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Fixie angst...

Old 01-30-08, 07:56 AM
  #1  
JoeyBike
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Fixie angst...

A young man came into the bike shop where I work yesterday accompanied by a beautiful vintage Lotus road bike. Looks like it was right out of the box. Six-speed, downtube shifters, beautiful lugs. Not a very expensive bike, but even had decent wheels with sealed bearings.

Does anyone else here besides me just CRINGE when someone wants to convert a bike like that into a fixed gear just for style points amongst friends? Or when some 50-something (I'm 50 myself) buys a nice road bike and puts a cruiser seat and 10 inch riser bars on it?

We certainly strive to give the people what they want. We like money. But does anyone else feel torn or a little sad in the process?
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Old 01-30-08, 07:59 AM
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No.
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Old 01-30-08, 08:04 AM
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Putting cruiser bars and a mattress saddle on a nice, but new, road bike is a misuse of the thing but it doesn't damage a "collector's item". There are plenty more of them available.

Turning a good quality but obsolete bike into something else is more problematic as once it's gone there aren't more to replace it.

You do have one options; offer to buy the Lotus intact and provide a suitable but less collectable frame and fork to build into the fixie.
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Old 01-30-08, 08:15 AM
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As long as he doesn't molest the frame such that it wil never be multi-speed-capable, let him do what he wants.

If he starts chopping off down tube bosses and cable guides, you night say somethign, but it's still his bike.

As long as he's riding it, you should be happy.
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Old 01-30-08, 08:26 AM
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Nah. Now if it was a nice old Basso or a Holdsworth, then I'd be pissed.
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Old 01-30-08, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Does anyone else here besides me just CRINGE when someone wants to convert a bike like that into a fixed gear just for style points amongst friends? Or when some 50-something (I'm 50 myself) buys a nice road bike and puts a cruiser seat and 10 inch riser bars on it?
Did he say he was looking for style points from his friends, or did you just assume that? Maybe he simply wants a fixie, and that was the most suitable bike he had to do the conversion. Unless they want you to do something stupid (i.e. unsafe) I'm OK with it. It's their ride!
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Old 01-30-08, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
...offer to buy the Lotus intact and provide a suitable but less collectable frame and fork to build into the fixie.
It crossed my mind.
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Old 01-30-08, 08:38 AM
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Even if they chop it up, at least another vintage bike is on the road for all to see, albeit in fixie form rather than its original condition. I think fixie riders keep old bikes alive and should be commended for it.

The alternative is that the vintage bike will rot in a garage somewhere or be thrown in the trash, since most roadies are so OCP obsessed they will only ride something made out of carban fibre made in the last 5 years. They wouldn't be caught dead on a vintage bike.
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Old 01-30-08, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by I_bRAD View Post
Did he say he was looking for style points from his friends, or did you just assume that?
I did not quiz him thoroughly, other than mention potential problems - like BioPace chainrings and brazed-on cable guides all over the place that will be interesting ornaments.

The only reason he would give verbally was "It will 'look' a lot cleaner without all of that junk hanging on it." I can't argue that. And he wants to change everything to achieve a certain "look".
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Old 01-30-08, 08:45 AM
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Well, what can I say? Sometimes I don't even approve of everything that I myself have done. As soon as I get that little problem solved I'm going to start on the rest of you. Uh - when that happens you're all TOAST!
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Old 01-30-08, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
Even if they chop it up, at least another vintage bike is on the road for all to see, albeit in fixie form rather than its original condition. I think fixie riders keep old bikes alive and should be commended for it.made in the last 5 years. They wouldn't be caught dead on a vintage bike

The alternative is that the vintage bike will rot in a garage somewhere or be thrown in the trash, since most roadies are so OCP obsessed they will only ride something made out of carban fibre .
You are totally correct. My response was 100 percent emotional. My rational side agrees with you completely. Just wondering if anyone else felt that initial "sting" when the idea is presented at the counter.
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Old 01-30-08, 09:25 AM
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There are people who enjoy, actually make a fetish of, riding vintage bikes in OEM condition. He (or you) might get more for the Lotus in original condition than a new purpose-built fixie frame and fork would cost.
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Old 01-30-08, 10:13 AM
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No I don't cringe. Think of the low price the hipster is going to sell the components for to a creative vintage enthusiast like me...
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Old 01-30-08, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
You are totally correct. My response was 100 percent emotional. My rational side agrees with you completely. Just wondering if anyone else felt that initial "sting" when the idea is presented at the counter.
I totally agree that there is a cringe factor when someone wants to "fix" a perfectly nice road bike. I worked at a bike shop (a long time ago) and people would bring in beautiful, state of the then existing art full Campy Italian bikes and want to do something crazy like put fenders or a rack on it. The initial reaction was "are you crazy", but to each his own.
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Old 01-30-08, 10:37 AM
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But...if we kill all the golfers...

