Friday, August 31, 2007

The Hipster Bike Part 2.

Continued from Part 1

#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

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 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!

The Hipster Bike

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.

We're going to see this bike again because, except for the lack of a "bike pad" and Brooks saddle, it represents the classic hipster bike.

#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. 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.

Part 2

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The street weapon inspired by all the couriers out there!

The problem with this bike is it has absolutely nothing to do with a courier bike. The true core of a messenger bike is a bike that has been reduced to the lowest maintenance possible; something that light enough to port around and easy to lockup when necessary.

The guy did a lot of custom work..

She is a double butted Columbus front triangle with a Phil Wood eccentric BB fillet braised hand filled, (brother check those seamless welds out!) hand cut and finished stainless steel head badge/head tube gusset/seat and chain stay gusset/ drop out faces.

4130 seat tube sleeve and top tube gussets all hand cut and finished. In house designed and CNC cut rear dropouts with internal ISO disk mount. (flavour)

The forks are an off the shelf 26? 4130 jump fork, which we then cut out the bridge to fit 700c wheel braised in the new cap, cut out the Canti bosses, added a cable guide then I went to town with the stainless steel again giving it the gothic bling.

and then draped the bike with chi-chi components, which he unfortunately can’t spell.

The rest of the bike is spec-ed out to be as pornographic as I could go. Phil Wood kiss-off fixed disc hubs, (cause gears are for the weak)with chrome dome nuts, ss track spacers, michi 16 tooth track cog and cycle underground six shooter 19 tooth disc mounted fixi cog on the brake side laced with DT.

DB spokes to black velocity deep v rims wrapped in 35c Schwalbe rubber. Atom lab stainless bars hand rubbed and polished to mirror finish. Thompson post and stem. Brake is Shimano Deore in the picture but it is now a hope m4 with gothic rotor. Settie race replica saddle. Profile race cranks with titanium spindle 40 tooth profile chain ring and egg beater peddles, Connex 1G8 single speed chain (phat) and the piece de resistance the titanium Chris king head set. TASTY.. enjoy ?I know I do?.

Again one has to ask, “What does any of this have to do with a messenger bike?” The only part of the spec that even sounds like a road fixie are the Velocity rims.

Otherwise it should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about bikes, that the street weapon inspired by all the couriers out there, is in reality a 29” fixie mountain bike; and a very nice one at that. Profile cranks, disc brakes, Eggbeater pedals, Atom Labs riser bar, Thompson post and Chris King “No-thread” headset. Even the frame and fork with it’s EBB and the 4130 “Jump Fork” screams MOUNTAIN BIKE!. The part I can’t figure out is why one would have Phil Woods fixed disc hub and then mount the cog on the disc mount?? Regardless you have a fixie mountain bike, get used to it. After all, it is TASTY.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SS Disc hub weights..

When it comes to disc hubs, you pay your money and you take your choice. Keith Bontrager is renowned for his statement, "Cheap, light, strong; pick two". So I took some time to look up some of the most popular hubs, their weights and prices.

Okay; the word on disc SS hubs..

Cassette style discAmerican Classic* 244gm $270
Bontrager 433gm $ 80
DT Swiss 285gm $400
King 335gm $400
Novatec et al 640gm $ 80

Freewheel (add $75 and 157gm for WB ENO)
Paul 220/377gm $115/$190
ENO 332/489gm $150/$225Surly 362/519gm $ 80/$155
Phil Wood** 392/549gm $235/$310

The ringersShimano
XT M765 435gm $ 50
Shimano XTRM965 372gm $230

*questionable longevity
**probably the finest hub of it's kind made

Saturday, August 25, 2007

How to Wash Your Bike

Where ever you work there is usually one person who is the go to guy when it comes to bicycles. I happen to be that person where I work. Although the most common question is, “Which bike should I buy? Surprisingly, another very common question is “How do you clean a bicycle?” So, for those folks and anyone else who is interested, this is how I clean bicycles. It should be noted I am responsible for maintaining a stable of about 10 bikes, so I have streamed lined the process. Here are the cleaners and brushes I use. You might also want an old toothbrush and a spray bottle with water.
The blue brush is a Park gear cleaner and is a must when cleaning a multi-speed drivetrain; the white and blue bottle is Park Chain Brite. Before I spray on the Simple Green I will rinse the area I am cleaning with water. I use Simple Green for the grunt of the work, and throw in some Chain Brite when the Simple green isn’t getting the job done. When cleaning your bike, don’t use a pressure nozzle and never use a “power washer”; use enough water to get the job done, rinsing before and after using a cleaner. Use a minimal amount of water around the seat/ seat post and head tube/headset areas. Always ride your bike for a few minutes after you have washed it to help remove any excess moister.

