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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)

Where did you start?

Old 11-13-19, 08:05 AM
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Unca_Sam
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Where did you start?

I've never tried a fixed gear bike, and I'd like to. I like the idea of single speed too. Where did you veterans start? Did you just convert an old frame? Used to race on a track? How long did it take to love it if you had to get used to it?

I know State Bicycle company is/was not held with much regard here, but one of their "FGFS" bikes is listed locally for cheap. The frame was made 'one size' and shipped with BMX bars, but I'm wondering if it could make a good introduction to fixed riding. The original plan was to convert a 70s or 80s frame, but a bike with all the work done under $75 is hard to pass by without thinking about it. I'd planned on shorter urban trips on street and paved path, longer trips or a commute as I get used to it/ stronger.

Is anyone familiar with this bike build? Is the experience drastically different with a better components, and tighter geometry?
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Old 11-13-19, 08:08 AM
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Frame details:

50.5cm actual seat tube, 57.5cm actual top tube, 43.5cm chainstay length. Assumed to be straight gauge Cr-Mo tubing. For road fit I'd need a 60-70mm stem.
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Old 11-13-19, 04:12 PM
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I've never owned a geared bike (my entire life).
Not because of neckbeardery, but because of a long set of circumstances, and really good bikes keep popping up locally that are single speed.
I also don't like the idea of learning deraiuller maintanence, and geared bikes just seem very cumbersome, weird, and "not like a bike" to me.
I don't like the thought of the chain bouncing around a bunch of weird gears while very loosely holding chain tension with a derailleur that's just one drop or one curb check away from not working anymore.
Anything that fits my riding style that is geared is incredibly expensive, or it's a very poorly built hybrid.
I've been considering some 1x drivetrains though, as they are much simpler.
Internal hubs are too heavy (unless they are very high end and expensive), so they are mostly good for cruisers.

Anyways, I would get a fixed gear that is a lot like whatever you're riding now. Because your only learning curve at that point will be the whole "constantly rotating cranks" part. Whether you decide to take the brakes off later will be up to you.
Looks like you have a C'mute.
The rum runner is a great, cheap frame (basically a soma rush with gas pipe tubing) that I rode very hard for many many years. My only complaint about that frame is the lack of a crossbar on the chainstays.
I actually snapped my frame on the chainstay, and had that crossbar had been there I could very well still be riding that frame.
Most urbanized fixed gears and cyclocross bikes have them because they make the frame a lot stronger in that very crucial area.
It's still a good value though, but by this point there are probably a lot of other options available as well.

If you want to try it on the cheap, you can always get a conversion kit for that cmute instead of a throwaway hi-ten bike. It's cheaper and less wasteful.
In some cases, you can actually buy a legit fixed gear wheelset, a half link chain (and or a single speed derailleur), and some cone spacers (don't use more than one axle washer).
Depending on your current spacing, it may or may not line up right with your cranks.

If you like to screw around on street features and trails, you may want to consider FGFS bikes or 650b wheels, but if you mostly just like to ride fast or far, then you're going to want something a little different.

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Old 11-13-19, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by BicycleBicycle View Post
I've never owned a geared bike (my entire life).
Not because of neckbeardery, but because of a long set of circumstances, and really good bikes keep popping up locally that are single speed.
I also don't like the idea of learning deraiuller maintanence, and geared bikes just seem very cumbersome, weird, and "not like a bike" to me.
I don't like the thought of the chain bouncing around a bunch of weird gears while very loosely holding chain tension with a derailleur that's just one drop or one curb check away from not working anymore.
Anything that fits my riding style that is geared is incredibly expensive, or it's a very poorly built hybrid.
I've been considering some 1x drivetrains though, as they are much simpler..

