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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 04-14-14, 06:55 PM   #1
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27" Wheels on a Steel Frame to a Rad Fixed Gear?

Hi all,

I'm new here, but I've done some reading and I'm wondering if someone can theoretically green light a project my girlfriend suggested to me.

I'm torn because I have this Takara Steel frame bike I picked up for $50 (I've since put about $90 into it and my own blood, sweat, and tears), and it's heavy and clunky and I need to figure out what to do with it. She suggested that I strip it down, sand the body & repaint it, then do a fixed gear conversion (and a 27"->700c conversion as well) and put a disk brake in the front to avoid complications with converting the rim brakes from a 27" wheel down to a 700c. I love this bike, I've found it to be a perfect size for me and well balanced, but because I have a lighter road bike, I really don't give it the attention I used to.

So any opinions? Have any of you tried this before? I'd really like some input before I mangle a perfectly good bicycle by making it into an ill-conceived project.

Thanks,
Red
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Old 04-14-14, 07:18 PM   #2
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The disk brake will be way more of a hassle than getting long calipers. Converting it to fixed isn't going to make it magically less heavy or clunky but if it fits and has horizontal dropouts it may be worth trying.

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Old 04-14-14, 07:43 PM   #3
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The disk brake will be way more of a hassle than getting long calipers. Converting it to fixed isn't going to make it magically less heavy or clunky but if it fits and has horizontal dropouts it may be worth trying.
I figured the change in wheels will lighten it up and make it feel a little more agile, and I'll be switching the double chainring to a single with new crank arms to drop some more weight; I have a new stem and some kalloy handlebars (I'm planning a fairly large overhaul). Basically everything on it is steel, stock, and heavy, so even a slight upgrade should drop the weight class down.

It has semi-horizontal dropouts. Any recommendations on long reach caliper brakes?
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Old 04-14-14, 07:54 PM   #4
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A lot of standard calipers seem to be able to make the switch from 27 to 700c. There is only 4mm difference. Back in the day people trained on clinchers and raced on tubulars but even though there were tubulars marked 27 they were actually the same size as 700c. Also, the makers of lesser caliper brakes would want one product to be able to go on as many different bikes as possible. Definitely check if your calipers have 4mm of pad adjustment in them.
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Old 04-14-14, 09:29 PM   #5
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just keep the 27" wheels and do a fixed gear conversion. putting 700c wheels on a frame built for 27" makes the handling weird, drops the bb, and just looks ugly. you can pick up a 27" rim laced to a ss/fixed hub at Fixed-Gear and Singlespeed Wheels from Harris Cyclery -- Your Fixed-Gear Bicycle Headquarters! the weinmann rim laced to formula is like $80 and well worth it, especially considering the cost of a new wheelset and calipers, let alone a disc conversion. ran my super le tour fixed all winter with that wheel build.
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Old 04-15-14, 02:28 AM   #6
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just keep the 27" wheels and do a fixed gear conversion. putting 700c wheels on a frame built for 27" makes the handling weird, drops the bb, and just looks ugly.
What a load of arrant nonsense. Changing to 700C does nothing more than lower the bb by about 2mm. It changes none of the geometry, has no affect on the handling and if you think you can see the difference, you're having yourself on.

Having said that, if you have good 27" wheels now and access to decent tyres, there's nothing wrong with staying with them. However, if you need new wheels, going to 700C will give a greater range of wheels AND a greater range of tyres. It's usually a more practical choice but if you're not going to use the bike much (ie, not be wearing out tyres all the time), maybe that doesn't matter.

Brakes? Tektro make excellent dual pivot brakes with a range of reaches, the longest of which is stupidly long yet still provides excellent braking power (I've got them on the Europa ... which incidentally, was bought new with 27" wheels and has been running 700C for the last decade)

The weight of the bike is a bit of a non-issue provided it fits properly, rides well and does the job you want. Chro-mo steel will give you the ride quality whereas butted tubes are there to save weight. If your frame isn't Chro-mo, I wouldn't bother because you'll find better riding bikes elsewhere.

