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Need Fixed Gear advice(15 posts)

Need Fixed Gear adviceDAS
Aug 7, 2001 2:11 PM
I want to build up a beater townie fixed gear. I will not be riding it on the track. I will want a front brake for safety.

New built bikes are available from Excel Sports, Webcyclery, and Harris Cyclery for about $800-1000. Some choices included Bianchi, Surly, Fuji, Gunnar. My favorite is the Surly Steamroller since it is more 'street friendly.'

The alternative is to build up one from scratch. It would be a fun project. I would need to find a frame with the right dropouts, which has proven to be difficult. I could have wheels built by webcyclery, get a brake from supergo, a headset from a local shop, already have some bars, seat, etc. A beat ol klunky steel frame would do the trick.

But, it's so tempting to having it built by the pros and get a new one. I could specify the right bar width, the right crank length, the right gear...

Anybody have any experience/advice in building up Fixies? New or Old? Do it right or do it cheap?

re: Need Fixed Gear advicetr
Aug 7, 2001 4:07 PM
I went the old route. I took an old Raleigh Supercourse that my parents gave me for school and had a inexpensive track hub put on the back with one gear on each side in case i needed a smaller gear for a ride involving significant hills. Added some fenders and made it ride worthy with a new handlebar and some very old dura ace cranks with my time pedals and some brake work. Has the orginal german brakes i believe. It is not pretty but i love it (probably because my dad gave it to me). This is how i know i love to ride, i don't have to ride my shiny fast bike.
Start hitting Ebay regularly.Thioderek
Aug 7, 2001 4:12 PM
I have bought 3 track bikes and frames off of Ebay over the last year. You just have to wait for the right one to come up. They always do.
I've Done It Cheap...Greg Taylor
Aug 7, 2001 4:19 PM
My fixie ("Trixie the Fixie" -- yes, it's stupid, but thought that I'd share) built around an old lugged steel touring frame that I picked from the trash. The details:

Frame and Fork: Free. Key here is rear drop-out spacing. Most track hubs are set for 120mm in the rear. Rear drop outs are also important. They need to have space for horizontal adjustment in order to tension the chain. Lots of older bikes have "half moon" style dropouts that work fine. I stripped it and repainted it with (get this) Rustoleum. Grass Green. It turned out beautiful.

Wheels: 50 bucks for new Suzue hi-flange hubs, laced to rims that I had lying around. Spokes were another $15 a wheel. I built them myself. The hubs aren't sealed real well, so I repacked them with blue marine grease (Sta-Lube). A 16 tooth cog and lock ring were another $25 or so.

Crank/Bottom Bracket: Free. I used a old Shimano XT mountain crank (170mm) and bottom bracket stripped from a mountain bike that I also found in the trash. You want to consider using a short crank -- less of a chance that you will bang it in corners. I bought a 46 tooth chainring for $12 at Nashbar.

Brakes/Handlebar/Stem: Free (Ok, new brake shoes were $5). These are old Weinemann centerpulls that I had lying around. I set it up with brakes front and rear, even on the fixie. In a panic situation, I want something familiar. They are mated up to some really nice old Diacompe levers. The bar and stem were also something that I had lying around. Same with seatpost and seat.

Tires: Michelin Axial Sports, on blow-out from Nashbar.

