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Vintage 80's Carlton turned fixie

Old 09-25-20, 12:56 PM
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cdgeorge
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Vintage 80's Carlton turned fixie

Now I realise I am new at this game - but I jumped on a local opportunity to buy this old 1980's Carlton turned fixie for £55. Did I get a good deal? Is the frame good quality and the components parts? Did I make a mistake with the price? A fixie seems like fun and will no doubt keep me fit.

I will say here that this one has been resprayed - in the process the original badge was removed then put back on again.
















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Old 09-25-20, 01:50 PM
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Fixie or Single Speed?
a fixie shouldn’t have a chain tensioner, at least not for long.
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Old 09-25-20, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Swampthing View Post
Fixie or Single Speed?
a fixie shouldn’t have a chain tensioner, at least not for long.
Given the horizontal dropouts, a chain tensioner shouldn't be needed at all
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Old 09-25-20, 03:50 PM
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Hard to go wrong at 55 pounds sterling (around $70 US) for a quality functioning bike. Is this from the 80s? Looks older to me but I'm no Carlton expert.
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Old 09-26-20, 10:17 AM
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That looks closer to the 68-72 years.


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Old 09-28-20, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. 66 View Post
That looks closer to the 68-72 years.

Yes that frame looks identical. Hopefully the older bikes still had good frame quality.What model Carlton is yours in the picture?
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Old 09-28-20, 06:24 AM
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The others chimed in before I could, but yes, it is much older than you originally figured. I have a Carlton Criterium and I love it. Mine is one of the last ones produced before Raleigh closed the Worksop plant down.
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Old 09-28-20, 08:16 AM
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Carltons are ALL nice bikes in their way. Because the bike has horizontal dropouts you can shorten the chain and sell the tensioner to someone else, you don't need it and it just adds weight. If it fits you, it will probably have a lovely ride quality to it. I would love to know the diameter of the seat post - is it 25.4 mm, which would indicate something comparable to a Raleigh Grand Prix, or is it 26.4, which would indicate Reynolds 531 plain guage and something comparable to a Raleigh Super Course or a Dawes Galaxy from that era.
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Old 09-28-20, 09:20 AM
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Looks almost theft proof, which is a major benefit for many.
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Old 09-29-20, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by cdgeorge View Post
Yes that frame looks identical. Hopefully the older bikes still had good frame quality.What model Carlton is yours in the picture?
The one I posted is a Corsa model, it is not made of Reynolds.
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Old 09-29-20, 11:29 AM
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I don't care much for the previous owner's build, but I do like that frame. And it does look like a Corsa. There's a nice thread by Spokesmann on these over on Retrobike, including lots of pics.
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Old 09-29-20, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
I don't care much for the previous owner's build, but I do like that frame. And it does look like a Corsa. There's a nice thread by Spokesmann on these over on Retrobike, including lots of pics.
Wow this bike is so comfortable to ride - the fixie takes some getting used to with no freewheel when braking (in fact it's very difficult to get used to) - but oh the comfort of that ride is so so nice. I must find out what that frame is - it may very well be a Corsa as you say but I would love to get this confirmed somehow - I guess it's not a Reynolds - but heck, it's lovely to ride no doubt about it.

The previous owner said I could easily make this into an eleven speed if I choose to (he has tons of experience)- or fit a free wheel sprocket for single gear bike mode - I will do the latter at least. I feel I really did score a bargain at £55!

I really haven't had a bike this comfortable before. Although do bear in mind my experience is not extensive as a newbie.
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Old 09-29-20, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
.... I would love to know the diameter of the seat post - is it 25.4 mm, which would indicate something comparable to a Raleigh Grand Prix, or is it 26.4, which would indicate Reynolds 531 plain guage and something comparable to a Raleigh Super Course or a Dawes Galaxy from that era.
Of course I will find out the diameter of the seat post - anything to help further identify this frame thank you.

Although even me with my inexperienced eye scanning over the Carlton Corsa - it really does look like a Corsa frame unless there are alternatives using the same looking frame with that same front badge. Wow that's a bike from way back in the late 60's early 70's - I'm way off the 1980's mark here. I have to take my hat off to those old bikes - they really did know how to make them back then

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Old 09-29-20, 02:37 PM
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Very nice find!

The comfy ride has alot to do with the stretched out wheelbase. The color is awesome, but the bike is begging for some polished alloy rims, stem and bars.
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Old 09-29-20, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by cdgeorge View Post
Wow this bike is so comfortable to ride - the fixie takes some getting used to with no freewheel when braking (in fact it's very difficult to get used to) - but oh the comfort of that ride is so so nice. I must find out what that frame is - it may very well be a Corsa as you say but I would love to get this confirmed somehow - I guess it's not a Reynolds - but heck, it's lovely to ride no doubt about it.

