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SS Specific Frame or Converted Road Frame with Tensioner?

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SS Specific Frame or Converted Road Frame with Tensioner?

Old 08-21-20, 02:07 PM
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Nixhex
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SS Specific Frame or Converted Road Frame with Tensioner?

So I recently converted a Felt Z90 with a broken FD and bent chainring to a SS using a bolt on tensioner. Slapped on some pursuit bars and brake levers and I'm in love. It just feels so good to ride. I cranked out my fastest time on one of my favorite routes a couple days ago, and tried to beat it today on my geared bike, and I came up about half a mph slower still with what felt like more effort. So I think I'm sold on SS and it's got me thinking I might just build a nicer SS as my main ride.


But what I'm wondering is this: What's the better way to go about it, buy a SS specific frame with sliding dropouts, or buy a road frame with vertical drops and just use a bolt on tensioner? Now I know that's a bit of a vague question, but by "better" I mean weight and aero. It seems like a SS is the ultimate bike to start a lightweight build from.


However, it seems like SS/fixed specific frames come in 2 types, "Urban" which seem to be focused on commuting or doing bar spins and doesn't prioritize weight or aero (but some look really cool), and "track" which are pretty aero, but are typically alum and focused on being stiff, and therefore are slightly heaver than a carbon road frame. So if I were to get a SS specific frame it would prob be a track frame.


So pros/cons of each:

Track Frame

+ Aero

+ look sweet

+ relatively light

- unsure of how track geometry will be to ride on longish rides (10-20 miles)

- there isn't a velodrome within hours of me, and seems kind of poser like to be riding around on a track frame. Maybe some buff track riders will beat me up if they find out.


Road Frame

+ lots of light carbon frames to choose from

+ typically designed to be somewhat aero (though not always)

+ in general a carbon road frame seems to be lighter than a alum track frame (makes sense)

- have to use a bolt on chain/belt tensioner which is kind of cheesy/jank


Thoughts?
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Old 08-22-20, 10:07 AM
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I prefer something single speed specific. I don't really go for tensioners myself when there are tons of awesome single speed and fixed gear frames out there and plenty of cool builders who could make a dream come to life. Plus I generally want my frame to also be able to run a fixed gear drivetrain and tensioners don't allow that. I am more for comfort and ride quality then weight honestly I am not racing or competing and I will still have something pretty light especially if designed to be SSS.

If you want aero, Hope has you covered so long as you don't mind spending a couple extra bucks. Granted this would be fixed gear only as it doesn't come with brake mounts.
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Old 08-22-20, 02:40 PM
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I have no interest in riding fixed, so both of my single speeds are ‘cross bikes. Both are dedicated singlespeeds with track ends.
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Old 08-22-20, 07:10 PM
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Yea, I dont care about riding fixed at the moment so either style is an option. Also my priorities would be weight and aero roughly of equal importance, and then ride quality/comfort comes second. So i want fast bike vs a comfortable bike.

Seems like you can find a lighter road frame dollar for dollar. But track frames still look super sweet....
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Old 08-22-20, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Nixhex View Post
- there isn't a velodrome within hours of me, and seems kind of poser like to be riding around on a track frame. Maybe some buff track riders will beat me up if they find out.
Track riders look tough, but they're almost all teddy bears. If you're planning on running two brakes though keep in mind that a lot of track frames are not built to accommodate a rear brake.
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Old 08-23-20, 06:24 AM
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Yea that's a good point. I've noticed some dont even have the front drilled for a brake, so FG only in that case.

As much as the track frames look sweet, I'm leaning towards a road frame so I can go a bit lighter.
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Old 08-25-20, 01:41 PM
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I have several bikes converted to SS/Fixed-Gear and two track bikes. I like them all for different reasons. If you don't intend to ride fixed, then certainly there is no reason why you shouldn't go with a conversion. I guess I've been lucky, but I haven't had to mess with a tensioner yet. I've converted three frames with conventional horizontal dropouts and have no issues.

One thing you might find is the geometry varies quite a bit between a true track bike and a road bike. The road bike conversions I have feature a slacker heat tube angle, for example. There's pros and cons for each.

I will say that one of my favorite rides ever is my Miyata road bike. I believe it is a 1989. It is made of splined, triple-butted steel, is pretty light and rides like a dream. I collect vintage bikes and Miyata is one that has always carried a top-notch reputation. I have it set up fixed at the moment but could easily change it to a freewheel.

My two track bikes are an All City Big Block and an 1/8" Scrambler. I like them both. No problems with either one of them. Both accomodate front and rear brakes. If you stay with SS, then front and rear brakes are a must. Unless, I guess you go with a coaster brake hub and then I'd still go with a front brake anyway.

