Sunday, December 30, 2007
Most of the parts I have accumulated for this project has been from Internet stores. One I pointed out earlier, was Rider Paradise. Unfortunately this site has dwindled to offering no parts at all. To take it's place I have been checking out njs-keirin.blogspot and njsframes.blogspot. Finally I found a Dura Ace crank on njs-keirin. $207 (+$25 shipping) for the crank, pedals and NJS straps. This was a great deal. The Dura Ace track cranks are NJS and really, really nice; certainly as nice as the Suntour cranks and I have both arms! The pedals are MKS Custom Nuevo(s).
Unfortunately I made a small mistake. I noticed the spindle of the right pedal was hanging up a little. Most likely it's a slight manufacturing defect. I took the pedal apart and took a Dremal bit to the exterior plastic seal; I could see a small polished portion on the spindle where the two were rubbing. The Dremal seemed to do the trick. I then noticed the same problem on the left side. This time I had a problem with the bolt that attached the spindle to the pedal. The pedals have two cartridge bearings pressed into the body and the spindle slides into the bearings. The spindle is held in place with a allen screw. With the right pedal, I needed to put the allen wrench in a vise and turn the spindle with a pedal wrench to loosen it. With the left pedal it seemed to be taking more torque than the left; then SNAP! Oh no. It turns out the screw was left hand threaded. The following day was a waste of about 8 hours trying to locate a replacement screw. I ended up with three options. 1) Throw the pedals away and buy some Soma Hellyer (RX-1 copies) for $70 (my original plan before I bought the used Custom Nuevo(s). 2) njs-keirin.blogspot has a set of beat up RX-1(s) for $35 (plus $25 shipping). The administrator of njs-keirin.blogspot has offered to sell me the pedals at a discount. 3) I found a Web store that will sell me a new set of axles (w/ right and left hand threaded allen screws) for $45. While the third is not the cheapest alternative, it should solve the original problem of the bent axles, plus replace the broken left handed screw.
The choice was determined by njs-keirin.blogspot as they offred to sell me the pedals for $5 plus the $25 shipping. . At this point I must admit that these pedals are not for the Keirin bike. As mentioned earlier, I have already bought a new pair of MKS Custom Royal Nuevo pedals for the NJS bike. The Royal Nuevo(s) are different as they have loose ball bearings; very cool. The used pedal will be for the green machine (my first fixed gear bike). The only real issue will be if the axles are compatible. Custom Nuevo(s) and RX-1 both have cartridge bearings and I'm guessing the spindles (bolts) and bearings are the same. The RX-1(s) have a more abbreviated cage than either the Custom Nuevo(s) and the pedals have different thread pattern for the cages. Best case scenario is the spindles will not only be compatible but in better shape. Regardless all I really expect is a left handed bolt that will work. I'll advise.
Well it worked. I got the pedals in short order and the left pedal had the left handed threaded screw I needed. The Custom Nuevo(s) are now functioning and I have installed them on the green machine. The RX-1 left pedal is a different story. It looks like it was in an accident and then used as a fishing weight for a while; and were talking ocean fishing here. The right pedal on the other hand was in good shape. The two obviously have different histories. While were on the subject of pedals, I bought a set of Christopher toeclips and straps (white) and I plan on using these on the track bike. The NJS bike has has become more of a concept bike. At first the idea of building a bike that could certified and ridden on a Keirin track sounded cool. However, as I have putting the bike together, I realized it would lose all personality and end up being one of the hundreds that are lined up in the basement of a Keirin track waiting to be ridden. I think I can understand why the Keirin racers treat their bikes with so much disdain. So here is the current line-up.
Frame: Soma Rush 55cm
Fork: Threaded Tange steel
Headset: Tange Levin engraved
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura Ace (NJS) cups/bearings; Campagnolo spindle
Crank: Shimano Track (NJS)
Pedals: MKS (NJS)
Handlebars: Nitto (NJS)
Stem: Nitto (NJS)
Rims: Tubular Araya (NJS)
Spokes/Nipples: DT 15g
Hubs: Suzue Pro Max (NJS)
Tires: Vittoria CX
Wheels: 3 cross front/ 4 cross rear
Cogs:18T (Soma), 16T (Shimano)(NJS)
Seat post: Soma
Brake caliper: Tektro
Brake lever: Soma
Still waiting for the fork, then ...
Friday, December 28, 2007
Next came the drive train. Like all old Sakae cranks, the big chain ring is pressed on and the inside is bolted to the big ring. If one is to have a clean looking drive train you’re stuck with a 52T chainring. The bottom bracket (Sugino) was not in too bad a shape. The spindle was shoot, but fortunately the old spindles are pretty easy to come by. I replaced a few ball bearings on the drive side and it was ready to go. While I was dealing with bearings I also rebuilt the headset. Both the bearing cages were pretty much dissolved. Even though Sheldon Brown says they are not necessary, a quick trip to a small time LBS fixed me up with some replacements.
