Fixed Gear

There are two men who dabble in bicycle restoration in Gilberts, IL. My dad and I have bought quite a few bikes from the two of them but their collection is usually hit or miss. They seem to be bent on the whole ‘Classic American Schiwnn’ stuff that usually encompasses Pixies, cruisers, and a dumb sissy bars but from time to time you will they will have some worthwhile rides.

Every once in awhile we will stop by to see what they have piled up along the side of their garage, the bikes that obviously are not ‘Classic American Schwinns’. We once found a beautiful Raleigh Wyoming frame that we rebuilt properly about a year ago but mostly its just rust buckets or frames that are missing components. Anyway, on this visit we found a Panasonic Sport DX 25 inch. We quickly worked out a deal and bought the bike. I believe we pulled the original wheelset from the bike and used it else where. Frame was made up of double butted Tange tubing, paint job was in great shape, and both my dad and I really wanted to see the frame converted to a single speed. And that’s what we did!

We got a good deal on a black rimmed flip flop wheelset that was pulled from a display bike. The front rim had some brake wear but nothing to complain about. Black Formula hubs and clean silver spokes. Perfect for the frame. Since the frame had already been stripped and gone through rebuilding the Panasonic was quick.

We had a nice vintage racing saddle that had been reupholstered by Pancho and already had most of the components on hand, Salsa chainring, Nitto bars, and Dicta freewheel. Once the build was prepped we brought it over to Mike for cabling and bar wrap.

The bike turned out nice and clean like we envisioned it.

We are still waiting for a tall rider to purchase the bike but until then, its nice to look it.


So, the Fuji in the post prior to this was turned out to be pretty popular. So popular that I was asked to replicate the project. I was a little hesitant at first because well… its the exact same look, but the gentleman who contacted me regarding it wanted the bike as a surprise gift for his girlfriend who was coming from California. She has an interest in bikes and after he saw the Fuji Absolute he was sure that she would love something rebuilt in the same manner.

Even though I had two Fuji Absolute frames that I had powdercoated prior, I was fresh out. Luckily I had a Fuji Olympic 12 in the appropriate size for the build.

The weight and lug work are pretty much the same as the Absolute which I found to be kind funny. I just never expected to replicate a project so easily. Im usually at the mercy of what I have in the garage or storage so its a little funny that Ive had a surplus of Fuji frames that have all been pushed to the powdercoating oven.

Mark of Fresh Start had some leftovers from the last Fuji that came through this garage so replicating that one wasnt difficult on his end.

The only differences in the this Olympic 12 project was the lack of vintage Brooks and the use of new Weinmann 27 inch flip flops that Mike sold my dad. Fixed option wasnt a requirement so I didnt install a cog but at least the rider will have the option later down the line after seeing Premium Rush or something….

Obviously just as nice and clean as the Absolute but with its on subtle differences. Used Strada K’s once again, Dicta freewheel, polished alloy components, and even some MKS pedals that I threw in the parts bag for this project at the last minute.

I havent heard from the buyer with his girlfriend’s response just yet but Im sure she will love it. Hard not to love the features this little ride has.

This was the Capri that was traded in for a Motobecane Mirage (2 entries ago). Like I explained in that post, the only reason they guy traded it was because he didnt like the handlebar set up, which was fine because I was able to help him out and help the buyer of this Capri out as well.

I didnt have to do any extensive work, just replacing tubes, cables, handlebars, saddle, handlebar wrap, and levers.

It ended up turning out very classy looking. The cream saddle on the bike really gives it such a unique touch.

Just wish I was able to get more/better photos before selling it.

This project was another “build to order” for a guy who needed a sleek commuter that rode well. We set up a deal to trade his Raleigh Capri and Schwinn Varsity plus $25 for a Motobecane Mirage frame rebuilt as a single speed:

It was a decent deal but all and all, I really helped him out. This panned out to be a very nice bike.

I bought the wheelset (Weinmenn DP18s) off someone who had recently upgrade to Mavics. The wheels had only seen around 70 miles so they were in pretty good shape.

One major reason the buyer was willing to trade me his two bikes for this one was that he recently bought the Capri as his commuter because his last bike had gotten stolen. His last bike had bullhorns and he really missed the style of those bars and wanted them back. I didnt exactly give him bullhorns but rather, cut & flip drops which he was fine with.

He also requested to have an aggressive gear ratio so I set him up with 16/52. Another request was some efficient tires so I bought him Vittoria Zaffiros.

I really loved the way this bike turned out and so did he. Definitely an upgrade from his Capri.

A young guy by the name of Charlie contacted me through the blog and was impressed with some of the work my father and I have done. He had recently moved to Chicago and was looking for a light, simple, clean, and fun single speed to scoot around the city with. He was on a bit of a budget but proposed an trade.

We ended up meeting and he showed me his Giant NRS AIR XTC Mountain Bike. It was quite the bike. He had built it up with a friend out east where he only did light riding during the summer seasons.

The bike was insanely light. Definitely a bike for the serious mountain biker. We agreed on a even trade for a World Sport rebuilt as a single speed. Pretty good deal…

It did take me some time to get around to selling the mountain bike but once I did, it sold quickly. After that I promptly got started on his build. Turned out to be a pretty bike.

Ordered a pair of Weinmanns from Bells Bike Shop off Ebay followed by a collection of standard components.

Nice, clean, and fresh look. Charlie was pretty psyched upon completion.

It was a pretty good transaction and project over all. Hopefully more like this will come in the future.