First I put the bike on a stand. I use a small flat head screw driver and scrape the crud off the derailleur pulleys

Next I spray the entire drive train with Simple Green and scrub the crank, chain rings, front and rear derailleurs.

To clean the chain I shift the chain to big chain ring and using the Park brush, I scrub both sides and the outside of the chain.

Next I scrub the inside of the chain.

Once the chain is relatively clean (you will be coming back to it), I work on the front chain rings and rear cassette. The rear portion of the Park Tool is designed to clean between the cogs of the rear cassette. As a caveat, Park doesn’t seem to have figured out that their tool is not thin enough for 9 speed drive trains. This one is so worn I can get it in with a little effort, but a new one doesn’t work well at all.

This is a good place to add some Park ChainBrite chain cleaner; this by far the best chain cleaner on the market.

Now rinse off the big stuff and wipe down the chain. This is the place where I sometimes use some ChainBrite with the Simple Green, as it dissolves grease faster than Simple Green alone; you can use the ChainBrite by itself or in a chain cleaner, but you will use 5 times the amount. If I have more time I will remove the chain and place it in a bottle with 50/50 Simple Green and water. I shake the bottle from time to time and let it soak over night. Once the chain is clean I pull off the rear wheel and pretty much repeat the process. I do all this before, because it’s easier to clean the chain while the rear wheel is on the bike. And now, when you clean the chain rings and cassette again, you won’t crud them up again with a dirty chain.

With the rear wheel removed, spray on some more Simple Green with a few drops of ChainBrite and go to town with the Park brush. It doesn’t take long to get it clean like this.

Now spray the drive train with Simple Green again with a few drops of ChainBrite, and clean off what you didn’t get the first time. With the rear wheel off you have better access to both derailleurs.

Once the drive train is done, you can work on the rest of the bike. On a hot day the Simple Green will start to dry up on you. Sometimes I spray some water on it rather than just washing it off with a hose. Generally you will not need to use the cleaner on all areas of the bike; a damp rag will work fine. When you’re done with the last rinse, wipe the entire bike dry.

Now all you need do is put the rear wheel back on and run it through the gears and put a little chain lube on the chain; I been using Chain-L N05 with good results, but it takes a little more work than other chain lubes. A piece of advice here; always put your bike on the ground when you are putting the wheels back on and tightening the quick releases. This makes sure the axles are properly anchored in the dropouts. Failure to do so will cause you fits. This bike has disc brakes. If your bike has rims brakes, remember to thoroughly clean the braking surface and brake pads. And there you are; all you need now do is lube the chain. If you are more anal, you can spend some more time on the chain, wipe down the spokes or spray the frame with a furniture spray like Pledge (it really makes the paint sparkle!). Now take a short ride and run the bike through the gears one more time. Once you do this a few times it should take no more than 20 minutes to wash your bike.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Misfit Psycles Fu-Bar

I don’t get it. That’s what I said when I saw the Jones H bar and the Misfit Psycles Fu-bar.

Fu-bar on top, Titec H-bar on the bottom.

I am 52 YO and have been riding bikes for about 30 years. I started as a roadie and really didn’t start riding off road until about 1991 when I bough a Specialized Rockhopper. The Rockhopper came with straight bars and I put on bar ends as was the custom of the time. The bar ends were in a way similar to riding on the brake hoods of a drop bar. The point seems to be get your hands forward of the stem, weighting the front wheel and allowing you to stretch forward. And there is still little argument that bar ends assist the rider when climbing for the very I have mentioned. When riser bars first appeared, I tried them several time, but they never opened up the cockpit, so to speak, when climbing, as did bar ends. That why I just couldn’t figure out the new wrap around bars. They still didn’t allow you to stretch over the front of the bike.

