I never have any problem with dropouts. In fact, I haven’t bent one in probably ten years. As long as you don’t grind on them and you’ve got strong axles that won’t bend, you’re not going to have dropout problems. My Standard Lengthy had a lot more dropout than I needed. They are extra-thick to begin with, and my wheel always stays in the same place, so what’s the point of big dropouts, really?
You’ve got to have a Skill Saw for this project. If you don’t have one, you’re kind of screwed (although a Sawz-All will work with the proper blades). You’re not getting through steel with blade designed to rip 2×4’s either. You have to go out and get yourself a blade designed for cutting through steel (a metal cut-off wheel), which you’ll find at a home center or hardware store. These blades are fiberglass reinforced, and while they will wear out, they cut through chromoly (a type of steel) like butter. Cutting both of my extra-thick Standard dropouts took me no more than 20 minutes with set-up and clean-up included. As long as you’ve got the tools it’s a piece of cake.
Step One: Mark your cut lines
I did this pretty rough, but it still helped me out. If you go in to this blind you are going to have a mess. You want to mark it with your wheel on the bike and in position, because you want to have a little room to spare. A permanent marker will show up well on light colors, but on black frames you might need something like a white grease pencil.
Step Two: Suit up
Doing this without goggles and gloves would be stupid. Metal flies everywhere, and the blade manufacturer suggests covering your entire face and arms. Your bike is going to get really hot as well, so you’ll be able to maneuver it better with gloves.
Step Three: Follow the lines
Now you get to start cutting. It’s really pretty simple. The blade does all the work. Getting through my extra-thick dropouts took very little effort beyond holding the saw.
Step Four: Smoothing the edges
Once you’ve made your cuts you’ll have some hard edges here and there, and some loose shards of metal. A hand file will soften this up, and you’ll be good to go.
Step Five: Assembly
That’s it, put your bike back together.
This isn’t a difficult process, but it is dangerous. Definitely have your parents help you if you’re under 18. Using a metal cut-off wheel works wonders. It goes through handlebars, steerer tubes, seat posts, and even ramp coping in a breeze. You can even use the same process to convert your dropouts from 3/8″ to 14mm. I always here people talk about how milling dropouts is such a hassle, but if you know what you’re doing and use some common sense it’s easy. Whatever you do, don’t waste your time with a hacksaw.
Click here to read Part 1