Now the frame. I gave my son the choice of color; almost. He gets up to three picks and can veto 2. His first choice was green, but I have a green bike already so we ended up with copper. I worked for 15 years in a paint shop so I have my standards. Still I figured I could do a rattle can job that would look nice. I bought some Rustoleum paint and soon found out the limitations. Turns out Rustoleum paint is not compatible with any paint containing acetone; and of course I used a primer with acetone. The paint wrinkled up in a number of spots, but they sanded out okay and I put on a couple coats of clear. Unfortunately I missed one spot with the copper behind the seat tube and when I tried painting over the clear, it was a disaster.
For Part 2 go to The Nishiki Conversion; it Lives!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
1)My best friend Mike’s new Fetish fixie; red with ENO cranks and Mavic track wheelset. I hate the term but that is a sweet bike.
2)My ill-conceived attempt at using toe-clips. I bought some Soma double straps and double toe clips. The shoes where some Adidas Classic Pro with MKS toe Clip cleats. First the cleats were almost impossible to insert while riding. Second the straps are the new Vegan style (I’m not kidding). They are 1/3 thicker than standard laminated straps and nowhere near as nice as the MKS (NJS) version. It was all I could do to thread them through the pedals and then they started delaminating. They will go back to Soma and from now on it’s back to Look pedals for me.
3)The third was the ultimate flat tire story. After only 10 miles I got a rear flat tire (I rarely get flats and never at Solvang). I pulled over and after removing the tube, pulled out my Zepal frame pump (the best blankity-blank frame pump on the market; I'll explain later) Anyway, this was the first time I had used the pump and it was set in the Schrader mode. As I open up the nozzle to switch the innards, the pin on the lever popped out into the brush on the side of the road. The best blankity-blank pump on the market was now the best blankity-blank expandable dog club on the market. One thing about roadies, is they always want to be sure you have everything you need to fix a flat. Even on a sponsored ride, everyone of the 2000 riders ask, “you all right?”, “got everything you need?”, “need any help?”; “yeah, yeah, no… “ Anyway, the first person I actually said, “need pump” to was a portly Hispanic guy named “Ramon”; a very helpful fellow who seemed to be an expert on my Zepal pump; “best blankity-blank frame pump on the market”. So, while I was trying to use the 10 inch frame pump he was carrying, he miraculously found the pin for my pump! I would have kissed him if I knew him better. Anyway, after too many “Dude you rock” and “Viva la Raza’s”, Ramon was on his way and so was I; for about 50 feet, when my tire went flat again. Humph. About this time Mike showed up, coming back from the top of Ballard grade (Had I known how far back you were I would have just waited for you). Also, the sag wagon arrived with Mr Blankity-blank (the kind that uses blankity-blank as a verb).
So you got a blankity-blank flat tire, too blankity-blank bad. Do you need a blankity-blank tube? Oh you got a Zepal pump? Best blankity-blank pump on the market. I tell Mr Blankity-blank that I just fixed a flat and I suspected there was something in the tire I missed. He looked at the tire and pointed out a small hole left behind by some long since removed road hazard. Well there’s blankity-blank problem, you see that blankity-blank hole? Your blankity-blank tube will get sucked into that blankity-blank hole and cause a blankity-blank flat; that’s what you call your blankity-blank pinch flat. You’re gonna need to put a blankity-blank patch on that hole. Mr blankity-blank then pulls out a bag full of tubes and as he goes through them he starts yelling out, “What the blankity-blank is this? They send me out to help these blankity-blank riders, and all I got is blankity-blank mountain bike tubes!” About this time some rider stops behind the SAG wagon and asks to use a pump. “Hold you blankity-blank horses and I’ll get you a pump” and Mr Blankity-blank then walked to the rear of the SAG wagon and out of sight. It was at this time I discovered there was a passenger in the SAG wagon. I never saw him, but I heard this phantom voice say, “Yep you got yourself a pinch flat”.
Mr Blankity-blank then returned complaining; blankity-blank, they gave two blankity-blank pumps that don’t work, hey buddy, can I use your blankity-blank pump? A Zepal, best blankity-blank pump on the market. I then handed the pump to Mr Blankity-blank, and he disappeared behind the SAG wagon again. While we were waiting for Mr Blankity-blank to return, Mike dug a small piece of glass from my tire and managed to find the holes in both tubes. I patched the tubes, re-mounted the tire and put in one of the patched tubes. Mr Blankity-blank returned and asked if I wanted to buy a patch; I said no. Well, it blankity-blank looks like you know what you’re doing, with that blankity-blank pump and all, I’ll be blankity-blank on my way. As the SAG wagon pulled away, Mike finished pumping up my tire. As he pulled the pump off the valve stem, I hear this psssssssssssssssssss; what the blankity-blank was that? Ahh, the valve stem just broke off; blankity-blank? Turns out Mike had a brand new tube that we installed and there were no more tire problems for the rest of the ride.
