I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before but the 80’s Raleigh frame that I used on the first fixed gear is now “dead”. What happened? Well I’m not quite sure. It’s viewable in one of my Cyclist POV videos, where you can see I’m riding along and all of a sudden the rear wheel locks up and I come to a stop. It’s happened before but never that violently and never just riding along. I realigned the wheel and rode on, but after getting to my destination I realised the wheel no longer looked straight… The rear triangle looked bent. A few second opinions later and I had concluded it must be the end of that frame.
Note: At no point have I actually checked the frame alignment with the available tools.
A few weeks have gone by and now I have version 2 up and running. Version 2 was found on eBay for the small sum of £15. Naturally the colours caught my attention and I had to have it. As luck would have it, nobody else was interested in it and I won the auction for the starting bid. I have to say the seller of this frame has been an absolute pleasure to deal with – possibly the best seller I’ve dealt with. He emailed me as soon as the auction ended and asked if I wanted some further postage quotes and after looking around found one for £4 cheaper than quoted. Unfortunately he hadn’t checked the PayPal transaction and booked the delivery for the wrong address. Nevermind, he got straight onto the courier and had it changed. The courier didn’t even come and collect it and instead it had to be dropped off at the post office and sent from there. I was updated on the whole process and never left out. I wish all sellers were like that!
Anyway, the new build! The frame is a two tone, pink and purple, MBK trainer. I haven’t been able to accurately date it however I’m leaning towards an early 90’s date. Lugless, oval tubing and CRMO – I really like the frame. It has its fair signs of wear and it the colour apparently disgusts come people but I love it. It’s just my size and it’s so light.
Straight away I removed the headset from the old build and fitted that to the MBK frame. The old Halo wheelset went in perfectly, as did my old black stem. This is where things change. Instead of the flat bars I wanted to fit a set of drop bars in black with some all black brakes. I’m only running one brake, yet still decided to fit two levers. Why? Because I like the riding position! Finding the all black bars took a lot of searching on eBay as most 25.4mm clamping bars are for silver in colour for old road bikes! It was worth it though, the black bars and brakes make the pink stand out even more.
When it came to the bottom bracket and crank I had to get something new. The Raleigh uses 26tpi thread and a cottered axle, where as the MBK frame uses a standard 24tpi thread. I have a few spare cartridge bottom brackets that I could have used but something new was more appealing. I decided to head to VeloSolo and take a look at their collection. I opted for the 107mm Stronglight bottom bracket and crank set. It looks amazing and threaded straight into the frame. The Raleigh used a 42 tooth chain ring (I believe) where as the Stronglight uses a 48 tooth. Combined with the 14 tooth sprocket I’ll be getting more top end but hill starts will become a bit tougher. I’ll see how I get on with it and if it’s too tough I’ll swap out the sprocket to a 16 or 18.
The tyre clearances are close but I’m going to swap those out for some Michelin Krylion Carbon when I get some spare cash! (Those tyres are brilliant – I’m using them on the British Eagle in the wet). Apart from that I’m 100% happy with the outcome. The bike feels like a perfect fit and everytime I look at it I find a massive grin creeps across my face. It’s definitely not everyones style. What do you think?
I was getting all ready to write out a nice post about my plans to change the design of my fixie. It’s coming close to the 1000 mile mark so I thought it’s only right to spruce the old girl up a bit. In the first few hundred miles the bike got beat up quite a bit, trying to fine tune the chain tension etc. A respray is long overdue but I also wanted to change the style of all the components.
I wanted to flip things around. The light frame would go dark and the dark components would go light. Essentially I was going for a black and chrome look. It would look a little more “period” than it does currently. This, of course, meant buying a Brooks saddle and a chrome seat post to start with. I opted for a B17 model in black. I got it for a good price and it’s in pretty good condition. I rode with it on Friday and I can safely say it’s just as comfy and supportive as all the other Brooks saddles I’ve ridden.
