Free Spirit Single-Speed Conversion

2016-07-31

My parents purchased a pair of old road bikes from the mid/late 70s in relatively good condition for their age before the family moved to Toronto (around 2011). The bikes were both “Free Spirit” branded machines that were apparently sold as lower-end bike shop bikes rather than department store bikes: they were relatively well built and had good components fitted to them.

I believe my mom got them both for $50 CAD at the time, which is quite a bargain! Of the pair, one was a men’s bike (being a larger diamond frame) and the other was a women’s bike (with a step-through frame), which I’ll call WB from now on. My sister repainted this frame some years ago and began the single-speed conversion but never finished it.

As I was back in Toronto for some months in March 2016, I thought it’d be nice to give them both a nice clean and finish the conversion on the women’s bike.

Makeover

WB had a set of drop bars and an old “suicide-lever” style brake lever. I swapped these out for a classic dutch-style U handlebar and an modern alloy lever for the front-brake.

It took me a while to figure out that WB also had a Uniglide freehub which held a 5-speed cassette cluster on it, all of which would be unused after the single speed conversion. Took them out by dual-wielding chain-whips since the smallest cog held them in place. Filled in the hub with spacers and made sure the chain-line was straight.

After I put some Lizard Skin grips on the bars, it was ready to ride! Total spent: $60 and about 20 hours.