But, thanks to Misfit Psycles who sent me a couple of Fu-bars to check out. My first test was with the Fu2-bar. I mounted this on my Rocklobster with the 115mm stem Paul Sadoff had spec’d.
Immediately I sensed the bar was too narrow. The bar would be good for someone who is not used to a wider bar, as it seemed the stock stem worked well. Next I went to the wider Fu-bar. The bar was wide enough, but after the first ride I found my hands moving forward off the grips. I then switched out the stem to 130mm. This was better but it still felt too far back. Finally I switched out the stem for a 140mm Thompson.

OMG, this stem is super stiff and gave a much better fit to the Fu-bar. The other issues I was dealing with were positive and negative. First, the hand position of the Fu-bar is by far the best I have ever used. I had surgery on my left wrist years ago, which causes numbness and pain. That is simply not an issue with this bar. Even with the shorter stems, I could ride seated and do seated climbs much more comfortably with the Fu-bar then the bar ends. But, single speed is really all about climbing. With bar ends I could stand, lean over the front wheel and comfortably climb in this position for literally miles. This is something that doesn’t happen with a riser bar. With a riser bar and the Fu-bar with the shorter stems, I was in a more upright position, that felt cramped and in a more upright position that put more pressure on my lower back. When I finally went to the 140mm stem I was again able to lean forward, but with my hands wide and out to the side.

It’s a different position, but I am able to maintain the position and there is less pressure on my back. Add to that a better hand position, the fu-bar makes for an acceptable alternative to bar ends. On the Single Speed forum, I call myself a retro grouch and I do find myself leaning toward the proven over the new and improved. I am in the enviable position of having two singlespeed mountain bikes. One is the suspended Rocklobster and the other is a converted rigid Bontrager. The Bonty still has bar ends, which I have no plans to change. If I only had one bike, I would probably stay with the tried and true bar ends. But one of the advantages of having two bikes is enjoying the differences between the two. In this case I know have another difference to enjoy with my Rocklobster with the Fu-bar.

On a side note, Misfit Psycles has now given me the Fu-bar I was testing; obviously that is huge. Thanks so much to Peter and all the guys at Misfit. When I look at all the singlespeed products on your website, along with your not taking yourself too seriously attitude, one has to wish you success. Feel free to use my name and any comments as an endorsement for your product. If you need to use some words out of context; “Wow!”, “Great!”, “A whole new paradigm”, “almost better than beer!”, “I’m in awe!”, I’d sell my children for this bar”. Thanks again, Brad

The Single Speed Chain FAQ

Traditionally single speeders used 1/8 inch BMX chains, since most single speed (SS) bikes are just 26" wheel BMX bikes anyway. Other reasons include the fact that SS track bikes and old BMX bikes had 1/8 inch cogs and chainrings and since 1/8 inch chains looked bigger than 3/32 chains they must be stronger. Also 3/32; 7-8 speed (or 11/128; 9-10 speed) multi-speed rated (MSR) chains are designed to derail, something you don't want to happen on a SS bike. It is also a misconception the 9, 10 and A second look however shows there had been a lot more R&D money thrown at MSR chains by Shimano and SRAM, so most MSR chains meet or exceed the tensile or "pull" strength of 1/8 inch chains. Since most single speed components available today come in 3/32, it seems logical to use 3/32 chains. On the other hand, while some claim that 1/8 inch chains on 3/32 gears cause more noise and wear than 3/32 chains, the jury is still out on this matter as many more use prefer this set-up. In the real world, it would seem the use of 1/8 inch chains work fine on 3/32 components and some, such as the SRAM PC-7 and KMC Kool chains are stronger.

One issue that comes up from time to time is the use of 1/2 links. The use of a ½ link allows you to vary the chain length by 1/2 inch intervals, rather than one inch with a standard link. This comes in handy when you are trying to convert a bicycle with vertical dropouts.

1/2 links come in two generic sizes, 1/8 and 3/32; they tend to be weaker than a standard link, so if strength is a major issue, you may want go with a half link chain. They add about 100 grams over a standard but they do not add a weaker link and they look kinda cool.