The next buys were a new set of bars and a new stem. I didn’t want flat bars anymore and I didn’t want the tradition drop bar, although I would have gone for the sleek sloping style that are on the France Sport if I could have afforded a pair… Instead I went for a set of “North” bars (or at least that’s what I’ve seen them called). I think they’re meant to be used as riser bars for town bikes but instead I’m mounting them upside down so there is a very slight drop. They’ll be wrapped in a black cloth tape and fitted with a matching period brake lever. Stem wise, I wanted to go back to chrome or polished alloy. I still have the original SR stem from the bike but it only has a 60mm reach and I feel comfortable with a bit more. My searches on eBay threw up lot of choices, too many choices, but I found myself leaning towards the alloy stems with a “sleek” design. On my watch list was a renovated “Biba” stem which was beautifully polished, however as £40 it was quite pricey. I kept looking and to my surprise another “Biba” stem popped up under the title “Unusual British Made Stem”. The seller had noted the two cyclists in the logo but hadn’t seen they also spelt “biba”. It was only £10 so I bought it without waiting. It’s needs a slight polish but it’s exactly what I was looking for.
As for the next steps I’m hoping to get my hands on a “Rudge” crank set because I love the hand design and possibly some new pedals. The frame will be stripped and repainted a gloss black and the bike will be good for another 1000 miles.
Well… actually that’s all just a “wish” at the moment. I had a slight accident on Friday riding to work. While trying to flip my non drive side pedal, without hitting any form of pot hole, my chain jumped off the sprocket, wrapped itself around the hub, locking and pulling the rear wheel out of alignment in the drop outs. This was at around 20mph, possibly more and was quite a violent motion. I skidded to a stop, realigned the wheel and tensioned the chain and rode on. Something didn’t feel right though. When I got to work I checked the bike over and noticed something that concerned me. Looking at the bike from the rear, aligning my sight down the seat tube and head tube, shows the rear wheel has a lean to the non drive side and it also seems the rear triangle is now bent slightly too.
The chain has slipped off and locked up before but never this violently. I asked my work mates to have a look too and they said the same thing. The rear triangle looks bent… I’m going to try and find a frame alignment tool and check it out so fingers crossed. It would be great if I could just bend it back but the more I bend the steel, the more it stresses and eventually the more likely it is to fail…
It sucked a little bit having to ride to work no matter the weather but mixing it up with the traffic is always fun. So slow on the fixie though, so slow.
It’s been a while but I’ve made a new edit.
With all my injuries healed and the car off the road I’ve been using the bikes to get around. This edit is from 5 days of cycling to work and back. I have two GoPros now too so I can film front and rear. It’s pretty tricky to get the two clips lined up but I like the all round view it gives.
I actually have four bikes up and running now so I’ve tried to include them all in this one.
It seems like every post I make about my fixed gear build is one saying I’ve fixed it again after something went wrong. Hopefully, this will be the last one!
On its last outing, after the last fix of bending the chain ring back into shape, I had constant problems with the chain popping off and flexing. I figured it was down to the damage caused before, but also that I’m using the smaller chain ring of the original double set so it’ll never be as strong as the solid outer ring. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do until I started buying a few bikes to do up.
A solution presented itself when looking over the new bikes. They’re all old three speed bikes, with one single speed ring up front and the three gears inside the Sturmey Archer hub. A single speed chain ring up front… with a cotter pin crank… Putting two and two together told me I should take one of these chain rings and put it on the fixie with a new, stronger chain and that’s exactly what I’ve done!
I had chose to take the chain ring off a very rusty Raleigh Wayfarer but my original technique of removing the cotter pins failed drastically and now I had two mushroomed pins holding the cranks to that bike. I found this guy on YouTube who has a channel dedicated to fixing bikes and watching a few of his videos gave me some ideas on how to remove the cranks. Low and behold, on another bike, I left the nut on the cotter pin, used a big punch on top of the nut and with one swing of a hammer the pin was free and I could swap the cranks over!
