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Discussion Starter #1
So, I can't sleep so I figured I'd get the ball rolling now on my next project. Here's the deal: I currently have 2 old road bikes in my possession and I would like to turn at least one into a homebrew single speed (possibly with a flip flop hub to go fixie on occasion). I want to save money and I like to work on my bikes myself so I'm pretty dedicated to building over buying.

The first bike I have is an old Raleigh road bike (will check the model) that I had my girlfriend drag back from NH when she found it on the side of the road for free. The thing has to be from the mid 60s at the newest and has no useable components plus bad rust on the top tube. I will take a pic and post it ASAP.

The second bike I picked up just the other day for $35 from a random old guy who lives near my girlfriend. It's a nice drab brown Juventus road bike. It's actually rideable now but would need serious adjustment if not totally new shifters, etc. to be worth using. I am interested in the look and benefit of a single speed, however so being that this one has only very minor rust it is my first choice to use now. My plan is to get it in single speed condition ASAP and then over the winter possibly strip it down/upgrade it/paint it/have it painted. Again, I will post a picture ASAP.

BTW, the Juventus seems to be from circa 1970 and I've never heard of the company before - not sure how negative that might be...

For now, what should my course of action be assuming I want to make it a single speed? I don't want to tear it down then find out that it is for some reason impossible or useless to convert.
 

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If they are older bikes, there's a good chance that they have horizontal drop outs. If that's the case, conversion will be fairly easy and you will not need to buy a chain tensioner. You may just need a cog & spacers or a ss freewheel.

Here's a very good article about ss conversion:
Singlespeed Bicycle Conversions
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Here's a few pics of the Juventus. It's not exactly pretty but it's in quite good condition except for a tiny bit of rust near the top of the seat stays.

I'm fairly certain it's sort of a cheap knockoff of a nicer Italian or French bike from what I understand based on what little info there is about the bike on the internet. Nevertheless I think it will be fine for my purposes. I really like the old school frame construction it's got going on.

If anyone has any more information about Juventus or this bike in particular please let me know.

Right now I guess I'm just trying to come up with a plan of action. I suppose the first order of business is to figure out how to gear it. How can I figure out what the right gear ratio is/how to properly space the rear sprocket? Are there flip flop hubs that may be produced to fit the distance between the rear dropouts?

BTW, it does have like semi-horizontal drop outs. From what I gather this can pose somewhat of a problem but can be adjusted for by getting a slightly smaller or larger chainring (by a tooth or two).

What do you think?
 

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You can always throw a set of 700c wheels on a 27 incher. That's what I did with my Frankenschwinn singlespeed.
 

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Then you have to buy sketchy brakes.
I didn't have a problem. Ya just gotta use the ones with a lot of pad adjustment. My brakes are a little sketchy cuz I'm running v-brake levers. They were free and pink, so I had to use them.:)
 

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So, after taking the old rusted Raleigh and the Juventus to my local shop today and talking to the owner I've decided to go ahead with the conversion. For the time being I think I'm going to go the cheaper route and just throw what I can on it. I grabbed some of the old style brake pads and figured out that I can hopefully fix the loose crank problem I'm having by stealing a pin from the Raleigh. The guy thought the Raleigh was beyond repair but said the Juventus could shape up to be a nice homemade SS. I'm not exactly looking to impress and he seemed pretty confident that I could get away with 700Cs on there some time in the future. I guess we'll see how it goes. If in the end it doesn't work I'll pull any new parts I put on it and eventually put them on a new/newer frame.

If anyone has any advice on dealing with the types of cranks in the picture please let me know. I've never dealt with them before but they seem simple enough. I like the look of the pedals and cranks so I hope to keep them at least for now.
 

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So, after taking the old rusted Raleigh and the Juventus to my local shop today and talking to the owner I've decided to go ahead with the conversion. For the time being I think I'm going to go the cheaper route and just throw what I can on it. I grabbed some of the old style brake pads and figured out that I can hopefully fix the loose crank problem I'm having by stealing a pin from the Raleigh. The guy thought the Raleigh was beyond repair but said the Juventus could shape up to be a nice homemade SS. I'm not exactly looking to impress and he seemed pretty confident that I could get away with 700Cs on there some time in the future. I guess we'll see how it goes. If in the end it doesn't work I'll pull any new parts I put on it and eventually put them on a new/newer frame.

If anyone has any advice on dealing with the types of cranks in the picture please let me know. I've never dealt with them before but they seem simple enough. I like the look of the pedals and cranks so I hope to keep them at least for now.
Why is the Raleigh disqualified for SS conversion?
Have you weighed the frames? If the Raleigh is lighter, it will make a better SS bike. Also, you may not have a big array of exotic tires available for the 27" wheels but if this bike is for riding around town, Kenda or some other Chinese brand like ChengShin could serve well. New 700c wheels, unless they came from a donor bike could cost $100 or more. Might as well buy a new single speed from Schwinn or bikesdirect for 40-50 more, after adding the cost of tubes and tires. I don't like the cotter pinned cranks on this bike but if the crank arms don't wobble, the cotter pinned cranks will be easier to work with - in removing the extra chain ring, etc. as no special tool is needed. I converted an old Huffy or Ross (can't remember) painted it all flat black and it came out nice. Did not need a chain tensioner - at least initially. Another one I have is a vandalized comfort bike I liberated from a parking lot and made into an SS. Its rear wheel was gone and th replacement I found was 27" and I could not remove the freewheel so I left it alone with all the cogs and use one to make the SS. Took it to NYC a couple of weeks ago to ride from the Penn station to the Met museum. It would have been a long and tiring walk.

