The basis for the Poor Boy is an early eighties Canadian made Peugeot Sport, a more or less entry level bicycle, that offers a fairly nice ride.  Where the Peugeot, for this Poor Boy "Single Speed" conversion came from, is lost in time.  There are quite a few vintage Canadian made Peugeots available in my area, and a good dozen, or more, pass through the gloom of The Old Shed each year.  There was a time, when finding a bicycle, such as this early eighties Peugeot Sport, would have been of considerable interest.  Today, however, with hundreds of bicycles coming and going, each year, it is difficult to remember details of any, except those that have keeper, or even unusual value.

"As found", the Peugeot, selected for conversion, was in pretty awful condition, when considered from the cosmetics point of view.  The paint had faded and thinned, so badly in many places, that oxidation had begun to form on the frame tubes.  Normally, rust cover demands a complete repainting of the bicycle, but not for a "Junk Bike".  In fact, not only was the Poor Boy not repainted, but not one moment of time, or ounce of energy, was devoted to improving the bicycle's appearance.  Not one second!  Not one cent!  Nothing extra, just a fundamental "get it safely and dependably on the road", exercise.

The build began with selecting a suitable bicycle, from the contents of The Old Shed.  The targets for selection included structurally sound, vintage appeal, decent ride characteristics, ugly and, obviously, available.  In this case, ugly is not just an opinion.  Ugly means faded, scratched-up, rusty, and mismatched.  Dirty can also be a defining characteristic, of a well built, and used, "Junk Bike", converted for "Single Speed" use.  And this Poor Boy "Single Speed" was going to be a "Junk Bike".

Several bikes presented themselves, as great candidates for a Poor Boy build.  Though a few high end, exotic tubing bicycles were on hand, at the time, a "Junk Bike" demands something lesser.  The Peugeot Sport offered a Carbolite 103 tube set that has proved itself to be very durable and ride reasonably well.  True, the ride will never rival a high end bike's feel and performance, but the bicycle will probably perform beyond most people's performance capabilities.  Not only that, but the bicycle will not be asked to perform at any kind of a high end competition level.  The Poor Boy "Single Speed" will be a short hop, around town, errand runner that will rarely be pushed to its limits.  It will be used in good weather, and bad.  The bike will get wet.  Salt strewn on Canadian roads, to melt road ice, will coat parts of the bicycle, accelerating corrosion, in the process.  The bike will freeze and thaw, again and again.  I don't ever bring my "Junk Bike" into the house.

With a suitable bicycle selected, the first task it to remove items that are are not necessary, to a "Single Speed" design.  Say goodbye to the front and real derailleurs.  Get rid of the down tube shifters.  And shorten the drive chain enough to allow for proper chain adjustment (slack).  That's it!  For the Poor Boy build, nothing else need be removed.  Of course, there are other components that could, and probably should, be removed right from the get go.

Take the time to get rid of extra weight by removing such items as the front sprocket protector.  If you happen to have the correct freewheel puller, you might as well get rid of the ugly "pie plate" spoke protector, fitted to the drive side of the rear wheel.  Other than that, just about everything else will be needed to convert the bike to build the Poor Boy "SS".

Converting the freewheel, for Single Speed use, is a simple as selecting the middle cog on a five cog set-up, or cog #3 or #4, for a six cog unit.  On a five speed, I allow myself a bit of leeway.  Cog #2, #3 or #4 will give me an acceptable chain line, for this sort of build.  In truth, I should actually go through the steps required, to ensure proper chain line, but I rarely do, when building up a "Junk Bike" and that is exactly, what this early eighties Peugeot will be, when the build ends.

Begin to "Single Speed" design by cutting the drive chain, so that the derailleurs can be removed.  Remove both the front and rear derailleurs and store in a safe place.  Might as well remove the shifters, and keep them in the same package, for storage and loss prevention purposes.  Though the Simplex derailleur was all but worthless, a couple of years prior to this writing, today they are going for big dollars.  So big, in fact, that I doubt that I will ever be able to afford the correct chain jumpers for this 1963 Peugeot PX10.

Next, turn your attention to the crank and rings set.  Decide which ring you are going to use.  I always go with the smaller ring, usually shooting for between 40 and 42 teeth, which will drive a 16 tooth cog.  This combination allows me plenty of comfortable, city traffic speed, without getting all sweaty.  This same combination will allow me to zoom along, at a pretty good clip, when I am in a hurry.  I would never select the big ring, since spinning speeds would produce too much speed in traffic.  This, of course, is just my opinion, since it is what works well for me.  Gear choice is up to the individual, defined by his or her level of conditioning, and the purpose for which the bicycle is intended.

OK, the chain is engaged on the small ring and on an appropriate rear cog.  In the case of the Poor Boy, the second smallest cog, one with 17 teeth was selected, even though it will not offer the best chain line.  The middle cog would offer the best line and, quite frankly, for winter conditions that is probably the best cog to select.  Pedaling will be easier and speeds will be slower.  A good combination for winter roads.

With the chain fitted on intended ring and cog, it is time to cut the drive chain.  A chain cutter is necessary, to do this job properly.  A chain cutter, incidentally, is a very good basic tool, to keep in one's bicycle tool box.  Start by fitting the rear wheel squarely into the drops but only as little as possible.  Now, draw the chain together with your hands, and try to determine, which pin must be pushed out, to allow the chain to be cut to proper length.  This sounds complicated and, perhaps, even mystic, but it is not that difficult to do.  Give it a try, and with some thought, you will see what I mean.  But you gotta have the tool!

Once the chain is cut, and fitted together, loosen the rear wheel and draw it towards the rear of the drops.  This action will cause the slack to be taken up, in the drive chain.  Though it is possible to remove all of the slack, and even apply a bit of tension to the drive chain, it is unwise to do so.  The drive chain must never be allowed to be over tight.  Any over tightening, will cause the bottom bracket bearings to be preloaded, a condition which will accelerate bearing wear.

After you have the rear wheel positioned, slowly rotate the crank arms through a full 360 degrees, paying attention, all the time, to the chain slack.  You will likely notice that the chain gets tighter, and looser, as the cranks are turned.  This can be a result of different things, but what is important is that you adjust to ensure there is never any tension or preload.  Once again, this sounds complicated, but understanding will occur, once you begin to witness the action of the chain.

And that's all there is too it - instant "Single Speed" and for near zero dollars.  This procedure, for converting a "Ten Speed" to a "Single Speed", is about a basic as you can get, but it does get the job done.  Though it might seem a cosmetic concern, new handlebar tape would be a good idea, even though it might cost a few dollars.  Handlebar tape is considered both, an ergonomic and a safety issue, in my mind.  Safety, since there is less chance of one's hands slipping off of the bars.  And, the comfort thing is pretty much self evident.  The bar wrap will add a bit of cushion, to the hands, and help absorb much of the road shock, that inevitably transmits through the bars.

In the case of the "Junk Bike" build featured here, the bar tape would be replaced with handlebar grips.  Since the bars used for the "Junk Bike" were already fitted with grips, there was no need to go and buy a set.  If there had been no grips, a new set would definitely been purchased and installed.

Of course, it is really easy to take the build to the next step and modify the crank set to achieve an overall cleaner look for the bicycle.  Or, perhaps, install a different set of brake levers