Alta

Miscellaneous 6 7

Earlier this week, I mentioned both Biomega and Alta in a post. I have mentioned Biomega a few times before, but I don’t think that I have ever posted about Alta. Many of you might remember the Alta bike in green from its first production run. Now the same single speed commuter is available in both yellow and white. The Alta bike, manufactured by Hard Rocx, was a joint design project that involved a diverse collection of Norwegian designers. Furniture designers Norway Says, product designers Frost Produkt, graphic designers Bleed, and the advertising agency Shnel & Melnychuck all had a hand in the development of this bike. The design is clean and simple and appeals to urban commuters who want a stylish low maintenance bike, Though this bike comes with a 46 x 16 freewheeling drivetrain, it’s design was no doubt inspired by pared down, fixed gear messenger bikes. I have to say that this is one of my favorite bikes geared toward the commuter market. If I had one of these bikes, I would probably add a rear wheel with a flip-flop hub so that I could run it as a fixed gear or with a freewheel. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. The understated graphics and color scheme really compliment the simplicity of this bicycle.

Since I mentioned fixed gear bikes, I’ll include a few links. Some of my favorite places on the web to see fixies are here, here, here, and here.

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous August 18, 2006 at 1:39 am -  Reply

    What’s the deal with fixed gear bikes? I don’t get it. Why would a bike messenger want a fixed gear bike versus a umm… a standard bike i guess is what it would be called. And why is it all of a sudden “cool” to have a bike like this?

  2. James August 18, 2006 at 11:09 am -  Reply

    Good question. I think that the primary reason messengers favor fixed gear bikes is that they are simple and low maintenance. Basically, a track bike is a bicycle in its purest form. Another big factor may be that a track bike with no brakes is less likely to be stolen than a mountain or road bike. Also, true track bikes have tight geometry and steep head tube angles. They are very nimble bikes for someone who spends the day weaving in and out of traffic. Of course, geography is also a factor in the prevalence of fixed gear bikes. You will see a higher percentage of fixies in Manhattan where it is relatively flat than in San Francisco, which has a hillier terrain.

    Why it is suddenly “cool” to ride a fixed gear bike is a tougher question. You could ask the same question about messenger bags and other crossover fashion trends. Product trends almost always originate from a core passionate group of users and become more mainstream as they reach their peak. Many people, especially early adopters, don’t like that cycle, but that is usually how it works. I have heard some people argue that inexperienced riders should not ride a fixed gear. That is probably why the Alta has a freewheel instead of a fixed gear. Basically it is still a simple machine, but the freewheel will not buck a new rider off if he stops pedaling. Trendy or not, I have owned at least one fixed gear bike for the last 20 years. Currently, 2 out of the 7 bikes that I own have fixed gears. One is a true track bike with no brakes and the other is an old beater road bike with a flip-flop fixed and free rear hub. I do the vast majority of my riding on multi-geared bikes, but I enjoy riding the fixed gears occasionally. It is good training and helps to develop a smooth pedal stroke.

    Sheldon Brown is probably the foremost “fixed gear for the road” authority on the web. Check out his reasons to ride a fixed gear here:
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html

  3. akatsuki August 26, 2006 at 9:07 am -  Reply

    I think the Alta is pretty but it definitely lacks something….. Hmmm…

    Oh wait a minute

    Baskets and racks. No real commuter lacks those. How about some nice white plasticized racks and a basket to put up front. Sure baskets are dorky, but if you are buying a commuter bike and not a poseur messenger-fixie, then buy a commuter.

  4. Suparna February 10, 2009 at 1:05 am -  Reply

    Good research…well written and very useful article, thank you for sharing this with us.

  5. Joe August 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm -  Reply

    I ride a fixed gear to work every day and will never go back to a geared bike or a freewheel. My wife thought the whole fixed gear thing was silly until she hopped on my bike one day…now she wants to ditch her mountain bike for her own fixed gear,

    The only way to know what the hype is about is to ride one.

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