A woman by the name of Doris had contacted me after seeing my blog and wanted me to help her replace her sons Schwinn Tempo that was stolen from campus. Through conversation, I suggested building him a functional commuter bike that will look on the less appealing side in hopes that it will be overlooked by thieves. He wanted a single speed set up for his commuter and I was able to whip together a single speed converted AMF road bike for him while I situated his second bike.

We decided on this frame:

It didnt have significant rust ware, mostly surface. A very good candidate for a powdercoating.

I quickly dropped the frame off at the Contagious Customs, same powdercoater I went with when I had the Schwinn World Sport powdercoated.

Like the Schwinn, the frame came out beautifully with the same exception…the threading inside the bottom bracket shell was again over sprayed. I again had to have the shell rethreaded, costing me $20 at The Bicycle Garage in Dundee, Il.

Contagious Custom’s explanation for the over spray was because of the fact that the color I selected was a multistage color, which compromised whatever protective measures they used to cover the threading. The owner at The Bicycle Garage told me that they could have used vasoline or something similar and that could have solved the issue but I didnt look into that method so who knows.

Aside from the flub, the frame’s coat turned out wonderful. Definitely a gorgeous color. My father and I put our finishing touches on the bike and brought it to mike for cabling, wrap, and pads.

It turned out stunning.

Before meeting with Doris and her son I was able to find a few murals on the far west side of Chicago.

Doris and her son loved the bike. It was set up as a single speed with a flip flop rear.

Nitto bars & stem, Origin 8 Chainring, Tange bottom bracket, Wienmann Single Wall 700cs, and Shimano calipers & 105 Levers.

Definitely clean and fresh ride for the kid.

Pretty excited to powdercoat more frames this summer.


I came across a Craigslist ad out of a town called Lena that turns out to be nearly 15 miles east of Galena, Il. There was two bikes for sale that look fairly clean and well kept. One was a blue Schwinn World that I was not able to get a photo of and the second was this Kuwahara Duke:

I already had a buyer for the Schwinn rebuilt as a single speed but couldnt pass up on getting the Kuwahara. I had arranged to meet the gentlemen who was selling both bikes on a Friday evening with my two good friends. Our plan was to stop in Lena, which was right off RT 20, purchase the bikes, then goof around in Galena afterwards.

We left a little later than usual so I didnt arrive in Lena until about 9:45-10:00pm. The gentlemen was still up, patiently enjoying the weather outside with his wife while they waited for my arrival. When I arrived and inspected the bikes I noticed how pristine the condition of the two were. He was not the original owner but another rebuilder who loves working on and rebuilding bicycles as a hobby. He had both bikes set up as 12 speeds with a mixed componentry but every corner of each bike had been polished. He was nice enough to show me a few of his other projects and his own collecton of bikes, ranging from cruisers to modern road bikes. Very nice guy.

I didnt want to keep my friends waiting to so quickly paid the man and then we were off to Galena which was a treat. If any of you ever have the opportunity to check that town out, do so. Very pretty town that rests alongside a steep hill giving it a sort of Appalachian feel.

Anyway, when I arrived home I quickly began work on the Schwinn, converting it to single speed for a young guy out of Berwyn. The Kuwahara on the other hand, I decided to take my time grouping select components with the intent of converting it to a single speed/fixed gear.

I went to visit Yojimbo‘s for one reason or another and had some extra spending cash so I happen to ask him if he has any midrange drop bars. He did, and pulled out a shinny Nitto B115 pair that was light as a feather and nearly as cheap as one too. I quickly bought that, a new 48tooth chainring, a 16tooth Shimano freewheel, and some shinny new pedal cages all for the Kuwahara rebuild. Here’s how she turned out:

I wanted to theme the bike, using only Japanese components and was really eying some Suzue hubs online but I really didnt have the money to spend on hubs, at least for a Kuwahara. So, I compromised and took my dad up on a suggestion to use a Formula flip flop rear we had, paired with the defective front wheel from my Tommaso last year and had George use the hub from the defective wheel and the provided Formula and lace the two with stainless steel spokes to Matrix rims. George ended up not having 32hole Matrix rims so he used his last pair of 32hole double walled Sun M14A rims.

I had a ripped old Jagaur saddle that I wanted reupholstered with a 70s brown leather and bought a pair of Mocha Wall Kenda’s from Nashbar, I believe. Bought some blue cloth wrap that actually didnt apply as nicely as I thought, a Forte lever from Performance, a tange Bottom bracket we had in our collection, a Sram chain and lastly a 15tooth cog we had in laying around. The bike dressed up very nicely.

When my dad removed the original BB caps the shell was so clean, you’d think it was brand new. Same goes for the rest of the bike…absolutely pristine.

I had never heard of Kuwahara until I saw this one and decided to do a bit of research on them. Apparently they were from the early 1900’s making road bikes within Japan. They had a production hiatus during WW2 and shortly after recommenced production for Japan. Several years afterwards they distributed their bikes to the US and Canada. Apparently once the 80’s came around they dropped their road bike production and produced BMX bikes. One fun fact I found was that one of the BMX bikes used in the movie ET during the BMX bike chase towards the end was a Kuwaraha BMX:

(yes this is the shitty reedit sans guns)

Not sure why I needed to link you to childhood nostalgia but enjoy it either way.

Anyway, I really love how this rebuild turned out. Ive gotten a chance to enjoy the bike until it sells but I am in no rush to get rid of it. It rides so smooth and I love the aesthetics. Definitely turned out exactly how I wanted it to.