Search sheldonbrown.com and sheldonbrown.org
To give you an idea of the versatility of fixed-gear bicycles (and what a nut case I am on the subject) I should mention that I own, I blush to admit, 11 fixed-gear bicycles at last count. Let me tell you about them:
|First, there's an early '70's Raleigh International with nice retro Nervex lugs (chromed), all 531, Brooks Swallow saddle, Campagnolo Record High Flange hubs. Non-retro aspects include Scott AT-4 Pro bars, Shimano 105 cranks (Biopace--gasp!, yes, I am the only person left in the world who likes Biopace) Sun aero rims. The rear wheel has 28 spokes, the front 24 (the front hub is 36 holer, I just don't use all of 'em!) Weinmann centerpull with quick release hanger set up to act as parking brake.|
Then there's the Cannondale ST 500 touring frame, equipped with Scott AT3 bars, ESGE fenders, rear rack, all black, cool looking. The black Dia Compe front brake is operated by a BMX/freestyle brake lever that has a lock button which I use as a parking brake.
This Darth Vader machine is my major wet weather commuter.
|I have long had a weakness for Raleigh Twenty folding bikes. My fixed gear Twenty has a Haro BMX fork, Araya alloy wheels, Normandy high flange hubs (nutted), Continental Grand Prix 25 mm tires, mtb bar with built-in bar ends, Brooks Swallow saddle, Dia Compe BMX brake. The brake lever has a lock button which I use as a parking brake.|
|Then there's my 1962 Moulton Stowaway. This first-generation Moulton has full suspension, itty-bitty 349 mm (16 inch) wheels, and takes apart in the middle for storage or transport in another vehicle. It was originally supplied with all steel parts and a coaster brake. I've replaced most of the parts with more up-to-date aluminum parts, making it very much lighter than it started out.|
|One of my newest bikes is also my oldest, a 1916 Mead Ranger. Back during the Wilson administration, this high-end $40 bike had wooden rims, 28 inch single-tube tires, and a coaster brake. When I bought it for $25 in 1998, it had no wheels nor saddle. I installed a couple of high quality late '70s vintage 630 mm (27 inch) wheels, the rear equipped with a Phil Wood track hub. Using the old-style 1" pitch chain, this bike has a 26 tooth chainring, and the flip-flop rear hub has an 8 and a 10 tooth sprocket. This bike is a real kick to ride, and the ancient frame has a very modern feel. I've got a separate page about this bike.|
The above bikes all have only front brakes, operated by the right side lever.
Then there's the 1957 Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix, 531 main tubes, Raleigh cottered cranks. This bike has wheels I built up with light alloy 630 mm (27") rims. The most unusual feature of this bike is the rear hub, a 1952 Sturmey-Archer ASC, three-speed fixed gear. Gives direct drive, 90% and 75%. I have it geared for gain ratios of: 6.31 (83" / 6.62 m), 5.68 (75" / 5.95 m) and 4.73 (63" / 4.96 m). (My usual fixed gear is 5.77 (75.6" / 6.05 m gear)Actually, the Lenton has fallen on hard times, because it has given up its wheels and saddle to help outfit my E.G.Bates.
Almost as wierd is my "woodie" fixed-gear mountain bike; this is 1930's Hercules with a reversable hub. One side has an 18 tooth fixed cog, the other has a two-speed freewheel, 20 & 30 teeth. This bike has a Shimano 105 crankset, 42/52. The 52/18 gives me a fixed gear with a gain of 5.56 (75" / 6.00 m) , which I use most of the time. On the freewheel side, I have a choice between the 52/20 --5.01 (68" / 5.44) road gear and the 42/30 --2.70 (36" / 2.91 m) off-road gear. This bike has 559 mm mountain-bike wheels, usually with 1.5 semi-slicks, though sometimes I put on a front wheel with a knobby if I plan to go off-road. I've got a separate page about this bike
Most of the above bikes have 165 mm cranks for improved cornering clearance.
