Il Progetto: The Bozzie Is Single

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Let’s talk about bikes. Yeah, bikes are good. After all, they are “the central tool to our craft.” They are the reason we became Velominati, the portal through which we travelled to this life. When we were kids, we saw a bike for the first time; we liked the look of it, and when we rode it our lives were changed forever. We didn’t one day say “I want to be an athlete, what type of sport shall I do?” or “I need to feed my massive ego and make millions, what tool should I use for its exploitation?” No, we liked the sensations the bike gave us, the freedom, the speed, the endorphins (although we didn’t know what they were called or how they worked, we knew they felt good). From our first bike to n+1, each bike has a a story to tell, and a part of each of those bikes stays with us forever. Or maybe it’s just me.

For about a year now, my beloved Bosomworth has been sitting forlornly in a corner of the shop lunch room, just a frame and fork waiting to be extricated from its dusty home under the fake plastic pot plant. But it needed the right gear to bring it back to life. It was the only way I could do it justice; Campa gruppo, circa 80s, maybe some downtube shifters and tubulars. Yeah, I wanted to do it properly. But a lack of available parts and a bigger lack of the funds to procure them meant that the poor old girl remained in the corner. It almost broke my heart. Then I had a vision.

I’d watched the insanity on two wheels on display in the movie Line Of Sight, a doco on filmmaker Lucas Brunelle, who follows alley cat races all over the world and films the action while dodging the same traffic and pedestrians as the nutjobs racing. I’d gotten into his stuff when I first came to Wellington and was riding a fixed gear Langster as my commuter and for longer road rides on the weekend. I remembered how it had made me pretty strong at the time, how my stroke was the most magnificent it had ever been, and I thought “why not? Let’s get the Bozzie back into action as a singlespeed”. I say ‘singlespeed’ and not ‘fixie’ as I kinda like the idea of coasting down the other side of the hills I’ve struggled to ride up. A scour of my boxes of bits would provide enough to get her functional. After all, I wouldn’t be needing derailleurs, shifters or a cassette.

I already had some vital organs put on ice for the eventual rebuild; a Regal saddle, Chorus carbon post, a brand new Chris King headset (which I picked up for $60 off the distributor who had lost the contract and was clearing out stock), ITM quill stem, and a Mavic front wheel which came with the bike when I first bought it. My friend Ash had bought a beater a few weeks back and swapped the drop bars for a flattie, leaving a set of Sakae Modolos with 105 brake levers behind. Perfect. All I needed was a back wheel, cranks, BB, and brake calipers. I scrounged the wheeel and brakes from Ill Pro Ghetto, and found a set of 105 cranks and Octalink BB in the bins. It was all too easy. Josh donated a 42t single ring and bolts, and I broke up a cassette to get a 17t cog for the rear. A new set of brake hoods and bar tape finished her off.

One of the great misnomers of singlespeeding is “oh, it’s the simplicity of it”. No. Anyone who has ever tried to convert a mountain bike into a singlespeed will tell you it can be a royal pain in the arse. Getting chainlines perfect and tensioners to actually tension the chain, finding the best gear ratio, joining and re-joining chains, it can be an exercise in frustraion. Luckily the Boz has slotted dropouts with screw adjusters, which made the tensioning task so much easier. The wheel, being quick release, had potential to twist in the frame under load, but the adjuster screws help eliminate that. A few rides up the ramp and she was deemed fit to take out for a real ride.

Now, riding a singlespeed when everyone else has gears can be great if you are strong and the terrain is right. Or it can find you spinning like a madman while watching the pack ride off into the distance while clicking their levers as if to say “you know bikes come with gears, don’t you, dickhead?” So my cunning plan was to gee up my mates a week or so before with sending out the link to Line Of Sight, and suggesting we all break out our singlys. I knew @Rigid and @Kah both had bikes already, and @BianchiDenti was in the process of assembling his old Bianchi frame into a commuter. The seeds were sown and when our Tuesday night ride rolled around, there were three singlys, one fixie and a 1 x 8 under @BianchiDenti, with the promise of “I won’t change gears” affixed to it. All we needed were skinny jeans and messenger bags.

But we are road riders, not douchebags. We were riding road bikes, in road gear, on our usual road route. And it was a hell of a lot of fun. Mostly. Except when going uphill, or downhill, or into the wind (which was particularly strong, even for Welli). No, it was definitely a good time, and a hard ride. Denti managed not to change gears the entire ride, which must have been difficult because my thumb was constantly ghost shifting where the lever should have been. I managed to pull off a monumental save when my chain derailled as we started to sprint up a rise in the road at a known attacking point; as I somehow avoided a) nutting myself and b) hitting the deck, I wobbled into the path of @Paul whose pedal lodged in my back wheel, with enough force to lift his bike off the ground and bend a spoke in my wheel to breaking point. It would’ve looked cool to anyone behind us, but we were at the rear so no-one got to laugh at our gymnastics. That spooked me a little, as I’d had the same thing happen about ten years ago on a mountain bike, with much worse results. The rest of the ride was spent thinking about nutted track wheels and not getting out of the saddle again.

Il Progetto still has more twists in its tale, I’m sure. The Bozzie deserves to be dressed in old Campa, but until those planets align, she’s going to be doing at least one ride a week to help with my prep for Keepers Tour. If I go fixed again, then at least I may be able to perform on Eddy’s velodrome a bit better than last year. But the main thing this conversion has brought (back) to me is that sense of fun that the simple act of riding provides, without gears, without bells and whistles, and without a huge price tag. Just riding.