We had a great time and will be back in March for the Century. Hope you had a blankity-blank good time reading this and remember it’s all about the blankity-blank ride!Brad
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Under the heading of new parts on an old bike, I have mounted some of the NJS parts on my the old green machine. So you don't have to look back it looks like this;
I call it my sanity bike and sent this photo to fixgeargallery.com; they have yet to post it but it's only been a couple of weeks. With the new parts I call it, what else? My insanity bike (the Green machines evil twin).
As you can see the brakes and the lights are gone. I also added a beautiful Chris King headset; in green of course.
The old headset was a Stronglight A9 that worked great, and would have probably outlived the frame. But because it is made of fairly soft aluminum and had come loose several times, it had become pretty nicked up. It also had this strange habit of not wanting to tighen up. I would have to over-tighten the adjusting ring, tighten the lockring and then loosen the adjusting ring into the lockring. After about 3 years of this, I finally figured out the lockring was galling against the aluminum washer between the two rings. Once I coated the washer with grease the problem went away. Unfortunately some damage had been done to the lower race (with a Stronglight the steel races are separate from the cups and come as two discs that sandwich around the roller bearings). The damage was minor and similar to the notchiness I've seen with cage ball bearing, but I did not feel any of the associated "indexing". Due to the fact that I have the same headset on my Peugeot, I bought two bearing sets in case I ever needed them. This is something I always do and generally find I end up replacing the part before or at the time I would need to re-build it. Anyway I sold the rebuilding kits on ebay a few days before I pulled off the headset; I actually made money on them too! The previous headset was a chromed Campagnolo that was started to suffer from what I previously called indexing and is also called "notchiness", this is why I went to the Stronglight.
On bicycles ridden only in dry conditions and/or with fenders, the normal failure mode is a progressive notchiness in the steering, caused by pitting of the races. This is normally called "brinelling", although this stems from a misunderstanding of the cause; true brinelling is caused merely by pressing the ball axially into the race, and it is almost impossible to replicate this damage even by striking the fork crown repeatedly with a hammer. The pits are by far deepest at the front and back of the head tube, and are actually caused by flexing of the fork blades, which is transmitted to the steerer tube. This misaligns the bearings and causes "fretting", a small amplitude, large stress movement which tears metal from the races at the points where the balls rest.
The solution is to have a 45 degree interface in the headset where this flexing movement can be accommodated, preserving the relative alignment of the races and allowing the ball bearings to take pure axial and rotational loads. Shimano cartridge bearing headsets do this by allowing the cartridges to move relative to the pressed-in cups, while Stronglight roller bearing headsets, and most threadless headsets, now have loose upper and lower races which can move relative to the cups. Modern headsets, therefore, rarely suffer from "brinelling".
And from Sheldon Brown:
A bearing that uses cylindrical or conical rollers instead of balls. The major bicycle application of roller bearings is in some headsets. Roller bearing headsets are very long lasting, due to the greater contact surface area as opposed to ball bearings. Current units, however do not turn as freely as ball bearing headsets. This is due to the use of cylindrical rollers, rather than conical rollers. Cylindrical rollers do not naturally roll in a circle, but in a straight line.
For those of you that don't know about the Chris King Headset, they are way overbuilt and will probably outlast several frames. While there may be more innovative headsets, Chris King has certainly set the standard. From NYC Bike Snob;
Another financial investment. Regardless of whether they're worth the price, nothing inside our outside of cycling holds its value like these things. This is not an endorsement, it's just a fact. You can’t even get a used one cheap on eBay. I’ve tracked the retail price of these things over the years against the price of gold and the indices of all the world's stock markets and believe me when I say they offer a better return than any of them. As long as Mr. King successfully continues his anti-integrated headset scare tactics I’m putting all my money in his headsets.
Previously Ritchey made a their threaded WCS headset with needle bearings. This head set is no longer in production, but I believe it is the Ritchey WCS headset still sold by Rivendell. The only other headset I know of is the Woodman Saturn. The headset has a upper cartridge bearing on the top and a roller bearing on the bottom. I know nothing about this headset and it's only available as a threadless headset, but it looks interesting.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
This is my 30 year old Trek sport/touring frame that I finally fixed. I tried converting it to a single-speed with a tensioner kit a year ago, but that was horrible. Finally bit the bullet and fixed it proper. Now it's rock-steady fabulous!
