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The right parts for single speed commuter...

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The right parts for single speed commuter...

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Old 08-31-06, 08:44 AM
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dknight07
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The right parts for single speed commuter...

Wanting to take an old steel frame and convert to single speed for my regular commute. Flat, 8 miles one way through Houston. I dont know anything about the bikes, but my current options are:
1980 Schwinn Super Le Tour
1976 Motobecane Super Mirage
~1970's Mirage 710

Thoughts on the frames? All appear to be in pretty good shape. Leaning toward the Motobecane as its prettiest. Ha.

Also, info on what additional parts I'll need to buy for the conversion would be awesome. I was just planning on picking it all up off Nashbar or something, since I figured that would be most affordable. Thanks!
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Old 08-31-06, 08:50 AM
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I recommend you ask in the fixie/ss forum. Lots of those guys have converted these bikes and they know all about quirky threading and size issues. It might be a factor which frame has the most usable parts (esp. BB, crank, headset, even brakes, seatpost, handlebars) ... could keep the costs down that way!

I live in flat Chicago and love riding ss and fixed. Good Luck!
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Old 08-31-06, 08:53 AM
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dknight07
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will do. thanks!
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Old 08-31-06, 09:13 AM
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TheDL
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If memory serves me correctly I believe the Super Mirage is chromed under the paint. If so, that'd would be awesome in terms of comabting rust and increase the longevity of the frame. Also, isn't the Super Mirage a touring frame? So it'd have all the brazeons you'd need.
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Old 08-31-06, 09:22 AM
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Horizontal or at least semi-horizontal dropouts in the rear would be where I would look first. Then I'd pick the lightest/best looking frame. Rack and fender braze ons a big plus and finally price.
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Old 08-31-06, 10:26 AM
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Need horizontal dropouts. Probably all the bikes you mention have them. It's newer bikes that sometimes have vertical dropouts. You need to be able to change the distance from the bottom bracket to the rear axle so you can adjust chain tension.

Bottom bracket standards are important to me. Not everyone feels the same way. Almost all bikes built in USA or Taiwan use the English BB standard. Older Italian and French built bikes sometimes came with goofy BB threading. If I were buying one of these bikes, I would measure the BB shell width. If it's 68mm wide, then you're good to go.

Here are some characteristics to compare. None are disqualifying. Just use them to rank the prospective bikes.

Aluminum rims are better than steel rims.

You have a wider selection of tires for 700c (ISO 622) wheels than you do with the old 27 inch (ISO 630) wheels.

CroMo steel is stronger than "high tensile steel" or other names for cheap steel.

Forged rear dropouts (especially those with screws for adjusting the rear axle position) are indicators of a higher quality bike. Flat pieces of stamped steel for the rear dropouts indicate a cheaper bike.

A bike with a real spider crank and removeable chainrings is better than a crank with the chainrings rivetted on. For some obscure Italian cases, this isn't true because they don't use the modern standard 130 mm BCD chainrings.

I've converted 2 bikes to SS. Here is my method.

Strip it to the frame. Hacksaw and file the unwanted braze-ons. Don't do this if you think you will want to go back to gears someday. Don't remove the braze-ons for the brakes! Sand any rusty spots and paint with Rustoleum rattle can primer and paint if desired. Cover the BB threads with masking tape to prevent paint from mucking them up.

You will probably have an old cup and cone BB. Remove the BB and discard all of it except the lock ring. You might want the lock ring for a suicide hub fixed gear experiment. If you have an Italian or French threaded BB, then just keep the BB you have. You won't do better.

Spray a rust preventative inside the tubes. Some people use "frame saver" bought at a bike store. I use marine engine internal parts rust preventative spray. It's cheaper. I buy it in the automotive section of Menards (home improvement super store).

Install a Shimano cartridge BB. The width you buy is determined by the chainline you want. This is a black art. Be prepared to buy a second one when you get it wrong. What I do is measure the old BB width and the chainline I get with the old BB and then buy the new one in a width that corrects the measured error from what I want. You can get the old BB out with a pipe wrench and a large crescent wrench. You need a special tool to install the cartridge BB. I like Park tools.

I usually buy a new crank because I usually buy cheap bikes with rivetted chainrings. Most people like Sugino RD cranks with 130 BCD (diameter of the circle which the 5 bolts form). I like 110 BCD cranks because they give me access to a large number of BMX single speed cranks. 48 teeth is the largest chainring I've seen in 110 BCD. I don't want any bigger than that, so it works for me.

