Fixed gear - How to build the bike of your dreams: Part I
So you want to build a 'fixed'...
Like anything, you can build a project on the cheap (and nasty), but it will never be good.
Here is a 'middle of the road' project in detail and my reasons for how I would build one.
The theme - since I'm going to CMWC TOKYO is JAPANESE with a full Dura Ace ensemble.
Caveat. Opinions are like backsides. We all have one (or more), and they all stink.
You're welcome to disagree - but you'd be wrong.
My opinions are based on experience from building, riding, racing, thrashing, pitting, breaking, floundering, sourcing and servicing components for fixed around the globe for nearly a decade.
This may sound all a bit straight forward to many, but hopefully will open the eyes of those new to building bikes - and how a cheap project ends up costing a lot more than you thought (which is why you can't beat off-the-shelf bikes in terms of price)
A good fit is #1 on the checklist.
#1 is a good fit.
Riding a bike with a stub of seatpost and a foot long stem, apart from looking terrible, will also feel and handle the same.
You'll notice poor frame fit on longer rides if you are getting pain, numbness. Add a splash on unfitness and you'll be pedalling slowly up Mt. Agony.
I started out riding frames WAY too small, bars far too narrow, over extended seat post (a habit I picked up from MTB), and long stem to compensate for short top tube.
Why? I got the frames cheap/didn't know better and instead of finding a frame that fit correctly, found shortcuts to MAKING it fit with long stems and posts.
Here's a brief history of my foray/downward spiral into the fixed world.
I should add that the '$150 special' had a broken fork which my then mechanic brought to my attention after removing the front wheel - Fork blade was hanging in like a loose tooth from the crown.
Now I know why it was so CHEAP!
So after a few years of riding fixed flat out, 5 days a week, sometimes 10 hours a day, then racing track at night, I figured out that a frame with a 58cm seat tube, and a 57/58cm top tube is a perfect fit / aesthetic for me.
Save yourself the pain of trial and error and get professionally fitted for a bike.
The first bike that FIT right looked like this - and I still wished I had it around.
No matter how pretty the chassis, if it isn't the right fit, no amount of stem, or post wiill MAKE it fit.
Without going to the length's of BIKESNOB villification of the unknowing, I'll just point out some suggestions for this FGG sumbission:
1. 27" frames deserve 27" wheels. You effecticely LOWER the already LOW bottom bracket height by slapping in 700Cs.
2. It's too big for you (stub of post/stem) - but that never stopped me as a 5 year old.
3. Blue and Green should not be seen without a colour in between.
Is it any wonder fixed enthusiasts sell their 'projects' within a week of completing them...
It's fair to say that a good frame is not one found in hard rubbish. Chances that frame got there because it's:
d) all of the above.
I know that a 59cm seat / 57cm top SHOULD ride similiar to my Ken653 Cannoball build.
Of course the exception would be SLOPING top tube which effectively shortens the length.
So a 57cm c-c rides like a 56cm which is tool small - no matter how cool.
Bear this is mind if you are hunting for PURSUIT frames. with exaggerated top tube lengths.
I chose a Conti for the basis of my next project (I've given up on saying I'll never build another bike)
I know from experience of owning Concorde's, Paganini's that a Conti (and Ciocc) will ride great and are relatively tight - afterall they're out of the same factory.
I got the frame from the market ($500 delivered) and for a change, it was as described/ packed well.
I remove the headset (requiring 32mm spanner, headset cup removal tool, mallet)
I remove the non-drive side lockring, and cup (requiring lock ring tool, pin spanner)
I attempt to remove the drive side bottom brack cup.... (requiring 36mm spanner, elbow grease)
However, the drive side cup is in TIGHT. (add more elbow grease, and cursing)
After bludgening enough headsets and bottom bracket cups, I use PARK spanners, but the damn cup still will not budge. (Much cursing, Alarm bells ringing)
I call Shifterbikes, make an appointment, have Dan remove the cup which had been fitted using LOCKTITE, and re-tap both sides so the BB will slide in smoothly (+$75).
Not every bike shop will have these tools, let alone both taps for ENGLISH and ITALIAN shells, facing tools.
This is also a good time to inspect the frame for damage/dents/flaws.
The first place to check is the underside of the downtube. Any ripples near the lug will mean it's either been flogged, had a head on impact, or both.
If you know the gauge of tubing, SL, SLX, MAX, 531, 753, AELLE, SPX, TSX, the correct seat pillar should slide straight in and not require great force.
To the rule, are the exceptions (MAX ranged between 27.2 - 27.4 depending on what hour the Italians had lunch)
So, now the frame is ready to have components thrust upon it.
What do I need to build a bike?
HUBS + SPOKES + RIMS + RIM TAPE + BUILD = WHEELS.
I prefer handbuilt wheelsets, just like I prefer hand made coffee.
If you want machine built, they're cheaper - but nastier.
That's a lot of seperate items to source, and you'll need to consider the following to suit the frame:
Headset (1" threaded english, italian, french, 1" threadless, 1 1/8 threadless)
Stem. Quill or Threadless, 25.4mm, 26.0mm, 31.8mm)
Bottom bracket. Italian, English, French, Shell width. overall width
Seat pillar. Size and rail width
Chain, Chainring, Cog - BCD, 3/32 or 1/8, tooth size.
Pedals. Clipless or flats with cages and straps
If you're still with me - the next post will examine assembly.