So do you need a single speed (non MSR) over a MSR chain? No, not really. Is there any advantage to a 1/8 inch chain? Yes, there can be if you have chainline and/or derailing problems, a SS chain can help; and as I said before some are stronger. However if you are using a spring tensioner such as this early Surly Singleator, an 1/8 chain may not work, as pretty much all tensioners are designed to work with 3/32 chains. Additionally if you're are having a problem with your Singleator skipping, they work best in the push-up mode, and with the addition of a zip-tie connecting the Singleator arm to the chainstay. The Singleator is the only tensioner with a push up "mode" (it requires a second spring that needs to be switched out). If you have another Singleator type tensioner, you can still use the zip ties but there will be no way to tension the spring (again they only work in one direction). Also, with the exception of the Paul Melvin, most tensioners are not designed to work with different size cogs using the same chain length. The Singleator manual says to shorten the chain as much as possible when using the tensioner (I would recommend using a half link if necessary). These tentioners skip due to a lack of chain wrap and tension, so anything you can do to increase either will help. Also make sure you have a cone wrench so you can tighten the spring as tight as possible.

The tensile strength of a SRAM PC-7 is about 2500 ft lbs and only come in 1/8 inch (and pimp gold); all other MSR SRAM chains (including the PC-58) are around 2023 ft lbs. The KMC Kool chains rate at 2860 ft lbs and come in both 3/32 and 1/8inch. The KMC Z chains (with an H in the model number) also come in both sizes (i.e. the 3/32 Z610H; my choice of chain), rate at 2640 ft lbs and are a bit lighter than the Kool chains. KMC ranks most if their MSR chains at 2314 ft LBS; I have not seen and published data for Shimano chains.

So what chain should you buy? There is a plethora of 1/8 inch chains out there; one of the favorites is the SRAM PC-7. On the other hand there has been considerable anecdotal information on the SRAM PC-1 (1/8) chain; the nickel plated version seems to hold up well but the non-plated version does not hold up well and should be avoided. KMC also makes a line of 1/8 inch (or 3/16 inch if you dare) and 3/32 SS chains. They come in various weights and strengths so you pay your money and make your choice. As far as MSR 3/32 chains go SRAM PC-58 seem to be popular with the anti-Shimano crowd as are the KMC chains. Shimano wise any of the better 7/8 speed HG or IG chains will work; The 9-10 speed chains may not work with some 3/32 cogs and chainrings. As elluded to before, they are slightly smaller than 3/32" @ 11/128".

As a final caveat there is the question of longevity aka "streaching". Regardless of what you hear, all chains get longer with use (I'd call that stretching). There are so many factors that go into this "lengthening", that it's futile to try and rank one chain over another. Just try and keep your chain clean and lubricated and when it has stretches 3/32" over a foot, replace it.

Also checkout and for some good chain spew.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The 3Rensho Specialized Allez

Earlier this year I was checking out the take off table at my LBS and I saw an old lugged red Specialized Allez frame and fork on sale for $65. I had been looking for a project bike so I picked it up. However the more I learned about this bike frame the more I think it was one of Allez frames of legend, made by the Cyclone company, aka 3Rensho . While most of the info on these frames is very anecdotal, I found this on a Google forum written by an importer/exporter.

"Specialized doesn't "build" anything. They, like Sears, look for vendors and lately it seems based mostly on price. Allez were originally built by I think Tano and Co., or at least a similar midsize bike company in Japan. The 1984~1988 models were designed and built by Yoshi Konno of Cyclone Ltd (3Rensho). At the time, the 3Rensho Athlete model was the same frame right down to the red paint except for the seatstay caps and a few other small details. Interestingly Allez was a house brand of the Holdsworthy Company, London, who did not pursue an American trademark so Specialized just took the name."

(I later received a comment from one of the founders of Specialized, Bryant Bainbridge, part of that is posted below*. He straitened out the facts, including, The notion that Specialized didn't design anything is pure crap!)

Also posted is another suspected 3Rensho frame.

The only info I have to add to the previous thread is from one of my mechanics. He says that the 3Rensho-built bikes have a slight slope to the fork crown (mine does) while the rest of the Allez line has a flat fork crown.