The previous owner said I could easily make this into an eleven speed if I choose to (he has tons of experience)- or fit a free wheel sprocket for single gear bike mode - I will do the latter at least. I feel I really did score a bargain at £55!

I really haven't had a bike this comfortable before. Although do bear in mind my experience is not extensive as a newbie.
Yes, I think you did well for £55.

While cold-setting the frame to accept 11 speeds is certainly possible I wouldn't do that just yet. My advice would be to find a nice used 27" wheel set with a 5-speed freewheel and take it from there. You can run it as a single speed (and have a few gears to choose from), add a rear derailleur and shift lever and make it a 1 x 5, or add an inner chain ring and a front derailleur and make it a 2 x 5. Lots of possibilities, and parts needn't be expensive.
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Old 09-29-20, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by cdgeorge View Post
Of course I will find out the diameter of the seat post - anything to help further identify this frame thank you.

Although even me with my inexperienced eye scanning over the Carlton Corsa - it really does look like a Corsa frame unless there are alternatives using the same looking frame with that same front badge. Wow that's a bike from way back in the late 60's early 70's - I'm way off the 1980's mark here. I have to take my hat off to those old bikes - they really did know how to make them back then
You one lucky lad, this is fantastic in my book, great find.
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Old 10-01-20, 12:59 AM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Yes, I think you did well for £55.

While cold-setting the frame to accept 11 speeds is certainly possible I wouldn't do that just yet. My advice would be to find a nice used 27" wheel set with a 5-speed freewheel and take it from there. You can run it as a single speed (and have a few gears to choose from), add a rear derailleur and shift lever and make it a 1 x 5, or add an inner chain ring and a front derailleur and make it a 2 x 5. Lots of possibilities, and parts needn't be expensive.
I've been riding the bike - and where no doubt it is smooth helped by the quality frame - that large chain ring (don't laugh, I had to Google what this part was called on a bike) makes it more effort - it's hard enough getting used to a fixie as it is.

I like your logical thinking in starting with a 5-speed freewheel. I don't need many gears at all - in fact I have a freewheel fixie with a smaller chain ring at home which allows me to ride pretty much all round my surrounding area without too much effort. In essence - all I want and need is probably a 5-speed bike just to keep it simple and add a little more flexibility. Sometimes I wonder why we need more than just 5-gears in most circumstances as long as the range is good enough from low to high, perhaps it's just a numbers game and helps sell stock.

Questions from a newbie like me though:
1. Why do I need to change the wheels - they look good on this bike already?
2. If I buy the 5-speed freewheel - can I literally use it like a single speed bike for the time being by manually using my hands for choosing the cog for the chain to rest on while I don't have the shift lever to do that for me? Perhaps the chain tensioner already fitted to this bike will help keep the chain tight on the selected cog so it doesn't jump about.
3. The parts don't need to be expensive part - usually higher quality parts make for a lighter bike or more reliable gear changing - hopefully someone will point me to a set which is a good value for money compromise.

Thanks.
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Old 10-01-20, 03:06 AM
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The reasons I suggested looking for a used 27" inch wheel set:
  • the frame was made for them
  • they are less popular than 700C so, I would expect it to be a relatively cheap way to find a nice matching set in your area
  • most of them will be 120 mm wide, which I expect to be the width you need
  • chances are that the rear wheel will already have a 5-speed freewheel mounted
Bear in mind that this is also very much about personal preferences, and many here will probably disagree with me. Your current wheels will work, although the nutted rear axle may be a PITA when you need to replace an inner tube while on the road if you don't have the correct spanner with you. 700C will give you a wider choice of tyres, but there are some good options in 27" as well.

You can use a five-speed freewheel is if it were a single-speed, by just putting the chain on the desired cog and leaving it there. The horizontal dropouts and the chain tensioner will give you some room to play with. However, if you're interested in gearing the bike you might just as well add a rear derailleur and a shift lever and have five single speeds to choose from.

WRT the cost of parts: when it comes to vintage parts cheap isn't necessarily bad. I have a few bikes set up with ca 1980 Shimano Altus, which is dirt cheap but works very well and doesn't look too bad either.