The frame is one of Trek's early efforts - a double-butted 25.5in Reynolds 531 from 1977 or '78, with a 531 replacement fork that I got after I bent the original T-boning a dog that ran in front of me. Didn't hurt the dog at all. This frame was too tall for me when I bought it, but tall was normal back then. Stretch to fit, you disco punk!
Hey Baby, I know you're not NOS and after 30 years you’re more like yesterdays news. But in your day you were one hot mama; 531 and Campy, man I couldn’t keep my hands off you. But I’ve been thinking, you know that single speed thing we tried a while ago? Ya, I know you felt cheap and all, but this is different. It’s all about feelings and getting back to basics; back to what we were when we started.
I gave it a lousy sand-down and spray-can touch-up paint job because I wanted to keep the original decals. The tubes look fatter in these flash photos, but they're all about 1&1/8in and very spidery with nice lugs. It actually looks pretty sexy in the daylight.
It's ridiculously tall (we're talkin' near-zero standover clearance for my 6ft+ bod) with a long wheelbase and 23.5in (57.7cm) top tube. I still have a crappy 27in front wheel on it so I can use my Ultegra 600 brake. Some day I'll build a matching front wheel if I can find a 700c fork with a long enough 1in steerer. Or maybe I'll just get a long-reach brake.
Okay, so maybe we weren’t the perfect fit when we started. You were always head and shoulders above me and my big ideas just didn’t measure up. But I told you I’d make it work, I’d change the parts that didn’t fit. But now I’m asking you to freshen up a little. I’m thinking black stockings, it will give you that "spidery" look. You know I don’t want to change what that beautiful frame says about you, but something that going to hide the cellulite and look sexy in the daylight. No, No, you don't look fat. That's just the camera; you know it adds a 1/2 inch of tube diameter.
Parts include my original Campy Strada triple crank with a 42 Stronglight chainring, Soma 15 1/8 cog filed down to fit a 3/32 chain. Ritchey MTB pedals. Mavic Open Sport rim w/Nashbar flip-flop fixed 32 spoke hub (huge thanks to Peter @ Performance in Cary for the refresher course in wheel building!). Front wheel is aforementioned Genuine POS 27incher with custom black and green paint job to cover up rust and oxidation. Campy headset, SR stem and Sakae Custom Road Champion bar. Ultegra 600 front brake. Ugly but solid-alloy generic seatpost with my well-worn Selle San Marco blue USPS saddle. Nice and cheap Hutchinson Excel kevlar rear tire. Nearly dead generic 27in front tire will hopefully last until I build the new wheel.
Look at this baby; Nashbar! Yeah the real thing! Laced to Mavic Open Sport! Almost a really good rim. And you know that rust under your front spokes? Green polish baby! Oh Yeah! Oh you know what turns me on. You know how I like it. Don’t worry about all those old parts, its patina baby, it’s what sells. Like that fat ring I got you that didn't fit with your other ring and chain, I just filed it down to make it fit; I'm so darned good with my hands. I’m ready to ride you all the way.
I finished it in time for day-1 of the MS-150 ride on Sep 9, where I rode it for the first 15 miles before switching to my geared bike. I wish I'd ridden it the whole 100 miles, it was so fun. But this is my first fix and I didn't want to be a menace to the pace line. No worries, it feels wonderfully solid and precise, though a little noodley in the front end, probably because of the crappy front wheel. And I'm sprinting and climbing with old narrow bars, dragging along my 200lbs of old wide geezer flesh.
Oh baby that was the best. Sorry I didn’t last as long as you would have liked but I'm not the man I used to be and face it, no matter how I dress you up, you're still my same old girl. And Gearie, oh you know she means nothing to me. The only reason I spend any time with here is because she’s easy. You’re my first love and you’ve done so much to try and keep the magic alive. It’s you and me baby, forever.
Note to self: unload shotgun in closet tomorrow.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
NEW NITTO PEARL Stem 25.4mm clamp 100mm NJS TRACK
NITTO TRACK BAR B125 Steel 25.4 clamp 400mm NJS B-125
The choices here were based on use; I'm actually going to ride this thing, probably do a Century on it. Very few folks can maintain the classic kerin drop for very long. The Nitto 123 bar drops 180mm and the 58deg stem gonna take it down another 2 inches. The Nitto 125 bar combined with the Pearl 71 deg stem is going to raise the bar 5 inches!! Oh yah.
Now, how about some wheels. First I got one of the best wheel men in the business. Combine that with Japan's traditional cheap spokes and nipples; this is one place I'm not going all NJS
World Class Cycles
Suzue deluxe pro max high flange 36 loose ball bearings no lockring 36 NJS
NEW ARAYA Tubular rim 16B Gold NJS 36H 335g Keirin
Again from Rider Paradise. Here I had to make the jump to tubulars. I consdiered some Araya clicnchers I found on ebay; they were the old 20A hard anodized variety, but the history of bike racing was made on tubulars, and this was to be a retro-bike, so I decided to go for it. However this is where the NJS stamp stopped. DT Swiss spokes and nipples. These are them; very shiny indeed.
