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Back again

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I am back home from another week of traveling. I didn’t have enough free time to post last week, but I did see a few things on the web that are worth passing along. Also last week, I uploaded a few more pictures of the Strida to Flickr. I have already shipped the bike back but, as promised, I will write more about my experience with it soon.

If you read BikeSnobNYC at all, you are familiar with the “fixed gear freestyler” description that he uses pretty often. Basically, the term applies to a track bike that has been retrofitted/ modified with something like a top tube pad, chopped riser bars, powdercoated rims, aerospoke front wheel, etc. A while back, I posted a link to a group of bikes on Razor Apple, which take the whole fixed gear freestyler idea to the extreme. Sure bikes that fall into the whole urban fixie category are trendy now, and that makes them pretty easy to make fun of. I am definitely no bike snob, but I have been guilty of questioning the point of some recent fixed gear fads in the past. Well, last week I ran across the Cadence Clothing photostream on Flickr (from which the picture here was taken) and I was pretty impressed. These are some great shots of real fixed gear freestyling in action (check out the air on this one). All I can say is that if you can ride like these guys, I will never make fun of your bike; no matter how silly the top tube pad looks or how many cards are stuck in the spokes (it is worth noting that top tube pads are absent on all the bikes pictured). Anyway, there is no doubt that the guys in these pictures are pretty damn rad. I encourage you all to check out all the shots. While you are at it, take a look at Cadence Clothing’s website as well; they make some pretty good looking stuff.

Knowing that I have posted a few wooden bikes in the past, Fritz of Cyclelicious pointed me toward a design concept from an architect called the “OLC” (for “One Less Car”). The 2 speed (?) “one size fits all” bike is targeted toward the mass market. The designer imagines that a company like IKEA could sell the bike for his target retail price of $35 (US) making it an almost disposable transportation solution. This concept looks like it could be made cheaply, but I am pretty skeptical of that extremely low target cost. Also, as Fritz pointed out in his email, there are no visible provisions for adjustment, so I am not sure about the one size fits all claim. I don’t know that this will be the one, but I would not be surprised to see a bike that folds or packs flat from IKEA one day. Under 50 bucks though? Sounds good, but I kind of doubt it.

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  1. Ron December 10, 2007 at 2:57 pm -  Reply

    I don’t doubt Ikea could bring out Plywood bikes for cheap. However making bicycles is probably not in their best interests.

    IKEA’s designs are awesome and are really made for assembly ease in mind. WE must also remember Ikea stepped up first before Google by gifting its employees with bikes. Even though the bikes were sourced from elsewhere they’ve set a pretty good example.

    Did you know Ikea is pronounced (ee-kea) in Europe.. I didn’t until my manufacturing professor told me. 🙂


  2. bikesgonewild December 11, 2007 at 4:32 am -  Reply

    …james…at this point, probably 95% of the fix gear bikes out there aren’t track bikes at all, just converted road n’ towny frames…

    …the razor apple site bikes are paris hilton-y fashion accessory-ish looking, (how’s that for an awkward statement ?), but interesting eye candy…

    …i do hafta agree that the hardcore fix pilots are serious bike handlers, but they all act like they invented it…been done for a hundred years…

    …now the interesting stuff…wooden bikes !…while the ‘olc’ bike may be short a few salient engineering points, ie: steering head, adjustability, et al, the concept has promise…as you point out, it’s hard to believe it would come in near that hopeful price point…but, fingers crossed…
    …the ‘jano’ bike has some well conceived molding concepts but best of all are the shapely ‘xylon’ bikes simply because they are working models…
    …love to put a xylon cell or oll together as a town bike…
    …sorry, guys, can’t ride today, i gotta stain & shellac my bike !…

    …anyway, will the wood bike concept continue to grow or just go up in flames ???…

  3. Anonymous December 11, 2007 at 8:24 am -  Reply

    geawrs are for the weak and fixies are more than just a trend

  4. art December 11, 2007 at 9:14 am -  Reply

    I don’t think the lack of adjustability on the olc is going to be nearly as much of a problem as the negative trail. Using a big hinge for steering is an interesting concept, but I can’t see how they’ll make the geometry work.

  5. James December 11, 2007 at 12:18 pm -  Reply

    bikesgonewild, you are right that many of the fixed gears out there are old converted frames, but I have seen plenty of true track bikes that have been modified to fit the trendy urban fixie look. Maybe that is why I am reluctant to sell my old Pinarello. The thought of it with riser bars and an aerospoke front wheel is enough to give me nightmares.

