Quick and Dirty

Hey sicko, get your mind out of the gutter. This is about bike racing. And some other stuff.

Friday, December 01, 2006

My new favorite bike!

The other day, I put a new bike together.

I put a new ride together maybe 3 or 4 times a year. At least one new roadbike, rebuild the TT bike, and, if I'm really lucky, a couple of new 'cross bikes.

These are all special purpose racing bikes. And aside from these, I have one other kind of bike that I only use for training and for fun. And that's my fixed gear bike.

I've had a track bike that is ready for road use by virtue of around a 65" gear and a front brake for several years now. It was a good bike to ride, but on the big side. It was a '74 Schwinn Paramount, and since I'm poor and it's highly collectable, I sold it on ebay for a ridiculously high price.

Dave Pearson, who put me up at his house a couple weeks ago gave me this Serrotta track frameset while I was staying with him. This thing is all business- it was really tricky drilling the fork for a brake, and there is not much room for big tires on this bugger. We were just talking about frame size preference and I mentioned that i ride a 53 cm top tube, so he hauls down this old, chipped up Serrotta from the attic and asks "got any use for a track frameset?"

Well, yeah! That thing is perfect!

Check out how close the brake fits on here- I got super lucky when I drilled this fork.

If you don't already have a fixed gear bike, you should think about getting one. The fixed gear bike is a true pleasure to ride, it's not as sketchy as you think. Just because you ride one doesn't mean you have to go out and get some tight jeans, a trucker hat and a studded belt.

Just set it up like your road bike, with brake hoods and at least a front brake. There's no shame in a rear brake too, but it's not really needed once you're used to the direct drive drive-train. Your legs and the front brake can provide more than enough stopping power for most situations, it just takes some getting used to! Skidding the fixed gear is right up there with riding wheelies and doing trackstands for me- easy, fun and best saved for solitary rides for your own entertainment! Skidding the rear wheel doesn't really slow you any better than using the brake, but it is addictive and once you figure it out you'll probably have to do it till your legs are sore. Just put a Specialized Armadillo on the back and change it out once you can see the red stripe...

On your fixed gear, you can feel like your part of a revolution! You can wear special clothes and put little cards in your spokes to show people that you know about a hip new trend! Or you can just set up a fixed gear, learn how to ride it and just enjoy it for yourself. Because fixed gear bikes have been around for a long time, and they'll be there when the hipsters all buy Segways.


At 5:33 AM, Anonymous Pale Ale Yum said...


Great story on the build up. Now you have to come down to Hellyer and ride circles. Shelly can tell you- its a whole lotta fun. Have a good race tomorrow!

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous sasha said...

Josh, any idea what those cards in the spokes are all about? I've asked a couple of the hipsters and the answer is always a fancy version of "all the other guys are doing it".

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Josh and Barb said...

No idea. They've all got 'em though. I think they gome with the fixed gear fashion starter kit.

I imagine the kit to consost of a trucker hat, a white studded belt, 3-4 cards for the spokes and one bike part that has been stamped "NJS". The kit does NOT include brakes or handlebar tape.

Really, my favorite thing about this trend is the wannabe hipsters who only have a regular geared or singlespeed bike yet they take their rear brake off, so as not to look like a lamer. Let god sort 'em out.

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous sasha said...

Yeah, I always wondered how those guys could get around with one maladjusted brake, talking on the cell phone, no helmet, and with pants so tight they can barely bend their legs, then I realized they never go more than three miles an hour. It's a fashion statement, not transportation. Then it all made sense.

but I always wonder when I see hipsters with regular bikes whether their friends make fun of them for having gears. Even with a brake removed.

I can't wait for it to get untrendy so I can afford one. Think we can make high-end cross bikes hip for a couple years?

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Josh and Barb said...

Well, 'cross is well on it's way to becoming a bit on the trendy side if participation #'s are any indication. But that's what's so rad about cross- just having a cross bike isn't a big deal, it's all about pinning that race number on!

I think I noticed some new faces at the Pilarcitos races yesterday, and for all I know some of these folks may be rehabilitated hipsters from the Mission. What's more punkrock than racing cross on a roadmtnsinglespeeddepartmentstore bike in street clothes? All you need to do the silly dance is a helmet and 30 bucks.

'Cross has everything it needs to become the next big fashion statement- the racing is often dirty. It's short and hard, you'll suffer regardless of your fitness.

The bikes are special, and there is something that makes it seem appropriately senseless to outsiders (So... it's like a short mtn bike race, but you do it on a road bike and you have to get off and jump over stuff...), a bit like riding around with no brakes.

Plus there's a real element of hooliganism and party time at cross races which I adore. I think it would be pretty easy to get a lot of forward thinking hipsters involved if they realized the potential for mayhem and revelry.

I'd love it if 'cross gained a bit of street cred with some cool guys, as long as they're showing up and racing. Or at least cheering and partying.

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous sasha said...

Well, I fear there's something about hipsters that precludes the actual effort involved in racing. I am pretty sure it's unhip to break a sweat, with the possible exception of when you're air drumming.

But I certainly saw some of them cheering and getting involved during the GG Park race last year. Maybe that'll make them want to start racing! Cheering for the races made me want to start racing.

Oh, and what's up with those tiny little short bars some of them ride?

At 2:50 PM, Blogger gwadzilla said...

where do I get the studded belt?

I am too old to be a hipster

yes... cross is en vogue


I fear that as the caffeine may be a good thing
all the cigarette smoking will hurt them

I think it is cool to see someone out racing on a bike that cost them less that 1,500 bucks

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Grey said...

Josh. This is a funny post for me to read as a fixed gear riding cross racer (messenger and ex-roadie) who lives in the Mission. I love your idea of a fixie hipster starter kit. The kids also seem to be into hanging bandanas out of their back pockets--something I always thought was for signifiying sexual kinks and preferences at bars in the Castro...but whadoeyeknow.

The real CX hooligans are team DFL. But they're not hipsters, they're punks. It's just that most of them are around 40 or older so the guys who are still out there are familiar faces. I think the original DFL guys were getting into riding when mountain biking was new and different, and that led to cross. I don't hang out with too many of the cycling youngsters, but I don't see a dirt riding trend...but there's gotta be some sort of post-fixie bike interest for these kids so who knows.

Also, I appreciate your pro-bike riding attitude in regards to the fixies. Most cyclists are busy hating the fashionistas, and that's a waste of energy, though I have no problem pointing out their follies, and even what I think is dangerous riding (like riding out in Marin with no brakes).

In the meantime I'll keep riding my bike which is a lot like your's--so unfashionable with its road bars and brake hoods and sensibly sized gearing, also 65".

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Josh and Barb said...

Thanks for all the responses everyone- the fixie fad is pretty hilarious, but fixed gear bikes do rule. I especially like Grey's comments from the center of the fixed-gear poseur universe! Let's all set a good example on our fixies, shall we? The fad will pass one day, and just imagine all the sweet bikes that will be up on Craigslist for cheap!

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone is still reading this post, but the cards in the spokes are (supposed to be) from alleycat races. A lot of kids have them to show all of the races they have been in. Imagine how funny it would be to leave all the numbers fromm all the races youve been in pinned to your jersey.


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