From Frame to Fixie to French glory.

March 23, 2010

A little over two years ago I jumped into the world of riding bikes. I had been running for a year or so prior to that at a local park watching the cyclists go by and decided that I wanted in on the fun.  With my new found stimulus check I made my way to a local bike shop.  I had been doing a little bit of reading online but in retrospect was quite clueless.  About an hour later I was walking out of the bike shop with a Fuji Newest 4.0. The bike was heavy, had downtube shifters and was a size too small but I didn’t care as it got me around the park and was barrels of fun. I hadn’t been on a bike in probably 10 years prior to that.

Vitus Carbone 3 as a Fixed Gear

Vitus Carbone 3 as a Fixed Gear

But it wasn’t quite what I wanted.  When I had been doing my research I read about a new craze of converting old road bikes into single speed and fixed gear bikes. I began scouring the Houston and Austin Craigslist bike listings for something that would fit my needs.   Weeks of searching passed and Lo and behold I found an 80s road bike frame with wheels and handlebars, perfect for my project. It was a Vitus Carbone 3 which is the complete antithesis of a current road bike as it was built with aluminum and steel lugs with carbon tubes.    I contacted the seller and we reached a price that was well within my budget. A friend picked up the frame and all the extra parts and brought them from Austin on his next trip to Houston.

Months passed and components piled up.  The Vitus was together but it wasn’t perfect.  The vertical dropouts kept me from having perfect chain tension and the original saddle was falling to bits.  I eventually stripped out a crank arm from not retightening a pedal after it’s installation.    I was frustrated by the constant mishaps and simply didn’t have the time to perfect the bike like I wanted to.  The project was shelved.

Original Dutch Vitus Advertisement

Original Dutch Vitus Advertisement

A while later I posted on asking if anyone had any information on what the bike might have been like when it was new.  A dutch poster was nice enough to supply scan a few  magazines from the 80s that contained ads from when the frame was new.   It turns out the bike was sold as frame only and for a resto project I was practically free to do as I pleased.

I began scouring e-bay for period specific parts and started bidding.  After about two weeks I wound up with a mishmash of Shimano Dura Ace 7401/7402, Shimano 600, and Campagnolo bits.  A bit later and with the aid of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance everything was together. The bike was ready to roll out for its first real road ride since the 80s. The vintage carbon tubes makes the bike silky smooth for a road bike and friction shifters bring back the memories of riding my first road bike. The frame was finally returned to its original French Glory.

You can check out the gallery of completed photos below:


  1. Are you selling this bike?