To convert or not convert...

Hey hey,

I’m a newbie so go easy. I was curious about where people stood on building fixed gear bicycles from roadbikes/roadbike frames. Obviously there’s a huge mix out there, but I wonder what the common beliefs are around building a fixed gear bicycle and frame choice.

I’m building one up at the mo from a track frame so I hadn’t even thought about it as an option, however I’m curious as to what others think…

if you have a track frame then use that, generally track frames will have a tighter geometry and are a frame that is built to be a fixed gear bike- so you’re going to have an easier time getting your chainine etc right.
Having said that if you’re just getting into it often a conversion is a far cheaper and more accessible option. If you are doing your first conversion then don’t go and hack off all the braze ons and cable guides right away, you may live to regret it and also you may find down the track you want to make it back into a geared roadie.
There are plenty of affordable options out there for cheap track frames- the eighth inch scrambler frameset for example. Also most of the conversions around are old 10 speed frames that take 27inch wheels not 700c, so when you replace them with a brand new set of track wheels they are slightly smaller. Makes it harder to fit a brake, and also the look like shit.
Anyway that’s just my opinion, when i first got into fixed gears I built up an old road frame, had a heap of fun doing it and learning stuff along the way and eventually got my hands on a track frame (and really noticed the difference). Though nowadays because of how cheap a new track frameset (scrambler etc.) is I wouldn’t bother with a conversion.

If your bike’s rear wheel spacing is 120mm, has long horizontal dropouts and cranks with a standard 130 bcd, then it’ll be a piece of cake - and much cheaper than something new.

The geometry of a roadie might be more to your liking than a true track bike, which being pretty tighter makes for a quick but twitchy harder ride. Personally I prefer the slightly more relaxed geometry of a road bike when riding, huh, on the road. But if you want to leave everyone else in your dust, use a track frame. However if you build up a roadie you’ll also have the advantages of keeping your rear brake on for the first few rides while you get used to riding fixed (Also handy if you’re riding long rides down steep hills a lot). And you’ll have bosses for bottle cages, etc.

All I’d recommend is getting a strong rear wheel built to a high flange ‘flip-flop’ sealed bearing hub (36h is best IMO - Velocitys are a good well priced option). A fixed sprocket and lockring - get a bike shop to fit this, as it need to be super tight). Perhaps a new chainring for the front if your current one is warn. Don’t worry so much about “chainline issues” as you can work this out by adjusting the length of the bottom bracket, again a good bike store should help you work this out. I think that’s pretty much all you’ll need… plus a chain. Good to go. Do it.

I don’t know if you needed all this info, anyway…

i’ve got a conversion i keep so i can lock it up at the station. rides really great but looks pretty shit, so no-one looks twice. id be concerned leaving a nice bike locked up at parramatta station all day, so i guess theyre good for that.

I made a roadie conversion using a more modern frame with vertical dropouts. I used the White Industries Eno rear hub, that has a cam mechanism to allow you to vary the wheel base and hence tension the chain. The other option is to pick the perfect chainlength with a standard fixed hub. I’m pretty happy with the Eno option - you can have a serviceable fixie using any frame you want. Costs a bit more - but it’s a lot cheaper than a car!

You definitely learn a lot by doing a conversion and it is pretty satisfying building something up. It’s not always cheaper. All the little things just add up and you’d be surprised at how much you can easily spend doing it…obviously just depends on how much you can salvage and how much you need to replace. I’m not sure if I’d do another conversion. I’d probably go with something like the Eighth Inch Scrambler and just build it up…

You should build a cheap conversion

  1. Its fun
  2. It allows you to see if you will enjoy riding"fixed"
  3. It gives you a better appreciation of what you want . eg more stability or more manoeuvrability

My advise is just don’t cut anything off on a good frame that someone down the track may want to restore

full face

Amen :wink:

On the topic of track vs road frames, do track frames become a huge PITA when you get a flat on your rear wheel, want to swap sprockets, or switch from fixed to free on a flip-flop hub? (Or, you know, anything else requiring the rear wheel to be removed, which can be done without removing the chain on a road frame, but not on a track frame.)

I never have to remove my chain.

I usually have to take the chain off the chainring to be able to get the wheel out, but never have to break the chain.

All of my bikes have no more than 5mm clearance between the rear wheel and the seat tube.

Considering the fair majority of bikes I’ve seen are running with chains that have masterlinks and split pins, the whole chain on and off thing isnt that much of an issue.

JLN - I hadn’t thought of that, nice trick.

drozzy - Can you get tool-free breakable links for 1/8" chain though?

Buy a new… bike.

None of KMC 1/8 chains I have need tools to take the joining link out. Pliers to get the circlip off make it easier but a decent thumbnail will do the job too.

Ditto for the Izumi chains.