I'm not going to try to sell you on either option. I do both and like them both.
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Old 08-25-20, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
One thing you might find is the geometry varies quite a bit between a true track bike and a road bike. The road bike conversions I have feature a slacker heat tube angle, for example. There's pros and cons for each.
Thanks for the reply! On the track bikes, talk to me about how they feel to ride compared to the road bikes. Not so much regarding how harsh they are, bc I don't really care about that, but how's the handling, and what do you feel the performance pros/cons are?

I've heard people say track bikes are "twitchier" due to the steeper angles, and I could see how that might be the case, but I don't know why a velodrome would necessitate a tight handling bike when all they're doing is making a gradual left turn.
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Old 08-25-20, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Nixhex View Post
I've heard people say track bikes are "twitchier" due to the steeper angles, and I could see how that might be the case, but I don't know why a velodrome would necessitate a tight handling bike when all they're doing is making a gradual left turn.
The issue isn’t the tightness of the turn, but the quick response to steering inputs. When racing on the track it is necessary to make very fast changes of direction. Also, track bikes are actually more stable at high speeds than road bikes due to the increased trail, which is due to the combination of a steep head tube angle and short fork offset (rake).

A downside of track geometry is that you get a lot of toe overlap with the front wheel. This is not an issue on the track where the turns are gradual, but can be an issue on the road when making tight or U turns.
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Old 08-25-20, 06:42 PM
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My current geared road bike has an obnoxious amount of toe overlap. Doesn't cause problems except when I'm at a stoplight and not paying attention and end up with my foot on the wrong side of the wheel.... good times.

What kind of weights are people seeing on their track specific frame builds? From what I'm seeing online its 15-17 lbs for a lighter alum frame, and more like 20ish for a run of the mill steel frame. Obviously you can spend more money for a lighter carbon frame but that's big $.
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Old 08-25-20, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Nixhex View Post
My current geared road bike has an obnoxious amount of toe overlap. Doesn't cause problems except when I'm at a stoplight and not paying attention and end up with my foot on the wrong side of the wheel.... good times.

What kind of weights are people seeing on their track specific frame builds? From what I'm seeing online its 15-17 lbs for a lighter alum frame, and more like 20ish for a run of the mill steel frame. Obviously you can spend more money for a lighter carbon frame but that's big $.
What size is your geared bike?
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Old 08-25-20, 09:35 PM
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It's an old specialized allez cr-mo frame. It's either a 55 or 56. I'm 5' 10" for ref, so I think that's about the right size frame?
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Old 08-26-20, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Nixhex View Post
It's an old specialized allez cr-mo frame. It's either a 55 or 56. I'm 5' 10" for ref, so I think that's about the right size frame?
Reason I asked is that I find it rare that road bikes of that size would suffer from toe overlap. It sometimes happens in smaller frame sizes.
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Old 08-26-20, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
Reason I asked is that I find it rare that road bikes of that size would suffer from toe overlap. It sometimes happens in smaller frame sizes.
Gotcha. Yea, I don't know why but that frame has it for sure.

So does anyone have any data points for the weights of SS builds whether SS specific or road frame based?
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Old 08-26-20, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Nixhex View Post
Gotcha. Yea, I don't know why but that frame has it for sure.

So does anyone have any data points for the weights of SS builds whether SS specific or road frame based?
There are a number of threads on here where folks talk about their bike weights. Personally, I go for performance and longevity in my choices, not necessarily weight. I say not necessarily because I recognize the appeal of lighter frames and components, but in reality I understand that unless you are a racer, it really shouldn't matter. If you just want to try and build a super-light bike, more power to you and I don't think folks should "rain on your parade", but beware that it can become an obsession and approach the ridiculous.

