Converting my old bike to a fixed wheel

September 5, 2011

Last year I sought parts for my 1989 Dawes Horizon. No ‘off the peg’ rear wheel will fit into my 126mm drop-outs, at least not one which can take a 6-speed block and I quickly realised, after seeking advice, that bringing this bike back into action as a touring bike was likely to cost a lot of money (new rear wheel, plus cassette, plus new gear levers—I can’t believe how much gear levers cost!). It wouldn’t cost much more to buy an entry level touring bike. But the Reynolds frame is in good condition so I wanted to do something with it.

Over the past year I’ve been doing all my cycling on my Giant hybrid, a bike I got in order to ‘do everything’. However, I increasing became curious about the possibility of converting my Horizon to a fixed wheel, thanks to the late Sheldon Brown  The Giant has 27 gears, but I only use about six of them in Southampton. I finally decided to go for it over my summer break.

I only finished it a few days ago, but I’m hooked already. I bought a wheel with a flip-flop hub (fixed one side, free the other) a new bottom bracket, some bottom bracket spacers, anew chain and a new chainset. Not the cheapest way to covert a bike to a ‘fixie’, but one within my abilities (I was particularly not keen on redishing wheels).  I have removed the pannier rack and mudguards (this is a big step for me).

To cut a long story short I love it so far. I have a bike which seems to weigh about half that of my hybrid and I am able to go so much faster. It is exhilarating not being able to freewheel. It was ‘interesting’ going over speedbumps whilst continuing to pedal, but I’m getting the hang of it. I regret that I rode in on my hybrid this morning—it feels so slow.

 

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