A Single Speed
I got away from the fixie/single speed thing several years back. I have missed the simplicity since. For a townie bike or commuting rig it is hard to beat something that needs no tuning and does not suffer from cross-chaining.
|The elegance of a straight chain line|
I have been meaning to build one, whether fixie or freewheeled, for some time. The aluminum Cervelo, with its horizontal ends, was to be the frameset. Then I cracked the head-tube installing a new headset.
But not before I sprung for a set of wheels custom made by Ron Ruff at White Mountain Wheels. That was three years ago now. Here I report on the wheels and discuss the original plan. And here are the wheels, Kinlin rims, Sapim spokes, and White Industries hubs:
|I'm a sucker for colorful spoke nipples.|
Fast forward to 2015. The beautiful custom built wheels were gathering dust and I decided to replace the frameset. I found this one: the Gitane "City Link."
This is a Bianchi product. Bianchi bought the Gitane brand, which in the '70s was a legitimate French racing brand, and offers this rebranded Bianchia Strada with track ends. Gitane means "gypsy," a nice word for a freedom machine. A few more images of the frame:
|There's the Bianchi name. And the frame is big enough for Sam to ride when he is here next.|
|Headbadge (seen through the milk crate) is a little uninspired|
|That's a classic paint job.|
|And the seat tube.|
The original plan was a fixie. Ron, who builds perfect wheels, may not ride fixed; the White Industries hubset he picked for these ones did not accept a lock ring, so could only work with a freewheel. The Gitane with custom wheels was to be a single speed.
The BuildThen they sat. The wheels, the frame, the fork, moving from one stack of orphaned gear to another.
I've been on a building spree this fall. The last several posts have more or less reported a new bike a week -- the Specialized Sequoia, the Ritchey Breakaway, and on a longer timeline the Gunnar Roadie. All of this makes for some serious trickle down parts.
In stock for use:Brooks B17 saddle, trimmed. This saddle has been ridden once. It was not broken in and I suffered for weeks. I have since planned, over nearly a decade, to bring this back into use. And to break it in next time.
|Black Brooks B17.|
|Salsa stem in 25.8mm.|
|FSA crank with a short-ish crank arm. 170, I think.|
|Cheap Shimano two-sided pedals.|
|I believe I have learned the trick of tuning these brakes after this build job.|
Those bars are the Specialized "Body Geometry" randonneur bars with funky curves back and down, which were on the Sequoia when I inherited it, later on the Ritchey, and looking for a permanent home since.
|Noodle-y randonneur bars.|
|Front rack supports the milk crate. The asymmetry is a little strange -- must sort this out.|
|Full coverage rear fender.|
|Full coverage front fender.|
|If you could see through the glare, it would read Schwalbe Kojak.|
Not everything on the Gitane is from the parts bin.
That Origin8 seatpost came in the mail yesterday.
|Origin8 sells pretty versions of most things and charges much less than the competition.|
The cantilever cabling came from Amazon for $10 or so; the brake cables came with the Velo Orange cable housing (in that sense a trickle down from the Gunnar).
The 16 tooth freewheel was new when the one I had in the parts bin did not fit the new 8-speed chain. The 340 lumen Blaze headlamp, which needs to be moved now that the milk crate is there, came for $15 on an Amazon Black Friday special.
Finally, the leather bar tape was a Planet X bikes purchase, always intended for this bike. With the Brooks plugs it makes a nice wrap.
|Leather bar tape. I wrap center to end to avoid needing to use tape at the end of the wrap.|
|Perforated leather tape and Blaze 340l headlamp.|
|Brooks end plugs. These are about 1" deep and ribbed, producing a tight fit.|
With the new parts, and the old parts special bought for this eventual purpose, this cannot be said to be a true parts bin special. But nothing had any other possible use or real market value. The real cost of this bike, ignoring those costs that are sunk, runs somewhere less than $100.
The Gitane City Link -- completed
|Front end. The milk crate is a bit of whimsy. And an experiment.|
|Brooks makes the best saddle-first perspective in cycling.|
|Rear fender over 35mm Schwalbes over Kinlin rims.|
|Milk crate, rack, fender.|
|The whole thing.|
Somewhere along the way this became a really nice looking bike. Not bad for a build that nearly never happened.