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-   -   question: where to start with fixies? (https://www.bikeforums.net/singlespeed-fixed-gear/116128-question-where-start-fixies.html)

patso 06-22-05 08:55 PM

question: where to start with fixies?
 
hi. i'm new to bikeforums.net, though i've been watching for a while, and very new to fixed gear bikes. i want to try it out and get a fixie but I have no clue where to start/what a good starting point is. i've been checking ebay and looking at some, but i hear they are pretty crappy bikes (at least the cheaper ones available on ebay.) i have some money to spend, but would like to keep it around/under the 250 dollar range. would it be best to try and build my own fixie and learn bike mechanics that way (which i have very little knowledge in as well) or to try and find a bike to buy?

i'm sure this question is asked a lot, i'm just not sure where to start. any pointers would be great.

dolface 06-22-05 09:01 PM

start here http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed/index.html
building your own is a great way to start, it's not as hard as it seems, and you can always come back here to ask questions, but the site i linked to will have most of the answers you need.

just be prepared to be asked for pictures of your project at every step ;)

welcome to the loony bin!

moxfyre 06-22-05 09:18 PM


Originally Posted by patso
hi. i'm new to bikeforums.net, though i've been watching for a while, and very new to fixed gear bikes. i want to try it out and get a fixie but I have no clue where to start/what a good starting point is. i've been checking ebay and looking at some, but i hear they are pretty crappy bikes (at least the cheaper ones available on ebay.) i have some money to spend, but would like to keep it around/under the 250 dollar range. would it be best to try and build my own fixie and learn bike mechanics that way (which i have very little knowledge in as well) or to try and find a bike to buy?

i'm sure this question is asked a lot, i'm just not sure where to start. any pointers would be great.

Welcome! I built my first fixie, and it's a ton of fun. Now I'm preparing to build my fixie #2. For both, I'm using 80s road bikes as my starting points.

The ebay fixies tend to be overpriced, so ya the crappiest ones go for around $200. Not very many companies sell fixed gear bikes for street use in a ready-to-ride condition, so building your own is a good way to start.

The first thing that I recommend you do is find an old road bike with HORIZONTAL DROPOUTS (see here for why that's so important). Obviously, the nicer the bike, the nicer the fixed gear you'll end up with, but you'll be replacing a lot of the drivetrain components anyway. My first fixie was built from a really crummy 1983 ten speed but is still a blast to ride. One component which is fairly expensive is the crank set: if you can find an old bike with a crankset and chainrings in good condition you will save yourself a good bit of money (make sure it's the kind of crankset with replaceable chainrings).

What I did was troll craigslist and swap meets and bike forums until I found a good bike to start from at a good price. Didn't take long at all. Also, check out www.fixedgeargallery.com for some inspiration!

dokushoka 06-22-05 09:42 PM

While I totally agree with everyone here, I just went from 3 different road conversions to a single track frame. i think road conversions are a lot of fun, but a track frame is much more gratifying for the fixie experience. The problem with road frames is that the bottom bracket is low, and since you can't keep the cranks horizontal in the corners, you can never get that deep in the turns. This isn't a big deal, but after striking the pedals a few times, you'll start to get a little nervous.

I think the IROs are great frames to start out with. It has more relaxed geometry but also the nice high bottom bracket. They're not that expensive either!

Mr. Shadow 06-23-05 04:27 AM

I agree that an IRO frame is nice, but would be more than his budget allows for.

