Building on the the Past

Having made the mistake of trying to coast and lean around a corner, I'd been bitten by the fixie bug.

Thoughts now turned to how I might make a few changes to the bike.

A Proud Heritage

Fixed wheel bikes have a long and distinguished heritage - derailleur gears were banned from being used on bikes in the Tour de France until 1937, when the ban was lifted. Those early pictures of Maurice Garin, the winner of the inaugural Tour de France in 1903, or Petit-Breton, Francois Faber and Octave Lapize. These guys did heroic things with just one gear.

There's no way I could liken myself to these men and their Herculean efforts, but inspired by the styling of the bikes and the possibility that you're only limited by your own efforts, I started to formulate a plan...

Building On The Past

I wanted to keep a vintage styling to the bike, and I definitely wanted to keep the simple lines of the bike too. The frame is from a 1970's Italian road bike made by Atala and it's obviously been converted to a fixie / single-speed bike. It was a comfortable bike to ride, but just not quite the style I was after.

The handlebars that came with the bike would have to go, to be replaced by a set of track bike drop bars. A simple enough thing to do... or so you would think!

Fixies only have one brake as you can slow yourself down by reverse pedalling (single-speeds should have both brakes fitted). My brake is fitted to the front rim and I was happy with this arrangement, so after removing the old bars and sliding the new drops into place it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn't going to be able to re-use the existing brake lever. Obvious really, but it just hadn't crossed my mind.

I didn't want a normal brake lever that you might have found on a 1970's road bike as I felt this would detract from the looks of the bike, so I opted for a short brake lever that I could attach to the top of the drop bars. A Dia Compe Tech99 Dirt Harry brake lever fit the bill and whilst waiting for it to arrive I got on with wrapping the new black bar tape on the drops, starting at the bar ends and working up towards the stem.

With the arrival of the new brake lever it was duly fitted... which lead on to the next problem. With the new lever in it's place, the brake cable was just about the right length, but the cable housing wasn't. Fortunately this was just a matter of shortening it to fit, followed by crimping a cable end on to the wire to keep it nice and tidy.

Whatever your view on fixies, dangerous or awesome (or if there's something about them that just appeals), I'd love to hear your views and experiences with them.

This article was written by DC. Vickers

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