Anyways, I would get a fixed gear that is a lot like whatever you're riding now. Because your only learning curve at that point will be the whole "constantly rotating cranks" part. Whether you decide to take the brakes off later will be up to you.
If you like to screw around on street features and trails, you may want to consider FGFS bikes or 650b wheels, but if you mostly just like to ride fast or far, then you're going to want something a little different.
Thanks! I prefer to ride fast and far, and I'm interested in the legendary training aspects of fixed gear biking, like ironing out kinks in pedaling and increased stamina. The bike is being offered with either drop bars or pursuit bars (bullhorn), and I'd at least have to swap the stem, though I'm not sure if having a stem that short is wise. I was worried that the bike would feel heavy, and so far I'm not convinced that it won't. It has that beefy BMX fork and chainstays on the longer side. I'm not sure about the wheels, but they look like they might be 20mm wide from the photo.
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Old 11-13-19, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
Thanks! I prefer to ride fast and far, and I'm interested in the legendary training aspects of fixed gear biking, like ironing out kinks in pedaling and increased stamina. The bike is being offered with either drop bars or pursuit bars (bullhorn), and I'd at least have to swap the stem, though I'm not sure if having a stem that short is wise. I was worried that the bike would feel heavy, and so far I'm not convinced that it won't. It has that beefy BMX fork and chainstays on the longer side. I'm not sure about the wheels, but they look like they might be 20mm wide from the photo.
fgfs bikes are not good for "fast and far". I mean, you can ride anything in almost any way you like, but some bikes are more optimized for certain purposes.
If you want a new bike instead of converting your c'mute, kilott is a great "fast and far" kind of a bike.

State looks like they make great frames above a certain price point, but IMO their "core line" is $50-$100 over what it should cost so it makes me weary of all of their other offerings.
But their high end frames look like amazing values, and the geo is on point.

I would do some research into all of your options before buying it. It may be good, or it may be like their core line.

Last edited by BicycleBicycle; 11-13-19 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 11-13-19, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by BicycleBicycle View Post
fgfs bikes are not good for "fast and far". I mean, you can ride anything in almost any way you like, but some bikes are more optimized for certain purposes.
If you want a new bike instead of converting your c'mute, kilott is a great "fast and far" kind of a bike.

State looks like they make great frames above a certain price point, but IMO their "core line" is $50-$100 over what it should cost so it makes me weary of all of their other offerings.
But their high end frames look like amazing values, and the geo is on point.

I would do some research into all of your options before buying it. It may be good, or it may be like their core line.

I'm not going to convert the C'mute, that does just fine as a touring/commuting build. I've tweaked it plenty to get it comfy, since the geometry isn't suited to me with a too long top tube.
State last listed these frames for sale in 2013, and priced them around $550 at the time. That said, a trick bike is likely to have more robust construction than a go fast bike. It's listed at $50 out the door, I'd probably have to put on a cheap short stem for fit. State doesn't list weights for their frames, so I'm not sure how it'd measure up to a mid 80s sport frame.
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Old 11-13-19, 06:25 PM
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I started riding fixed first in college (~2006). Repeated knee and foot injuries from running pushed me toward riding more, and I soon purchased a cheap road bike, joined the collegiate racing team and the rest is history. I'm currently an active category 2 road racer and also enjoy track, MTB and recently TT. TT is really cool, very pure and very nuanced. I'm enjoying it.

I don't ride fixed on the road so much these days, which is sad, but I love FG/SS bikes, training and racing and cycling in general. I own a Wabi Classic that is configured like a road bike but it just doesn't see much love between dedicated training sessions and all the time I'm trying to spend adapting to the TT bike for 2020.
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Old 11-13-19, 07:46 PM
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In 1977, I lived less than a mile away from a bike shop. I found an old 3 speed frame that I dumpster dived, so along with some wheels and stuff, all I needed to buy was the fixed cog. That got me started. I liked it. I found a Viscount frame at A police auction for cheep that I upgraded to. I only raced on the viscount a few times at the velodrome before deciding to get a real track bike.
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Old 11-14-19, 08:05 AM
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My first fixed-gear was a conversion built on a c.1960 Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix 21 years ago. Since then I've built many conversions, owned and sold a 1st generation Bianchi Eco-Pista, and ordered a custom Mercian road fixed-gear. Early on I decided that since I don't live anywhere near a track and have zero desire to race, I would be better off borrowing from old British club cyclists' practices in bike setup and run more road-oriented frames.

My Mercian is all-out British club bike design, 72-degree parallel head and seat angles, lugs, Reynolds 531, long chainstays, room for mudguards, usually with a big ol' Carradice saddlebag. I've done centuries and cross-state rides on it as well as multi-surface long-distance rides with 28 mm tires over dirt, gravel, asphalt and chipseal. It handles the far very well and the fast about as well as I can manage to make it go.