The big question you need to ask is 'how much do I want to sink into this bike?'. You won't get any of that money back but if it keeps a much loved bike rolling, even if only for occasional use, that's possibly not a real issue.
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Old 04-15-14, 04:22 PM   #7
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What a load of arrant nonsense. Changing to 700C does nothing more than lower the bb by about 2mm. It changes none of the geometry, has no affect on the handling and if you think you can see the difference, you're having yourself on.
never rode 700c on a 27" frame so I can't speak for handling, just what i've heard, and since wheelbase stays the same odds are you're right on this one and it doesn't make much difference, but...

*4mm not 2mm, and that's just accounting for rim diameter, add the difference between standard 27x1-1/4 tires (32mm), and the usual 23mm tires people tend to run on 700c and you've got more than a centimeter of difference, this could be minimized by running 32mm tires with 700c rims of course, but the point still stands. it could be upwards of a centimeter of ground strike clearance lost, which may not sound like a lot but i know my pedal has been much closer than a centimeter away from the ground trying to dodge unruly motorists.

don't know about down there but here there's still a plethora of tires available for 27" wheels, from panaracer to vittoria to conti to kenda and more.

plus my way is still likely to be way cheaper and still looks better, but hey lots of arrant nonsense, eh.
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Old 04-15-14, 04:28 PM   #8
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if you have good 27" wheels now and access to decent tyres, there's nothing wrong with staying with them. However, if you need new wheels, going to 700C will give a greater range of wheels AND a greater range of tyres. It's usually a more practical choice but if you're not going to use the bike much (ie, not be wearing out tyres all the time), maybe that doesn't matter.

Brakes? Tektro make excellent dual pivot brakes with a range of reaches, the longest of which is stupidly long yet still provides excellent braking power (I've got them on the Europa ... which incidentally, was bought new with 27" wheels and has been running 700C for the last decade)

The weight of the bike is a bit of a non-issue provided it fits properly, rides well and does the job you want. Chro-mo steel will give you the ride quality whereas butted tubes are there to save weight. If your frame isn't Chro-mo, I wouldn't bother because you'll find better riding bikes elsewhere.

The big question you need to ask is 'how much do I want to sink into this bike?'. You won't get any of that money back but if it keeps a much loved bike rolling, even if only for occasional use, that's possibly not a real issue.
I believe the bike is chro-mo steel, but I don't expect it to drop down to 20lbs magically. It's going to be a solid and straightforward commuter (or at least, that's what I'd like out of it) because it's comfortable to ride, and fits me well. In retrospect, because of the abuse it'll likely get, I will probably forgo changing the crank set and maybe just take a chainring off to make it a single crank.

In terms of wheels: the wheels on it are a set of SunRims CR18s, which are okay, but nothing special and I think they contribute to the "clunkiness".
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Old 04-15-14, 05:21 PM   #9
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I would just hold on to those wheels.
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Basically everything on it is steel
This tells you the bike is a basic entry level bike boom era bike and will feel clunky with or without the CR18s. btw CR18s are fine rims. Clean it up, ride it, enjoy it. My Fuji is a similar bike, with CR18s I should add, and it's a very nice smooth ride even though it isn't the lightest (30+ lbs!) and fastest thing around.
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Old 04-15-14, 06:18 PM   #10
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I would just hold on to those wheels. This tells you the bike is a basic entry level bike boom era bike and will feel clunky with or without the CR18s. btw CR18s are fine rims. Clean it up, ride it, enjoy it. My Fuji is a similar bike, with CR18s I should add, and it's a very nice smooth ride even though it isn't the lightest (30+ lbs!) and fastest thing around.
Well Im going to need a new back wheel to convert to a fixed gear (not a single speed), aren't I, if I already have an 8-speed cassette on it? Plus, the front wheel is not a CR18 and is definitely in need of some work or a viable replacement.

Additionally, I'll try to put some pictures up to make available some more information and Thank you all for your input, it is much appreciated
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Old 04-15-14, 06:37 PM   #11
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If you are going to need a new wheelset (front + rear wheel), then let me suggest you get one from Velomine, who will also space the rear wheels as necessary if you ask them to match your rear dropout spacing. It will only cost you $119 + shipping, and you'll get 27" CR18 rims laced to Formula sealed cartridge bearing hubs.

