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My First Single Speed is finally Done!(12 posts)

My First Single Speed is finally Done!zmarke
Jan 12, 2003 1:09 PM
It's finished, My first singlespeed. I cannot go fixed since I have very bad knees and cannot risk surgery.

After months of research on frames and parts, trading for new parts via message boards, and purchasing on ebay, I finally combined 2 old bikes to get the finished product and did not even use any of the parts I traded for and/or purchased.

I had my brother's 1980s Motobecane 12-speed with nice long horizontal dropouts unused in storage. It is a very nice but heavy steel frame from when Motobecanes were still made in France. The problem was the rims were 27" which I could live with but they were steel. The brakes and levers were not very good either. It seemed that it was not going to be worth the "investment" once I had to replace the rims, cranks, and brakes so I was going to start from new parts to build my bike.

A few weeks went by and I realized that one of my other brothers had an old Cannondale touring bike from 1988 that had only been used for 6 weeks that summer and has been collecting dust ever since in my fathers garage. The frame is light purple and much to small but the parts are all Shimano 600 which were basically brand new.

I asked around and did some reading on some message boards and found a great small but very service oriented shop, Bikeworks, in the lower east side of Manhattan which most messengers and some local track racers use to build and service their fixed and single speed bikes. They shop is great!
Check them out whenever you are in NYC or need some parts:

Anyway, the final build came in with these parts:

Original on the Motobecane:
Motobecane "Nomade" steel Frame/Fork - blue with GOLD lettering
Avocet saddle
No-name steel seatpost
No-name steel stem
No-name plastic pedals and clips
No-name headset - French threaded
Blackburn rear rack

From the purple Cannondale:
Shimano 600 "nutted" brake calipers - normal reach (47-57)
Shimano 600 triple crank - 170mm (removed biopace rings)
Shimano 600 triple bottom bracket
Shimano 600 hubs - 36 hole - freewheel type - Quick release - 27" Mistral alloy rims
Panaracer 1-1/8 27" tires

No-name "messenger" bars
No-name brake levers
No-name grips
Shimano 18T BMX freewheel
Sugino 42T chainring - Gold anodized - new old stock
Izumi track chain - Gold - 1/8"

Not to sound like an advertisement, but I cannot say enough about all the guys at Bikeworks that answered everyone of my questions and never made me feel like I was wasting their time. Dave especially was a great help in building the bike. It was stripped down to the bare frame and all parts were very well cleaned. He tried a few bottom brackets to find a good chainline but finally decided that the triple crank and triple bottom bracket with the new chainring on the middle position would give the best chainline using the BMX freewheel. It's not perfectly straight but it is good enough for an around town commuter single speed.

The gold lettering on the frame looks great with the gold anodized chainring and gold track chain. I hope the pictures do it justice.


re: My First Single Speed is finally Done!fixedgearhead
Jan 12, 2003 1:56 PM
Great job on bringing back to life an old frame. Many happy miles. Bike cult is a great bikeshop and has a great website.

Nice looking build...Dave Hickey
Jan 12, 2003 2:51 PM
It looks just right. I also really like your build story. It was very informative.
re: My First Single Speed is finally Done!moschika
Jan 12, 2003 5:09 PM
that's a really nice commuter you've got there.

i looks like the old shimano 600 "accepted" the bmx freewheel with no problems. did the rear wheel need to be re-dished? it looks like it fits perfectly in there.
re: No re-dishzmarke
Jan 12, 2003 5:39 PM
The shimano 600 wheels were a great "steal" from the purple Cannondale becasue it was of the same "era" as the Motobecane. It is a 6 speed freewheel type hub.

Both frames had 126mm rear spacing and the BMX freewheel stands "proud" when on the hub so it lined up almost perfectly with the chainring on the middle ring of the triple crank.

Whatever dish was original stayed the same; very minimal it seems since it was only a 6 speed with 126mm spacing.
Your bike looks like pure fun to rideTig
Jan 13, 2003 8:21 AM
A simple, straightforward, every day functional approach to reviving the old bike and parts. I know I'd have fun on one like it. Bikeworks did a great job, so you have the right to boast all about their work.

One of the great things about converting old bikes into single speeds is that they are no longer outdated when you are done. Think about it... you take a past frame and/or parts that are now considered ancient and useless in today's newer, better, faster, lighter, etc. world of cycling and turn them into a timeless, attractive, useful, and fun machine.

I've been guilty of falling for the "you MUST have this level of high-end bike to be taken seriously" mentality that has taken over adult cycling. Sure, I still race and utilize that level of bike, but the simple pleasure and pure joy of riding a single speed bike has rejuvenated my life-long fascination of riding to even a higher level. Every ride doesn't have to be a serious "training" ride. I don't need the latest greatest parts to have fun. I can be just as, if not more happy on my $250 single speed than my multi-thousand dollar Merckx. I still ride the geared bike, but I put on plenty of miles on the single speed too. I ride it regularly in fast group rides, which has improved my fitness tremendously.

I'm glad so many people are taking older bikes and turning them into fun and useful bikes again. In today's throwaway society, it is refreshing to see once classic bikes come back to life instead of being tossed into the trash.
I don't normally post....PEDDLEFOOT
Jan 13, 2003 12:17 PM
...on this site but I'm getting the fixie/ss bug so I check out what's going on.I think your bike is one of the coolest Ive seen.It actually made me smile when I saw it.It looks like one of those bikes you'de want to tour the countryside of England on.GREAT JOB.
The Maiden Voyagezmarke
Jan 14, 2003 3:28 PM
Except for riding around the block a few times I have not yet really used my new single speed. I decided today to take it for a nice ride along the west side greenway in Manhattan. 15 miles roundtrip from where I live in Manhattan. A few things I learned today:

- Never ride when it is 27 degrees outside, the wind is blowing strong up the Hudson River, and you are not dressed properly
- Always ride a single speed (or fixed) so you are forced to pedal and keep yourself warm when going against the cold wind
- Buy a better saddle (more cush for the tush) since most of the time this bike will be used for around town errands and short distance commuting which means I will not be wearing cycling shorts
- Buy a better digital camera when I have the money
- I really LOVE my new (old) bike

Pic1 - The USS Intrepid Museum
Pic2 - The 79th Street Boat Basin. And you thought that Manhattanites did not have a place to keep their boats...we do live on an Island!
Pic3 - Columbia University - Alma Matter (turn-around point)
Pic4 - Almost home

The Maiden Voyagefixedgearhead
Jan 14, 2003 4:00 PM
I love it when riders discover the new religion and get born again to the single/fixed way of life.Praise the lord and pass the chain lube.

No religious disrespect intended
Your chain is looseLC
Jan 15, 2003 10:16 AM
I can really see it in those last 2 pics. Don't want you to learn the hard way like me and lose some skin when you stand up one day to go hard.

Anyway, it is a great looking bike and it looks like it is having fun while on its first tour of the town.
Off topicspeedisgood
Jan 16, 2003 9:27 PM
But why is there an SR-71 on the deck of an aircraft carrier? Just had to ask.
Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museumzmarke
Jan 17, 2003 3:17 AM
Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
Pier 86 12th Ave. & 46th Street New York, N.Y. 10036
Public Information Line: 212.245.0072