I have had a project kicking around for over a year, and I finally finished it earlier this week...
I picked up a second-hand Bridgestone last summer off of Craig's List. The owner (in a western 'burb) had outfitted the bike for his son - he removed the large chain ring and was running this as a 6-speed with suicide lever added. It was priced right, and I figured this would make a good fixed gear or could be restored to 12-speed operation pretty easily, and the frame/paint was in really good shape for the age of the bike.
Several years ago now, I bought a set of wheels sporting Velocity Aero rims with a single speed/fixed gear hubs. I toyed with fixed geared bikes after reading what Sheldon had to say on the subject, but never really committed to one seriously. Still, I kept the wheels because they were nice wheels and I figured I might want to try this again some day.
I had scavenged a few parts off this bike for other projects since acquiring it (the Trek restoration I did last winter claimed a derailleur, for instance), so although I had wheels, I had a few parts to scrounge up. Also, the cranks that came on this bike were a little tweaked - they had an annoying eccentricity that I wanted to remedy if I was really going to ride this bike.
Over the past few months I have been accumulating missing parts on the cheap. I scored some mustache bars from a friend in a handlebar trade, got a saddle from a Bike Lover that had upgraded, and finally found a replacement Shimano crank for a reasonable price from another Bike Lover over in St. Paul.
The wheel is set up as a flip flop with a fixed gear cog on one side and a freewheel single on the other, so I am running both front and rear brakes on this set up rather than the more fashionable front-only fixed gear setup. The Shimano Golden Arrow brakes I am running on this build came with the bike, and seem to be very nice brakes (the self-centering ability on these is excellent, in fact). I finished the crank swap this week, and much to my surprise, the bolt circle diameter was identical between the old and new-to-me cranks, so I was able to salvage the almost-new chainwheel from the tweaked crank that came with the bike. I taped the bars and was ready to hit the road.
Other than a quick shakedown ride to check the crank on Tuesday night, today was the first day that this bike has seen the road in this configuration. I am by no means an experienced fixed gear rider, but I am proud to say that I only had to use the hand brakes a few times when I rode this to work and back today. I found the fixed gear to be particularly fun to ride downtown - I was able to slow down and regulate my speed better to time the lights, it was more of a game than bombing up to an intersection, honking on the brakes and then standing there waiting for the light to change, which I do on my other bikes.
I can't say I found the ride of a fixed gear "magical" but it was different and fun (maybe "magical" comes after you are more comfortable with it?). This bike is not set up for foul weather, so it probably won't seem much more road time until The Thaw, but I am glad to have gotten at least one ride in on it before the weather really turns.