Pedals, we are going to need pedals and clips; back to Rider Paradise
NEW MKS ROYAL NUEVO NJS TRACK pedals
NEW MKS Alpha Sport toe straps NJS keirin track Black
Now how about a crank. Checked ebay and found a NOS Suntour Suberbe 165mm Track NJS Crank; but just the right crank. It was so beautiful that I bought it. Now I need a left crank arm. This may be a year long quest, but most 165mm left cranks should work. There is the issue of ISO vs JIS. Most track components are ISO and most Japanese/American parts are JIS. The difference in the square taper is minimal, especially if it's new. I find NOS Dura Ace 165mm left arm for $24. When it arrived it I found it sat about 2 mm deeper on an ISO square taper axle than the Suntour crank; it should work fine.
Just sold a bunch of stuff so it's time to go Rider Paradise again.
Currently I am riding with a 48:18 gear ratio. I expect that once I play around on the track I am going to want to increase the ratio but I still want to ride on the street. The Dura Ace Track cogs are pretty cheap @ $15@, but they only go up to 16T. I decided to start with a 46 tooth CR and 16T cog; I can drop down to 13T or anywhere in between later.
NEW SHIMANO Dura Ace TRACK CHAIN RING FC-7710 46T 1/8"
NEW SHIMANO DURA ACE TRACK COG SS-7600 16T 1/8" NJS
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Campagnolo 700C Clincher Rims USED
Label: Moskva 80
Question & Answer :
Q:How many holes are these rims drilled for
A:There are 33 holes
Q:How many holes?
A:There are 33 holes
Have you got it yet??
This will go down as a classic!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
"Companies like Kalavinka, Nitto and Suzue, that produce relatively low-tech bicycle parts in today's high-tech bicycle world must realize that something's up because their products are selling out when normally they wouldn't be. The fact that these brands are enjoying success is definitely because of this latest trend sweeping Japan, but also because they hold the official NJS certification meaning that their bike parts are good to go on the Japanese Keirin circuit.
This NJS acronym has also enjoyed a newfound surge in popularity as they seem to be the gold standard for fixed gear riders; if it's good enough for Keirin riders, it's good enough for me, plus it's rare. You won't find a single NJS piece on Lance Armstrong's bike, or even keirin world champion Theo Bos's bike, but you will find it on every major street corner in Japan (as well as in SF and NYC), usually hooked up to a Kalavinka frame (also NJS and apparently one of the more popular frames), or on a Keirin track in Japan."
From my previous Blog "Why Single Speed #1":
In Japan they know how to be fanatics. They make rituals and religions about almost everything. There they have track bike racing called Keirin. It’s kind of a cross between horse racing and sumo wrestling. Check it out Every single part of the bike, every component, frame, wheels, spokes, chain, everything has to be approved with N.J.S. (Nihon Jitensha Shinkokai), the Japanese Bicycling Association, stamp of approval. The standard is almost the same as the Campagnolo ISO Track parts standard. There is another standard used by Shimano called JIS (Japanese Industrial standard). This standard has minor differences from ISO in the square taper interface between bottom brackets and cranks, and the frames have different size headtubes and fork races. This is different from the English/US Standard of ISO that Shimano builds for biikes here in the US. One of the primary reasons for NJS is so all the parts will fit together without concern for any discrepancies between standards. What a concept. Unfortunately it falls too short of this, but it does maintain a large margin of safety.
But NJS is so close. Imagine the holy grail of standards, where if the component has the standard stamp of approval, then interchangeability is assured. One seatpost size; 27.2 mm. Its the universal standard, why do you need 26.8 and 27. Seat rail distance, the universal standard is 44 mm and Keirin is 30mm, but NJS allows for both; choose one! But the worse is Shimano Octalink. It seems that Shimano no longer makes square taper DuraAce track cranks, they only come in Octalink; so now Octalink is NJS approved. Never mind that almost no Keirin will use Octalink, it just shows that even NJS has it's price. Still imagine NJS without these discrepancies(from Sheldon Brown).
1" x 24 tpi headset thread with loose ball bearings
1" (25.4 mm) handlebar/stem clamp diameter
1.375" x 24 tpi bottom bracket thread (left-hand on the fixed cup)
56 TPI spoke thread
1 mm axle thread
36 spoke loose ball bearing hubs
ISO square taper axles and cranks
144mm 1/8" chain rings
9/16" pedal axle diameter
Loose ball bearing track pedals with toe clips
(27.7mm seatpost with 44mm seat rails)
(steel frame and fork).