I've been in the same boat many, many times, internally shaking my head at what a customer is requesting, but in the end it is their bike to do with as they choose. If the cringe factor were allowed to affect my purchasing advice to customers, we'd sell a lot less bikes that I know will end up being garage decorations and not ridden more than a couple times a year.

The way I see it, whatever the customer feels will make them more comfortable, whatever they think is "cool", whatever performance edge they "need" will also lead to them riding more often.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:05 PM
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I'm a fixed gear rider and have converted a couple bicycles to fixed gear. Never, though, a vintage bicycle with its original parts intact.

Yes, it does kind of grind my gears to see someone seperate a vintage frame from its original vintage parts just for "cool points."

However, one must remember that the bicycle is just an object after all, and that unless it is an Eddy Mercx or something there are plenty more bicycles like it out there.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:13 PM
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just keep the braze-ons intact.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
just keep the braze-ons intact.
Not me.

If it was my bike I'd cut off all of the unneeded braze-ons. Then I'd file fill and sand them until the locations were invisible and repaint the whole bike.

The reason that bike was in such perfect shape is because nobody wanted to ride it. In other words, it's undesirable. You guys very romantically want to keep it this way. I think that's a shame.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Not me.

If it was my bike I'd cut off all of the unneeded braze-ons. Then I'd file fill and sand them until the locations were invisible and repaint the whole bike.

The reason that bike was in such perfect shape is because nobody wanted to ride it. In other words, it's undesirable. You guys very romantically want to keep it this way. I think that's a shame.
I agree. I'd do the same if it were mine.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
The reason that bike was in such perfect shape is because nobody wanted to ride it. In other words, it's undesirable. You guys very romantically want to keep it this way. I think that's a shame.
Well, not nobody, just the current owner. I expect it would find someone very willing to ride it just the way it is if posted on e-Bay or one of the C&V forums.

Actually, I don't look at old bikes romantically at all and am perfectly happy with the newest and most modern frames and components but I'm not everybody.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:55 PM
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Personally, I like conversions. I'd love a vintage Raleigh Team or Schwinn Paramount track bike, but there's no way I'd ride one on the street and the nearest velodrome is 3 hours away. A road conversion is the closest you're going to get to a path racer type FG, and if you leave on all the shifty bits, what's the harm?
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Old 01-30-08, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Actually, I don't look at old bikes romantically at all and am perfectly happy with the newest and most modern frames and components but I'm not everybody.
Yeah. I keep my bikes components in about the 5 to 10 year old window. I don't have any 10-speed stuff and I'm not interested in any real vintage stuff. I'm certainly not everybody either.
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Old 01-30-08, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
A young man came into the bike shop where I work yesterday accompanied by a beautiful vintage Lotus road bike. Looks like it was right out of the box. Six-speed, downtube shifters, beautiful lugs. Not a very expensive bike, but even had decent wheels with sealed bearings.

Does anyone else here besides me just CRINGE when someone wants to convert a bike like that into a fixed gear just for style points amongst friends?
I cringe to think of a nice old bike like that having spent 20 years hanging on a wall somwhere when somebody could have loved and ridden it!

I love fixed gear and always encourage people to try it...even though many folks try it for less ignoble reasons, whether it's "style points" or macho posturing...in the end they often become converts when they discover how much fun it is!

Lotuses were quite nice bikes, but I never saw one with "beautiful" lugs.

See: https://sheldonbrown.com/japan

Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Or when some 50-something (I'm 50 myself) buys a nice road bike and puts a cruiser seat and 10 inch riser bars on it?
I'm more sorry because the rider has overcompensated for an uncomfortable position, and the result is most likely going to be just a different type of discomfort.

The one that gets me is the "DWU/DUI" setup where a 30 year old tenspeed is pressed into service after the driver's licence has been revoked, and the drunkard in question flips the drop bars upside-down and backwards.

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Old 01-30-08, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Not me.

If it was my bike I'd cut off all of the unneeded braze-ons. Then I'd file fill and sand them until the locations were invisible and repaint the whole bike.

The reason that bike was in such perfect shape is because nobody wanted to ride it. In other words, it's undesirable. You guys very romantically want to keep it this way. I think that's a shame.
The person who owned it didn't ride it, that doesn't mean nobody would. Or maybe the owner did ride for many years and just took meticulous care of it. We don't know.

If the braze-ons remain, you have a more versatile bike. A reasonable compromise might be to remove the cable guides on the top-tube for the rear brake. If you wanted to revert back to a geared bike at some point, clamp on cable guides are pretty classy looking. There are clamp on shifter bosses as well.

The derailleur hanger could be cut off too, and an old "claw" used although that's less than optimal.

Probably what would need to stay are the cable guides for the derailleurs. Those aren't all that obtrusive anyway.
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Old 01-30-08, 02:05 PM
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Some people ride fixed because it's fun. Style points are secondary, if not completely ignored.

It's his bike and he wants it fixed. Why are you being so judgemental? As long as he rides and has fun, who gives a crap. The Lotus was a fine frame, but it's not like they're super rare or collectible.

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