I would suggest looking at flea markets or yard sales for a vintage frame and start there.

jayrooney 06-23-05 06:32 AM

Building your own fixed gear bike is really satasfying. I don't mean to discourage you, but you might spend more than $250 once you get hooked. Between tools and new parts it can get relatively expensive, especially if you want something of quality.
You can definitely get a decent bike together for around $250, but if you want to build a bike that will keep you happy for a long time, throw in a couple more dollars from the start, you won't spend as much later. Have fun!

patso 06-23-05 06:32 AM

awesome. this saturday i'll start hitting up the flea markets and yardsales around town trying to find a good frame to convert. i'll come back here after i found one to ask for the next step:) thanks for your help!

moxfyre 06-23-05 06:39 AM

On the off chance that you're around Washington DC, there's a big bike swap meet this saturday.

patso 06-23-05 06:42 AM

i'm in central va, and i'd be down for coming up this weekend to go to that bikeswap..but my brother and his fiance are coming to visit from North Carolina, so I won't be able to get up there unfortunately. Thanks for the info though!

12XU 06-23-05 07:54 AM

Hey Patso, it's Kerry. Glad you found this forum because it'll answer all of the questions that I can't.

patso 06-23-05 03:36 PM

awesomeee.

manboy 06-23-05 08:02 PM

Where do you start?

The thrift store.

Better yet, the dumpster.

patso 06-23-05 09:04 PM


Originally Posted by manboy
Where do you start?

The thrift store.

Better yet, the dumpster.


unfortunately lynchburg kind of lacks both of those. we have some thrift stores but none have that great of a selection of bikes or anything. saturday should yield some results. finding a frame for my height may be a little bit of a problem. i'm 6'4:\

manboy 06-23-05 09:09 PM

I see.... Good luck.

Slartibartfast 06-23-05 09:11 PM

I think someone tried to come up with a list of things would-be fixie riders should look for (and things they should avoid) in road bikes that they want to convert but I can't seem to find it. So ... I'll try to do this:

Things to look for:
- Horizontal Drop outs (This will allow you to properly tension your chain.)
- Three piece cranks. (these are more easy to upgrade and less likely to need an upgrade.)
- Components that are in reasonably good shape. Pay attention to the head set (make sure the handle bars move more or less smoothly). Make sure the cranks are in good working order. How about the seat and seat post? All of these things can be replaced but it certainly does add up cost wise.
- Obviously, make sure the frame and fork are not bent, cracked or otherwise compromised.
- Steel frame with luggs. (This may just be personal preference but, hey, I'm the one doing the list.)

Things to avoid:
- Cottered cranks. (These are a pain to work on and seem to have a short life span)
- Single piece cranks. (While more or less bomb proof, these are heavy and hard to find new chain rings for)
- Vertical dropouts. (These are common on most bikes from the mid 90s on. While not impossible, it will make fixie conversion harder than it needs to be your first time.)
- Anything French. (I love almost everything about France except trying to find parts for bikes made there. If you want a challenge, be my guest but if you just want to get on the road, stick to Japanese, Italian and some American bikes - like the ones made in Japan - from the 70s to the early 90s. Bikes that fit this description seem to be widely available.)

You may be asking, "What about wheels?" Good question. Assuming you've been able to pick up a road bike for under $50 (very doable), you've got some money left over to put into a good set of wheels which are the trickiest (or at least most expensive) thing to get right on a fixie. IRO sells a good wheelset for around $170 (right?) and other deals are to be had. On my first bike, I just had a rear wheel built and road it with the craptacular front wheel that came on the bike. (In case you're curious, that means I was riding a surly hub laced to a Salsa 700 rim in back with the stock 27in schwinn from 1973 in front. Odd? Yes. Wrong? Not at all. You can always move the wheels - and any other component - to the next bike you get.)

I hope I haven't offended anyone but these are tips for making a road conversion as smooth, painless and cost effective as possible. I'm sure people will add to, detract from and otherwise modify this list but I hope it is a good starting point for you.

dustinlikewhat 06-23-05 09:13 PM

you could always convert a motorcycle...

patso 06-23-05 09:25 PM

after i find a good frame, what should be the first things to pick up to get started on converting?

