BikesDirect. BikesDirect is one of those online places that a lot of cycling elites love to hate, probably because 1. they bought the rights to use the Motobecane and Windsor names on their bikes, but those bikes (like most bikes in the world) are made in Asia now and not in France or England, and 2. they sell complete bikes online, while conventional wisdom is that one should buy a bike from an LBS (Local Bike Shop).
Let's look at those two things. First off, most bikes are made primarily in Asia now, and most of the frames coming out of Asia are just fine. Plenty of brand names have been bought up, like Schwinn and Masi, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as you know what you are buying. (In fact in my opinion, Masi is doing great things with the marque.)
What about the shop argument? The rest of a bike is the sum of its parts, and to some degree how those parts are assembled. Is there a bearded guy with a greasy shop apron and round spectacles lovingly assembling these bikes? Are the wheels hand-built? Is there plenty of grease where there should be? Probably not. But, if you have a workstand, a couple of tools, and a little knowhow, you can get a long way toward overcoming those deficiencies, and you get to know your bike in the process. With Dan's bike project, we'll be tearing the bike down to the frame and building it back up again, so there's not much risk in buying by mail as opposed to an LBS. Now, if you mostly want to ride your bike rather than work on it, if you want to be able to take it somewhere when it needs work, if you want to buy a bike that has been carefully put together and checked and adjusted just so, you'll want to buy from your LBS.
So, we can safely order the Fantom Cross from BikesDirect and get on with the conversion process. I had a look at the site. What's this? A Fantom Cross Uno (single speed) for $399? Hmm. It's a steel frame instead of alumium, which means we can cold-set it wide enough to fit the CVT hub (as opposed to flexing the 130mm aluminum frame to 135 to cram the hub in), and it has horizontal dropouts so we can dispense with the tensioner.
I've left the choice up to Dan. I can work with either bike, and if he goes for the regular Fantom Cross, there will be more parts I can strip off and keep. Of course, Dan also had a look at the Salsa Casseroll- what a gorgeous frame! Steel and 130mm dropouts? No problem.
My workstand eagerly awaits this new project.