The bike is a complete gas, and is really pretty quick. I use it as a commuter.
I've Done It Cheap...AlsoDjudd
Aug 7, 2001 5:24 PM
I found a used bike from my LBS, a 'Sterling'(?). I stripped it down (it had those brake extensions, ugh), got a track hub from the shop ($27.00) had them put on the wheels that came with the bike, got new handlebars and stem, added alloy toeclips and used brakes and hit the road. I soon upgraded the wheels, this made a huge difference in the ride. I have been riding this bike as a commuter and on a few training rides that are exclusively fixed gear, for ten or eleven years. There is nothing like it. When I put it together I was somewhat ignorant about fixies as my only previous experience was in college on the road cycling team our coach took us to a velodrome and taught us a little (very little)about track riding. I highly reccommend to all road riders get a fix and ride it as much as possible. Fun and a real workout
PICS! PICS! PICS! nmHaiku d'état
Aug 8, 2001 5:55 AM
Do it cheap AND right: Just Do It Yourself!Mass Biker
Aug 7, 2001 6:29 PM
I have owned at least 4 fixies in my 12 years in New England. It is essential cycling gear for the colder months. Each of them were do-it-yourself jobs. In fact, I recommend REJECTING the notion of pre-built fixies and start with a frame. Check out used bike stores,, or flea markets for really good deals. Don't forget to consider touring bikes: great tire clearance, horizontal dropouts, and fender mounts (usually). My past three fixies have been built up from an old Trek, a Univega, and then a Phillips touring bike. All three of them went on to greener pastures, requiring me to contemplate buying a new frame (vs. fishing one out of the garbage). But I have to say my favorite is my current steed.

I started with a Surly CrossCheck frame (the 'cross frame) which is PERFECT for fixed gear riding. The long horizontal dropouts make it a snap - $350 range. Found a well-used front wheel at the local non-profit community bike renewal place - $10. Seatpost, and bars from the same place - $20 total. Old Avocet seat that was lying around - $0. Old Shimano "Sante" cranks - $0. Old 42 tooth chainring - $0. Old MTB threadless stem - $0. DiaCompe 986 cantilevers from an old MTB - $0. Old Shimano "Exage" brake levers - $10. Nashbar SPD pedals - $19. Old 'cross tires - $0. The only new things I needed were: a headset (threadless fork on the CrossCheck), a chain (cheap - $10), and a fixed gear rear wheel (that I bought new a few years ago for $85). Get a rear wheel which is flip/flop. I put a 16 on the fixed side and a 17 on the free side.

I run it fixed for the winter, and when the rides start getting longer and I don't feel like getting crud all over the racing bike, I flip the rear wheel around and run it "free". 4+ hour group rides in the 42x17 were no problem. And pushing the fatter rubber round was good training, let me tell you.

The wide tire clearance on the CrossCheck is awesome. I have ridden it on nighttime trail rides no problem. Ditto plowing through snow drifts on those early winter adventures. It handles just fine. Not as quick as a MASI mind you, but those beefy 631 tubes soak up the rough stuff and keep on coming. Even as a fixie though, don't expect the CrossCheck to win any weight contests. I can only guess that the Steamroller would be a great ride too. The one good thing about the CrossCheck is that one could build it up as a (geared) adventure steed: not so with the Steamroller.

The most fun part about fixies is that they become repositories for all the weird cycling parts you have lying around. Those radonneur handlbars? Throw 'em on. A bell? Ditto. Two mismatched rolls of Benotto cloth tape? Of course. Buying it ready-made takes all the fun out of it. Building up a fixie is easy and teaches you key bike-build technique. And you can chose the easy way like I did - get them to intsall the headset and BB and take it over from there.

Express your individuality and thriftiness with this project. More $$$ left over for that Pogliaghi you've secretly had your eye on.

That $750 Surly from Excel is tough to beatAlexR
Aug 8, 2001 5:35 AM
It's such a perfect frame for this application. You can put nice big tires in those stays, it's got track dropouts but road geometry. I think the spec is very good for that price; cheap but not crappy.

If I were in your situation I'd go that route.