Parenthetical added by me. There is of course alot more to NJS than interchangeability, but none the less it would be awful nice
From a couple of postings from fixedgeargallery; these were random photos taken in Tokoyo.
The next two are classic Vanity NJS bikes.
and the Jesse's Nagasawa
Nagasawa 56 cm all NJS except Velocitys, Campy BB spindle Phils and saddle. Seat post was signed by the Keirin rider. (Oooo!)But this is what I want; an NJS Vanity is my next bike.
Friday, August 31, 2007
#4)Brakes, or lack there of. On the Velodrome there is no need for brakes. Track bike racers ride round and round on the track at speeds to match the level of rake (the steeper the rake the more track bike rider can maintain his speed through the turns. Since the riders are so close to each other, any rider with the ability to suddenly stop would be a hazard on the track. Since track races started when bikes were all fixed gear, there has been no need for the bikes to evolve, but road bikes have freewheels, which allow coasting and the necessity for brakes. There is a simplicity, out of necessity to brakeless track bikes, which continues even today. That said however, most track racers would think it looney to ride their track bikes on the road without a brake. The truth being you just can’t stop fast enough. The track racers in Japan (called Keirin) when training on the road, will mount a front brake, the hole in the front fork making the bike ineligible to return to the track, for the safety of having a brake. Why just a front brake you ask? Won’t you flip over the front wheel with just one brake? Well you will if you don’t know what you’re doing. 80-90 percent of your braking ability comes from your front brake. The harder you brake, the more weight is transferred from the rear to the front wheel, making the rear brake almost useless. This does however allow you to use the back pressure on the fixed drive train to help modulate your braking. Without this modulation you probably would fly over the handlebars.
Now if you intend to use this back pressure as your sole means of braking, you are going to have to REALLY pay attention to traffic. You can't slow down as quickly just using back pressure, but believe it or not, avoiding or steering around a problem with a bicycle, is often more effective then trying to stop. The problem is, if the time comes when you really need to stop, you can’t. This problem is made even more problematic the steeper the incline, which leads us to the next hipster braking topic,”Skidding”. Yes, you can skid the rear tire of a fixed gear bike quite easily; it’s a technique sort of like track stands (keeping upright on a bike without moving or touching your feet to the ground). You simply transfer as much weight to the front wheel as possible, this often looking life the rider is having sex with his handle bar, and lock your pedals; if you do this wrong it will buck you off the bike or break your knee. Some riders will lock their knee under the top tube to create the same effect (probably the only reason to have a bike pad). This is considered an essential art needed if you ride a hipster bike. Here's a pretty well done video on skidding http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0AFpq6jFok.
The problem here, is that locking the rear wheel is the most ineffective way to stop a bike. Campagnolo knew something when he said a brake is meant to slow a bike down, not stop it. Granted he was justifying the poor power of his early brake componentry, but truthfully, you don’t want brakes that lock up your bicycle’s wheels. There are two reasons you want your wheels to keep turning when you brake. The first is the true braking surfaces are your wheels tires. When you brake, your speed is turned into heat. And heat is good; it will cause better adhesion to the road. However, at some point your tires will start to melt dissolving your tires and that’s bad; that is also called a skid. When you skid, small pieces of the tire turn into BB’s, and the tire just rides on those BB’s, not contacting the road, until the tire material is ground off (that’s why cars have anti-locking brakes). So what you want is the tire to roll slower then your forward speed without skidding, so the heat is dissipated throughout the circumference of the entire tire, not just the one inch contact patch. The second reason is physics. Since the front brake is doing 80-90 percent of the braking and you have no front brake, physics is going to try and make your back brake turn into your front brake. In other words, your rear tire will slide out from under you and your bike will want to turn 180 degrees , so you are skidding backwards. This of course never really happens; you will either stop skidding on purpose or fall down and start skidding again, only this time it’s not pieces of tire that are balling up, it’s you skin.
As a final caveat, the tread of a tire is made up of different compounds; softer rubber has a better ride and holds the road better, harder rubbers last longer and hold up to more abuse. Regardless, the life span of the rear tire of someone Skidding is about 20 seconds. If your really good you can keep your skid going by letting the wheel rotate ever so often to a new patch; hipster bike riders actually make videos of this talent and compete at it and track stands, when they join together.
#5)Powder coating. The Hipster bike is all about color. When you are saving that frame from the scrape heap, you are going to want to make it pretty. Powder coating is the mainstay of mountain bike frames. While the Italians may want to turn each frame into vomit fade, mountain biker just want paint that will stay on the bike. Powder coating if cheap, durable and comes in almost as many colors as bicycle pads. And then there is "Shaving". If you are going to go to all the trouble of stripping a bike down and powder coating it, you may also want to shave it. Huh? That's right I said shave it. "Shaving" is such a descriptive term that I knew what it meant the first time I heard it. Remember that a fixie Hipster bike is a converted geared bike. A dedicated fixie bike has no bosses on the frame for brake or derailleur cables and obviously no derailleur hanger. A converted geared bike is going to have these bosses. So for aesthetics sake, one may want to grind off the bosses and derailleur hanger or "shave" the frame.