*portion of comment by Bryant Bainbridge
 The very first Allez's indeed came from Yoshi Kono and can be identified by the offset fork crown and long, super thin point lugs. Yoshi made these bikes for just a short period which I think ended in 1983. He made road, track and just a very small handful of funny bikes (less than 10). 
The notion that Specialized didn't design anything is pure crap. From the beginning some very fine framebuilders were employed to design bikes. Tim Neenan was first (Lighthouse frames), Jim Merz second and later Mark Dinucci joined our team. Mark is the man behind the thousands of frames made under the Strawberry label in the Pacific Northwest and later under his own brand. Among framebuilders his work is highly respected and folks like Sacha White at Vanilla speak of him with reverence. The details were sweated and that was what made these frame successful in the early days. At that time there was no middle ground, you either bought custom or settled for marginal fit and geometry.

Based on my bike and other posts, I have identified the following traits that would indicate an Allez was made by 3Rensho. The basics are it came from the factory as a steel lugged frame and fork painted red. There is a slope to the fork crown. The bike has chromed Campy dropouts front and back. The frame is built with a Medalist bottom bracket shell and has no serial number. The only number on the shell is the frame size in centimeters (mine is a 56).

An interesting note on my frame was the bike came with a Suntour front derailleur, a Campy bottom bracket, and a Shimano 600 headset. When I removed the headset I found that the bottom of the head tube had not been faced. There was a bit of brazing material plugging up the head tube, but that did not stop someone from pounding the cup into the head tube anyway. Fortunately it did no harm to the frame and Paul @ Rocklobster Cycles was able mill and face the head tube. Since the frame was set up for JIS, Paul machined the head tube and fork to accept the Campy headset I was going to install.

The main problem with the 3Rensho frame is I have yet to find anyone you will stand up and say this is a confirmed 3Rensho frame and this is what it looks like. I’ll add more to this post as I learn more.

I received a post that this bike was not a 3Rensho because the fork was not offset. I'm not sure how he could tell with the tiny picture I posted, so I posted another showing the fork is obviously offset.

Why Single Speed #1

To really under stand single speed you have to be kind of a fanatic about bicycling. Bicycling has to have a special meaning for you. I stopped a YWM (young white male) on a bike the other day as he was pedaling the wrong way on a one way street, at night without a light. He was riding an old single speed cruiser with cream colored fenders and big old chrome (non-functioning) headlight. I asked him how old the bike was and just stared at me and said, “It’s just a bike.” So I figured he stole it.

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.

Once you develop this fanticism of bicycling, single speed starts to make sense. No, it’s not for everyone or it may be for everyone but not all the time. But it is bicycling at its lowest common denominator. I have been riding my fixed gear almost on a daily basis since 2001 when I bought it from a neighbor for a couple hundred dollars. I have changed it over the years. First switched out the 140mm Salsa track stem for a more comfortable 100mm Cinelli, then I switched out the sewups for some clinchers and added front brake. It stayed in that configuration until this years when a pot hole took me down, broke 5 ribs and turned my handle bar and brake levers on a Beef-a-Roni (noodles and hamburger); too bad too, because the levers were some classy Campy Athena’s. I replaced the Bar and Stem with new Salsa and Cane Creek Brakes levers. The bike seems to fit me better now than it did before and I ride it everywhere. It goes to work with me, it climbs the local mountains, cruises the local farmland and has finished the Solvang Century twice. However what led to the fixie was a single speed mountain bike but that's another story.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apologies to NYC Snob

Okay, I have held off on doing the Bike Snob thing because, well it's the Bike Snob thing and he has turned it into an art form. You will notice that I am more interested in the rider than the bike. But I was cruising Craigslist (something I have never done before and probably never will again) and I came across this.

This was my first fixie I did. I meticulously cleaned the frame, then build it up using just the right amount of lube and grease. The frame is a 58cm Raleigh Super Course known for it's beautiful construction and lug work. Everything you see on this bike is new. I have ALL the recipts and packaging for all the components.

Hmmm. He put together this fixie and the best thing he can tell you about his mechanical abilities is he knows how to use lubricants.

