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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 11-14-10, 08:00 AM   #1
TugaDude
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Suggestions for singlespeed conversion

O.k., here's the deal. I have been wanting to convert a bike to singlespeed and have been reading a lot of older threads on the subject. Time to get busy over the winter and do it.

I recently aquired a beautiful 1974 or '75 (not sure) Schwinn LeTour in the opaque blue color. Paint and chrome are excellent.

I bought it from the original owner and he had a Brooks B15 put on the bike as an original option at the LBS. I bought the bike originally for the saddle but have been very impressed with the bike as I've been cleaning it and replacing bar tape, cables, etc.

I know it was made by Panasonic for Schwinn and it is not the lightest candidate, but am considering converting it. I am not a weight weenie, but realize that to a degree that lighter is better.

I'm open to suggestions/opinions on this conversion. It also has the original Araya steel wheels which have zero rust and they are gorgeous. I know that they are heavy and that the stopping power is compromised by the steel rims, but I invested in a nice set of Serfas tri-colored brake pads which have improved the stopping immensely.

I have several other geared bikes that I ride regularly and this one is the best candidate I think because the only other one I would consider converting is a Raleigh Technium 460 but it has downtube shifters and that would make the conversion more difficult. I saw a thread where a guy converted a Technium and ground off the shifter bosses, but I'm not up for that right now.

Any help is appreciated!
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Old 11-14-10, 08:20 AM   #2
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Welcome to SSFG. It sounds like you've got a cool bike/project on your hands.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...eed-Start-Here!

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html
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Old 11-14-10, 12:38 PM   #3
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Le Tour's are great conversion canidates, with one small problem(but its a problem on just about every conversion). You either have to get a new long reach brake and have a full set of 700c wheels, or find/ build a 27" fixed rear. If you go with the 27" you will only need a rear wheel, but it will usually be more expensive, and you wont be able to get as high quality of tires for the most part. If you go with 700, you will have to buy two wheels, but individually they will be cheaper, have more choice, and a wider tire selection. You would also have to buy a new brake.
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Old 11-14-10, 02:42 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply Kayce. I understand the problems inherent in switching to 700c wheels in regards to brake reach. The brakes that the bike came with are almost maxed out on reach already.

Why can't I use the existing rear wheel and replace the freewheel with a singlespeed freewheel and have the wheel redished? I thought that was one of the ways to do it.

Thanks for the input! To clarify, I'm going singlespeed, not fixed.
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Old 11-14-10, 02:46 PM   #5
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Scrodzilla, thanks for the reply. I did look at the links in the Start-Here thread, very helpful. I hope you don't think I was asking for a complete how-to, I just wanted to get input on the type of bike that I have, Schwinn Letour and the steel wheels. I know most would immediately tell me to change out the wheels, but I don't ride much in the rain. This bike would be for flat paths near my home that are pretty level. It would be for exercise mainly. For hilly routes, I use my geared bikes. If I have to keep up with my friends I ride the Gary Fisher AR Super 27 speed. If I'm riding for fun, it is steel most of the time. Just my preference.

What do you think my chances are of using the existing wheels and simply switching out the 5 speed freewheel for a singlespeed freewheel and having he rear wheel redished?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 11-14-10, 03:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
What do you think my chances are of using the existing wheels and simply switching out the 5 speed freewheel for a singlespeed freewheel and having he rear wheel redished?
I don't see why this wouldn't work as long as it's a conventional freewheel-type hub and not a newer freehub. If it's the original hub from the 70s, it's definitely the conventional type, and you can thread on a single speed freewheel.
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Old 11-14-10, 04:04 PM   #7
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hmmm...i think kayce believes you want to go fixed gear, which can also be considered fixed gear.

however, I believe you want to go to just singlespeed which in that case you can keep your original wheelset, and just take a freewheel tool and take off the 5speed cassette and thread on a single speed freewheel.

you might not even have to redish the wheel, i have done a number of single speed conversions and have gotten pretty good chainline without redishing.

but if i were you i would still purchase a 700C wheelset, a nice pair can be had for around 100 from velomine.com and you can still preserve that vintage look and now have to compromise with steel rims.

also, the schwinn le tour is an excellent bike, 4130 chromoly. mid-end road bike form schwinn...if i found one in good condition, i would def keep it.
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Old 11-14-10, 04:38 PM   #8
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also, the schwinn le tour is an excellent bike, 4130 chromoly. mid-end road bike form schwinn...if i found one in good condition, i would def keep it.
Not in the 70s. It was a good bike, but not made of 4130 (in the 80s they were chromoly.) Still a nice lugged frame though: http://www.trfindley.com/flschwinn_1...0/1975_08.html

Sure it's a tad heavy, but I'd convert it. You can easily thread an SS freewheel onto your existing hub and just ride it as-is. IMO that frame isn't worth a new wheelset unless you really like it.
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Old 11-15-10, 08:07 AM   #9
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FastJake, I understand what you are saying. I am leaning toward converting the Letour because it is the "best" candidate among my current bikes. The frame is in pretty unbelievable condition considering its age. No rust at all, whatever paint chips there are are only down to the primer.

While on that subject, I've read threads where some say don't even bother touching up the chips and others have used nail polish, sometimes just clear nail polish to cover up the chips. I have touched up other frames with sometimes good, sometimes mediocre results.

To the entire group, what do you think about touching up the frame? I looked at Testor's model paints and either the light blue or sky blue look pretty close to the Schwinn opaque blue. Would either work pretty well?

Thanks guys!
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Old 11-15-10, 08:12 AM   #10
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klaw091, thanks for the input. I'm leaning towards just using the existing wheels for a while to see if I like it and to determine the gear ratio to use. I was thinking about using the 39 tooth ring with 16 cog in back or perhaps the 14, which would equal a gain ratio of 5.6 according to the online gear calculator.

If I like the conversion then I think I'll spring for the 700c wheelset and longer reach brakes.

Anyone care to offer personal experience with switching from 27" to 700c on changes in handling. I've read threads that poo poo the change and some that say it significantly changes the ride of the bike. What say you?

Thanks again!
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Old 11-15-10, 08:22 AM   #11
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The first bike I built was a conversion switched to 700c wheels and it rode just fine. The 4mm of radius difference doesn't change much. That said, I'd keep the steel wheelset mostly because it will look nicer.
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Old 11-15-10, 09:56 AM   #12
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I really like the look of the steel wheels. They have a low profile rim, but plenty of space for the brake pads. They have zero rust, just some slight dulling of the chrome in some areas, but essentially look brand new. Not bad for mid 70's. They are Araya and look like they were quality hubs for back then.

Right now I'm running Kenda white walls on the bike and it makes the while lettering on the bike really pop.

I removed the old blue cloth tape off of the bars and replaced with black cloth. I finished off the cloth with twine and it looks pretty nice. I also took off the original brakes withe the extension levers and went with some NOS Dia Compe brake levers with black hoods.

I shellacked the twine but have not done the cloth so far.

Pros/cons to leaving the cloth tape alone? Should I just go ahead and apply the shellac to the cloth tape. I guess the main difference will be the sheen. Right now the tape looks pretty flat.

Thanks!
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Old 11-15-10, 10:00 AM   #13
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If you have drop bars, I'd get Specialized Phat Bar Tape... its just comfortable on the road.
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