Sun CR18 silver rims Fixed Gear Track Bike Wheelset 36 Hole Sun CR18 silver rims flip flop fixed gear Formula hubs wheelset [72774711864] - $119.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super record vintage

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Old 04-16-14, 06:51 AM   #12
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never rode 700c on a 27" frame so I can't speak for handling, just what i've heard, and since wheelbase stays the same odds are you're right on this one and it doesn't make much difference, but...

*4mm not 2mm, and that's just accounting for rim diameter, add the difference between standard 27x1-1/4 tires (32mm), and the usual 23mm tires people tend to run on 700c and you've got more than a centimeter of difference, this could be minimized by running 32mm tires with 700c rims of course, but the point still stands. it could be upwards of a centimeter of ground strike clearance lost, which may not sound like a lot but i know my pedal has been much closer than a centimeter away from the ground trying to dodge unruly motorists.

don't know about down there but here there's still a plethora of tires available for 27" wheels, from panaracer to vittoria to conti to kenda and more.

plus my way is still likely to be way cheaper and still looks better, but hey lots of arrant nonsense, eh.

Yeah it's still nonsense. Ain't nobody scraping pedals from a 4mm drop, and there's no way you got the tape measure out when you were dodging the flying whatever. What, you think you're at my power level?
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Old 04-16-14, 06:58 AM   #13
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The only real advantage of 700c over 27' is that there are more tires available in 700c.
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Old 04-16-14, 01:32 PM   #14
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So the shop that I like nearby has a wheel with a flip-flop hub in a 27" size. I really only need a rear wheel, and I will have the front one trued up.

Does anyone here have experience with these types of wheels? Are they less reliable because of this versatility?

Thanks
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Old 04-16-14, 02:12 PM   #15
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Does anyone here have experience with these types of wheels? Are they less reliable because of this versatility?
The only disadvantage of a flip flop hub is that you can't put a different cog on each side. They are as reliable as double-sided track hubs.
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Old 04-16-14, 06:03 PM   #16
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So the shop that I like nearby has a wheel with a flip-flop hub in a 27" size. I really only need a rear wheel, and I will have the front one trued up.

Does anyone here have experience with these types of wheels? Are they less reliable because of this versatility?

Thanks
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The only disadvantage of a flip flop hub is that you can't put a different cog on each side. They are as reliable as double-sided track hubs.
Just to clarify the terminology. 'Flip-flop' really just means the hub is threaded on either side so you can turn it around.

Prooftheory is using another popular definition that means the hub is set up for fixed on one side (with a smaller, reverse threaded, locking ring thread) and with a wide thread on the other meant for a freewheel (you can't fit a true locking ring). These are sometimes called fixed/free. Prooftheory is simply stating that you can't put a fixed cog on either side. You can set up the free side with a fixed cog and a bb locking ring against the cog but these should be used with brakes only as the cog can still spin off under back pressure.

The double-sided track cogs that Prooftheory refer too have the locking ring thread on both sides and so are safe for fixed use on both sides. You can also safely use a freewheel on these threads so yes, they are the most versatile. These are sometimes called fixed/fixed.

Just adding some explanation, Prooftheory was correct in what he was saying.
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Old 04-17-14, 08:33 AM   #17
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Just to clarify the terminology. 'Flip-flop' really just means the hub is threaded on either side so you can turn it around.

Prooftheory is using another popular definition that means the hub is set up for fixed on one side (with a smaller, reverse threaded, locking ring thread) and with a wide thread on the other meant for a freewheel (you can't fit a true locking ring). These are sometimes called fixed/free. Prooftheory is simply stating that you can't put a fixed cog on either side. You can set up the free side with a fixed cog and a bb locking ring against the cog but these should be used with brakes only as the cog can still spin off under back pressure.

The double-sided track cogs that Prooftheory refer too have the locking ring thread on both sides and so are safe for fixed use on both sides. You can also safely use a freewheel on these threads so yes, they are the most versatile. These are sometimes called fixed/fixed.