Slartibartfast 06-23-05 09:34 PM


Originally Posted by patso
after i find a good frame, what should be the first things to pick up to get started on converting?

wheels ... there are ways to convert the wheels on a road bike into fixed gear wheels (search the forum for suicide hubs) but I say that if you have the funds, a good place to drop them is on at least a rear wheel. of course, this assumes that you were able to find a bike with all the qualities I recomended and none of the qualities I discouraged. A good frame with good wheels still won't run if the cranks are eff'ed.

patso 06-23-05 09:43 PM

awesome. ill try and (hopefully) find the frame this weekend and come back with pictures and stuff and i guess i can go on from there. thanks for being so helpful.

moxfyre 06-23-05 10:56 PM


Originally Posted by Slartibartfast
wheels ... there are ways to convert the wheels on a road bike into fixed gear wheels (search the forum for suicide hubs) but I say that if you have the funds, a good place to drop them is on at least a rear wheel. of course, this assumes that you were able to find a bike with all the qualities I recomended and none of the qualities I discouraged. A good frame with good wheels still won't run if the cranks are eff'ed.

I don't mean to be contrarian, because I'm sure patso would be happy with some brand new fixie wheels but...

I converted my rear wheel to fixed gear myself. I bought an IRO flip-flop hub for $45 and some DT swiss spokes for $20. I followed Sheldon Brown's excellent guide to wheel building and built myself a very sturdy rear wheel in about 2 hours (I'd never built a wheel before). That way I was able to keep the current rims AND the current tires on the bike (27"). I saved money, and I learned a whole lot about wheel building in the process.

Plus, if the bike that patso ends up with has 27" wheels, he may not want to switch to a new 700C wheelset, as this will slightly reduce the bottom bracket height. He'll either have to use cranks that are too short, or worry extra about pedal strike.

Slartibartfast 06-23-05 11:20 PM

yep ... that would work too if patso wanted to go for an adventure ... and since s/he is thinking of going fixed, we can assume that is an option.

and you bring up a good point to consider: while most frames that are ripe for conversion are older, they tend to be found sporting 27inchers while most newer wheels are 700s. is it just as easy to get a new wheel set for a fixie built up with 27s? i realize the only time it actually matters - unless you are trying to recycle some rims, as moxfyre suggests - is if you are worried about brake reach but the question remains ... particularly because anyone new to fixed gear should run at least one brake at the begining.

Mr. Shadow 06-24-05 12:08 PM

French Motobacanes are plenty nice.

patso 06-25-05 07:57 AM

okay well. i went to every yardsale and thriftstore in my town this morning looking for a good frame. i only came across two: one was a schwinn sprint that was too small for me (and pretty busted up/rusted out). the other was something called a 'superspeed' 10 speed or something. it was rusted too and $20, so I passed on it. Anyone have any other suggestions for finding a frame aside from yardsales? Anyone know any good used bike stores in virginia that I might try out? I'm thinking of just checking ebay for a geared roadbike for cheap and then stripping it down and building my fixie from that.

.shawn. 06-25-05 08:25 AM


Originally Posted by patso
okay well. i went to every yardsale and thriftstore in my town this morning looking for a good frame. i only came across two: one was a schwinn sprint that was too small for me (and pretty busted up/rusted out). the other was something called a 'superspeed' 10 speed or something. it was rusted too and $20, so I passed on it. Anyone have any other suggestions for finding a frame aside from yardsales? Anyone know any good used bike stores in virginia that I might try out? I'm thinking of just checking ebay for a geared roadbike for cheap and then stripping it down and building my fixie from that.


Craigslist

Slartibartfast 06-25-05 08:38 AM

1. keep checking the thrift stores. i've noticed that the burbs have more and better bikes typically. a friend found a cineli road bike with full campy everything for $16 at a goodwill just out of town. i had to punch him in the face for that.

2. craigslist.org, if you're reasonably close to dc.

3. e-bay. this has been disapointing since fixed gear got all hip (and summer always drives bike prics up) but you can sometimes get a good deal on a bike with missing wheels.

4. keep checking the yard sales.


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