David Forbes' Frejus Fixie

Here's my bike. My father bought this Frejus road bike, S/N 89279, new back in about 1962, when I was teeny tiny. He used it to commute in the sixties. The bike was rather nice for its time, with Campagnolo hubs, headset, BB and shifting equipment, Amobrosio bars, stem and sewup rims, and Mafac brakes.

It fell off the roofrack of our Citroen station wagon one evening in 1967, resulting in the rear derailleur breaking off and the right rear dropout and fork getting bent. He bent it back, and it worked fine for decades with a Schwinn Sprint rear derailleur.

My dad gave me the bike in 2002. I didn't ride it much, since the wheels had turned to junk. I was hesitant to do anything major to the bike since all the Campy stuff was in good shape. Then I started noticing these guys riding bikes with no shifters or brakes, and I got interested in zooming around in fixed gear mode. Sheldon Brown's fixed-gear site and bikeforums.net gave me all the info I needed.

I got the bike converted to fixed gear in August 2004 with a fairly standard wheel replacement - Mavic MA3 rims, Suzue Basic hub with EAI 19T cog, Continental Sport 1000 tires on thornproof tubes. I swapped around the vintage 151mm BCD chainrings to use the like-new 50T instead of the worn-out 47T with the new SRAM chain. I kept the old Campy front hub, which still runs smooth and tight. All the wheel work was done by Ordinary Bike Shop in Tucson, which appears to be the only shop here that understands fixies. The Avocet Racing I saddle is okay for now.

I had trouble wtih the bent dropout when I put the Suzue hub on it. It spread out under the stress of the rounded locknuts, so I got scared of catastrophic failure (fixed gear bixes demand a bulletproof drivetrain) and had the dropouts replaced with original style Campy longs that the local frame guy had sitting on his desk. I also got some flat locknuts!

The dropout work told me that it was time to repaint the bike. The fork crown chrome was in sad shape and the rear dropouts were no longer chrome, so I did the cheap thing and sanded it all down to bare metal (as much as possible) and repainted the bike with Rustoleum hammertone grey paint. It came out pretty decent, but the paint isn't as tough-as-nails as I would have achieved with powder coating. Still, it has a nice clean look and a sharp monochromatic color scheme.

When I repainted it in Sept. 2004, I messed up on the fork and got lazy about finishing the job. The bike sat for a year in pieces in my workshop. Then I finally got around to it in Oct. 2005. It took all of two hours to sand down and repaint the fork and reassemble the entire bike. Why did I wait so long?

The lights and rack are for real-world use. I ride for fun at night, as it's cool and quiet. I also bring boxes to the post office and back from time to time. I'm not a messenger, so I don't wear a messenger bag.

I originally had the 47T chainring on the outside to provide spacing for the chainring bolts, but it looked rather dorky with two chainrings. So I contemplated going with track chainring bolts, but that costs money and leaves sharp edges where the outer chainring used to sit. I finally decided that since the 47T chainring was trashed, why not trim off the outer portion and use it as a genuine Campy dummy ring? So I applied a hacksaw, a file and a buffing wheel to the problem. I think it came out rather nicely.

I took the front brake off because I discovered after a couple weeks of riding fixed that the brake is not needed in the flat Tucson valley if you pay attention to the traffic lights. I must be crazy. Wheeee!!!

Updated Nov. 21, 2005