Just adding some explanation, Prooftheory was correct in what he was saying.
Just a clarification Europa, if I have my chain on the "fixed" side cog, I can still use back pressure (to track stand or skid, or brake), but not on the SS side? That's what I figured a fixed/free hub would be like, but I wasn't sure. Thank you both ProofTheory and Europa for your wealth of knowledge.
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Old 04-17-14, 08:54 AM   #18
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If you look at a track hub there are two widths of threading. One is for the cog and the other is for the lockring. On a single speed hub there is only one width of threading so that a freewheel can take advantage of more threading being available. A flip-flop hub (or "fixed/free" if you like) has one side with track threading and one side with single-speed threading.

The left side of this fixed/free hub is the track side and the right side is the freewheel side. If you use the fixed side with a cog and lockring it will be a fixed gear bike and the pedals will move in unison with the wheel (i.e. track stands, skids, backpressure braking).
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Old 04-17-14, 10:50 AM   #19
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Is there any source for a fixed/fixed wheel? I've only seen fixed/freewheel hubs on 27" rims?

I figure since I'm starting out I should try some different cogs (I was going to start with a 44T/16T set up to begin with), but I guess the option to coast might be nice as well.
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Old 04-17-14, 10:57 AM   #20
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If you haven't done fixed before, you might was well go fixed/free because then you can have cool singlespeed if you don't like it. Not everybody does.
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Old 04-17-14, 05:41 PM   #21
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Given the choice, choose fixed/fixed because you can still run a SS freewheel on a fixed hub - there are fewer threads yes but that isn't a real problem.

If you don't have the choice, don't fret on it because realistically, it's not often you'll want to change cogs out on the road and can do it at home with a chainwhip and lockring tool.

The other option is to put a fixed cog the freewheel side with a bb locking ring pulled up tight against it. This is called a suicide hub because the locking ring won't be reverse threaded. This is perfectly safe provided you use brakes to stop and don't use heavy backpressure on the pedals (if a cog comes loose, back pressure will spin it off and this gets exciting very quickly). A proper fixed threading with a reverse threaded locking ring is safer though.
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Old 04-17-14, 07:54 PM   #22
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The majority of "fixie" wheels you are going to find are fixed/free and since you are looking at 27 inch wheels at this point you would probably have to have a wheel built in order to get fixed/fixed as 27 inch wheels aren't used on the track.
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Old 04-19-14, 02:15 PM   #23
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The majority of "fixie" wheels you are going to find are fixed/free and since you are looking at 27 inch wheels at this point you would probably have to have a wheel built in order to get fixed/fixed as 27 inch wheels aren't used on the track.
I considered doing a 700c in the back since I won't need to deal with brake conversions, but I realized I really like how heavy duty the 27s feel. I rode the bike around a bit before I start hacking away at it. But today for $80USD I picked up a Weinmann 27" Rim with DT spokes and a Origin 8 hub from a shop (not quite local, spent about an hour on the train each way). The wheel looks great and I ordered all the other parts online
FSA F Gimondi 170mm, 44T crank
Shimano BB
Gusset Slim Jim platform pedals
gusset lockring, cog, and chain.

Ill post pictures later today of the bike as is now
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Old 04-20-14, 09:19 AM   #24
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A 700c rim and tire, with all else being equal, will not in itself make the bike feel less stable than a 27" rim. In fact, one of my favorite rims is the CR-18, which I've only ever had in the 700c and 26" varieties, and I suspect the rim heavily contributes to what you describe. Whether you'll get that in your unknown Weinmann, I don't know. Hopefully it's double walled and eyeletted, too.

Discarding 27" wheels based on size alone is, I think, crazy. That said, I don't think I'd ever buy a new 27" wheel. When I decided to upgrade my 37 year old touring bike to a wide 8-speed cassette hub and double walled rims, it came with a 700c CR-18, and when I upgraded to a dynamo on the same bike, I went as cheap as possible and it, too, has a 700c rim. All of this happened, of course, when I was preparing for my move to Sweden, where I was unsure of 27" availability, and my instinct turned out to be correct.
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Old 04-20-14, 08:41 PM   #25
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I'd run 27" in a 700c frame just to fill in the clearances. But then I'm in the UK so it's easy to get well built ss/fixed alloy box section wheelsets.
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