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DIY conversion to SS/Fix and your skill level

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DIY conversion to SS/Fix and your skill level

Old 08-27-21, 07:49 AM
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Flip Flop Rider
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DIY conversion to SS/Fix and your skill level

Wanting a SS/Fixie bike and have been looking

anyone do their own conversion and if so, what's your bike mechanic skill level on a scale of 1-10. Essential tools for the job?

I would rate my skill level as 3-5, but mainly just change the tires/tubes and do minor adjustments. Thanks for any comments!
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Old 08-27-21, 09:33 AM
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Most conversions are pretty simple, but achieving proper chainline is where problems often present themselves. Itís partly about mechanical skill, but also a matter of your measurement and calculation abilities. Do some careful reading before you reach for a wrench.
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Old 08-27-21, 09:43 AM
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Did my first conversion way back in seventh or eighth grade.
Think it was a Taiwanese 80s boom bike my uncle gave me. He helped me strip and paint it but I did the rest myself with the guidance of some books on the subject. He also supplied the parts and tools.
My skill level was probably no greater’n what you describe yours as now.
Took a lot of time and work and it didn’t come out that great but it started the ball rolling.
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Old 08-27-21, 10:20 AM
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You've read St. Sheldon, right? If not, start here and get a good background before you do anything more.
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Old 08-27-21, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
You've read St. Sheldon, right? If not, start here and get a good background before you do anything more.
I have but will go back and re-read. What a great mind
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Old 08-27-21, 12:26 PM
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I can’t (never attempted to) build frames, but I can do practically everything else, including lacing spokes, and modifying Brooks saddles…
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Old 08-27-21, 12:32 PM
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Chain line.... Oh... Did I say CHAIN LINE???
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Old 08-27-21, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
Wanting a SS/Fixie bike and have been looking

anyone do their own conversion and if so, what's your bike mechanic skill level on a scale of 1-10. Essential tools for the job?

I would rate my skill level as 3-5, but mainly just change the tires/tubes and do minor adjustments. Thanks for any comments!
If you are doing SS on a freehub, chainline is really easy: just measure at the chainring and adjust all the spacers to put the cog in the right place.

If you are doing a freewheel, you will probably have to pick the better chainring option and then adjust the rear alignment by swapping spacers on the rear axle, after which you will need to redish (presumably undish) the rear wheel a bit for proper alignment with the frame. Fixed gear will be about the same type of project.

Otto
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Old 08-27-21, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
You've read St. Sheldon, right? If not, start here and get a good background before you do anything more.
^ This is the best possible answer. Practically everything you need to know is in Sheldon's writings. When you get down to some specific details, you can post additional questions. Always start with Sheldon.

When I built my first FG, I was a skilled mechanic but pretty inexperienced with bike stuff. Took a little trial and error to get everything just so, but not very difficult.

If you like tinkering with mechanical things, have a few tools and are willing to buy a few more, and are not in a hurry to get riding on your FG or SS conversion, you should go for it. If you really just want the bike right away and don't like to fuss with things, you'll be better off buying one complete.
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Old 08-27-21, 08:24 PM
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Depending on the task I am generally 5-7 but some stuff I am better and some I am much worse. Certain odd stuff I am like an 11. I soak up a lot of knowledge and sometimes it translates to really handy stuff that other mechanics don't pick up on.

Sheldon does a good job as does looking at Park Tool videos. But having good tools is going to help a lot and some basic knowledge will also help. However I wouldn't go butchering a nice frame to convert it to fixed you may want to convert it back to a nice road bike.

I haven't done a fixed gear conversion yet though but did build up my last fixed gear but it was not converted it was designed as a fixed gear and have also built a few other bikes not fixed.
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Old 08-28-21, 09:44 AM
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Off OP subject:
Originally Posted by Broctoon View Post
^ This is the best possible answer. Practically everything you need to know is in Sheldon's writings. When you get down to some specific details, you can post additional questions. Always start with Sheldon...
So true... I remember my "Sutherland's Handbook for bicycle mechanics". I got that book when returning from my first overseas tour in 78. Man what a game changer. As a guy who could not afford bike shop fees it saved me. Then years ago when ordering something off of Harris Cyclery I found Sheldon's Archive. I am still to this day, impressed!

I have only built one Fixy from a ChroMo FUJI. Took me just a few hours to strip it down. I kept the front brake. But it took me about two weeks to get the chain line set right. Ha... I shuold'a started with Sheldon...
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Old 08-28-21, 09:57 AM
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I would also add - do NOT cut or file or otherwise remove any brazed-on frame fittings, hangers, etc., from a frame being converted to fixed-gear. If you are fortunate, you will be able to score something early enough from the era of minimal braze-ons. My current conversions include a '73 Raleigh Competition, which has a pip to keep clamp on shifters from sliding and cable housing stops for the rear brake on the top tube and a chain stay cable stop for the rear derailleur. My other conversion is a '71 Gitane TdF, which has a pip on the downtube and nothing else.
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Old 08-28-21, 10:05 AM
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Do what you can with the skills and tools available, including reference materials like Sheldon Brown and Park Tool. If you run into something beyond your skill level or requiring tools you do not have or cannot afford, you can always outsource those tasks to a bike shop or co-op.
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Old 08-28-21, 10:47 AM
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If you have a regular bike with horizontal dropouts, the simplest possible conversion is just to remove the rear derailleur and cut the chain shorter so it wraps around the small chainring and one of the cogs in the middle of the freewheel. All you need for that is a chain-breaker!
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Old 08-30-21, 09:00 AM
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Good comments provided already. I will echo "chain line", which may be the most technical aspect of the entire process. Otherwise, to answer the original question, about the difficulty rating. Where 2 = building a new box shipped bike; 5 = specifying, accumulating and assembling all parts of a modern geared bike; 7 = lacing, tensioning and truing a dished wheel; and 9 = modifying/repairing a high-end steel frame, I'd say that converting a suitable existing bike to fixed from geared would rate at a 3-4, depending on the bottom bracket/crankset re-use or not.
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