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Fixed-gear conversion(8 posts)

Fixed-gear conversion53x11
Oct 2, 2002 10:16 AM
I would like to buy a (cheap) bike and convert it to a fixed-gear this winter. However, I'm unsure about two things: 1) where to get a conversion kit; and 2) level of difficulty. Should I find an LBS to do the work or is it doable with moderate mechanical skills?
Go for it.czardonic
Oct 2, 2002 1:33 PM
1)Conversion kit?

All you really need is a frame with horizontal or semi-horizontal dropouts (or serendipitously sized chainstays), a suitable rear hub, track cog and lock-ring. I use and recommend the Suzue Basic rear hub (, and Surly makes decent cogs and lock-rings.

2)Moderate mechanical skills should be fine. My fixed gear was my first build project. I assembled everything including the wheels, learned a lot, and have had no problems with the bike.

The Single Speed board over at MTBR is a great resource.
Oct 2, 2002 2:38 PM
A woodworker once told me that if you want to make a carving of the Statue of Liberty, just start with a block of wood, and cut of everything that doesn't look like the Statue of Liberty.

Building a beater fixed gear is kind of like that. Find a cheap yard sale 10 or 12 speed bike built in the early 80's or before, and just start taking parts off. As long as it's got a horizontal rear dropouts, and a freewheel hub instead of a freehub (cassette type), you've got everything you need except the rear cog. The hardest part will be re-dishing the rear wheel to get your chain line correct. Have the LBS do this if you're not good at wheel trueing. You don't need a special rear hub for fixed gears. Any old-school freewheel hub will work, and if you use a rear brake (in addition to the front) you probably won't need a lockring. If you have problems with the rear cog breaking loose, screw a bottom bracket lockring onto the hub after the cog is tight, or Loctite the cog.

If you want to use clipless pedals be sure the bike you use doesn't have a one-piece crank (i.e. Huffys, Schwinn Varsitys, etc) or you won't be able to find pedals to fit.

Be sure to get a 3/32 cog instead of the track-traditional 1/8 width. You'll be able to use a standard 5/6/7/8 speed chain, the one that comes with the bike if it's in good shape, and everything seems to run smoother when it matches.

The most complete online info comes from Sheldon Brown, of course.
The $9 fixie projectStraightblock
Oct 2, 2002 8:06 PM
This is a nice 80's chromoly Univega I picked up as a complete 12 speed at a yard sale for $9. Strip off the big ring, deraillers, shifters & freewheel, re-dish the rear wheel, screw on the track cog and Voila! It still needs a few sundry items, but using a cog I already have it'll build up for about $30 .

There's nothing wrong with buying a complete new bike like a Bianchi, or buying a Surly frame & building it up with good gear, but building a fixie doesn't have to be expensive, and it sure isn't rocket science.
And its MTB counterpartStraightblock
Oct 2, 2002 8:20 PM
My Stumpjumper I bought new in '83 or '84 as a 15 speed with friction top shifters. After a few modest upgrades over the years I thought it screamed to be a single speed.
But my favorite single speedStraightblock
Oct 2, 2002 8:53 PM
A mid-70's Colin Laing track bike. Reynolds 531 frame & a mish-mash of mostly period-correct parts, and a few newer components like Dura-Ace Shimano/Look pedals. The $9 Univega will find a new home soon. I got it mostly for the fun of building it, and it's really too big for me.
re: Fixed-gear conversionLactate Junkie
Oct 2, 2002 2:46 PM
If you do not want to go through the cost of getting a track hub you can also use a standard threaded rear hub, although they are getting harder to find in this age of cassette hubs. Take the standard hub and flip the axle around so the side spaced for the freewheel is on the left side. Then redish the wheel so it is centered over the axle again. Put the fixed cog on and secure it with a bottom bracket lockring. You can Locktite the lockring if you want but I have never found it necessary.
re: Fixed-gear conversionXknuckle-upX
Oct 7, 2002 6:28 AM
even if you don't buy a whole new free-wheel hub you can still make the singlespeed conversion using a kit that surly sells.... it is fixed-gear only.. comes in 3 different spacings and includes bearing cups, washers, axel, etc. think it costs $70... check