Then there is my beater, an early '50's Rudge, 531 main tubes. Originally equipped with a four speed Sturmey-Archer hub, this all-steel bike has mostly original equipment, except I replaced the rear hub with a vintage 40 hole steel fixed hub.
This is a rustbucket that lives outdoors behind my house, I never lock it. With a milk crate on the Pletscher rack, it is used for short-hop errands. This bike is deliberately uncomfortable and hard to ride, to deter thieves. It is a 21" frame, a couple inches too small for me, with a huge seatpost and the plastic base of a cheap ten-speed saddle with the cover and foam torn off.
The North Road handlebars are low and have been flipped upside down, so they are at least a foot lower than the saddle. Sharp steel rattrap pedals with no clips nor straps complete the instrument of torture. Anyone rash enough to try to ride this bike would have to have very long legs like me, and even then, a rider who was not accustomed to fixed gear riding would surely crash painfully if he or she tried to ride off on my Rudge. It has a gain ratio of 5.01 (68" / 5.44), and is comfortable enough for me for rides of a mile or two.
My wife is also a fixed-gear fan (she has an early '70's Bottecchia road bike re-rigged as a fixed gear) so it was obvious that we needed a fixed-gear tandem. I made a trade at Bicycle Classics for an early '70's Piccio road tandem frame. It originally came with Campagnolo Nuovo Record parts. Reportedly, the previous owner found it too scary to ride with those pitiful brakes.
Throwing tradition to the winds, I have built it up with 165 mm Shimano 105 cranks (I got a good deal on several sets of these a few years back, with Biopace chainwheels!) and 105 SLR single-pivot brakes (the best side-pulls ever) with Mathauser pads. It stops just fine, and is a lot of fun to ride! We have it geared with a 52/18 -- 5.95 (78" / 6.24 m)
It was probably originally equipped with tubulars, but I have fitted it with 630 mm (27") wheels. This slightly raises the bottom brackets (a good thing on a fixed gear!) and also improves the braking (a good thing on a tandem!)
My Bridgestone CB-3 is a special bike for snowy conditions. This started out as a bottom-of-the-line Bridgestone mid '80's CB-3 "city bike". I took off all the gear stuff, and the rear brake. I screwed a 15 tooth track sprocket onto the steel hub, which lines up nicely with the 28 tooth ring on the triple crankset. This gives me a 3.63 ratio (49" / 3.88 m) which is high enough for as fast as I would want to go on a snowy road.
It has old-fashioned mtb tires with big squarish knobs that seem to work quite well on snow-covered pavement.
|My Hercules "woodie" was so much fun, that I decided to try making up a similar rig using a real mountain-bike frame. I got a good deal on a used Bianchi Osprey frame. This bike has truly vertical dropouts, but I wanted to set it up with a flip-flop hub: fixed gear on one side, two-speed freewheel on the other. The vertical dropouts don't allow chain tension adjustment because the axle is a snug fit in the slot. I solved this by cutting the axle off short, so that it does not extend past the cone locknuts. Only the quick-release skewer goes through the dropouts. Since the skewer is thinner than the axle, this allows some front-to-back adjustment. So far, no problems with this unorthodox rig, but I carry a spare skewer, just in case. It is a blast to ride.|
|My E.G.Bates is possibly my coolest, and certainly most valuable bike. A gloriously hand-crafted frame with very ornate lugwork, it also features the extremely rare Sturmey-Archer ASC, three-speed fixed gear hub. See the separate page on this bike.|
|Fixed Gear for the Road|
|Fixed Gear Testimonials|
|Fixed Gear Parts from Harris Cyclery|
|Sheldon Brown's Personal Pages|
|Photography||Québec||Plus Ça Change||Radio||Mailing lists||My Father||My Mother||My Great-
|Articles by Sheldon Brown and others|