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Single speed/Fixed gear build - Noob questions

Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Single speed/Fixed gear build - Noob questions

Old 12-14-18, 06:32 PM
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SaulF
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Single speed/Fixed gear build - Noob questions

Hi everyone, I have an 80's bike that I'm considering converting to a single speed/fixed gear bike. This will be my first ss bike and I've never been through the process of converting a bike to ss. I have a few questions and I'm looking for some guidance.

1. I'm considering a flip flop hub so I can try ss and fixed gear and choose which one I like. Any downside to going with the flip flop option?
2. Should I retro fit the current wheels, or is there value to buying wheels that were designed for a ss/fixed from factory?
3. I want a front brake just because I have never ridden without brakes. Any downsides or reasons why I shouldn't have a front brake?
4. Is there anything I should be considering that maybe I haven't? I have zero knowledge on the subject so anything you can share will be helpful!

Here are some pictures of the bike I want to do the conversion on.





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Old 12-14-18, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SaulF View Post
Hi everyone, I have an 80's bike that I'm considering converting to a single speed/fixed gear bike. This will be my first ss bike and I've never been through the process of converting a bike to ss. I have a few questions and I'm looking for some guidance.

1. I'm considering a flip flop hub so I can try ss and fixed gear and choose which one I like. Any downside to going with the flip flop option?
2. Should I retro fit the current wheels, or is there value to buying wheels that were designed for a ss/fixed from factory?
3. I want a front brake just because I have never ridden without brakes. Any downsides or reasons why I shouldn't have a front brake?
4. Is there anything I should be considering that maybe I haven't? I have zero knowledge on the subject so anything you can share will be helpful!

Here are some pictures of the bike I want to do the conversion on.
Looks like a good candidate for a conversion.

1) No downside to running a flip flip hub.
2) Retrofitting the current wheel will involve having a bike shop re-dish it, or if you're going the flip flop hub route, pretty much rebuilding the wheel around that new hub. Imo, it would be easier (if your budget allows) to buy a quality but affordable set of single speed wheels, something along the lines of a Sun rim/Formula hub combo. Velomine has them for a reasonable price.
3) The only downside to having a brake is if you're really worried about missing out on the opportunity to get hurt. Use a brake, and ideally, use a rear one as well.
4) That's hard to answer, depends on what you're gonna do with the bike. You mention flip flop, so if your plans include riding fixed, consider getting foot retention. And if you think you might convert the bike back to it's original geared state, maybe get some covers for the down tube shifter bosses. Other than that, you'll have to feel it out as you go.

Good luck, have fun, and as always - post some pics of the conversion process because hey, we're bike nerds who like to see these builds come together.

Last edited by j_e_r_e_m_y; 12-14-18 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 12-14-18, 07:06 PM
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I agree, finding a set of already built single speed wheels would probably be a lot less of a headache, and quite possibly cheaper than re lacing those rims. Look on craigslist / ebay frequently... they pop up a lot and you can really get a good deal.
I know that sometimes people run into chain line issues. They seem easily resolved with spacers behind the cog, and or bottom bracket length.

A lot of guys will take off the second chainring. I think this sometimes requires a spacer? Never done it, so not sure. But that's something to look into if you're not looking at replacing the crankset.

Don't get me wrong, I like conversions. And I don't know the value of that bike... but it looks pretty well kept over the years. Does everything function well? I usually only consider already cannibalized bikes for a conversion. Maybe consider keeping your eyes peeled for just a frame set? Or a used ss/fg frame you could build up? It's your bike though! I'm not trying to discourage you from proceeding, just tossing another idea into the mix

Last edited by mouse; 12-14-18 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 12-14-18, 08:23 PM
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About wheels, I'd keep them if they're worth keeping. In other words, are they true, or true-able? Are they 700c (622 ISO size)? Do the rims have hook bead? My spouse has a Bianchi with straight bead wheels, so I know they're out there. I have a rule which is to only build wheels out of good rims. Life is short.

And of course you can still find tires for 27 inch wheels (630 ISO), but the selection isn't as good any more.

I've done conversions, but typically on bikes where the wheels were already unsalvageable, so I didn't have to sweat over that choice.
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Old 12-15-18, 08:11 AM
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1. No
2. It’s possible, but there’s no good reason to. Buy a new new fixed/ss wheelset. There are plenty of quality, affordable options. Don’t give yourself unneccessary headaches trying to save a few pennies.
3. Absolutely ride with brakes, especially if you plan on riding ss more than fixed. Actually scratch that, just put brakes on your bike, period.

4. You may run into some trouble getting your chainline correct, which could mean making modifications to your crankset and bottom bracket. Such as moving over to a shorter bottom bracket spindle, if you try to utilise your current crankset. It could be in your interest to invest in an affordable ss/fixed/track crankset and bottom bracket. This will make the conversion easier, but isn’t required.

5. Running a 1/8” chain isn’t required. You can still run 3/32 chain, even with fixed. But if you want to run fixed and you want to upgrade your crank and chainring, you’ll find more options for 1/8” setups and 144 BCD cranksets.
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Old 12-15-18, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by seamuis View Post
4. You may run into some trouble getting your chainline correct, which could mean making modifications to your crankset and bottom bracket. Such as moving over to a shorter bottom bracket spindle, if you try to utilise your current crankset. It could be in your interest to invest in an affordable ss/fixed/track crankset and bottom bracket. This will make the conversion easier, but isn’t required.
Quite often, all that is needed to get an acceptable chainline is to run the chainring on the inner plateau of a double crank. I'd try that first before investing in a different bottom bracket and/or crank.

