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…
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…
I think I understand now why people like to ride fixed gear. Once I remembered I couldn’t actually stop pedalling and sorted out any chain tension issues the fear that was always in the back of my mind seems to have disappeared. I love riding fixed. I use the bike every day now, riding to work and the long way home through town and it hasn’t thrown up any issues. I’ve got used to only riding with the front brake and the constant spin of the pedals. I’m relying on the brake less and less too. I’ve been riding it so much when I got back on my mountain bike at the weekend it felt wrong to stop pedalling and coast…
There is one thing I’ve taken to doing while riding on the roads though and that’s wearing my GoPro. Last week I almost ended up under the wheels of some idiot women after she tried to turn left, from the right hand lane, through me. The lanes were clearly marked (left to turn left and continue straight and right for a right turn) but she seemed to have thought her little Citroen could beat me off the line and complete a turn in front of me all within 20 meters. It was such a close call that now I’m not going out without the camera. Essentially it’s not going to stop anyone from being a dick and hitting me but it might provide vital evidence…
Here’s a “little” video from my ride home one evening last week. I have a GoPro HD Hero attached via a “Chesty” mount and while you can’t see where my head is looking it gives a good idea of what’s going on.
Touch wood, nothing, or should I say nobody will try and hit me again but you ever know…
On another note, I learnt something new about the Raleigh frame I’d used for the bike earlier. After upgrading the few parts last week I wanted to try and find a suitable modern BB and crank combination. The measurement for the BB shell on the Raleigh is 71mm but all I could find on VeloSolo were 68mm or 73mm Bottom Brackets. I was going to make the assumption I could just “bodge” one of those sizes on but I decided to do a little research first.
On one of the best cycling websites out there (Sheldon Brown) I found all the information I needed. It turns out, back in the good old days there were so many different variations for threading and BB size that it all got a bit confusing and “standard” sizes were slowly phased in. Unfortunately Raleigh, being such a big company, decided against changing all their patterns and kept using their own sizes. That now means instead of having a 68mm shell with 24 TPI, I have a 71mm shell with a finer 26 TPI thread. Apparently there are ways out there of converting the Raleigh specifications but it’s a lot of hassle and sticking at the current specs I don’t have much choice but to stay with the original gear.
It’s not too much of an issue as the old gear is still working well but it would have been nice to fit a shiny new modern external bearing BB. If you’re using an old Raleigh frame for a fixed gear conversion, be warned the BB isn’t the only Raleigh specific item. The headset also uses the same threading which probably explains why my new headset was a little awkward to thread on….
Have a read of the differences here.
Finally, I’ve got my ass into gear and began work on the road bike. My XC bike is painfully slow on the road so hopefully I’ll complete this before the summer ands and get some rides under my belt. I’ve tried to do a bit of research into this bike but I’ve found nothing yet. It has the Raleigh badge on the front and stickers reading “Predator” and “Fuzion” but I can’t track down any info on it. The only thing I know for sure about this bike is it’s old (and it didn’t cost me a lot of money). It certainly shows it’s age too.
While stripping it down I found it needs plenty of work if I’m going to restore it (that’s a big IF). The rims are corroded, a few spokes are broken, nearly every bearing is loose or noisy, the brakes and gears all need reworking and the paint is scratched to death. So that’s left me with a bit of a dilemma. I have three options whirling round my head; restore it keeping as much of the original parts as possible, upgrade it using some new fancy parts or convert it to a fixed gear bike. While I’d like to restore it back to it’s original glory I think tracking down replacement parts and getting everything re-chromed is going to cost me a bit of money. The same goes for upgrading it, but at the same time, if I’m going to fit a few upgrades I might as well use a modern frame and do a proper job. The third option, turn it into a fixed gear bike, came about last night when I posted a photo on Facebook. It was suggested to me and I have to say I’m about 90% convinced. I need to do a bit of research into it first but it looks possible.
Anyway, the teardown. Old and very worn parts.
A slightly wider wheel on the rear and the worst, condition wise of the two. Very corroded and pitted, snapped and bent spokes and a worn hub. I couldn’t find any brand markings on the wheel or hub unfortunately. The front wheel is in slightly better shape but the hub is a lot noisier. The rim has Van Schothorst stamped on it and the hub has Nakano so hopefully with a bit of research I can find some info on these parts.
The rear cassette doesn’t look too worn, it may be good with a clean up. It’s a 5 speed cassette with 14/16/18/20 & 22 teeth but again, no brand name. The freewheel on the other hand clearly states T.C.& Sons and seems to work freely.
The bottom bracket is still well and truly stuck in the frame. It’s going to take a fair bit of soaking in penetration fluid to free it up but hopefully I can get it out as it sounds pretty rough. The crank set is 165mm and is in a fair condition but the peddle bearings a little worn and it was a fight to remove them. It’s only a 2 speed chainring set, worn, but possibly useable. 40 & 48 teeth on the chainrings.
The bike comes fitted with Wellman brakes which really need some work. The cables are slack, the pads are pretty much non existent and the levers themselves are fairly loose.
Shifter and derailleur wise. The shifter was tube mounted made by Shimano. All the cables have pretty much had it. The front derailleur is again a Shimano piece but the rear derailleur is a Sachs Huret item. All of the shifting equipment should be salvageable.
And that’s where I am at the moment. One stripped bike (almost). Plans to turn into a fixed gear and a lot of work to do!