom bracket shell, head tube and fork crown.
If you are going to the shop, you might as well have your headset properly installed.
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Old 05-12-10, 07:46 PM   #5
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What kind of dumpsters do you have there, that you find Atala frames in? Here one can find HD TVs, cd players, digital receivers and excellent books, at dumpsters, and the occasional, crumpled and rusted-to-hell remains of something vaguely identifiable as a once-was-a-crappy-bicycle.


I highly recommend doing the build yourself. It's a lot of work for a novice, to collect the necessary information, but it's exceedingly rewarding.


That Atala probably has an italian BB, so measure the width of the BB shell and if it's 70 then you have an italian BB, if it's 68 it's english/BSA. You should hope it's the latter.

Last edited by wroomwroomoops; 05-12-10 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 05-12-10, 08:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wroomwroomoops View Post
...so measure the inner diameter of the BB shell and if it's 70 then you have an italian BB, if it's 68 it's english/BSA. You should hope it's the latter.
uhhh...that would be horizontal width, mr. goodwrench.
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Old 05-12-10, 08:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dookie View Post
uhhh...that would be horizontal width, mr. goodwrench.
Thanks.

And it's not goodwrench, it's badcaliper.
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Old 05-13-10, 07:40 AM   #8
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No pictures?

An Atala is almost certainly Italian thread. Do you still have the BB cups? If so, you may as well use them (unless they're hopelessly thrashed) and just get the proper spindle to mount whatever crank you eventually use. Be aware that the fixed cups are often installed very tight; I was unable to remove the fixed cup on my Atala Grand Prix even using Sheldon's tool. I took it to the local pro shop (it was the first time in over 30 years I had taken one of my bike to a shop for service -- I do all my own work). The worked on it for several days using heat, cold big wrenches and so on, and also failed to remove it (I did make sure they knew it was Italian thread so they would be sure to loosen in the proper direction). Eventually I was able to remove it using Hugh Enox's universal fixed cup tool, but until then I just used to old cups.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:05 AM   #9
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having a new project is exciting!
Definitely read sheldon brown's website.
And get a cheap digital caliper.

The only thing I took to the shop when I was building mine was getting my fixed cup removed as well. My headset came with my frame, but if it hadn't I'ld consider getting it pressed in the shop too. If you find urself needing a tool that you will likely not use again, you should stop by the Time's Up bicycle co-op location in brooklyn. Google them, they have schedules for repair workshops where you can go in and use whatever tools they have. And there'll also be a mechanic on site in case you have questions. Good stuff.

And in addition to Sheldon Brown, Park Tool's repair website also helped me out tremendously. Good luck!
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Old 05-13-10, 12:24 PM   #10
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I highly recommend Continuum Cycles on Avenue B in Manhattan. They can help you out figuring out what parts you need and what parts might work best on the frame and with your budget. Atlala frames varied in quality with some being very nice and others (notoriously) being built in Italian prisons. Many of those prisoner biult ones were exactly aligned right but Continuum should be able to check that out too.
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