However, as with every simple job, something went a tad wrong. When I put the new crank on the fixie I found the BB was very stiff and then found the shell was unwinding itself from the frame so I ended up stripping all that down, cleaning everything off and regreasing it. The “new” crank and single speed chainring went on fine then. It’s sightly bigger than the old one but that just means more speed 🙂
As for the chain, I decided to ditch the cheap Clarks chain I bought after only using it for 180 miles. It felt so weak and it’s been nothing but trouble so I went for a Izumi chain this time. I saw it had good reviews on Chain Reaction Cycles and my first impression is it has a more sturdy appearance and feel than the Clarks chain. It looks solid, feels heavy duty and seems well made. I had a slight problem with it being a bit big for one of my chain tools but it went on smoothly and rides well!
When it was all back together I took it for a test ride and I’m happy to say there were no issues whatsoever. I even managed to set a couple of PBs on some local climbs. Hopefully, this will be the bike fixed completely now and it’ll last a good while! It’s always a learning process but now I think I know the best way to go about doing a fixed gear conversion on an old Raleigh! I’ll get it right first time with the other builds 😉
Bikes! Who’d bloody have them?!
Well I’ve finally got to work on the British Eagle I picked up a while ago. It didn’t look in the best condition when I collected it but it’s turning out to be an absolute nightmare! The bike was pretty much complete bars the wheels, saddle and front derailleur. It had Shimano 105 brakes and gearing and an aluminium seat post, long stem and drop bars. Google suggested the bike wasn’t too old but it had definitely been through the wars with parts of the frame repainting and bubbling but I still didn’t think taking apart would be this much work.
The brake system and rear derailleur came off really easily. No troubles there at all but as soon as I tried to remove the bars I realised I was in for a fight. They were awkward but with a big screwdriver and a bit of wiggling I did get them out. The seat post on the other hand, well that was stuck solid. First I had to break through the paint that had been layered over the clamp and with that off I found the seat post wasn’t going to come out easily. The entire length of the post inside the frame had oxidised and it took a lot of bashing with a hammer to free up. This unfortunately did damage the seat post slightly but I was pretty certain I could polish it up.
Now this is where things have gone downhill. The seat post may have been difficult but the stem has been impossible and is now in several pieces. It wasn’t bolted down to start with but still it was stuck fast and the same method of persuasion that shifted the seat post (hammer) was completely ineffective against this. I’ve got a feeling it’s an aluminium stem and it has oxidised against the steel fork and effectively welded the two together. Turning to the old faithful penetration spray and giving it a good few coating and leaving it to soak did nothing so I tried heating it up with my blowtorch in an attempt to break the seal. Nothing. Not even a mm of movement and eventually the head of the stem snapped off. Not ideal but it gave me more of a chance to prise the remnants of the stem out of the forks… or so I thought. I tried gripping and crushing the broken half with my vice to no avail and I couldn’t even shift it with a punch an chisel. I’ve given up now. The forks have been damaged too and I don’t think they’ll be any good now. Maybe some BMX forks are on the cards now though?
Next up was the cranks. They had a strange cap covering the nut holding them down. I guess you need a special tool to unscrew them properly as when I tried with my biggest screwdriver they just tore apart, although they’re potentially a bit brittle from old age… Now capless I could unbolt the cranks and surprisingly the bolts came off with no issues. They revealed that the bottom bracket was square taper and also that the cranks were stuck tight. Luckily I have a crank puller which screwed into the drive side nicely and helped pop it off but the threads on the non drive side are trashed and the crank puller tool ended up stripping them. Holding the crank in my vice while I used a bolt to try and knock the spindle out didn’t work either so at the moment it is also stuck…
If I do manage to get this crank off… I’m still stuck with a strange bottom bracket. The cups / lock rings are made out of plastic and look like they need some form of C spanner to undo. I’ve had a go at the drive side with a few tools but nothing worked so it looks like I’m going to have to find a special tool for the job.
All in all, not the best start but we’ll see where things go from here….
Here we go, another edit. I’ve already seen some more things I want to try and recreate for the next “episode” but for now it’s more of what I tried out last week, as well as trying out the video in video part.
