Building a Fixie #4 - Completion! Satisfaction!

August 05, 2007 at 10:45 PM | categories: Bicycle | View Comments |

I finished my bicycle a few days ago, and have been riding it an tweaking it since. The Shimano UN-53 works fine on the Italian frame and crankset fits perfectly. For the moment I've mounted my old, standard road pedals - I'll put on the SPD pedals once I am more used to riding fixed gear.

Was a fun challenge figuring out how to re-pin links in the chain after having broken it somewhat hastily. Chainline seems ok, although there is some creaking - not necessarily under load, but happens once per revolution. Could be that some links are stiff. Also I noticed the crankset took a 1/8" chain - which is fine since I am running a 1/8" chain - but the track cog was 3/32". Seemed to run fine, but perhaps it could cause wear on either the sprocket teeth or the chain, so I decided to get a 1/8" track cog. In the process I moved from 15T to 17T (chainwheel is 44T) and popped on a 17T freewheel. This yields a lower gear ratio which suits me fine given the hilly context of SF.

Installing the front brake was fun too - I totally botched the first attempt but cutting the cable housing and the inner cable, and had to start from scratch. Still could make the brake a little tighter.

The headset rattles a little over bumps, feels like it is loose for some reason. I tightened the lockring which helped a bit, but I probably need to wrench it. Don't have a fitting wrench yet though.

These niggling issues aside, it is wonderfully satisfying to ride a bike that I put together myself. I learned a great deal - I would feel confident making just about any bicycle repair at this stage. If you want to learn more about bicycles, I can heartily recommend a project of constructing your own as a perfect pedagogical exercise. My next post is going to cover my impressions of riding the bicycle, and of riding fixed-gear in general. Here is a photo of the finished bicycle:

Niall O'Higgins is an author and software developer. He wrote the O'Reilly book MongoDB and Python. He also develops Strider Open Source Continuous Deployment and offers full-stack consulting services at

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