Here is my list of what I spent:
Nitto stem - $50,
SS Mavic wheelset - $180,
Rivendell Speed blend tires - $48,
Tubes - $8,
Sugino Bottom bracket - $40,
Sugino crankset - $80,
Brooks saddle - $70,
MKS pedals - $36,
Surley track cog - $27,
Tange Head set - $25,
Bars - $25
frame ebay - $126,
Chain $13,
Seat post - $25
Total $753 + tax,
I will sell for $600.

Wow! He even kept the receipts and he wants to sell the bike for less than he paid and with all the oil and grease he used.

I have ridden this bike 2 or 3 times and it is a head turner. This bike has less than 10 miles on it! The only reason I'm selling is because the Visa bill is due!!! I will also throw in a pair of center pull brakes if you want. I'm located in Alameda, Bay farm island.

But now he needs to sell it because he can't afford to pay for all the parts he just bought! Apparently the sole reason this guy built this bike was to get a date. I'm sure of it. He put the bike together, well lubricated like he said, and then road around on it for 10 miles, probably dripping oil all over the road, riding from coffe house to coffee house, until some honey was impressed enough with the bike to go out with him. Now he has pay off enough of his VISA so he's under his limit enough to pay for a dinner for two and maybe a movie. Good Luck my friend. But what are you going to do when she asks to see the bike again? You know, the only reason she went out with you in the first place. Dude, what were you thinking? I wouldn't be selling those center pull brakes anytime soon. I'm sure as soon as she realizes what a loser she went out with, your love life will stop so fast your going to need those brakes to slow down your quick and pending fall into depression. But don't give up. You can always do it all over again. And this time see if the bank will up your limit so you can keep the bike for more than a week this time.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Do you know why I stopped you?

There is a bike stop from time to time that needs comment. One occurred the other night when night had fallen and the total lack of bicycle lights makes my job like shooting fish in a barrel. Problem is there is no sport in that and I would just be giving in the guy that rants and raves about the police not enforcing the bike light law. And now a confession, I have yet to cite the rider of a single speed/fixie road bike. Not that that don’t do anything wrong, but first they are harder to catch and second I share a certain amount of kinship with them. I usually ask them if they know why I stopped them (they always know), ask them to tell me about their bike and send them on their way with a warning.

I looked up just in time to see some guy in a pick-up come to schreeching halt as some little pixie on a SS roadie was about to run a stop sign. The girl made a quick right, rode around the rear of the truck and into my waiting arms. She was about 5 ft tall, a really bad hair cut and a curved spiked thing through her nose.

“I need to talk to you”.
“Okay, shouldn’t we step out of the street where it’s safer?’
“Ah, yes, do you know why I stopped you?”
“You mean the truck?”
“Ah, yes and the stop sign.”
“Well I turned right.”
“Yes, but you still have to stop, even if you were turning right, which you weren’t”.
“Do you know what’s more dangerous than running a stop sign?”
“I was turning”
“Running a stop sign with out a bike light.”
"I have a rear light."
"You need headlight also.”
“I didn’t know that; I actually have one but I left it at home”
“Well, it’s not doing you any good there is it?”
“Tell me about your bike”
“How long have you been riding a fixie?”
“It’s not a fixie”
The absence of a brake lever fooled me. It is a SS with a Campy brake up front. The lever was on the top tube.
“Tell me about your bike.”
“Tell be about your bike.”
“I don’t know much about the frame; I bought it off Craigslist.”
“It says Triathlon on the side”
“Yes, I think it’s a Nishiki.”
Good Girl! She went on to tell me the hubs were “Sunshine”, “They were as good as Campy in their day”. I gave her a warning and she started to sparkle.
“Oh this really means a lot to me. I mean I had heard they were writing a lot of tickets down here, but it hasn't happened to me, so you don’t know whether to believe it or not. I’m going to be more careful because of this. Thank you. I’m really getting into bike thing. I was just learning to ride without holding the handlebars."

And so I let her go. I never did tell her that riding downtown at night, without a bike light and where there are stop signs and the police on bikes, is not the best place to learn to ride without holding on to the bars; or that riding without holding the handlebars actually has very limited applications. I let her ride away. Then it dawned on me. She has a front brake controlled with a brake lever not attached to her handlebar. And now she's learning to ride without her handlebars....And she's been warned to stop at stop signs....No, she won't.... I mean anyone would know..OMG!...What have I done!...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Riding without pants

So what do we do here in Santa Cruz? Why we have Alley Cat Rides just like everybody else. Why one even showed up in the local rag (The Santa Cruz Sentinel). Where was that? Oh yes, here it is. “A group of pantless cyclists in stretches moments before the No-Pants Alley Cat bike race started Saturday afternoon.”…… Wait a minute….What?....pantless cyclist?... Maybe I should just read the whole thing.