#6) Wheels. As I mentioned before, the classic Hipster bike uses a suicide hub. However there is another acceptable setup, that being Velocity rims laced to Formula hubs. Both are used because they are readily available and reasonably priced. Formula makes a very generic but good looking hub. Unlike higher priced hubs that use loose balls and cups, Formula uses inexpensive cartridge bearings. Since there is no freehub, all that is necessary is an axle suspended in the hub by two cartridge bearings. These bearings are so cheap, you can by them $2 or $3 @. Velocity rims however are a style choice; a Hipster style of course. The Hipster choice is the “Deep V”. The allure of the Velocity Deep V is they come in 24 colors. That’s right, Hipster bikes are all about form over function so why not a “Bubble Gum Pink” rim to go with your lime green powder coated bike. But wait there’s more! If you are looking for that really “fresh” look, check out http://fatlace.com/lacedup/2007/06/04/more-tae-x-fatlace-wheelsets/ for zebra strips or argyle rims.
Okay I said I would come back to this bike, so lets take a look.
Fixed gear; check
MTB bar w/pink OURY grips; check
Deep V Velocity with Formula hub; check
But we also have an Aerospoke front wheel and some cards in the spokes of the rear wheel; what about those cards? I once read someone describe the look as a bike that was ridden through trash and picked up some on the way. The history behind these cards is again the couriers. On their off times bike couriers have races called Alleycats. The participants would race from location to location using what ever route they thought the fastest. The cards, originally tarot cards, were simply identifiers for the race. Today they represent pretty much what ever the rider wants them to represent.
Now the Aerospoke wheel has been around for over 25 years. It was once the hot setup for race bicycles when aerodynamics was big factor; that would be triathlon/ time trails and to a lesser degree track bikes. Once Velodromes moved inside, the need for aerodynamic wheels on track bikes also went away and with the advent of carbon fiber wheels with bladed and lower spoke counts, Aerospoke wheels started to find themselves in the Bargin Barn. Then something happened; again it was the couriers. Turns out it’s a pain in the ass to thread a chain through a spoked wheel, but throwing one through an Aerospoke is a breeze. And since for a while you could pick up a front Aerospoke for about $100, they started showing up on the couriers’ bikes and Viola! it became the style. Demand then increased, but unfortunately Aerospoke already sold off all their stock and it seems all the bargains are gone. But you still see them, like this one that has been polished and posed in front of a charming washer and dryer set.
You'll notice too, this bike and the one above have a lot in common; that's not by accident, it's truly by design. After all they are both Hipster bikes!
Being a bicyclist for the last 25 years, I have certainly taken notice of the fixed gear (or fixie) phenomenon that has seemingly taken over the “underground” or stylish bike scene, over the last 10 years or so. My fall into the abyss of fixie started in 2001 when I started riding a singlespeed mountain bike. Thinking I would need to maintain my “singlespeed stamina” through the winter months when I usually dedicate myself to road riding, I starting thinking of some means to do so. At this very time synchronicity played it’s hand and a neighbor inquired if I wanted to buy a track bike he had taken in trade for Chiropractic services. The bike had a custom steel track frame/fork, Campy Record flange hubs laced to Mavic sewup rims, Cooks 165.5 cranks, with some other Salsa, Campy, Cinelli and Sugino parts, and no brakes; he took $200 for the bike. After tinkering with the sewups and no brakes; I replace the former (clinchers) and added the latter (front). This bike has been my sole road ride since, including commuting and centuries. This is how my bike looked before the crash of 2007.
But still, there is the other side. The whole messenger/courier look, which changed your typical track bike
into the “Langster”
into the “NYC Langster” (even Specialized can't get it right; brakes on a Hipster?)
The whole messenger/courier fixie thing has become a movement, and with all movements, as the Doobie Bros named their album, “What were once vices, are now habits.” Of course most couriers don’t even ride the things, but that doesn’t matter, the mold has been cast. The following is the reasoning I have heard for the silliness that is now a Hipster bike (as far as I know they really aren't called Hipster bikes, but I just like the sound of the name from this incredibly dumb down video; I wish that's all there is to loosening a stuck seatpost video). Speaking of videos, this one fits because it includes a road biker vs a hipster with fixed gear, but is also the coolest and catchiest bike video I have ever seen;
This is part 1 of my attempt to decrib and define what a hipster bike was and what it has become.