My conversion, built on a '71 Gitane, has the usual French geometry for 60 cm bikes, 73 head, 72 seat, with metric gauge 531, lugs, a shorter wheelbase that is still long by current standards, designed for long days in the saddle covering a lot of ground. It was built relatively cheaply with parts from the bin and a few carefully sought-out components. Very little cash went into it, mostly scavenging - the real deal was the frameset for $50 and trading an old dynohub front wheel for the Kogswell fixed/fixed & Mavic MA3 wheelset.

I blame the late Sheldon Brown. I was intrigued by the stripped-down experience of riding fixed, and I read all those testimonials of those who had gone over to the fixed side. Since 1999 I've ridden more than half of my total mileage on fixed-gear or single-speed bikes.
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Old 11-14-19, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
My first fixed-gear was a conversion built on a c.1960 Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix 21 years ago. Since then I've built many conversions, owned and sold a 1st generation Bianchi Eco-Pista, and ordered a custom Mercian road fixed-gear. Early on I decided that since I don't live anywhere near a track and have zero desire to race, I would be better off borrowing from old British club cyclists' practices in bike setup and run more road-oriented frames.

My Mercian is all-out British club bike design, 72-degree parallel head and seat angles, lugs, Reynolds 531, long chainstays, room for mudguards, usually with a big ol' Carradice saddlebag. I've done centuries and cross-state rides on it as well as multi-surface long-distance rides with 28 mm tires over dirt, gravel, asphalt and chipseal. It handles the far very well and the fast about as well as I can manage to make it go.

My conversion, built on a '71 Gitane, has the usual French geometry for 60 cm bikes, 73 head, 72 seat, with metric gauge 531, lugs, a shorter wheelbase that is still long by current standards, designed for long days in the saddle covering a lot of ground. It was built relatively cheaply with parts from the bin and a few carefully sought-out components. Very little cash went into it, mostly scavenging - the real deal was the frameset for $50 and trading an old dynohub front wheel for the Kogswell fixed/fixed & Mavic MA3 wheelset.

I blame the late Sheldon Brown. I was intrigued by the stripped-down experience of riding fixed, and I read all those testimonials of those who had gone over to the fixed side. Since 1999 I've ridden more than half of my total mileage on fixed-gear or single-speed bikes.
Very helpful information!

I'm also intrigued by the potential that the bike becomes an extension of myself. Your experience gives me hope that I'll find an appropriate frame to convert. I'm tempted to purchase the State Bicycles 'Suspect', just because it's so cheap. I want to avoid a poor first impression too. It seems you tried one first, then started investing.

I've imposed the condition of "original green paint" out of vanity more than anything else. It will pose a challenge, since green doesn't seem to be a popular color choice around here...
I realized last night that I may be excluding vintage touring frames unfairly, since modern 'endurance' frames use similar proportions, while modern touring bikes emphasize loaded touring. Investigating candidates is certainly helping me develop a shorthand method of estimating ride characteristics.

Do you pay attention to toe overlap on your Mercian?
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Old 11-14-19, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
I started riding fixed first in college (~2006). Repeated knee and foot injuries from running pushed me toward riding more, and I soon purchased a cheap road bike, joined the collegiate racing team and the rest is history. I'm currently an active category 2 road racer and also enjoy track, MTB and recently TT. TT is really cool, very pure and very nuanced. I'm enjoying it.

I don't ride fixed on the road so much these days, which is sad, but I love FG/SS bikes, training and racing and cycling in general. I own a Wabi Classic that is configured like a road bike but it just doesn't see much love between dedicated training sessions and all the time I'm trying to spend adapting to the TT bike for 2020.
Looks like you fell in love! Did you build your own conversion, or buy one? What bike was it?
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Old 11-14-19, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
Very helpful information!
... I've imposed the condition of "original green paint" out of vanity more than anything else. It will pose a challenge, since green doesn't seem to be a popular color choice around here...
I realized last night that I may be excluding vintage touring frames unfairly, since modern 'endurance' frames use similar proportions, while modern touring bikes emphasize loaded touring. Investigating candidates is certainly helping me develop a shorthand method of estimating ride characteristics.

Do you pay attention to toe overlap on your Mercian?
Well, if GREEN is a part of the decision process, meet Maitre Jacques the Gitane TdF conversion - and I would include the photo here but for some reason I can't get uploads to work today. Lots of green Gitanes, but that includes all the funkiness of French dimensions and threading. Or you could track down a 1968-76 Raleigh Super Course, about 73 degree parallel angles, which works great so long as you can live with a 57 cm top tube no matter how tall your bike is ... or if you feel like spending the bread and can find one, the early Rivendell Quickbeams were green and had long, long, loooong rear ends. I had one and liked it okay, but I love my Mercian better.

