Intro: Fixie Commuter Build
So the inspiration for this build is from my cousin. He was impressed by the weight loss I whenever I ditched my car for a bicycle. With him moving to college I wanted to build him something he could commute with around the small town and maybe lose some weight himself.
He is not as mechanical as I am so I wanted to make it as simple as possible for him to work on without a ton of tools or knowledge. I decided to build a fixie out of an old 10 speed mountain bike. While I didn't want it to be complex, I still wanted it to look badass so he wouldn't be ashamed to ride it around campus. So this rat rod bike had begun to take shape in my mind.
Step 1: The Starting Point
I picked up the base of this project for a whole 20 dollars. Well that is great because that is all I had to spend on him for a graduation present (with me being in college and all).
Thanks to craigslist I came home with three bikes for 20 dollars cash. Originally I had only planned on getting the red 10 speed bike, but whenever he said I could have the other two as parts bikes for another 10 dollars I jumped on it. I knew the red 10 speed needed some work, but with two other bikes for parts I was okay.
After disassembling the bikes I took a look at the good parts I had and started to work at making a functional bike.
Step 2: Picking the Best Parts
All the chains were rusted and siezed. The good news is I recently tore down a Wally World bike and had a spare chain sitting in my parts bin. Next I pulled the chrome brake levers off of the woman's bike to match the chrome handlebars. I also pulled the chrome wheels off of the womans bike (they we nicer) and tires off of the suspension bike. Put all the parts in this box, waiting for assembly day. Out of 6 wheels there was only two good inner tubes. No worries though because that is all you need. Finally I put one mountain bike tire on the rear and one smoothie on the front. The bike was originally equipped with a 1.75 inch front tire, but with that no where to be found, the smoothie would make for easier turning and less friction while the mountain rear would let him keep traction through any mud or snow he may encounter.
Step 3: Disassembly
Disassembly of a bike this simple is too easy. First remove the derailleurs from the frame and use a chain break tool to push out one of the rivets.
Then remove the crank. On a one piece crank like this you should only have to remove one very large nut with a very large crescent wrench, remove the flat washer, then use a screwdriver to pull off the slotted/threaded washer. I will make an in-depth instructable on how to do this and link it to this one.
After the crank is removed, simply unbolt the brake levers and the v-brakes. If you have a kickstand now is the time to remove this. If you do not have a seized seat post, remove that at this point. If you have a seized seat post, just pull the seat itself.
Step 4: Sanding/Decal Removal
This portion is fairly straightforward. Take a razor blade and scrape the old decals off of the bike. Then take some sandpaper and rub the bike down. You are not looking to remove the paint, just to rough it up.
Step 5: Masking and Prep
Give the whole bike a good wipe down with wax and grease remover. If you don't have wax and grease remover you can use brake cleaner. It evaporates quickly and gets rid of all the same stuff wax and grease remover would. Then just take your masking tape and wrap it around any chrome pieces. I left the seat post in so I had somewhere to hold the bike up by while painting the bottom.
Step 6: Painting
For this bike I used three cans of flat black paint I had lying around from a much bigger project. I did four coats on the bike and that proved to be enough for an even thick color.
Step 7: Reassembly
Reassembly is simply doing the operations that you have done in reverse. First reinstall the crank and pedals. Make sure to lube everything in the races. Install the wheels and tires (make sure they are inflated). Reinstall the brake levers (and shifters if you are not turning this bike into a fixie). And of course the seat so you have someplace to plant your butt.
Step 8: Chain Length
Whenever you are choosing a new chain length it is important to select the best gear ratio for the job. I used a calculator to make this into my cruising gear. I like to run a 48 tooth chainring and 18 tooth cassette with a 170 mm crank. This bike has a 150 mm crank arm with the same specs on the teeth count. Not only does the shorter crank make it a bit easier to turn from a stand still, the smaller tire makes the gearing less dramatic. While there is about a 10% decrease in top speed in that gear, the ease to start off from a standstill will more than make up for the decrease in speed. While it may build up your leg muscles a bit more, it will be the best for cruising around on.
To install the new chain, just remove the links that are not necessary anymore. Make sure to take up as much of the slack as physically possible.
Step 9: Go for a Ride
With everything reassembled (and hopefully relubed) go for a ride around the neighborhood. Show off your new ride with everybody. Make sure they are all jealous of your fancy ride that still can turn heads.
What were the pros of this bike?
- One piece crank (much easier to maintain and regrease, does not take a special tool to remove the crank).
- No gears (easier maintenance)
- Badass old school look
- No resale value so no reason to steal
What were the cons of this bike?
- No gears for hills
- High drag tires kill top speed
Would I recommend this style bike to my athlete friends? No. I believe for peak performance (and any kind of hills) you really need at least 3 gears. But I would recommend this as a way to blast around town on a bike and have a badass looking ride to impress all the ladies. Honestly if you remove the rear brake it would make a decent (albeit very large) bmx bike. Would I ride it? I would ride it to and from work to keep miles off of my hybrid and around towns for errands (no brand name and is light enough to carry around). But I would not take this on any ride longer than 10 miles just for comfort reasons.
Personally I think this build would be complete with a set of grips, a cargo rack and lights so people cannot claim they can't see my big ass in a yellow shirt.