Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Building a Single Speed Path Racer

Path racers are the old track bicycles that used to be raced on velodromes in the early 1900s. They were fixed gear single speed bikes made for speed. Here is Major Taylor on his. I just love their retro look, and it's easy to recapture. Here is how:

Take an English roadster or lightweight cruiser with a straight frame, the most basic kind of bicycle. This one was picked from a trash pile at a street corner.

Rip off anything that is not strictly necessary to the elemental functioning of the bicycle: fenders, chain guard, brakes, reflectors, grips. Clean and lubricate what's left.

Here I replaced the three speeds rear hub by a single speed coaster hub, which involved rebuilding the wheel, but a fixed gear hub is another option.
To finish the bike, add a nice spring leather saddle, flip the handlebars upside down, and put some bar tapes. Pay attention to details, and colors. The cream tires are Schwalbe Delta Cruisers.

Perfectly silent, fast, comfortable, and stylish. Ain't nobody else got one like this in Syracuse.

Here is another one I outfitted with a homemade disc wheel:


  1. Awesome. So simple and stylish.

  2. Just built one m'self from a FREEBIE I picked up. Yours looks great. So cool you used Major Taylor's photos!

  3. Hi. Did you kept te old wheels? Are they 26 or 28 inchs?

    Good work

  4. Yeah I kept the old wheels (26"), but I changed the rear hub. I didn't like the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub because it was noisy, and required a wire.