About toe clip overlap - I was just thinking about that the other week. I recently removed the fenders when I went from 28 to 32 mm tires on that bike. I suspect that when I fit new, wider mudguards I will still be spared the dreaded TCO, but I won;t know for sure until then. I don't remember it being an issue, though. Here's a pic of the Mercian.

If you're not in absolute love with stock green, or you get lucky and find one of the very early ones that came in British Racing Green, there's always the Raleigh Competition. I have one in project mode right now that will be a fixed/free setup with a Surly Dingle and two chainrings whenever I get it finished, and it has gobs of clearance for big tires ...
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Old 11-14-19, 11:04 AM
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I started buying a vintage track bike just to try it, I got involved in an accident with my work bike that got wasted, so I added a front brake, a free hub, removed the 21 mm tubulars and made it single speed. It got pretty boring so I put a track hub and that's it. If it is your first time riding fixedgear, don't try to put some massive gear, start at some easy gear to learn how to adjust speed with your legs, let your muscles adapt to it!
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Old 11-14-19, 11:06 AM
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Wanted a fixed gear since seeing Quicksilver when I was a kid in the 80s.

Finally a friend found me a Giant road frame with horizontal dropouts at a swap meet in the late 90s. Frame sat in corner for awhile then I found a fixed gear rear wheel at a bike shop in upper Manhattan and built it up. Great bike. Rode it for years.

Then saw a Bianchi Pista (battleship gray) in a thrift store. Thought I'd get a "real" fixed gear. Bought that sold the road conversion. Turned out to be a mistake because the road conversion fit me much better. Then build another road conversion based on 1970 Italvega lugged columbus steel frame that I found on eBay. Great bike but was a bit small and 1970s geometry never fit me quite right. Then bought an off the shelf Redline 925. Fine. Kinda meh. Finally found a Soma Rush frame on eBay again for cheap and it's my current ride, Probably 6 years old. Best one yet.
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Old 11-14-19, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
Well, if GREEN is a part of the decision process, meet Maitre Jacques the Gitane TdF conversion - and I would include the photo here but for some reason I can't get uploads to work today. Lots of green Gitanes, but that includes all the funkiness of French dimensions and threading. Or you could track down a 1968-76 Raleigh Super Course, about 73 degree parallel angles, which works great so long as you can live with a 57 cm top tube no matter how tall your bike is ... or if you feel like spending the bread and can find one, the early Rivendell Quickbeams were green and had long, long, loooong rear ends. I had one and liked it okay, but I love my Mercian better.

About toe clip overlap - I was just thinking about that the other week. I recently removed the fenders when I went from 28 to 32 mm tires on that bike. I suspect that when I fit new, wider mudguards I will still be spared the dreaded TCO, but I won;t know for sure until then. I don't remember it being an issue, though. Here's a pic of the Mercian.

If you're not in absolute love with stock green, or you get lucky and find one of the very early ones that came in British Racing Green, there's always the Raleigh Competition. I have one in project mode right now that will be a fixed/free setup with a Surly Dingle and two chainrings whenever I get it finished, and it has gobs of clearance for big tires ...
I've yet to delve too deeply past the surface of the used bike marketplace (craigslist and ebay). It makes sense that no one is taking the time to list a Raleigh Super Course from 45-50 years ago, and other 'low value' bicycles. I suspect that by kicking around a thrift store or two I can find a suitable frame. It's funny you mentioned the Super Course, because I thought I found one, but when I went to look at it, it had front end crash damage, rusty replacement steel wheels, and very few usable takeoff parts. I thought about some Trek models from the 80's that came in green since an 84 770 (minus the campy bits, shimano 105 instead) was posted. I didn't have the heart to tell the seller that the bike without the campy bits was probably worth more like $200 rather than the $550 he's asking for.
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Old 11-14-19, 01:42 PM
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My first fixed gear was a road bike conversion that was put together by a road racer. He died suddenly of a heart attack and his widow was selling off his bikes. All she had left by the time I was aware of it was the fixed gear. I went to look at it and found that it was a beautiful Miyata with gorgeous paint and all of the components were in great shape. She told me that the bike was mainly ridden in the winter for training purposes. I just had to buy the bike after hearing her talk about her husband, his love of biking and his connection to that specific bike.