    Anon, I don’t know what “gwears” are, but I will be sure to stay away from them. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I am weak. Seriously though, I don’t know if you were kidding or not, but I never said fixies are just a trend. I currently own 3 fixed gear bikes, one of which is a track bike that I have owned for 20 years. One of the others is an old 80’s trek that I used as a fixed commuter in the mid nineties. I am as big a fixed gear fan as anyone (except maybe Sheldon Brown). The trend I was referring to is the whole messenger inspired urban fixie look with short riser bars, no brakes, and strange wheel choices. I don’t really have anything against those bikes either, but I do not like the idea that brakes on the road are frowned upon by some members of the fixie scene. If you want to be an urban hipster and ride a fixed gear with a top tube pad, purple painted rims, and a riser bar, then I say great, do it; the more bikes on the road the better. All I want to say is don’t let what is currently in vogue dictate your equipment choices. Nothing is wrong with using bars wider that your shoulders or, at the very least, a front brake that actually makes the bike stop. It is best to ride what works best for you. Some people can stop a fixed gear on a dime without brakes, but most people can’t. I consider my self a pretty good fixed gear rider as I have been riding that way for a long time. I can stop a track bike with my legs, but I choose to use brakes on all bikes that use on the road. Maybe I am not trendy, but at least my knees aren’t shot.

    Art, Ron and all, good points about the wooden bike. Here is one that might be closer to the 35 dollar price point:

  6. Fritz December 11, 2007 at 2:06 pm -  Reply

    That fixie freestyle stuff is pretty cool. I’m one of those guys with a converted road bike — I did it because I’m too cheap to put real components on it and it’s an ugly piece. I can stop quickly with a skid stop, but I still have brakes on the bike.

  7. bikesgonewild December 11, 2007 at 4:17 pm -  Reply

    …hey, that link leads us to a wooden version of the ‘strida’ & w/ that ‘simplified’ drivetrain, it really is a strider…

  8. James December 11, 2007 at 4:58 pm -  Reply

    Fritz, my old Trek fixed gear road bike is a utilitarian beater too. The lack of style serves as a theft deterrent when I leave it unlocked for short periods.

    BGW, I had forgotten about the DIY scrap wood hobby horse until today. It really is great how much it looks like the Strida, isn’t it. I probably should have included a real link in the earlier comment. Here it is again to make it a little easier on those of you who don’t want to cut and paste.

  9. patrick December 11, 2007 at 7:00 pm -  Reply

    Re: top tube pads
    I wondered about the top tube pads as well. Assumed it was just a retro style thing brought from BMX. They still require them for racing. In my experience they help a little but if you’re gonna whack into one of those locations (top tube, crossbar, neck) it’s still gonna hurt. Whacked my knee into the neck a bunch of times, luckily avoided having the, uh, more tender areas come in contact with anything. For any kind of freestyle, however, the pads come off. Not the best standing platform. 🙂

    Re: the OLC bike. Don’t think the whole drive train thing is sorted out there yet as the various views presented seem to indicate there is no offset to accommodate the chain. Not sure how that’s supposed to work.

    My biggest concern is regarding an unexpected stop or frontal collision (hey where are the brakes BTW?) and can be summed up in two words.

    Crotch Splinters

    For $35.00 I can’t imagine there’s a whole lot of careful finish sanding going on there.

    Hmmm, maybe those pads aren’t such a bad idea after all?

    Oh, and seriously, isn’t there enough “disposable” stuff out there now?

    …I’ll go get a cookie and calm down now.

  10. Nathan December 11, 2007 at 7:28 pm -  Reply

    Working in a bike shop, I’ve seen more than my share of people on Wal-Mart bikes. I wish everyone had cheap, functional transportation, but the problem with Wal-Mart bikes is they’re not comfortable and they don’t work well, so people don’t ride them, and then they think they don’t really like ANY bikes, because they assume all bikes are as uncomfortable and poorly made.

    And as an owner of 2 fixed gear bikes, I think the whole fixie craze is hilarious. People talk about the “aesthetics” of riding brake-less, but no one talks about the “aesthetics” of being stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of their life.

  11. James December 24, 2007 at 8:19 am -  Reply

    Cool Tom. Enjoyed the YouTube trailer. Now I want a copy of that DVD.

  12. Anonymous January 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm -  Reply

    I don’t know why everyone wonders about the purpose top tubes. In addition to helping you lean your bike on stuff… I have used a top tube protector for years because I have always lived in cities. And I have lived on the 3rd floor of an apartment building for years. Having a top tube protector is nice if you run up and down the stairs a lot. It has nothing to do with a trend – at least for me! And riser bars are nice for riding in the city. They also help you if you have elbow problems and can’t use drops any more. People should assume less. There are wankers with anything, I just ignore them. Cheers.

  13. douchey mcgree January 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm -  Reply

    hey nathan, I agree the trends of fixed gears can be funny. I constantly am telling 19 year olds to go practice in a parking lot so they don’t hurt themselves or someone else. That said, depending on the rider brakes don’t always help. If your first instinct is to lock up the wheel or find the open slot of space, a brake will actually make you hesitate and make you more precarious. For other riders that are not comfortable locking up sitting down, blindfolded, etc – by all means use a brake! Know your limits. Not about any aesthetics, purely based on safety. Ride safe yall!

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