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Fixed gear and single speed bicycles

Welcome to Fixie Life

Welcome to Fixie Life

Welcome to FixieLife.com

I recently re-discovered single speed/fixed gear bikes and decided I had to blog about it. I manage a few hobby related blogs and this is going to be another one.

 

The very first single speed bike I owned was between 1998 and 2001 and it was a ХВЗ – Украина (KBF – Ukraine) manufactured by Kharkov Bicycle Factory (Former Ukrainian USSR) in the late 1970s.

KBF Ukraine

Most ex-soviet teenagers rode these single speeds back  in 1990s because mountain bikes were unaffordable and almost impossible to come by. This bike had a single speed, it would coast when you’d let go off the pedals and hitting the pedals backwards would result in braking. I use to ride this bike very hard, sometimes into the lake and eventually something was damaged inside the rear wheel, the bike wasn’t coasting anymore. The bike became a fixed gear and I rode it for some time until we left Ukraine and moved to Canada in 2001.

From 2001 and on I had a few mountain bikes but didn’t ride all that much. I got my license and bought a car and a motorcycle and I though I’d never ride a bicycle again. However, while on vacation in Germany in 2010 I tried a fixie owned by a buddy in Berlin and I really enjoyed it (although the bike was too tall for me). In 2012 I tried a fixie once again, this time in Montreal and I fell in love with biking once again. I guess riding a bicycle without a bunch of gear, shifters, cables and brake parts brought back the old memories from my teenage years and I decided I had to start biking again; on a single gear bike, preferably a fixed gear.

After spending some time on local craigslist I came across a guy who had a few old bikes to sell/trade. I offered him an old Pentium 4 that was in my closet for the past 4-5 years without any use and the guy agreed to a trade. When I came over I spotted a nice looking road bike and decided to take it (mind I didn’t know much about bikes), I am glad I was too lazy to recycle the old computer for all these years – it got me a free bike.

Norco Magnum St Norco Magnum ST

The bike turned out to be a 1984 Norco Magnum ST, top of the line grand touring bike manufactured by Yamaguchi and sold in Canada by Norco. Cro-Moly Tange #2 tubeset, Nitto Grand Raundeneur 135 drop bars, Sugino crank, Shimano Adamas FullFit pedals, Suntour Cyclone transmission and some say Cinelli forks – although I didn’t really try to find any Cinelli identification. However, this bike has seen better days; cranks were moving and making noise (as I found out later the bottom bracket was all dry and the bearing balls were just rolling free inside the frame), the brakes wouldn’t brake, the shifters wouldn’t shift – great fixed gear project.

Since I still wasn’t sure if I would bike a lot I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on my fixed gear. Ebay offered 130$ wheels with flip flop hub (surely cheap Chinese stuff), 20$ seat and 11$ chain. Later on I bought some ball-bearing grease, crank puller tool and a  chain removal tool. All the “extra” components were stripped and hidden in a box for possible re-use later on, the new stuff went on the bike and voilà; my fixie:

Norco Fixed Gear

 Nitto Grand Raundeneur 135

Norco Fixie

Shimano Adamas FullFit pedals

Norco Tange 2 Cro-Moly

1984 Norco Magnum ST Fixed Gear

The bike is almost complete. I would like to find a proper front brake lever, pedal straps and a bigger chain ring; 38T is fun going up the hills but a little too small for city riding, I am looking for 44T which will give me about 72 gear inch ratio however I am not in a hurry to finish it up as this is my summer ride. During the winter I am riding an old CCM Targa 10 speed but I`ll keep that story for another post.

- Alex

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