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?
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 😉
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!
It’s just a small update for the “fixie” build today. Last time round I’d assembled the front wheel and got that ready for fitting. I’d stripped down the hub and rebuilt that, along with replacing a spoke and assembling the inner tube and tyre. It is all good to go but before I put it on the bike I wanted to give all the spokes and rim a quick clean. I was being a bit optimistic thinking it was going to be a quick clean. The spokes didn’t look too dirty but after cleaning one with some metal polish and seeing the amount of dirt it removed and the effort it took I realised it was going to take a while. In an attempt to speed things up a bit I started off by using a light grade of sandpaper and wet sanding all the spokes and rims. It worked really well, but the polish was still needed to bring the shine back. Two hours or so after starting I had a clean front wheel.
After cleaning it all up I have noticed the rim could really do with being replaced. There are quite a few rough patches on the brake surface where the chrome has worn away and rust started as well as a couple of dings but it will do to get me rolling (and I don’t have the money spare now, damn rear hub)
Before I detail on the rear hub… The crankset is now ground down and just needs a clean up and polish before fitting to the bike. I’ve decided to saves a few pennies and not get it powder coated so for now, it’ll be staying silver/chrome.
The rear hub… I was hoping to clean the original hub up and re-use that for the final assembly. The idea was to just replace the rim and spokes after giving the original gear a good clean and rebuild. It didn’t exactly go to plan. The cleaning went really well; A good dose of degreaser took it from a rear hub thick with 20 or so years of dirt and grease to a perfectly gleaming chrome example. Unfortunately that’s where I discovered a problem. One half of the hub broke away. I thought it might have just be pressed together so I carried on assembling the hub with new grease and bearings only to find when it was all together the hub was useless. Even with the whole thing assembled, both sides of the hub could move independently. I guess it must have been welded together originally but over the years the rust has eaten that away.
There’s nothing really I could do about that hub so I’ve had to spend a little more in my final order for the build and buy a complete new rear wheel. The whole order should be with me tomorrow but I found it a bit difficult deciphering all the information that the internet could throw at me when making my choice. I went with a Halo Aerotrack wheel with a track (flip/flop) hub. That wasn’t the problem. Choosing a 120mm axle hub was easy. The problem came with choosing the gearing. I was originally thinking one of those “single speed conversion kits” would be what I needed but I couldn’t work out why they all had Shimano style grooves in them. Then there was just single sprockets with those grooves in and some without. It then dawned on me what the conversion kits were for; Singlespeed, not Fixed Gear. Although they both use just one speed the single speed keeps the ability to coast with a freewheel or freehub and the conversion kits were to replace the rear cassettes on Shimano Style freehubs. Having a fixed gear means of course, you don’t use a freehub or freewheel. The conversion kits were out of the question and the Shimano style sprockets were too so it was just down to the threaded sprockets.
I managed to find out that fixed hubs have two sets of threads. One for the sprocket and one for a lock ring to stop the sprocket working itself loose. After looking through the Halo website I found out the right thread information and I’ve hopefully order a sprocket and lock ring to suit. We’ll soon see!