And speaking of costs: one thing I learned very quickly, is that if you need more than one or two parts it will be (a lot) cheaper to find a donor bike that has all or most of the parts you need. The danger in that strategy, however, is that the donor bike may be too nice to strip for parts, so you need a third bike for parts, and then a fourth and before you know it you're one of us.
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Old 10-01-20, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
The reasons I suggested looking for a used 27" inch wheel set:
  • the frame was made for them
  • they are less popular than 700C so, I would expect it to be a relatively cheap way to find a nice matching set in your area
  • most of them will be 120 mm wide, which I expect to be the width you need
  • chances are that the rear wheel will already have a 5-speed freewheel mounted
Bear in mind that this is also very much about personal preferences, and many here will probably disagree with me. Your current wheels will work, although the nutted rear axle may be a PITA when you need to replace an inner tube while on the road if you don't have the correct spanner with you. 700C will give you a wider choice of tyres, but there are some good options in 27" as well.

You can use a five-speed freewheel is if it were a single-speed, by just putting the chain on the desired cog and leaving it there. The horizontal dropouts and the chain tensioner will give you some room to play with. However, if you're interested in gearing the bike you might just as well add a rear derailleur and a shift lever and have five single speeds to choose from.

WRT the cost of parts: when it comes to vintage parts cheap isn't necessarily bad. I have a few bikes set up with ca 1980 Shimano Altus, which is dirt cheap but works very well and doesn't look too bad either.

And speaking of costs: one thing I learned very quickly, is that if you need more than one or two parts it will be (a lot) cheaper to find a donor bike that has all or most of the parts you need. The danger in that strategy, however, is that the donor bike may be too nice to strip for parts, so you need a third bike for parts, and then a fourth and before you know it you're one of us.
Thanks - this might help having a closer look at the rear cog in the following photos: (the current fixie cog I think has 13 sprockets).



[

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Old 10-01-20, 11:20 AM
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What you've got there is a flip-flop hub, i.e. a hub that can be fitted with a cog on either side. With a different tooth count, of course, so you can change the gearing by flipping the rear wheel. Nice if you're a track racer or a contestant in the pre-1937 Tour de France, otherwise a little cumbersome.

BTW, a 13T rear cog with a 50T chain ring would be a little high for me for a single speed.
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Old 10-01-20, 01:01 PM
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As a fixed-gear kinda guy, were this my bike I would replace the 13T cog with an 18T, maybe even a 19T, which with a 50T chainring gets you to around 67-71 gear inches. That’s a good all-around handy gear. On the freewheel side I would suggest a 20 or 22T single-speed freewheel as a bailout gear, which would work out around 60-something gear inches. F.J. Camp’s 1936 Newne’s Every Cyclist’s Handbook recommended 65-in gears for gentlemen riding a single freewheel gear. Also, were this my bike I would get a conventional chain and not the hip but maybe not as strong or smooth chain made of half-links it is currently wearing.

I would also remove and sell or trade off that tensioner - you don’t need it and for a fixed gear it’s a bad idea.
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Old 10-02-20, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
As a fixed-gear kinda guy, were this my bike I would replace the 13T cog with an 18T, maybe even a 19T, which with a 50T chainring gets you to around 67-71 gear inches. That’s a good all-around handy gear. On the freewheel side I would suggest a 20 or 22T single-speed freewheel as a bailout gear, which would work out around 60-something gear inches. F.J. Camp’s 1936 Newne’s Every Cyclist’s Handbook recommended 65-in gears for gentlemen riding a single freewheel gear. Also, were this my bike I would get a conventional chain and not the hip but maybe not as strong or smooth chain made of half-links it is currently wearing.

I would also remove and sell or trade off that tensioner - you don’t need it and for a fixed gear it’s a bad idea.
This answer is great thanks - even getting used to the terminology 13T and 50T which of course means Teeth on the cog - sorry I'm learning. Yes you are right - the 13T combined with 50T is only just about ride worthy (I have naturally quite strong legs) - but I would prefer something a little easier by keeping the existing front 50T chain-ring. So - with the close up photos provided - will a 20T fit on that thread without me having to change the whole wheel - I will start off with that for now if that is the case - to see how I get on - plus it doesn't mean changing a whole lot of kit.

This would mean having 13T on the fixed side and 20T on the freewheel side of course - but if that config works then that's good and simple. Would I need to do anything with the chain to compensate - or does that tensioner help me out in the sense that if the chain is either too big or too small the tensioner is always there to take up the slack which may be most useful?

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Old 10-02-20, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by cdgeorge View Post
This answer is great thanks - even getting used to the terminology 13T and 50T which of course means Teeth on the cog - sorry I'm learning. Yes you are right - the 13T combined with 50T is only just about ride worthy (I have naturally quite strong legs) - but I would prefer something a little easier by keeping the existing front 50T chain-ring. So - with the close up photos provided - will a 20T fit on that thread without me having to change the whole wheel - I will start off with that for now if that is the case - to see how I get on - plus it doesn't mean changing a whole lot of kit.