#1) It must be a fixed gear or course. The fixed gear is the bike of choice because it requires very little maintenance. A courier usually makes $200-300 a week and can’t be pouring money into his bike. This unfortunately has led to what was been coined as the suicide hub. Since a true fixed hub is not common place, garage mechanics have taken to converting freewheel hubs to fixed gear. A freewheel hub is much like a BMX hub, but was designed to hold a multi-speed freewheel. The conversion involves re-dishing the hub so it will line-up with the front chainring when you screw-on a fixed gear cog. Unfortunately, unlike a fixed gear hub, there is no lock ring to hold on the cog. Generally they use a bottom bracket lock ring in it’s place, but since is screws on in the same direction as the cog (unlike the fixed gear hub) there is nothing to stop both cog and ring from unscrewing when you apply back pressure on the crank to slow down or stop. Hence it’s suicide to use the setup. The safety minded mechanic will actually weld the cog on the hub.
#2) Messed up handles bar. One thing the messengers seemed to have started was the “flop and chop”. Road or drop handlebars were designed to be aerodynamic, but most folks ride on the “flats” or top and hoods. To make the bar more user friendly they flipped the bar over and cut the drop off. They left enough of the drop sticking up to cradle their hands or add a brake; it does however reduce hand positions to one. Track bars have no real flats, because track riders ride exclusively in the drops. It is common to see track handlebars with bar tape or special track grips on just the lower grip portion of the bar. A lot of hipsters do a reverse track taping, taping just the flats and leaving the drop bare. NYC BikeSnob described this as looking like a dogs penis. Everytime I see them now and think of that; thanks BikeSnob.
If they don’t mess with the bars they leave them bare. Why anyone would want to ride a bike with their sweating hands sliding on non-taped handle bars is beyond me, but it is one of the most common “modifications”. Since all of my bikes have grips or bar tape, I have often wondered what it would feel like to grab a hold of a bare bar after it was sat in the sun while the rider I was carousing at my favorite coffee house. Holy blisters Batman! (but I digress).
If they decide for some reason not to chop up the bars sometimes they'll just put them on backwards?? This guy said it was his first build; no doubt, he also mounted the seatpost backwards.
Another reason I’ve heard to clip the bar was to make it easier to maneuver between cars. Of course this has been taken to the extreme of being no wider that the combined width of the grips; kind of like riding a horse with both hands on the saddle horn.Once the couriers started buying into their own rhetoric and riding without brakes, they imagined chopping the drops off completely, leaving just the flat portion of thenothing more than a straight mountain bike bar, hence the move to flat or low rise MTB bars and grips; Qury grips of course, because they come in so many colors. However, there is also another gripless bar that is commonly called, are you ready for this? The dildo bar.
#3) The Brooks saddle. Brooks has been making saddles for over 100 years. Their saddles are heavy and consist of a thick, non-forgiving layer of leather. These saddles have become the defacto saddle on a hipster bike. The trade mark are the copper rivets that sometime hold the leather to the frame. It has been said, mainly by the Brooks I might add, that once you “break-in” a Brooks saddle, it is the most comfortable saddle you’ll ever own. The truth is of course quite different; Brooks saddles don’t break-in your butt does. That’s right. The problem with most saddles is they break down after you’re butt has conformed to them; Brooks saddles don’t. It may take twice as long for your butt to conform to a brooks saddle, because they horribly uncomfortable, but once your butt has conformed to them, they will keep their shape for decades. That's why there is so many of them around. I’ve never understood why someone would spend the same money on an stiff piece of leather as they would on a modern, Sella Italia, but they do and boy do they suffer for it.
#4)The bike pad. There are two possible avenues here. The first is a bike pad may be just an elongated top tube protector. A top tube protector is a very short piece of plastic used on track bikes. Since the handle bars on track bikes are only taped on the drops, often times the bar can swing around and dent the top tube. These clip on the top tube to protect it from being damaged by the handle bars. The other route is that Couriers have this steel thing with wheels that they have to do something with when they get where they are going. Sometimes they take it with them and other times they lock it to something. Either way they either need something to protect their shoulder from the bike or the bike from the lock. Since bike couriers only exist in urban areas known for their high crime, the lock of choice is usually a big burly chain. “They also use chains for chainsaws” as I said before, so the bike pad was born. Originally a length of pipe insulation covered with duct tape to hold it on, it is know a fashion statement. Never mind that few hipster bikes will ever see a bare chain, you can now buy them custom made to match your paint scheme and tube diameter. http://yancopads.com/homepage.html. They are totally useless.
What goes hand and hand with the pad is a very useful item called a Messenger bag. The original bag was designed as a more contemporary version of a Postal service mail bag. Companies such as Chrome and Reload, (they also make pads of course) make some very stylish new bags that are functional as they are butt ugly. They're designed to throw over your shoulder and hold anything one would pay a messenger to deliver. They also seem to be designed to coordinate with your tattoos.