1982 LeGran Seville Single Speed Conversion
I had spent months looking for a cool, used bike to convert to a single speed but up to that point I was still leery of actually buying anything that would require a significant amount of work. Other than fix a flat or change a saddle I had never done any real bike “wrenching”, and let’s face it, no one has ever accused me of being mechanically gifted. So the thought of overhauling a bike was a bit daunting. However, when Mike started showing me all these vintage Schwinns he had been buying, fixing up for reuse or sale I decided it was time for me to get my feet wet. I’ve known Mike since Jr high, If he can do it I can do it, right? So I pulled the pin on this low end, department store 12 speed touring bike:
It’s a 1982 LeGran Seville with 27 1/14 wheels and a lugged frame made from steel tubes you might see in a plumbing supply store. It was not a very attractive bike but I was seduced by the chrome wheels with shiny spokes and a chrome tipped fork. I figured for $50 what could I lose?
I had planned all along to have my local Richardson Bike Mart do the heavy lifting yet I was determined to do as much of the work as I could. I realized it doesn’t take much skill to take a bike apart so I went about deconstructing it pretty quickly. The first thing was to strip everything from the frame so I could have it powder coated (and carefully label and bag the parts I’d be cleaning and polishing for reuse). I also learned buying new replacement parts is a task that doesn’t require advanced skills either.
I am enamored with the classic, early French bikes with their understated paint schemes, shiny bits and leather. So I had the frame and fork powder-coated a dull gray and added a Brooks B17 and Toshi leather wrap for grips to go on the cheapo moustache bars I picked up at a local bike swap meet. I also updated the brakes, handles and had new cables and housing installed.
I had not owned a single speed since I was a kid and I had never even ridden a bike with moustache bars so I was a little nervous about spending a considerable amount of cash on what was ultimately a ”proof of concept” bike. Would it look right, would it be comfortable, was I throwing my money into the black hole of bicycles?
When I went to RBM to pick it up I was delighted. The finished product looked awesome, at least to me. I threw it in the back of my truck and sped home to take a few quick photos, load my gear and then head downtown for the the Bike Friendly Oak Cliff inaugural Tracing The Footsteps of Lee Harvey Osawald group ride:
This has been my go-to bike for riding downtown ever since. It was a worthwhile experiment and paved the way for me to get more bikes on the road. – Chris