This would mean having 13T on the fixed side and 20T on the freewheel side of course - but if that config works then that's good and simple. Would I need to do anything with the chain to compensate - or does that tensioner help me out in the sense that if the chain is either too big or too small the tensioner is always there to take up the slack which may be most useful?
Your hub is a double-fixed flip/flop hub, but that's not an issue really. I've run a freewheel on my double-fixed hubs like that with no ill effects. Looking at your bike I think that if you add a 20T freewheel to the other side of the hub and then run that instead of the 13T fixed cog you will no longer need the tensioner. I would then remove it, because it's just added weight. Your chain length as it is should be fine - it's too long as it is for the 13T, and someone was lazy and used a tensioner rather than set the length where it needed to be.

Tensioners are nice for bikes with vertical dropouts where you can't move the wheel back and forth within the dropout to adjust chain tension. I ran one on an old mountain bike I converted to single speed, but that was with a freewheel setup. They're actually NOT a good idea on a fixed-gear as the chain is under tension in both directions.

Anyway, I would grease the threads on the hub and thread on a single-speed freewheel and go for a ride and enjoy it. 50 x 20 with 25 mm tires would yield around 66 gear inches, which is pretty close to what standard practice used to be for single freewheel gearing. And if you feel adventurous, I would take the bike to a good shop and swap out the 13T cog for a 19T unit, just in case you want to try fixed-gear riding with a more useful gear. 50 x 19 would get you to around 69-70 gear inches, which as been my preferred fixed-gear setup for 20-odd years now riding the rolling terrain in this part of South Carolina.

Just because I don't like it, I would consider replacing the chain with a conventional one, but that's just me. But if it works okay, then just run what you have until you wear it out naturally and then decide what you want to replace it with.
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Old 10-02-20, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
Your hub is a double-fixed flip/flop hub, but that's not an issue really. I've run a freewheel on my double-fixed hubs like that with no ill effects. Looking at your bike I think that if you add a 20T freewheel to the other side of the hub and then run that instead of the 13T fixed cog you will no longer need the tensioner. I would then remove it, because it's just added weight. Your chain length as it is should be fine - it's too long as it is for the 13T, and someone was lazy and used a tensioner rather than set the length where it needed to be.

Tensioners are nice for bikes with vertical dropouts where you can't move the wheel back and forth within the dropout to adjust chain tension. I ran one on an old mountain bike I converted to single speed, but that was with a freewheel setup. They're actually NOT a good idea on a fixed-gear as the chain is under tension in both directions.

Anyway, I would grease the threads on the hub and thread on a single-speed freewheel and go for a ride and enjoy it. 50 x 20 with 25 mm tires would yield around 66 gear inches, which is pretty close to what standard practice used to be for single freewheel gearing. And if you feel adventurous, I would take the bike to a good shop and swap out the 13T cog for a 19T unit, just in case you want to try fixed-gear riding with a more useful gear. 50 x 19 would get you to around 69-70 gear inches, which as been my preferred fixed-gear setup for 20-odd years now riding the rolling terrain in this part of South Carolina.

Just because I don't like it, I would consider replacing the chain with a conventional one, but that's just me. But if it works okay, then just run what you have until you wear it out naturally and then decide what you want to replace it with.
This is excellent advice - sounds like running it 50 x 20 (or 50 x 19, we have less hills here in Norfolk UK, plus I could power more speed out of it) - it the way to go without doing anything else at all yet! So looking at the thread on my existing rear hub - can you link me to a good selection - with locking ring (unless they all come standard with a locking ring already)? Then boom - I can go ahead and buy it to get this show on the road.
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Old 10-02-20, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by cdgeorge View Post
This is excellent advice - sounds like running it 50 x 20 (or 50 x 19, we have less hills here in Norfolk UK, plus I could power more speed out of it) - it the way to go without doing anything else at all yet! So looking at the thread on my existing rear hub - can you link me to a good selection - with locking ring (unless they all come standard with a locking ring already)? Then boom - I can go ahead and buy it to get this show on the road.
A 20T freewheel will not require a lockring - it will just thread right onto the larger threads closest to the hub flange on the side that is currently unoccupied. Grease those threads first!

If you decide to replace the 13T with a fixed 19T cog, the smaller lockring is reverse-threaded. Remove that, then use a chainwhip or some other method to remove it, grease the threads, put on the 19 and snug it down, then put the lockring on and you're good to go!

If you decide you don't want to fool with fixed-wheel, you could put a different sized freewheel on there. Since you are in the U.K., it's probably best to go find a Sturmey-Archer freewheel. No longer made in the U.K., but they have roots there and I hear they're good quality.
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