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Single speed conversion

Old 10-27-22, 02:19 PM
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hwheel72 
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Single speed conversion

I'm new to this realm so Im hoping yall can guide me correctly. I have an old 74 raleigh frame with rear spacing of 126. The wheels I am getting are 120mm. What would be the best way to safely and correctly fit the wheels? Thanks for any help at all!
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Old 10-27-22, 02:54 PM
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First: Welcome. Understand that in this realm, need pictures of your bike and the wheels.
The best way in my opinion is to get a longer axle and some spacers.
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Old 10-27-22, 02:59 PM
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It is probable that your frame was originally spaced at 120 so someone has cold-set it a bit wider. For your project, you may be able to add some spacers to the axle to fit 126, though this would depend on your axle length. Can it accommodate the spacers with enough room to put nuts on it (assuming it's a solid axle - if it's a QR spacing won't work.) If I were you, I'd just cold set it back to 120. We're talking only 3mm each side so it should be easy. Here's a link for you to ponder: https://sheldonbrown.com/frame-spacing.html
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Old 10-27-22, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by hwheel72 View Post
I'm new to this realm so Im hoping yall can guide me correctly. I have an old 74 raleigh frame with rear spacing of 126. The wheels I am getting are 120mm.
At the least, do nothing - just tighten the axle nuts to pull the dropouts in (but this may place stress on the frame and axle, in time resulting in bending or breaking). Next easiest - space the hub with a 3 mm washer on each side. Possibly best solution but more involved - bend the frame to fit the hub.
Steel frames can be "cold set" without compromising their structure. The easiest way to squeeze a back end is with a tourniquet - loop a rope or ratchet strap around the back of the chain stays, place a stick or an old seat post or similar in the loop and wind it up so the dropouts are pulled together. You'll need to pull them closer than the final spacing because they'll spring back a bit. Unwind and check the width. With a bit of luck you have the right width (a mm either way is fine) both sides bent evenly and nothing broke*. Check the fit with your new wheel, and check that it sits in the middle of the seat stays and the chain stays. If it's not central you may have bent the frame unevenly, or the wheel rim may not be central on the hub.
Also check that the dropouts are parallel i.e. lying flat against the hub lock-nuts - they may be angled slightly from the cold setting, in which case you can tweak them with a large adjustable wrench.

* You don't mention what sort of frame it is - the "entry level" (I'm being nice here) Raleighs I used to see had a tendency for the pressed dropouts to break, also structural corrosion in the chainstays (but you might live somewhere they don't salt the roads).
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Old 10-27-22, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by hwheel72 View Post
I'm new to this realm so Im hoping yall can guide me correctly. I have an old 74 raleigh frame with rear spacing of 126. The wheels I am getting are 120mm. What would be the best way to safely and correctly fit the wheels? Thanks for any help at all!

Iíd be curious to see pics as well. What kind of dropouts does this bike have? Will the new solid axle fit in the dropouts? Sometimes they are fatter.

the simplest thing to have done woukd have been to remove the freewheel from your existing wheel and put a BMX single on it.
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Old 10-27-22, 05:49 PM
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+1 longer axle if needed and some spacers.
Install your crank before you try to space the wheel. You will probably have to move spacers around on the axle to get the chainline straight, and then re-dish to center the rim. You can do it with math or eyeball it.
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Old 10-27-22, 06:28 PM
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Old 10-27-22, 06:29 PM
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74 International, Iím pretty sure 126 is where it started based on the type of bike frame and itís purpose.
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Old 10-27-22, 06:48 PM
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Thanks for all the tips so far! Now that y’all have an idea of what frame it is, the wheels I ordered are the Velocity track wheel set . 120mm on the back.. here is a link to the wheel set:

https://www.velocityusa.com/product/...track-wheelset
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Old 10-28-22, 05:40 AM
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That is a nice frame -- do not do anything permanent to it. Obviously, do not hack off the derailleur mounting tab. I would also recommend strongly against cold-setting back to 120mm because the highest and best (far most valuable) use of that frame may be to spread it to 130mm for an 8-speed or 9-speed cassette. A bit of cold-working is fine, but back-and-forth?
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Old 10-28-22, 06:58 AM
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You have plenty of room to fit 3 mm spacers between the cones and the locknuts on the stock axles depicted. I would highly recommend that. FWIW, when I built up my '73 Raleigh Competition as a fixed-gear, it was also set for a 126mm hub. I replaced the solid axle in the Surly New Track hub I used with a hollow one and a quick release, and added washers on both sides to make it all fit. It works flawlessly. If you go with a quick release conversion, use a traditional steel skewer with an internal cam like an old Campagnolo or Maillard or similar.
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Old 10-28-22, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by hwheel72 View Post
74 International, Iím pretty sure 126 is where it started based on the type of bike frame and itís purpose.
The Internationals of that vintage came with a 14-24 5 speed freewheel, though the Professional models came with a 6 speed. I think any previous owner would have a hard time resisting the upgrade to a 6 speed, which would have prompted the frame mod.