VLVV.

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68 Replies to “Il Progetto: The Bozzie Is Single”

  1. Nice work, and a great way to resurrect and old frame.

    I ride singlespeeds for much of the winter and love it. It always amazes me what you can get up when you have no choice.

    A mate asked me what i did when i got to a hill. “Stand up and apply some more V” was the reply!

    Bravo!

  2. Looks good Brett!

    I want a singlespeed so bad. I was cleaning my #1 last night, and the winter is sure hard on her. I keep saying this, but my next project will be a singlespeed for winter base miles and quick rides around town to meet up with friends, etc.

  3. @Marcus

    @frank

    Well aren’t you a fucking cunt? I told you about my impending rule breach in confidence. And it was just to tick an ironman off my to do list (just like COTHO).

    Rest assured that the extra bottle cages will be soon removed and the bike will only ever be used for proper TTs after that.

    Which ironman are you racing?

  4. There is nothing like passing a Carbon Craplet on my single speed Faggin up climb. It may not happen often, but when it does, magic!

  5. @girl Melbourne – and will be doing it very slowly as my stinkin inflexible calves have prevented me from running properly for the last 4 months. And counting…

  6. @Marcus

    @girl Melbourne – and will be doing it very slowly as my stinkin inflexible calves have prevented me from running properly for the last 4 months. And counting…

    I may be there as a spectator, I have a few friends racing. A friend did Melbourne last year with no land running in the last 4 months leading up to it, water running only. Hope you are getting some good professional help with the calves. Mine suck too.

  7. @minion

    Of all the cheap, good frames you could have made into a good if not great single speed, you went and made a fucking rare columbus frame into something that even you can twist with your miniscule, spinldy mpnkey legs. I’d also like to point out that you’ve now got most of the parts to make it into a geared bike, even if you just use DA down tube shifters and a fucking Sora derailleur.

    So unimpressed right now I’m in fearful danger of spilling my fucking Latte. Really, my LATTE.

    I was all set to congratulate Bretto on pulling the Bozzie frame out of the shadows and making it ridable then Minion comes put with a nice rant complete with a monkey legs remark. It is good the Boz has wheels under it and is being ridden on a semi-regular basis but i liked it better with Campagnolo 11 speed on it.

    Old frame and new components are a good combo. A Bosworth with ENVE carbon wheels and 11 speed groupo would be special. In the meantime, it’s out on the road as a single speed, at least it’s helping Brett with the magnificent stroke of his monkey legs. At least there is no old group-san on there like a certain other keeper’s Bianchi. Blasphemer!

  8. @Gianni Yep. That skinny jackass needs a foot up his arse more often than not. The only redeeming feature is that the bike has wheels and brakes: I think Miche make cassettes spaced for Campy that fit on Shimano freehubs. Friction DT shifters will work with anything. And an Al frame much like the Bretto’s ghetto bike will probably be a better ss frame (stiffer rear end) than this.

    At least YOU know I’m right.

  9. @girl

    @Marcus

    @girl Melbourne – and will be doing it very slowly as my stinkin inflexible calves have prevented me from running properly for the last 4 months. And counting…

    I may be there as a spectator, I have a few friends racing. A friend did Melbourne last year with no land running in the last 4 months leading up to it, water running only. Hope you are getting some good professional help with the calves. Mine suck too.

    Your friend can run on water?

  10. @the Engine

    @girl

    @Marcus

    @girl Melbourne – and will be doing it very slowly as my stinkin inflexible calves have prevented me from running properly for the last 4 months. And counting…

    I may be there as a spectator, I have a few friends racing. A friend did Melbourne last year with no land running in the last 4 months leading up to it, water running only. Hope you are getting some good professional help with the calves. Mine suck too.

    Your friend can run on water?

    Good call. Running in the water is more boring than the windtrainer but it is effective.

  11. Tip on the iPad / iPhone photo upload – get the Photobucket app and a free account.  You can copy the image location and use that.

    Re the singly bike – this is not helping my desire to n+1 something old and classy.  Not one bit.

  12. @minion

    You’ll be pleased to learn that the Boz will be soon sporting 8 speed Mirage and Eurus wheels… me and @Kah went halves in a TradeMe auction for a steel Pinarello Telekom replica, he’s taking the frame etc and I’m getting the gruppo. The Ill Pro-Ghetto $8 special will indeed become the SS.

  13. @brett

    @minion

    You’ll be pleased to learn that the Boz will be soon sporting 8 speed Mirage and Eurus wheels… me and @Kah went halves in a TradeMe auction for a steel Pinarello Telekom replica, he’s taking the frame etc and I’m getting the Gruppo. The Ill Pro-Ghetto $8 special will indeed become the SS.

    You knew I was right. I reckon the Allez looks good as a single speed, that frame’s scrubbed up well. @Kah’s awesome.

  14. @brett

    So here’s the new SS, Ill Pro-Ghetto Mk2. The Boz will be built up again next week.

    Looks a beauty…is that an Allez Elite?  What year, I used to have an Allez Elite from 2002/3 yellow and black frame (alu) looked like and angry wasp..I loved that bike!

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