I love that bike, frequently looking over all of my others before grabbing it yet again. I've said before and will say again that it is probably going to be the last one I eventually sell. Or hopefully hand down to a relative.
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Old 11-14-19, 02:55 PM
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My first FG/SS was a converted Atala Gran Prix. I built it up with a flip/flop hub, but found I never used the freewheel side.



Eventually I decided I needed a dedicated fixed gear bike, so I sold the Atala and built a fixed gear frame based on the geometry of my favorite road bike, but brought the bottom bracket up a bit for clearance. That's been my main fixed gear ride for years now.

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Old 11-14-19, 05:26 PM
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I’ve been riding a cheapo FGSS for just a few weeks to see if it’s something I’m going to like. It all started with me deciding I was going to braze up my own road frame. I’ve had good luck finding parts bikes in the past and was on the hunt for a good pair of 700c wheels when I stumbled upon a ‘like new’ 6KU with a swappable rear hub. The price was definitely good for a 6061 alloy frame and fork, the geometry is right and it came with all the trimmings. Just had to air up the tires, which still had the little sprues still sticking up on the center of the tires.

Right away I can tell my legs are taking shape as the hills that were killing me before are not so bad—not that my mountain bike couldn’t have done that, but I feel like a kid again on that skinny-tire bike!
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Old 11-14-19, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
Looks like you fell in love! Did you build your own conversion, or buy one? What bike was it?
My first SS/FG was a Fuji Royale conversion. I then got a KHS Flite 100, then a Cannondale Capo, now a Wabi Classic. I've only been through one real track bike and that's a Dolan PreCursa which I still own. I've never bought a complete, just the frame and assembled up from there. Same with road, although I've been through a few more road bikes than that.
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Old 11-18-19, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
My first FG/SS was a converted Atala Gran Prix. I built it up with a flip/flop hub, but found I never used the freewheel side.



Eventually I decided I needed a dedicated fixed gear bike, so I sold the Atala and built a fixed gear frame based on the geometry of my favorite road bike, but brought the bottom bracket up a bit for clearance. That's been my main fixed gear ride for years now.

John, you built that frame? I like it a lot. Were you at Trek when you built it? What tubing is it?
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Old 11-18-19, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
John, you built that frame? I like it a lot. Were you at Trek when you built it? What tubing is it?
I built it at home, after I left Trek. The tubing is vintage Reynolds 531.

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Old 11-18-19, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I built it at home, after I left Trek. The tubing is vintage Reynolds 531.

Thanks for the answer and thanks for the pic! Very cool. I don't want to derail the whole thread but personally I'd like to see any additional photos of construction, prep, soldering and finished. I laud you for having a vision and making it into a rideable reality.
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Old 11-18-19, 08:28 PM
  #23  
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I think this Google photos album should still be accessible:

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1Q...u5-QM71u9ay2XQ
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Old 11-18-19, 09:28 PM
  #24  
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My first was my old Specialized Langster, I got it set it up fixed right away and proceeded to run down to grab a burrito on it (not a far trip but it was in the beginnings of a snow storm). I soon picked up the Zipp Vuka Alumina base bars and got a set of the wrong brake levers and then ended up getting the proper SRAM 500 TT levers and did a nice harlequin wrap with some cloth tape. It was a fantastic bike.

Though technically my first was a BMX bike but let's be real fixed is the way to go.

If you can swing it by a nicer bike to start with. If you are really interested in getting into it having a nice smooth quiet drivetrain and some decent brakes (unless you are on the track), is the way to go. It will give you more confidence and you may not really have to upgrade as much which tends to happen more on cheaper bikes which ends up spending more of your money. If you don't have the money then get what you can but it was really nice knowing I had a decent bike straight away. Granted me being me I did upgrade some stuff right away but I really didn't need to on most of it. Though no regerts aside from that PRO saddle that while a nice saddle was too narrow for my sit bones and maybe not using SwissStop pads sooner.
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Old 11-19-19, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I think this Google photos album should still be accessible:

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1Q...u5-QM71u9ay2XQ
I tried and it gave me the classic 404 error. Thanks for trying!
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