'beater' says old, but do it right...nm
Aug 8, 2001 6:41 AM
if you have old parts it's even more fun (and cheaper). make sure the frame has horizontal dropouts- find and 80s steel frame or you can get something specifically made for fg much cheaper than the surly steamroller (polly at cycles canada has something for about 250 as does gene spicer)... you don't really want a track bike due to the steep angles, minimal tire clearance, and usually no brake mount (if it has a true track fork). many advocate short cranks- 165- but 170 ought to be fine if you ride 172.5 or longer. the rear wheel is probably your biggest dilemma... a true track hub is nice if frame is spaced right or is steel and can be cold set, or you can use a fw hub and screw on a cog and lockring (old bb ones will fit). i have an old chorus fw wheel that can be had for cheap.
In the same boat...Foster
Aug 8, 2001 7:02 AM
DAS, from the SS messageboard? If so I think I met you at SeaOtter. You have a PhilWood KISS-OFF right?
Anyways, I'm currently buiding up a fixie too. It's an old Colnago frame I got really cheap from a friend. As others have posted, the rear spacing is critical. My frame for example has 130mm (standard road) spacing so a 120mm track hub probably won't give me the right chainline. I ordered a PhilWood flip/flob hub in 130mm spacing. I plan on using a flip/flop hub so I can singlespeed in traffic then ride fixed on open roads.
If you could find a frame with 120mm spacing then you'll have a lot more options on hubs, some like the Suzue are really cheap. The Steamroller looks like a pretty good deal if you can't find something used cheap.

I'll post pics when I get it finished. I've ridden trackbikes at the local velodrome before and it's a totally different experience than riding a regular roadbike.
Aug 8, 2001 9:33 AM
Yep, that's me! My Phil Wood is still the bike of choice. I just had it painted Candy Apple sweet! Check the SS board in about a week for a pic.

So you are going 'high end' w/ your Fixie. Colgno frame, Phil hubs. That should be a nice package.

I've got my eye on a couple used ones on Ebay and RoadBikeReview. On one hand I want to spend $400 and get a 'beater' that will do everything I want. On the other hand, so tempting to get exactly what I want (crank lenght, bars width, flip flop, custom gear) for $800 from my boys at Webcyclery! Major dilemma.
re: Need Fixed Gear adviceAlpedhuez55
Aug 8, 2001 7:26 AM
I have an 80's Centurion frame I converted into a fixed gear/single speed. It had the horizontal drop outs I needed. It gives a nice ride in the streets of Boston.

I have the Suzue Flip Flop track hubs and just respaced them to fit the frame. I put on some heavy duty sun rims. It is a great bike and a blast to ride. I have a rack on it since I use it for errands I also put some funny scott Aero Mountain bars on it. I kept the Exage cranks and brakes that were on the bike.

I think there are a few frames on Ebay that would work well for you if they are the right size. Just find one with horozontal dropouts and you are all set!!!
I'd consider one of thesepeeetey
Aug 8, 2001 9:13 AM
Easy to buy.MB1
Aug 8, 2001 11:01 AM
I had the same concerns but I decided to get Fujis from Harris Cyclery with front brakes. The price seemed pretty good and the shop helped with the sizing and gearing. I liked the fact that they were ready to go when they arrived, took about 15 minutes to put the seat, bars & pedals in and pump up the tires. We have had a lot of fun on them. I do most of my commuting on the fixted gear now, a fun way to get to work. With the experience I got from riding fixed I am now ready to build a custom that will match my riding exactly, several people are ready to buy my slightly used Fuji for a good price. I guess I won't need to list it here!
Do it yourself!wjudd
Aug 8, 2001 3:49 PM
I started with a 1970s vintage Schwinn LeTour. (10$) A Shimano 600 fr brake I've had laying around forever. (free) Got fancy and pulled an old Campy crankset off eBay. (appox 30$) My neighbor found some NOS Sunshine track hubs laying around. (18$!) This inspired me to go ahead and build new wheels. (Appox. 70$) Other stuff came from garage and there it is. Pretty cheap for a bike with brand new wheels. Could have been cheaper if I had used old wheels and lesser crank set.

BTW If you use an old frame, turn the BB spindle around, that will improve your chain line. That, and mounting the chain wheel on the inside of the spider, has given me a nice straight chain line.