Single speed project starting point

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by trg, Jun 4, 2004.

  1. trg

    trg Guest

    I saw a notice for a bike auction nearby and thought I'd get something to
    turn into a singlespeed (not fixed gear).

    I'll be using it for around town trips. What should I be looking for as far
    as a starting point? A mountain bike, an old "10-speed" type bike? What
    about specific features to look for or avoid? How about the wheels, anything
    to avoid, or search for?

    BTW, Yes I've been to seen http://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html.

    Tom "That's too much detailed info at this stage, but will come in handy one
    the conversion starts" in Paris
     
    Tags:


  2. "trg" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I saw a notice for a bike auction nearby and thought I'd get
    > something to turn into a singlespeed (not fixed gear).


    > I'll be using it for around town trips. What should I be looking
    > for as far as a starting point? A mountain bike, an old "10-speed"
    > type bike? What about specific features to look for or avoid? How
    > about the wheels, anything to avoid, or search for?


    If you're thinking of the MBD bourse aux vélos next weekend, you may find
    prices high and choice limited:

    http://www.mdb-idf.org/actualites/2004/bourse_2004.html

    If you're not in a big hurry to buy something, you're likely to find better
    choice and far better prices at the grande bourse at Baillet-en-France in
    November.

    Having said that, just about any bike can be turned into a singlespeed
    without much difficulty. For robustness and widespread availability of
    spare parts, a cheap steel mountainbike (Decathlon Rockrider 520 is a
    common example in Paris) is hard to beat. Find an older one without
    vertical dropouts if you want to get away without a chain-tensioner.

    For style points, I'd be very tempted to look out for a French 'Porteur'
    style bike from Motobecane, Peugeot, LeJeune, etc - hammered aluminium
    mudguards, a big, square rack over the front wheel, dynamo lights, 650B
    wheels, reverse-pull brake levers ...

    http://www.blackbirdsf.org/courierracing/velos.html

    http://www.blackbirdsf.org/courierracing/images/1950s_porteur.jpg

    http://www.blackbirdsf.org/bikes/motobecane.html

    These (in common with most older French bikes) have the disadvantage of
    some idiosyncratic parts (obsolete French thread sizes, for example) but
    are simple, robust, and charming.

    James Thomson
     
  3. trg

    trg Guest

    James Thomson wrote:
    > "trg" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> I saw a notice for a bike auction nearby and thought I'd get
    >> something to turn into a singlespeed (not fixed gear).

    >
    >> I'll be using it for around town trips. What should I be looking
    >> for as far as a starting point? A mountain bike, an old "10-speed"
    >> type bike? What about specific features to look for or avoid? How
    >> about the wheels, anything to avoid, or search for?

    >
    > If you're thinking of the MBD bourse aux vélos next weekend, you may
    > find prices high and choice limited:
    >
    > http://www.mdb-idf.org/actualites/2004/bourse_2004.html
    >
    > If you're not in a big hurry to buy something, you're likely to find
    > better choice and far better prices at the grande bourse at
    > Baillet-en-France in November.
    >
    > Having said that, just about any bike can be turned into a singlespeed
    > without much difficulty. For robustness and widespread availability of
    > spare parts, a cheap steel mountainbike (Decathlon Rockrider 520 is a
    > common example in Paris) is hard to beat. Find an older one without
    > vertical dropouts if you want to get away without a chain-tensioner.
    >
    > For style points, I'd be very tempted to look out for a French
    > 'Porteur' style bike from Motobecane, Peugeot, LeJeune, etc -
    > hammered aluminium mudguards, a big, square rack over the front
    > wheel, dynamo lights, 650B wheels, reverse-pull brake levers ...
    >
    > http://www.blackbirdsf.org/courierracing/velos.html
    >
    > http://www.blackbirdsf.org/courierracing/images/1950s_porteur.jpg
    >
    > http://www.blackbirdsf.org/bikes/motobecane.html
    >
    > These (in common with most older French bikes) have the disadvantage
    > of some idiosyncratic parts (obsolete French thread sizes, for
    > example) but are simple, robust, and charming.
    >
    > James Thomson


    Yes, I was thinking of the Bourse next weekend. I wasn't set on buying
    something (already have 3 bikes and a 37m2 apartment :) ), but none of my
    bikes are ones I feel comfortable with leaving outside exposed to the
    elements and cons. I was thinking that an old 10 speed would attract les
    attention than a VTT and sell for less.