I did learn adjusting and installing brakes, breaking and reconnecting chains, headset cleaning, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
ak08820: the Raleigh is dq'd because its super rusty, has absolutely no usable components, and the guy at my shop said id be better off with the juventus...i trust him. I'm not really worried about weight. its going to be pretty darn light no matter what without any extra crap on it and its not like im doing time trials ya know? thanks for the advice on tires though. I had kind of assumed id be able to get decent 700c's somewhere for quite a bit cheaper than that...please point me toward these $150 SS's though...i dont see anything for less than half of that and then theres the question of whether id trust said bike.

generally, im now hung up on the cotters. the right crank arm is, sadly, wobbly and the nut on that cotter is totally stripped. until last week i had no idea about cottered cranks and now after looking them up/looking up how to change out the cotter (what i wanted to do with the raleigh's cotter) I am thoroughly put-off and want to but a new crankset...i think...? does anyone have suggestions on a middle-of-the road set that I could use? also, how do i figure out the sizing on my bottom bracket? ive never shopped for those before.
 

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I had a lot of fun with my Windsor Hour. $280 shipped to my door. Right now I have my Univega project on hold, but I will be piecing that together over the winter, and scrounging for the best possible deals. Since I already have a super sweet ride (my Wabi) it's not like I'm without a bike.

My point is that if you want to tinker, you'll need to be patient and look for stuff really cheap. If this bike is going to be your main ride, you need to decide if you want to spend money on a bike that will never be worth the sum of its parts, and doesn't even have any sentimental value.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
very good point. at this time im finishing up my "campus" bike and that will cover my "around town" needs and then I have my Trek for mountain biking/no looking foolish riding my little old mongoose bmx around. at this point (forgive me if im repeating myself) I want to have the SS rideable before it gets too cold here (mid to late nov.) but i would then plan on potentially having it sent away for bead blasting and powder coating so come spring i could replace more parts or upgrade them more and have it to ride around all summer. im all about the sentimental value and love working on bikes myself over buying them, etc. The other thing I was thinking was possibly buying a new frame one day and transferring any of the new parts on this bike to that but im not sure how that would work...would the sizing work out or will the old frame be totally different?
 

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ak08820: the Raleigh is dq'd because its super rusty, has absolutely no usable components, and the guy at my shop said id be better off with the juventus...i trust him. I'm not really worried about weight. its going to be pretty darn light no matter what without any extra crap on it and its not like im doing time trials ya know? thanks for the advice on tires though. I had kind of assumed id be able to get decent 700c's somewhere for quite a bit cheaper than that...please point me toward these $150 SS's though...i dont see anything for less than half of that and then theres the question of whether id trust said bike.

generally, im now hung up on the cotters. the right crank arm is, sadly, wobbly and the nut on that cotter is totally stripped. until last week i had no idea about cottered cranks and now after looking them up/looking up how to change out the cotter (what i wanted to do with the raleigh's cotter) I am thoroughly put-off and want to but a new crankset...i think...? does anyone have suggestions on a middle-of-the road set that I could use? also, how do i figure out the sizing on my bottom bracket? ive never shopped for those before.
The SS conversion should always begin with a frame and components in good initial shape.

OK, here is the URL for the $150 fixed speed bike. 700c Men's Mongoose Cachet Road Bike - Walmart.com
I have rode my dept store bikes, a Huffy Regatta for commuting (3 miles each way)for a couple of years, a Kent for several years for leisure and now a MGX (by mongoose) $120 bike from the Sports Authority for a few thousand miles over the years. I don't think that the quality of some dept store bikes are as bad as they are credited. You need to look out for plastic brake levers, etc., and avoid them. You will need to do some tinkering on the dept store bikes to get them right, e.g. true wheels, tighten the stem bolt, adjust the brakes, etc. but that is the nature of bicycling. I have seen cyclists treat their bikes like a car (perhaps costing like cars, too)and the slightest mechanical issue, they head for the shops, stand around buying the Clif bars and energy gels to support the shop and then later write about the cool mechanics in their blogs. I am not that kind of cyclist. May be because I grew up in India and all the bikes you could buy were about as good as today's dept store bike quality. May be a little better due to all steel components, rims, rod brake levers and all.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks ak, I really appreciate the input. I had no idea I'd find a SS like that at Walmart and didn't even think to look there. I definitely agree with you on your philosophy of biking. I was basically starting to lean toward the $150 bike but now something new has presented itself (and it doesn't have cottered cranks!)
the bike in the picture is a schwinn super le tour 12.2. i'm an RA at my school and one of my residents was riding this to XC practice and class until the chain self-destructed. other than that, the hideous seat and the tires it's in remarkable condition for being left in the rain. as far as I can tell, this would be my best bet yet plus I kind of like the chrome frame...it has the same kind of angled dropouts as the other frames I have and with luck I'll be able to keep the cranks. what do you all think? should I make him an offer? how much would you recommend me offering? he says theres no way hes going to fix it so I feel like he'll let it go for next to nothing...
 

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I would think if the chain is that bad the chain rings and cassette are worn out allso. I realy like that bike.
My ¢¢
 
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