Kids, this is how old school fixie/single-speed builders converted road bikes in the 1970s and ’80s. Light weight because stripped of kickstand, racks, fenders, extra gears and such superfluous frippery. This one weighs 21.5 lbs (9.75kg).
To save money original parts would be reused as much as possible commensurate with the bicycle’s new mission. A classic example is this wonderful high end American Raleigh Record single speed conversion.
For lightness, economy and jaunty style the Raleigh’s stock ‘ram’s horn’ or ‘drop bar’ handlebars would be chopped off short with hacksaw or Dremel Moto-tool and then reinstalled upside down like bull horns.
If the bike was a singlespeed then a necessary single rear brake lever was then cleverly mounted upside down also, as here.
The front wheel was left stock. The cheapest rear wheel SS conversion meant removing the gear cluster with a chain whip and special socket and then screwing on a singlespeed freewheel cassette in its place, cog tooth count of your choice.
The number of teeth on the cassette’s cog determine, in conjunction with the front chainring’s tooth count, the gear ratio of the bike. In this case the Raleigh’s rear cog has 17 teeth and the chainring in front has 41.
The gearing determines the suitability of the bike for local terrain, hills, rider and weather conditions. Trial and error combined with test rides will tell you if you need to install a cog and/or a chainring with different numbers of teeth.
For very cheap, dirty and dangerous fixie bike wheel conversions some bold kids would unscrew the road bike gear cluster and in its place merely screw on a single track cog, torquing it mightily with a lead pipe and maybe using LocTite or J B Weld to help hold it on, the threads not being designed for track cog’s safety lock ring.
This rig was called a ‘suicide’ fixed hub. Not recommended.
Most better heeled converters though, would buy a flip/flop hub rear wheel. These wheels have one side of the hub with locking threads for mounting racing track cogs that do not fall off.
The reverse hub side had the same threads as a stock road bike gear cluster for mounting the replacement singlespeed gear cassette. Thus the rider can choose to ride fixie style or flip the wheel around to the SS side and coast home downhill.
Cheap bike mechanics (me) would try to reuse the stock cranks, spider, chainrings and pedals. But seldom is the chainring tooth count correct, they’re heavy, and the all-important alignment between the chainring and the cog (the ‘chain-line’) is hit or miss.
This Raleigh solves that problem with a pretty black aftermarket 5-bolt single chainring alloy crank set from Pryme. The chain-line is excellent. Tires are nice Gripton Turbopro brand and are near new.
The first thing I’ll modify is the clever uncomfortable chopped handlebar/brake job. I needs me a very-tall-quill-stem and short rise handlebars for that easy, upright, Dutch sit-up-and-beg riding posture my crusty arthritic neck vertebra demand.
And a front brake lest I die.
And I’ll need some soft rubber pad pedals in place of the present lightweight but foot killer steel ‘rat trap’ pedals of that era. And then a new gel seat. Ahhh… Comfort.
Then, to continue the theme of adding weight and usefulness, a kickstand, fenders fore and aft, and a rack in back to hold my U-lock. Nothing else needs changing but everything needs disassembly, cleaning, lubing and adjustment.
But once it’s back together and the bugs ironed out it will seldom need to ever be touched for maintenance-because singlespeed.
I’m predicting this bike will be the lightest singlespeed I’ve ever ridden even with the added weight of all the elderly rider equipment I’ll be adding. A nice winter project and a flea market bargain at $40USD.
And with the pretty paint, patina, stickers and headbadge it will be a head turner. So we will ride in beauty, which is the way of my people.
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