    Well, I won't get my hopes up.

    Thanks
     
  4. Jeff Wills

    Jeff Wills Guest

    "trg" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > I saw a notice for a bike auction nearby and thought I'd get something to
    > turn into a singlespeed (not fixed gear).
    >
    > I'll be using it for around town trips. What should I be looking for as far
    > as a starting point? A mountain bike, an old "10-speed" type bike? What
    > about specific features to look for or avoid? How about the wheels, anything
    > to avoid, or search for?
    >
    > BTW, Yes I've been to seen http://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html.
    >


    I built a single-speed "town" bike around an old Raliegh frame that
    was given to me. Since I have a garage full of odd bike parts, it
    wasn't tough to make a light beater.

    IMO, look for these features:
    old steel "10-speed"
    horizontal dropouts
    freewheel (not cassette) rear hub
    a frame that fits when equipped with straight (rather than drop)
    handlebars.
    removable chainrings

    avoid these:
    frames with tight clearances
    vertical dropouts if possible
    26" wheels (unless you're quite short)
    Oddball collectible or restorable bikes
    bikes with proprietary parts (the Raliegh's fork was missing headset
    parts, which required a fork replacement to fit a standard headset)
     
  5. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    "trg" <[email protected]> writes:

    > I saw a notice for a bike auction nearby and thought I'd get
    > something to turn into a singlespeed (not fixed gear).
    >
    > I'll be using it for around town trips. What should I be looking for
    > as far as a starting point? A mountain bike, an old "10-speed" type
    > bike? What about specific features to look for or avoid? How about
    > the wheels, anything to avoid, or search for?


    Basically, anything with "horizontal" dropouts for the rear wheel, and
    which fits you reasonably well. Old 10 speeds can often be had for
    free, even fairly nice ones, and often need no new parts other than a
    single speed freewheel or track cog to turn into a single speed or
    fixed gear. You can find old MTBs with horizontal dropouts, but old
    road bikes are easier to find that meet this criteria.

    I don't like the MTB position and I hate flat bars, so I'd opt for an
    old road bike. But your preferences in this regard might be
    different. Of course you can put drop bars on an MTB (which I've
    done) or flat bars on a road bike (which I've never done).

    > BTW, Yes I've been to seen
    > http://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html.
    >
    > Tom "That's too much detailed info at this stage, but will come in
    > handy one the conversion starts" in Paris
     
  6. Prometheus

    Prometheus Guest

    --On Friday, June 04, 2004 2:33 PM -0500 Tim McNamara
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I don't like the MTB position and I hate flat bars, so I'd opt for an
    > old road bike. But your preferences in this regard might be
    > different. Of course you can put drop bars on an MTB (which I've
    > done) or flat bars on a road bike (which I've never done).


    drop bars on an mtb eh? got any pictures? I'm intrigued...

    Mike
    Mechanical Engineering 2006, Carnegie Mellon University
    Remove nospam to reply.
     
  7. "Tim McNamara" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Old 10 speeds can often be had for free, even fairly nice ones,


    I haven't found that to be the case in Paris. In fact, I haven't found it
    to be the case anywhere outside the United States.

    > and often need no new parts other than a single speed
    > freewheel or track cog to turn into a single speed or fixed gear.


    Another local difference is that anything old enough to be cheap is likely
    to be old enough to use obsolete French standards, making the sourcing of
    spare parts more tricky.

    > You can find old MTBs with horizontal dropouts, but old
    > road bikes are easier to find that meet this criterion.


    That's true, but since Tom doesn't want to ride fixed, it needn't be a
    criterion.

    James Thomson
     
  8. "Jeff Wills" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > IMO, look for these features:
    > old steel "10-speed"
    > horizontal dropouts
    > freewheel (not cassette) rear hub


    Cassette hubs are easily adapted to singlespeed use with a handful of
    spacers from a worn out cassette. They allow far simpler chainline
    adjustment than freewheel hubs, although they can't be respaced and
    de-dished as easily.

