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From a second hand regular black bike to a fully customized singlespeed bike

Customizing my bike

🕒 4 min read

Category: About me

Tags: bike

Ok so I've been owning a bike for almost four months now, and after cycling over 1,000 km (I do 17 km everyday commuting), it's time for me to customize my bike.

My biking stats

As a reminder, that's what my bike looked like when I bought it.

My bike when I bought it

What I'd like to do is to recreate the same bike I had when I was in South Korea, back in 2016.

My bike in South Korea, brand new
My bike in South Korea, by a river

More photos: here, here, here and there.

So here we go, here's what I need:

Finding the parts

Rear wheel and tire

When it comes to wheel size standards, it's quite messy... but it's getting better. It seems like the European standard ETRTO is becoming the global norm. My bike has the most common wheel size: 28", also referred to as 700C (French size) and officially called 622 by ETRTO. When I bought my bike, it came with 28mm-wide tires but I deciced to go with thiner ones, thus choosing a 26-622 pink rear tire.

One very important thing to take into account when buying a wheel is the rear frame spacing (entraxe in French). Mine is 130mm, like most 8-speed road bikes.

Finally, one last thing to be cautious about is the kind of cogset you want: freewheel (roue libre) or cassette. As a rule of thumb, the freewheel system is the oldest, and can't exceed 7 speed. But it's also cheaper (parts are cheap) and you can easily switch to singlespeed or fixie, as it's the same system. The freewheel system requires a simple wheel and all is needed is screwing the freewheel (one or many sprockets) on the wheel. On the contrary, a cassette is mounted on a freewheel body (corps de roue libre) that's part of the wheel. Cassettes are supposed to last longer.

Eventually, I decided to go with this 15-622 white freewheel rear wheel that has a 40mm internal width rim. Since I'm switching from a 8-speed cassette system to a 7-speed freewheel, I had to buy a new Shimano shifter, as well as a new chain.

My bike with its pink rear wheel

Front wheel and tire

My front frame spacing is 100mm so I needed to find an adequate green wheel which I still have not found so far (UPDATE: see below). Here's what I've found up until now:

Regarding the tire, I'll go with that one.

Yet to buy

**UPDATE JUNE 29, 2019**

My bike with its pink rear wheel

I just received a new parcel in my mailbox: a front green wheel and a white tire!!! YAY!

Turning it into a singlespeed bike: not so easy

First, as I wrote above, I'd need to change the type of chain and use a 1/2" 1/8". Why? Because it's pretty much the standard for fixes and singlespeed bikes. Plus the choices in terms of colors are much wider. And there are more singlespeed freewheels that work with this kind of chain. Then, as a consequence, I'd need to change the cogset and crankset, and remove the derailleur. I could just do it myself with the right tools but for now, it's too much work. I'll just wait until my chain or cogset get too old and damaged and only then will I switch to singlespeed.

Also, and that's good to know, the ratio between speed and ease of pedaling must be taken into account. For instance, say you have a 14 teeth freewheel and a 42 teeth chainring, the ratio would be 42/14=3. The bigger the ratio the easier the pedaling.

That's it for now. This article will likely be updated in the coming months...

**UPDATE OCTOBER 20, 2019**

Well, that's it. I've bought everything needed to fully transform my bike, including making it singlespeed. To paint my frame, I followed this tutorial and bought these products: before paint, paint, after paint.

An animated image of the transformation of my bike