Sunday, July 10, 2011

Project Fixie.

Voila, my first-ever bike build! For me, the mechanically inept, the challenge of piecing together a bicycle was a formidable one at first, but I'm pleased to say that I built a working machine that also looks pretty snazzy on the road.


The process went like this:

STEP 1. Stripped the frame down of its original paint. I used a chemical paint-stripper, several times. To get around the lugs, I used steel wool and sand paper and scraped until my arms fell off. Then I sanded the bare metal down until it gleamed.



STEP 2. Base color of hunter green – 4 coats. Rustoleum paint.

STEP 3. After the green had thoroughly dried, I taped up the necessary parts, and painted gold stripes. This was far and away the most difficult part, in its delicacy and large room for error. I used the kind of tape that has peel-off paper backing. I measured it out carefully, cut the tape into the desired shape, put it on the bike and spray painted around the tape. When I went to remove the tape, I was terrified that a number of things would go wrong – the gold would smudge on the green, the green would chip, things would be misaligned – but all went well.



STEP 4. Clear gloss to protect the paint – 4 coats.

STEP 5. Installed headset, stem, handlebars, seatpost. (i.e. the "hardware")

STEP 6. Installed a front brake and single brake lever. Wrapped the handlebars with Cinelli natural cork tape. Shaved down some wine bottle corks and used them as bar stops. Secured the ends with hemp twine.



STEP 7. Painted the handlebars with amber shellac, 4 coats. Color turned from light amber to a warm brown, very similar to aged leather. The color matched well with my leather saddle (a Brooks knock-off, with brass bolts).




STEP 8. Installed a square-taper bottom bracket, with the help of some muscle from friends. Decided on a 46:20 gearing. Installed cog and lockring on rear wheel.


STEP 9. Pake gold crankset and All-City gold pedals. KMC gold chain, adjusted for a straight chain line and proper chain tension.


The best part of the process was making regular visits to the two bike shops in town to ask for advice and just talk about bikes in general. Whenever my cycling friends didn't have a tool I needed, the bike shop people were happy to let me camp out and use their stand and tools. I did all the mechanical work, but my choice of parts was heavily guided by the guys at the shop. The most difficult part of making this bike was not actually the building (which, condensed together, would have only taken me a single weekend), but just making sure that all the parts I used would be compatible with each other. It was like an intriguing mechanical jigsaw puzzle.

Alright, I'm going to go actually ride this thing now.


Eugenia said...


justinnhli said...

That thing's a beaut. Glad to hear you enjoyed the process!