    > a frame that fits when equipped with straight (rather than drop)
    > handlebars.
    > removable chainrings
    >
    > avoid these:
    > frames with tight clearances
    > vertical dropouts if possible
    > 26" wheels (unless you're quite short)


    There are several 26" sizes. The 559mm MTB/VTT standard is very widely
    available, there's an enormoous choice of tyres in this size, and MTB
    wheels are generally very robust. 650B is still widely available in France,
    thought the range of choice and quality is far smaller than in 559. 650C is
    also more widely available in France than elsewhere, but rarely seen
    outside the smaller frame sizes.

    James Thomson
     
  9. "trg" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I wasn't set on buying something (already have 3 bikes and a
    > 37m2 apartment :) ), but none of my bikes are ones I feel
    > comfortable with leaving outside exposed to the elements and
    > cons. I was thinking that an old 10 speed would attract les
    > attention than a VTT and sell for less.


    You're probably right on both counts, but of course a lot depends on what
    becomes available.

    James Thomson
     
  10. Jeff Wills

    Jeff Wills Guest

    Prometheus <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected][192.168.1.100]>...
    > --On Friday, June 04, 2004 2:33 PM -0500 Tim McNamara
    > <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > > I don't like the MTB position and I hate flat bars, so I'd opt for an
    > > old road bike. But your preferences in this regard might be
    > > different. Of course you can put drop bars on an MTB (which I've
    > > done) or flat bars on a road bike (which I've never done).

    >
    > drop bars on an mtb eh? got any pictures? I'm intrigued...
    >


    How soon they forget. The '87 Bridgestone MB-1 came stock with
    DirtDrop handlebars, made by Nitto. Someone out there must have a
    picture (I didn't find anything with a quick search).

    Jeff
     
  11. Mark South

    Mark South Guest

    "James Thomson" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > "Tim McNamara" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > > Old 10 speeds can often be had for free, even fairly nice ones,

    >
    > I haven't found that to be the case in Paris. In fact, I haven't found it
    > to be the case anywhere outside the United States.


    Here in Switzerland the only "fairly nice old ten-speeds" one sees are
    underneath commuters, locked on bike rack, and underneath hefty price tags in
    the secondhand stores.

    > > and often need no new parts other than a single speed
    > > freewheel or track cog to turn into a single speed or fixed gear.

    >
    > Another local difference is that anything old enough to be cheap is likely
    > to be old enough to use obsolete French standards, making the sourcing of
    > spare parts more tricky.


    Don't the little Paris bike shops have whole bins of obsolete parts, like the
    village LBSs in England?

    > > You can find old MTBs with horizontal dropouts, but old
    > > road bikes are easier to find that meet this criterion.

    >
    > That's true, but since Tom doesn't want to ride fixed, it needn't be a
    > criterion.


    I think that was only the first nudge of many. One year we are being forced to
    ride recumbent, the next it's fixed, who knows what next year will bring?
    --
    Mark South: World Citizen, Net Denizen
     
  12. Nate Knutson

    Nate Knutson Guest

    [email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > I saw a notice for a bike auction nearby and thought I'd get something to
    > turn into a singlespeed (not fixed gear).
    >
    > I'll be using it for around town trips. What should I be looking for as far
    > as a starting point? A mountain bike, an old "10-speed" type bike? What
    > about specific features to look for or avoid? How about the wheels, anything
    > to avoid, or search for?
    >
    > BTW, Yes I've been to seen http://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html.
    >
    > Tom "That's too much detailed info at this stage, but will come in handy one
    > the conversion starts" in Paris


    The best bet is probably to look for the best old bike available that
    fits you with an intact frame and horizontal dropouts. Road frames are
    generally preferable because they're more built for the purposes you
    probably want and are lighter at the same quality levels as comparable
    mountain bikes, but if you find a quality old mountain bike that's
    nice, fits you, is the right price, is in good shape and has
    horizontal dropouts (unless you want to use a tensioner), go for it.
    Concentrate on what will you fit you for the bike's intended purpose.