5. Running a 1/8” chain isn’t required. You can still run 3/32 chain, even with fixed. But if you want to run fixed and you want to upgrade your crank and chainring, you’ll find more options for 1/8” setups and 144 BCD cranksets.
Running 1/8" chain has the additional advantage of allowing you to mix & match 3/32" and 1/8" cogs and chainrings. 3/32" chain will only work with 3/32" cogs and chainrings.
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Old 12-15-18, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Quite often, all that is needed to get an acceptable chainline is to run the chainring on the inner plateau of a double crank. I'd try that first before investing in a different bottom bracket and/or crank.



Running 1/8" chain has the additional advantage of allowing you to mix & match 3/32" and 1/8" cogs and chainrings. 3/32" chain will only work with 3/32" cogs and chainrings.
This is true, but depending on the crankset and angle of the frames chainstays this could create clearence issues if you’re trying to use your current road chainring. The thing about this though, is that it’s really only likely to be an issue if the OP decides to run fixed more often than SS. a SS freewheel on a track hub typically has a chainline of around 45mm. Your typical shimano crankset has an inner chainline of 41 and outer chainline of 46. So wether the OP should consider moving the chainring to the inner strongly depends on wether they are running SS or fixed.

on your second point, this is also true, but there’s no sensible reason to mix standards. There are plenty of fixed sprockets and freewheels in both 3/32 and 1/8. So again, what the op “should” choose is more about wether the OP wants to continue.using the original shimano 600 road crank and chainring or purchase something new. There’s just no reason to mix the standards, so I didn’t think it worth mentioning. This argument has been had in other threads where you’ve said the same thing and I don’t see the point in confusing the issue for the OP. The clearest, most sensible and straightforward advice is what I’m focusing on. If the OP finds your info helpful though, then great, but I’m not sure why you’d respond to me about it.

Last edited by seamuis; 12-15-18 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 12-19-18, 06:11 PM
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Thanks for the input everyone! Its been very helpful and I think I'm leaning towards buying a new set of wheels that are SS/Fixed built. I think at the moment my top option is this
Sun CR18 Black 700c 36h Fixed Gear Singlespeed Wheelset Black Black Sun rims high flange Formula fixed gear track hubs wheels wheelset [0072774711871] - $115.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super r

I also came across this conversion kit that I would love to hear your opinion on.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/EighthInch-....c100005.m1851
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Old 12-19-18, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SaulF View Post
Thanks for the input everyone! Its been very helpful and I think I'm leaning towards buying a new set of wheels that are SS/Fixed built. I think at the moment my top option is this
Sun CR18 Black 700c 36h Fixed Gear Singlespeed Wheelset Black Black Sun rims high flange Formula fixed gear track hubs wheels wheelset [0072774711871] - $115.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super r

I also came across this conversion kit that I would love to hear your opinion on.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/EighthInch-....c100005.m1851

Can't speak to the conversion kit, but as for the Sun CR-18/Formula wheelset from Velomine, I bought the same set a while back and they're a solid choice for the price. My only word of caution would be that since they're machine built, you'll likely need to do a bit of re-tensioning of the spokes after a few miles. Mine were creaking a little bit around the spoke nipples and a few small adjustments and some oiling of the nipples cleared that right up.
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Old 12-23-18, 05:24 PM
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Worth trying

[QUOTE=JohnDThompson;20706024]Quite often, all that is needed to get an acceptable chainline is to run the chainring on the inner plateau of a double crank. I'd try that first before investing in a different bottom bracket and/or crank."

This suggestion is important because it costs zero dollars to try and can show immediate results. I think it was very appropriate.


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Old 12-24-18, 09:21 PM
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Sheldon Brown has the answers you seek: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixedgear.html

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html

I also recommend keeping the brakes on your bike. You can still skid to your heart's content but in an emergency, they can be life savers.

I've done several conversions and they turned out very well but cost more than one might be willing to pay for a new SS/FG bike. The links posted above can help you stay on budget.

You can use that Bianchi for your conversion. Is the rear hub a freewheel or a freehub? https://www.sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html
If it's a freewheel(quite possible), you can use the wheel as is with a cog of your choice. If it's a freehub, I'd just buy a SS/FG wheelset with flip-flop hub. Take the wheelset to a bike mechanic who can make sure the spokes are evenly tensioned and the rims are true. Sun or Velocity rims, Formula hubs, Sapim or DT Swiss spokes provide great value for the money.

Whatever you do, don't grind off any parts of that Bianchi.
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Old 12-26-18, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by SaulF View Post
Thanks for the input everyone! Its been very helpful and I think I'm leaning towards buying a new set of wheels that are SS/Fixed built. I think at the moment my top option is this
Sun CR18 Black 700c 36h Fixed Gear Singlespeed Wheelset Black Black Sun rims high flange Formula fixed gear track hubs wheels wheelset [0072774711871] - $115.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super r
Excellent bang for the buck. I run these wheels on my SS Raleigh; they're somewhat heavy but tough and reliable, which is perfect for urban use.

I've converted three road bikes to SS. Each time I was able to get a good chainline with the existing bottom bracket spindle and crankset. In one case the chainring was in the small-ring position, and the other two worked from the big-ring spot. You'll likely get the same result if you use the wheelset above; repurposing the original wheel will probably require a redish to get things right.

I found a set of single-ring chainring bolts on amazon pretty cheap. Beats using the 2-ring bolts and improvised spacers.

And that's what I can offer from my limited experience. YMMV.

EDIT: You want brakes.
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