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Tag Archives: wheels

Building the Single Speed

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I always liked fixed gears bikes. They are so “rad”! It was time for me to have my very own. Buying one already made remove all the fun to build your own. Since I love dismantling bikes it was a good lesson to actually build something for once. So there I was looking for a frame my size I could use for this purpose.


I was looking for a older frame that had beautiful classic lines and not too many decals or colors so I could make it sleek looking. I didn’t had far to go to find it. I already had a sad looking 12 speed silver with black accents Norco Monterrey sitting in my pile with a crappy drivetrain that was rusty and in bad shape but the frame was in very good condition. I then stripped the Norco apart to leave just the bare frame. It was relatively easy to do. Most of older frame gets seized parts on them and they are very hard to remove. I didn’t even had to use the torch on this guy. Once all the parts were removed I hung the frame and fork in my shower stall in the basement and cleaned it all up with Dawn dish soap. I find that soap to be very good for that purpose. Then it was left to dry.

I then had to pick my color scheme. I debated for days until I re-discovered an old dusty rose suede Turbo saddle while looking for parts. I knew I wanted to stick with that color. I also found a vintage Nitto black quill to go along. Then I payed a visit to my friend at Cafe Roubaix in Cochrane ( and he showed me a nice set of Suzue classic deep dish aluminum wheel he got. That was love at first sight! Those wheels have a 10 speeds freewheel. I had to get a spacer kit to convert to a single speed. He also showed me a few options for square taper cranks that were available. Pake makes those great single speed cranks and they made the one I like in a dusty rose color. A perfect fit for my Turbo saddle. I ordered the parts and took my new set of wheels home. My build was going very well.


One week end I decided to pay a visit to my friends at Good Life Community Bike Shop ( in Calgary. If you don’t know these guys and you love vintage or rad bikes, they are the ones to go see. I like to go there to find odd ball parts for my bike builds. That day I left with a set of Soma track bars and a matching dusty rose seat post. That was a lucky day.


I started assembling the bike together and I realized I needed some brakes. I picked a set of cross bike brakes to go on the flat portion of the bar. They fit very well and are not too bulky looking.


The build was a process. The thing with building a older frame with new parts is that things don’t always fit. They often don’t fit. You got to use some tinkering to make things work but they can work.


So here I am with the my single speed bike that I can’t call a fixie because its got brakes and a freewheel. I like it anyways.



New addition: 1950 Hercules Kestrel

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I’ve had this bike for some seasons now. I never knew if I liked it or not but I had to have it. It’s a beat up 1950 (According to Sturmey Archer rear hub) Hercules Kestrel. It as a 3 speed in hub Sturmey Archer rear hub, 26″ wheels and a big frame. I’m glad the leather shiners are still there. Nothing work except the wheels on it. The chain is rusted so solid that it can’t be moved. I will have to cut it out. They used to be really nice bikes from what I can tell. This one doesn’t hold up to that prestige anymore. It used to have front and back white plastic fenders and a leather seat.

Hercules Kestrel


Broken Headbadge

Top front of bike

oil hole patch

SA hub with shiner


Book: Wheels of Change

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Another while since I’ve posted. I guess I was quite busy with bikes (riding and fixing them) plus I’ve been announced the death of Vic Mroszczak who was a friend and what a great man. It’s also been raining quite a bit lately which means more time to read. I’ve read lots of books but they were not interesting enough to post about. “Wheels of Change” I had read before but I have to admit that my reading was limited to the pictures. This time I read it all and loved it.

This book is by Sue Macy and published by the National Geographic. Macy also wrote Bull’s Eye and Bylines. I took a peak at Bull’s Eye and it was a nice book. So what is “Weels of Change: How Woman Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a few Flat Tires Along the Way)” about? This book is not very long (96 pages) and filled with beautiful pictures and the design is awesome. It’s easy to read and eye catching. Like most historical book it as a portion about how the bicycle was invented but it’s focused on the bicycle for the woman. You can see how the machines were made so the woman rode side saddle way to accommodate the skirts. I can’t believe how woman made it with those cumbersome lengths of fabric that could weight up to 25 pounds and those corset the cut you in half. There’s also a quick portion about bicycle related inventions by woman in the 1890’s which is basically when the high wheeler was in service. There’s a page on Alice Austen a woman photographer and avid cyclist. It mention celebrity cyclist such as Katharine Wright (the Wright brothers sister), Marie Curie and Annie Oakley.  There’s a nice part about bicycle fashion for woman and how the bloomers were created thanks to Amelia Bloomer. Believe it or not there was song written about woman cyclists like “The Bicycle Girl” by Nettie M. Wagner and j. Carroll Chandler. I liked the portion about woman racing bikes. Not just the safety one but the high wheelers. One of the known figures were Elsa von Blumen and Louise Armaindo. The later was a french Canadian so I saw my heritage in her. Then some woman like Annie Kopchovsky took the chalenge to go around the world by bicycle with no money on them and come back with at least 5000$. I was happy to read that back in the late 1800’s there was ladies cycling publications done like the “Bearings”. I love the name!

That resumes the book pretty well. Two thumbs up for that book that I can’t bring back to the library because I keep going back to re-read information. Captivating!


Book Cover


A peak of inside the book. Note the design.