Remove the rear gear cassette. This can be tough. There are a few different standards for the wrench you need to remove it. I got lucky and mine was the simple 1/4 inch wide slot. I clamped a 1/4 inch piece of steel in my workbench, put the wheel on top of it, and pretended to drive the bus while unscrewing the cassette. Maybe you want to just take it to a bike store and pay them $5 to remove it for you.

Redish the rear wheel. You will see the rear wheel isn't symetrical on the hub. That's because the gear cassette had to go on one side. You want a symetrical wheel. You need a spoke wrench for this. I don't have a truing stand. I just do it in the frame and use the brake shoes as an indicator of trueness. Loosen the spokes on one side. Tighten them on the other side. Do this until it looks symetrical. Then spin the wheel and find the untrue parts. Adjust the spokes in that area until you are happy. This isn't all that easy to do. If your bike has steel rims, or if you don't want to mess with redishing, just buy a new wheel. You can get SS / fixed flip-flop hub pre-built wheels.

Buy a BMX freewheel and thread it on the rear hub where the cassette was. I like Shimano and ACS ones. The Shimano ones are quiet. The ACS ones are noisy when coasting. Your gear ratio is determined by the number of teeth on the chainring versus the number of teeth on the freewheel. I would use a ratio between 2.5 and 3.0. My road bike is 48x17 giving about 2.8 gear ratio. My MTB is 35x16 giving a gear ratio of about 2.2. The size of tires also comes into play. Sheldon Brown has a gear calculator web page that lets you compare the gear inches or gain ratio of the whole drive train including crank arm length. I think most people gear SS road bikes between 65 and 75 gear inches.

Reassemble everything. Buy new brake cables. Shorten the chain. You'll need a chain tool.

You'll need a can of grease. Any threaded interface gets grease on the threads before assembly. Some people prefer loctite on the BB threads. Make sure you grease the rear hub and freewheel threads before assembling them or you'll never get them apart. You will probably have a quill stem on these old bikes. Grease the stem before inserting into the fork or you might not get it out after a few years.

If you choose a high gear and want to climb hills. You'll need some pedals that can be attached to your feet. I like Power Grips. Most people like clipless pedals.

Last edited by squeakywheel; 08-31-06 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 08-31-06, 12:11 PM
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Squeaky has given you very thorough directions for setting up your SS. I will give you very simple ones.

Choose the Super Mirage. From these pictures, it looks to be adaptable.

http://www.discountbikes.net/road/motobecane/

Remove the deraileurs.
Remove the inner and outer chainrings (assuming it's a triple, as with the pictured bike).
Adjust the length of the chain to fit the rear cog desired.
Ride.

I'm riding a 70s Raleigh Gran Sport set up this way (42-17). It works, and makes use of what I have. Of course, this assumes that the bike is in good working order now, without needing any major components replaced. If, for example, my original rear wheel had been unuseable, I would have opted for a SS specific replacement.

Last edited by Jim in KC; 08-31-06 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 08-31-06, 12:36 PM
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When going from a double or triple chainring to a singel one, you can buy short chainring bolts for about $10 or you can grind the ends of the long ones down. I have done both, but prefer buying the short ones. I like the chrome plated steel Sugino ones my LBS sells.

If you add up the cost of parts and tools you might decide to just buy a new bike. You can get a nice SS road bike from Specialized, Raleigh, KHS, or Redline for about $500. With the cost of the tools and your time, It mike make more sense to just buy one of these unless you are trying to do it for cheap or just want to do the work yourself. I think the payback for doing it yourself comes on the second bike when you already have the tools. Plus, I just wanted to do it myself for the fun of it. Building your own also means you are qualified to do your own repairs and maintenance. Might as well be self sufficient.
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Old 08-31-06, 01:02 PM
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Jim in KC
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Squeaky's right. If you have to put more than a few hundred dollars in it, or you can't do the work yourself, there are some great new SS bikes out there for a reasonable price. My simple solution (remove derailleurs and unneeded chainwheels) would work best for someone who has an old appropriate bike stored away unused in the back of their garage.

Last edited by Jim in KC; 09-01-06 at 07:35 AM.
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