I was standing in one of my favorite bike shops and a guy walked in. I had never seen him before. He struck up a conversation with the store owner (a friend of mine) and he explained how the bike he had bought just one year ago was unacceptable because a couple guys he rides with had gotten newer bikes and they are lighter. He felt compelled to buy a newer bike in order to not be left behind. The difference in the overall weight was less than 1 lb. I just shook my head and walked away. I'm sorry if that offends anyone here. I don't mean to offend, but are you kidding me? Take the bike off of the scale and just ride the damned thing.
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Old 08-26-20, 09:21 AM
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My geared bike is ~20 lb, and my SS conversion is ~18 lb; neither of which is especially light. I definitely have a penchant for obsessive bents.... But that's tempered by being a tightwad, lol. I'm not really into having the latest and greatest, but having a bike that when I pick up I think "wow, that's light" would be pretty cool.
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Old 08-26-20, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Nixhex View Post
My geared bike is ~20 lb, and my SS conversion is ~18 lb; neither of which is especially light. I definitely have a penchant for obsessive bents.... But that's tempered by being a tightwad, lol. I'm not really into having the latest and greatest, but having a bike that when I pick up I think "wow, that's light" would be pretty cool.
Both of those weights I would put in the lightweight category. Funny how different our perspectives can be! Hey, like I said, it that trips your trigger and you have the dough, go for it.
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Old 08-26-20, 02:34 PM
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The only time you notice the weight of a bike is when accelerating or climbing, and unless you are a competitive cyclist, you will not be accelerating all that much. Most people can afford to lose a few pounds, which will be more than you could save with a superlight bike. I have a number of bikes that range in weight from 15 to 30 pounds, and the times I turn on various ride circuits are more a factor of my riding position and aerodynamics than the weight of the bike. Sure, if I'm riding on a long climb, I will be a bit faster on the lighter bikes, but most of the time effort is against wind where weight is not a factor. I agree with @TugaDude that 20 lbs for a geared road bike is plenty light for a non-competitive cyclist.
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Old 08-26-20, 07:56 PM
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I'd go with the track frame unless you have the time, money and patience to convert a road frame.
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Old 08-27-20, 03:36 AM
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Speed has very little to do with weight. I recall many years that tests were done adding about 3 pounds of lead to a road bike frame and it made no measurable difference to the time taken for a 25 mile time trial, all other things being equal. Weight affects acceleration, whether that is putting on a sudden burst to overtake or pull away from someone, or climbing a hill (accelerating against gravity). Even then, if the rider weighs 170 pounds, the difference in weight of an extra 3 inches of chain and a tensioner is neither here nor there. A water bottle with a litre of water weighs a Kg or 2.2 pounds.

Aerodynamics make a far bigger difference and the effect increases exponentially as you increase speed. That is, if you increase your speed through the air from 20mph to 30 mph, or from 20kmh to 30 kph (an increase of 50%) the air resistance increases by 125%. (That is, to 225% of what it was at the lower speed.)

If speed is your objective, then aero is the big consideration. However, the aerodynamic difference between horizontal dropouts or vertical drop outs + tensioner is likely to be negligible. A slight adjustment of your handlebars, or a better choice of helmet, or a tighter fitting top, would make more difference.

The disadvantages of the tensioner are complexity (one more thing to fit, or to go wrong), increased risk of the chain coming off, and aesthetics.
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Old 08-27-20, 11:11 AM
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Manager of the SF bike shop I worked in, in the 80s, got a winter training bike frame & fork from an English company.

It combined fitting rim brakes front and rear , fittings & clearances to take mudguards, and a rear opening track like rear dropout
with as I said , a threaded hole to take mudguard struts..

You can probably hire a frame-builder to make something with similar features..






..
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Old 08-27-20, 11:46 AM
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Wow, somehow I missed these last 4 replies. Yea, on the aero vs lightweight question, the more I'm reading it definitely seems like a lightweight bike (within reason) is not as beneficial as a more aerodynamic bike.

On track bikes, has anyone ridden a Ribble Eliminator? https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/ribbl...nator-al-aero/ Really liking that frame. Also the State Black Label V2, and Undefeated II are sweet.
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Old 08-27-20, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by KenRick View Post
I'd go with the track frame unless you have the time, money and patience to convert a road frame.
Track frames are great. I have a few. But conversions with horizontal/semi-horizontal dropouts are no harder to set up and usually come with multiple bottle bosses which you don't always find on track bikes. Also road conversion allow a greater flexibility of angles and ride characteristics. I don't find most (steel) conversions to be harder to build up than their track counterparts.
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Old 08-27-20, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Manager of the SF bike shop I worked in, in the 80s, got a winter training bike frame & fork from an English company.

It combined fitting rim brakes front and rear , fittings & clearances to take mudguards, and a rear opening track like rear dropout
with as I said , a threaded hole to take mudguard struts..

You can probably hire a frame-builder to make something with similar features..






..
Sounds like vintage British path racers style build. Commute to work during the day, and take off fenders, lights, brakes for track racing at night! Absurdly versatile.

​​​​
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Old 08-27-20, 07:10 PM
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You don't have to use a tensioner with vertical dropouts. You can use an eccentric rear hub, and you can ride fixed just fine on that if you want. That said, if you don't already have the frame, it's better to just find a frame that has either track fork ends or horizontal dropouts. Plenty of old steel frames with horizontal dropouts out there.
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