Fixin’ To Fixxit With a Fixxer
Finally it’s done. Two objectives achieved at once. I’ve converted an old eight speed Shimano 600 road hub to a fixed hub with a Surly Fixxer, and I’ve converted my road bike into a fixed.
So here’s a short HOWTO with some tips and tricks.
Step 1 – So What is Surly Fixxer?
The Fixxer is a device which replaces the cassette body on a Shimano freehub (except Silent Clutch hubs and pre-1997 Dura Ace) and allows the use of a track cog and lockring, making it a fixed gear hub. It should work on most Shimano-compatible hubs but that sometimes requires a bit of creative modification of the hub. It has been done successfully on some carbon Spinergy models.
The threaded part on the left of the picture is what threads into the hub in place of the cassette body. The cog and lockring threads are on the right of the pic.
Step 2 – What Do I Get For The Money?
The Fixxer comes supplied with a solid axle, a range of axle spacers, track nuts and a sealed cartridge bearing which is pre-installed in the Fixxer. You also get a sleeve but that drops into the cartridge bearing in the fixxer. It’s threaded because the axle gets threaded into the sleeve nut. You also get a printed instruction page.
Step 4 – What Do I Need?
- Cone Spanners for the cones and locknuts
- 10mm Allen Key – A T-Handle is preferable so you can get plenty of leverage
- New ball bearings if you’re going to replace those at the same time
- An old towel or rag of some sort
Step 5 – Removing the Axle
OK so the first thing to do is remove the existing hollow axle from the hub. You should probably look at whatever instructions apply to your particular hub, but they’re mostly the same.
First up, put an old towel or something underneath the hub, because loose ball bearings will fall out. They’re messy and they roll away really quickly so the old towel will save you some hassle.
Undo the locknut from the drive side of the axle. The non-drive side can stay intact, but you might need to move the non-drive side cone and locknut depending on which spacing you want. Undo the cone (after removing spacers, if any, that are on the axle) and remove it. Clean everything and pay aprticular attention to cleaning the rubber seal properly. If it’s buggered, replace it.
Now, go and get that old towel you were too lazy to get in the first place so you won’t lose more bearings.
Step 6 – Removing the Cassette Body
On the drive side of the hub, stick the 10mm allen key into the hole where the axle used to be. Now turn the allen key anti-clockwise to loosen the cassette body. If it’s been there a while it might take quite a bit of oomph to loosen. Once you’ve cracked it, it should spin off the hub quite easily.
Now clean the hub while you’re there because it probably wont see daylight for ages now.
So now your hub should look something like this:
Now take the 10mm allen key and put it into the fixxer from the bearing side (that’s the blue bit in the picture). Grease the threads on the non-drive side of the fixxer. Thread the fixxer into the hub and turn the allen key clockwise to tighten. It should thread in easily. I did find that when you got to about 3mm left to tighten the threads can start bind and crossthread easily. Be careful at this point because if you force is you will probably destroy the fixxer.
Anyway, thread it all the way in and tighten to 310 to 440lbs. I don’t know wtf that is so I just jammed it on as tight as I could. So now you’re ready to install the solid axle, bearings, cone and locknut.
Step 7 – Installing the Solid Axle and Bearings
So here’s what the Fixxed hub should look like now:
Now thread the cone and locknut onto the solid axle. Just estimate how far you need to thread it on for the moment. You can make finer adjustments later.
Now that you’ve cleaned out the race cup in the hub and the old bearings (unless you’re replacing those), line the bearing race with grease. Put enough in to keep the ball bearings coated while they turn in the race. There should be nine ball bearings (in most cases, at least). Put the ball bearings in the race and they should all fit in snugly, but not tight. If you’re replacing the bearings, get them from Dan at Shifter Bikes if you’re in Melbourne because he’s a good guy and you should support good bike shops because there aren’t that many around.
Put the sleeve nut (that came with the fixxer) into the bearing side of the fixxer – it just slides in. Oh, you should grease it lightly first.
Now, with the non drive side of the hub facing up (it has to be because you had to drop the bearings into it) drop the axle into the hub and thread it into the sleeve nut.
Step 8 – Adjusting the Bearings
As you thread the the axle in the cone and locknut will be pulled into the bearing race in the hub and the cone will tighten the bearings against the race. Adjusting loose ball bearing hubs is a bit of an art. You want it to be tight enough that there’s no slop but maybe just enough play so that tightening the axle into the frame doesn’t overtighten and bind the bearings. Practice makes perfect. If you overtighten or undertighten it, just keep adjusting until it feels right. If in doubt, get a good bike shopto do it for you.
Step 9 – Now it Gets a Bit Interesting
The instructions have diagrams showing which combinations of spacers to use for whichever spacing you want. The fixxer can be spaced from 120mm to 135mm. BUT…the instructions turned out to be wrong in my case. But it could be that the wheel wasn’t dished properly, because the spacers I used to get the ~41mm chainline and centred rim was nothing like the instructions. Anyway, after a lot of buggering about with a tape measure I finally got the spacing close enough, with the right chainline.
Step 10 – What Now? Nothing – It’s Done!
So hopefully now you’ve arsed about for half an hour getting the spacing right and it’s ready to put a cog on, stick it on a bike and ride it. I’m not going to explain howto install the cog and lockring and fit the wheel to the bike, because if you don’t know that you shouldn’t be taking hubs apart in the first place.
Now I have to admit that I’ve ridden this wheel a total of about 100 metres so I have no idea how it’s going to stand up in the long rn, but I see no reason why it would be any different to a track wheel, except that the road dishing possibly makes it a bit weaker.
Anyway, here’s a few good tips to be aware of:
- Use the right tools (and good quality ones wherever possible)
- Clean and grease all threads – ALL threads
- Take your time and you’ll make fewer mistakes
- Refer to the instructions often
The Fixxer cost me about $90 to buy and have shipped from the US. They’re very difficult to find in Aus. I think the fixxer is only worth the cost if you have a high quality freehub wheel to convert. Otherwise, I think you’d be better off building or buying a proper track wheel.
If you’re not comfortable doing this kind of maintenance, get somebody experienced to do it for you, or help you do it. None of this is difficult but it requires the correct tools and some patience. Even if you followed these instructions to the letter, don’t blame me if you get killed or you lose your job and our family disowns you and become a homeless alcoholic, because of the Surly Fixxer.
Before this effort, I’d never actually take a hub apart so if I can do it, most idiots should be able to.
The Finished Product
So here’s what I did with the newly fixxed wheel.
For those who are interested, this bike consists of:
A custom built Reynolds 853 road frame (made for Cecil Walker, by Paconi)
Columbus Muscle carbon fork
Campag Centaur bottom bracket, brake calipers & 172.5mm cranks
40T Campag chainring and a 14T Dura Ace cog, Dura Ace lockring
Look Carbopost carbon seatpost
Selle Italia SLR Carbon saddle
ITM Mantis Wing bars
Thomson Elite X4 stem (thanks Des!)
Shimano brake calipers
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