Originally Posted by John E View Post
That is a nice frame -- do not do anything permanent to it. Obviously, do not hack off the derailleur mounting tab. I would also recommend strongly against cold-setting back to 120mm because the highest and best (far most valuable) use of that frame may be to spread it to 130mm for an 8-speed or 9-speed cassette. A bit of cold-working is fine, but back-and-forth?
I've cold-set a number of early 70s Raleighs back to original spacing without issue. The 72 Supercourse (my commuting bike) went from 120 to 130 then back to 120. Anything more than 10mm though would probably be too much though.
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Old 10-28-22, 07:29 AM
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Best to cold set it and check the alignment of the stays that they stayed centered. Google the String test.
Just putting a 120mm wheelset in a 126 frame could pull only one stay set over resulting in a misaligned frame.
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Old 10-28-22, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by hwheel72 View Post
That's very nice - if you choose to cold set it you may have difficulty keeping it centred because of the big clearance dimple in the drive side chain stay. If you have a good bench vice you can clamp the bottom bracket shell in soft jaws and push or pull one of the chain stays. The no-vice solution is to support the head and seat tubes on wooden blocks, have someone stand on the head tube then step on the stay you want to bend. Do the string check, and put a level on the head and seat tubes for parallel, to be sure it's tracking properly. Or as it's so nice, if you're not confident to do it yourself maybe find a local frame builder to do it for you.
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Old 10-28-22, 12:04 PM
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Forget tweaking the frame. It's WAY easier to just replace the axle with a longer axle and space out the lock nuts with washers.
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Old 10-28-22, 12:28 PM
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Two comments. Yes. do the string test. These dropouts are unlikely to spread evenly because of the indent for the chainrings. Rather than the tourniquet approach, I'd do a one-side-at-a-time approach with 2x4s. I think Sheldon Brown's website has a good explanation.

Second, if you choose to go with a quick-release, get those dropout adjust screws in good order. (I skip the relatively hard to find originals and go to Ace hardware and simply use SS pan head screws with a nut on the back side. I know some cringe but that works quite well. And the reason? Runn9ing single speed (or fix gear) requires setting the cha9in "tension" properly as well as centering the tire and wheel between the chainstays. Trying to do both at the same time, well, on a good day, maybe no sweat, but in the rain and dark when you flatted and just want to get home? Not happening. Far better to have correctly set dropout screws so you can just hold the wheel back against the screws and close the QR. (Yes, the tight chain folk simply push the wheel back until the chain is tight, center the wheel and close. But - they are also running a setup that will shorten the life of chain and BB and hub bearings. You want 1/2" of vertical play in the chain. And it may take a couple or three pedal revolutions to get to the tightest place in the chain's path around the drivetrain.

So, dropout screws set correctly in the peace of your shop go a long ways to making that chain slack correct on the road with a QR. Now, if you simply use the track nuts that come on the hub, it's easy. The screws aren't needed. I push the wheel back while pulling the tire against the left chainring, Tighten the right nut. Center the tire. Tighten the left. Chain is now pretty close to correct on most bikes. Final tuning is done by loosening one nut and rocking the tire. (Right nut for big chain slack changes, left nut for fine tuning and tire centering.) Take more steps that the QR but you never "blow it" and have to start all over. And after a while, you get to know that bike and develop a system that gets you there faster. (I ride two fix gears with cogs on both sides. Stop often and flip the wheel. So I do this juggling act all the time. Easy. (Though the bikes are different. On goes fastest tightening the right nut first, the other the left.)
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Old 10-28-22, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by hwheel72 View Post


Youíre going to make the International into a single speed?


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Old 10-28-22, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Youíre going to make the International into a single speed?


Hahaha, how dare I!
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Old 10-28-22, 07:27 PM
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A plethora of information! Exactly what I hoped for and so many awesome suggestions. Once I get the wheels, I’ll revisit all ideas and go from there. Also, will be using a white industries drivetrain which should look lovely and perform even better. Yeah, I know. Spending a little money on this but it’s a beautiful frame so why not enhance the beauty a little more….

stay tuned….
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