    Piles of random old used bikes available cheaply can seem to offer way
    more promise than they actually do - the ratio of department store
    bikes and overly trashed low-end shop-quality bikes to everything else
    is high, and only a fairly small minority of any random pile of bikes
    will fit any one person well anyway. If you add on to this the critera
    that the bike has to have decent wheels, you're in for even more of a
    challenge because most used bikes have wheels that are either
    completely trashed or in poor shape that won't stand up to being
    ridden - and pretty much no used bike has undamaged hubs. And this is
    to say nothing of other components, although you have some latitude
    there because you're doing a singlespeed conversion.

    Most random used bikes that are going to be put back into any kind of
    action really are best served by having new wheels built for them.
    Wheels on used bikes are just too crappy. Exceptions are definitely
    out there, and different riders put very different demands on wheels,
    but believe me that the general status quo is that the wheels on used
    bikes are spent if the bike is actually going to be ridden much in the
    future. For a single/fixed conversion, doing a good job of re-dishing
    and tensioning up a random old wheel that was built undertensioned
    without well-lubed spoke threads and nowadays likely has a warped rim
    is really a pretty similar amount of work to just building a new
    wheel, which can actually be done pretty cheaply. Old high-quality
    cheap freewheel hubs are all over the place. A whole new wheelset is
    often the best idea, although the front wheels on used bikes stand a
    much fairer chance of being able to get somewhat close to an
    acceptable state with just some typical truing than rears.

    Before you take any bike home, check the frame and fork for obvious
    sketchiness like cracks, buckling, bends, dents, paint chipping that
    indicates an impact, etc. There's really quite a bit to say about the
    skill of checking frames for damage without allowing anything to get
    past you, but the basics are to check all the joints thoroughly, and
    make sure the fork isn't bent.

    If it's a steel frame, you don't have to deal with worrying about
    relatively minor rear triangle misalignment at this point as long as
    you're resigned to either correcting it later yourself (read Sheldon's
    site for the details of doing this with string and a 2x4) or living
    with it. Keep in mind that frame misalignment will mess up your
    chainline if you set up the chainline in a way other than eyeballing
    it.
     
  13. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    Prometheus <[email protected]> writes:

    > --On Friday, June 04, 2004 2:33 PM -0500 Tim McNamara
    > <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> I don't like the MTB position and I hate flat bars, so I'd opt for
    >> an old road bike. But your preferences in this regard might be
    >> different. Of course you can put drop bars on an MTB (which I've
    >> done) or flat bars on a road bike (which I've never done).

    >
    > drop bars on an mtb eh? got any pictures? I'm intrigued...


    Somewhere I have some fuzzy pictures from a 'cross race. It was a
    Specialized M2 back in 1993. All I needed was a new stem, drop bars
    and some old brake levers, and bar end shifters. It worked great.
    John Tomac used to race MTB with drop bars. This could still be done
    quite readily, thanks to the DiaCompe 287V road lever being compatible
    with V-brakes.
     
  14. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    "Mark South" <[email protected]> writes:

    > Don't the little Paris bike shops have whole bins of obsolete parts,
    > like the village LBSs in England?


    The few bike shops I have been to in Paris were pretty up-to-date
    carbon fiber and titanium and aluminum joints. But this was last
    August and shops that might have better depth (such as Alex Singer and
    Rando-Cycles/Rando-Boutique) were closed for the holiday. That
    actually struck me as odd, especially for the two I named, since there
    was an influx of 3,000+ randonneurs to the Paris area for PBP. You'd
    think those shops would have been open to capitalize on this. The
    French do not think like Americans, hey? Refreshing.
     
  15. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    "James Thomson" <[email protected]> writes:

    > "Tim McNamara" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> Old 10 speeds can often be had for free, even fairly nice ones,

    >
    > I haven't found that to be the case in Paris. In fact, I haven't
    > found it to be the case anywhere outside the United States.


    Wow, that's really interesting. Another post reports a similar
    situation in Switzerland. Difference in societies I guess, us
    American treating almost everything as disposable. Just goes to show
    that you can't judge the possibilities in one part of the world by the
    possibilities in another place. Around here, people give away those
    old ten speed that are gathering dust in a corner of the garage and
    haven't been ridden in over 20 years, or sell them for a few dollars
    at a garage sale.