The first few clips, on the fixie… well that bike needs work again. I hit a drain cover and it knocked the back wheel out of alignment in the drop outs and jammed the chain and wheel. It didn’t stop me for too long but as I rode on I could hear some clunking and then the chain started to drop off again. It really does need a new chain ring… I went exploring on it though, following some back routes into fields, that was fun.
After that is a bunch of clips from Cannock. I did another two laps of Follow the Dog and set a load more PBs but on the first lap I encountered major issues with my gears. I couldn’t really select anything mid range on the rear and kept on having to change up and down before it eventually just skipped constantly. Stopping to try and retension the cable on the trails did nothing so I stopped off in the car park after the first lap to check everything over. The hanger looked a bit bent so I “fixed” that and I retensioned the cable but it still didn’t work. I ended up doing that lap with either 9th or 1st on the rear. It really was go fast or go home!
I’ve lost track of time with this. I don’t remember how long it’s been sitting in my living room waiting to get fixed but now it’s done. Well, fixed should be used loosely. Everything is back together and working but it wasn’t the most ideal solution. Some may remember but on the last outing for the fixie, the chain slipped off, got caught on the chain ring and bent it (partly down to a bolt being missing from one of the mounting points?!). I had to walk the bike home, it chewed up a load of paint work and I was royally pissed off. The aim was to buy a new Bottom Bracket and crank set but finding a match for the old Raleigh threading is difficult and I never have the money to spare so I decided to “bodge” the fix.
The old chain ring is steel so although it’s bent I thought it should bend back into shape with some careful persuasion. I had to strip the crank off, and with the cotter pin coming out really easily the job was done quicker than I thought. The old chain ring was persuaded back into shape with my trusty hammer and after fitting and giving it a few spins it all seemed straight. A few little tweaks were needed with some mole grips but it seems to be back to normal… I replaced the bolts with some fresh ones, trimmed them down and added lock nuts so I don’t have to worry about them coming loose again. The chain went back on really easily too. I replaced a few links and the job was done. Everything span as it should…
I’ve taken it for a quick test ride and nothing went bang so I think it should be good for a while… I’m looking forward to some more fixie cruising!
Just as I’m getting to love this bike, something, possibly me, has broken it. It’s a really nice bike to ride and I was loving riding to work and having a detour home but now it’s officially out of action. Dead. Until I can source some more part that is.
So here’s what I think happened. I’m riding to work earlier this week in my work gear. I’ve never had a problem with trousers flapping around but as I’m cruising along I got a horrible snag as part of my trousers got pulled into the chainring and luckily it came straight back out. It didn’t sound or feel good but everything seemed fine.
Then on one of my detours home wile playing “the filtering game” I heard a couple of clangs/ bangs/ noises… I don’t know how to describe it but it sounded like something had popped under tension. The bike still rode though so I got it home, decided to clean the chain and in the process found one link had bent and was about to dislodge from the pin holding it in place. So that was what the sound was…or was it.
That link was replaced straight away with a new link and spinning the wheel / crank by hand it seemed fine. On the way to work the next day though it was pretty rough to start with but it did settle. Again though, it started making a weird clunk every now and again while out on a ride with a friend before eventually disaster happened. She doesn’t like to ride on the road so it meant hopping up and down curbs and on one of these instances my chain popped off. It then got caught in the rear cog and locked up the rear wheel. No bother, I’ll just feed it back on and be on my way. Unfortunately I found that it had chewed the master link on the chain but it had also bent the chainring. Weirdly a bolt was missing from that spot too but even with it pinched up to where the bolt should be it was still bent. So bent it was catching on the frame and chucking the chain straight off. I had to walk the bike all the way across town to get it back home.
I’m sad to say, for now at least, the fixie is dead. I can fix it, and I will, I just don’t have the cash at the moment. I’m going to have to break out the Holdsworth for the daily commute now and get used to those damn clipless clip pedals… Hopefully I’ll find some cash soon. I don’t want to be without the fixed life for long…