    >> and often need no new parts other than a single speed freewheel or
    >> track cog to turn into a single speed or fixed gear.

    >
    > Another local difference is that anything old enough to be cheap is
    > likely to be old enough to use obsolete French standards, making the
    > sourcing of spare parts more tricky.


    If I was in the Paris area, I'd hie myself over to Alex Singer as
    M. Csuka has an incredible depth of old parts- having been in business
    for over 60 years.

    >> You can find old MTBs with horizontal dropouts, but old road bikes
    >> are easier to find that meet this criterion.

    >
    > That's true, but since Tom doesn't want to ride fixed, it needn't be
    > a criterion.
    >
    > James Thomson
     
  16. "Jeff Wills" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > How soon they forget. The '87 Bridgestone MB-1 came stock with
    > DirtDrop handlebars, made by Nitto. Someone out there must have
    > a picture (I didn't find anything with a quick search).


    Here you go:

    http://unr.edu/homepage/addison/bstoneMB11987.pdf

    That's a 1 Megabyte .pdf

    James Thomson
     
  17. "Mark South" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Don't the little Paris bike shops have whole bins of obsolete
    > parts, like the village LBSs in England?


    Not that I've found - in fact my impression is that there are relatively
    few long-established bike shops in intramural Paris. Tim mentioned Alex
    Singer (just outside Paris proper at Levallois-Peret), and another fair bet
    for old stock is Bicloune at rue Froment, who have found me French-threaded
    track sprockets, among other rarities.

    I'm not sure that the mythical English village LBS is any more real. The
    mountain bike boom, combined with the decline of the traditional
    bike-commuting classes shook up the British retail scene and either put a
    lot of the old shops out of business or forced them to modernise. While the
    MTB hasn't had quite the impact in France that it had in the UK, the big
    sports chains like Decathlon have made things tough for the smaller shops.
    I've only been in Paris for a couple of years, but I'm told that utility
    cycling was in terminal decline in Paris before the public transport
    strikes of the 1990s. Many of the shops that cater to the new utility
    cyclists date from this period, and sell mainly Dutch bikes.

    James Thomson
     
  18. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    "James Thomson" <[email protected]> writes:

    > "Mark South" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> Don't the little Paris bike shops have whole bins of obsolete
    >> parts, like the village LBSs in England?

    >
    > Not that I've found - in fact my impression is that there are relatively
    > few long-established bike shops in intramural Paris. Tim mentioned Alex
    > Singer (just outside Paris proper at Levallois-Peret), and another fair bet
    > for old stock is Bicloune at rue Froment, who have found me French-threaded
    > track sprockets, among other rarities.


    Yes, last August when in Paris I went to see Cycles Boissis on the
    Avenue Grande Armee just a km or so from the Arc de Triomphe. Since
    they were reported to have been in business since the 50's I expected
    a nice funky shop with lots of old stuff. Instead it was a neat
    modern boutique with neat modern bicycles- carbon fiber, Ti, and very
    little suitable for randonneurs and such like.
     
  19. > > I'm not sure that the mythical English village LBS is any more real.

    "Mark South" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > They do exist. Infact, the classic example to me is in central
    > Cambridge: University Cycles. The parts pile starts behind the
    > counter and just keeps going.


    They exist, just as ancient shops piles high with dusty obsoletia may exist
    in Paris, but they're the exception rather than the rule. I don't think
    most people would think of Cambridge as a village, and in any case it has a
    particular set of circumstances that make the local bicycle market quite
    unusual.

    > > Many of the shops that cater to the new utility cyclists
    > > date from this period, and sell mainly Dutch bikes.


    > The Dutch being the people who never stopped making utility
    > roadsters like the now-famous Behemoth.


    Right. My point was that the shops now serving the utility cyclists of
    Paris will, in many cases, never have sold bicycles based around French
    standards, just as many of the British bike shops that emerged in the
    nineties have never sold cotter pins or Sturmey-Archer toggle chains.

    James Thomson
     
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