August 5, 2007
Cyclists strip for Santa Cruz alley cat ride
By JENNIFER SQUIRESSentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — Wearing pink boy-cut briefs, Taylor Saxe and Dana Landing led a group of pantless cyclists in stretches moments before the No-Pants Alley Cat bike race started Saturdayafternoon. About 20 underwear-clad riders gathered at the Town Clock for the scavenger hunt-style cycle across the county.

"We just live to ride," said 18-year-old Landing, whose biking attire was ruffled pink shorts with black accents.

The two Santa Cruz women organized the underground event, one of many alley cat races in the area. Word-of-mouth and online announcements attracted a healthy mix of locals and out-of-towners to enjoy the weather and the leggy freedom Saturday.

The pants-free decree was just to make it memorable. "We kind of gave people a reason to go shopping," said Saxe, 19, in metallic pink briefs. A couple men wore boxers or running-style shorts, but most of the riders had bright briefs. One man brought extra pairs of leopard print undies in multiple colors in case anyone needed an outfit; another wore only striped briefs and tossed a messenger bag over his shoulder.

Alley cat rides draw on the skills bike messengers use, like knowing back roads and shortcuts that can sheer minutes off of travel time. Riders are given a manifest of stops or, on trickier courses, just clues as to what the stops might be. Saturday, riders had to hit the five checkpoints between Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz and Mid-County in whatever order they thought will be the fastest. "Everyone here can figure out their own way," Saxe said.

As riders gathered in the late-afternoon shadow of the Town Clock to pore over the clues — hint: "find the ugliest coffee shop in town;" checkpoint: the Ugly Mug in Soquel — concerns about police stopping their nearly-naked event were barely there.
"If they really think this is indecent exposure, boo to them," Landing said. "Thumbs down"

No, that didn’t make it any better. Now let me get this straight, why did they want to ride around in their underwear? "We just live to ride," said 18-year-old Landing, whose biking attire was ruffled pink shorts with black accents". You know, I have been accused on more than one occasion of “living to ride” but it never motivated me to ride around in my tidy-whities. There is just something spooky about this; it’s kinda like everyone getting together to drink Kool-Aid.

And then of course there was the punny, “concerns about police stopping their nearly-naked event were barely there.” Funny you might bring that up, because I did notice while driving my patrol car around the downtown area that there were a couple of young ladies riding their bikes in brightly colored men's underwear. And since I am a straight white male, the last thing I was going to do is bring this to their attention. I may have been a case of selective amnesia and I wasn’t going to be the one to spoil it for everyone else.

You can't buy entertainment like this.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More NYC Snob - The 3 Commandments

Bikes are functional art. Now surely anyone is free to build a bike anyway they want; granted there are some legal restrictions; in California a fixie is not considered to have a functioning brake. But it seems someone, based on the fixe bikes bike messengers ride, have developed a formula for bikes that make little sense. Hey, if you’re a lowly bike messenger, it makes since to tune your bike to the job; bike tape wears out pretty fast, is pricey and difficult to replace; they use chains for saws, so it’s probably not good for your paint; if you spend a limited amount of time sitting on your saddle, you may want to tweak it nose down so your don't get hung up on it; I think the brake issue is still unresolved, but I can certainly buy into the concept that riding around an accident is just as good as stopping for it and brakes can sometimes bring on an illusion of safety. I have a front brake on my fixie and I, like most fixie riders try to ride using the brake as little as possible. This means I have to be much more aware of traffic and has probably saved me a few crashes. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a brake when I miscalculate.

But what is it, with what NYC Snob calls, the Three Commandments of Fixed Gear Riding 1) Thou Shalt Have Thine Keys Exposed At All Times; 2) Thou Shalt Not Tape Thine Bars; and 3) A Helmet's Okay, But A Brake Is Gay. (I would add 4) Thou Shalt only put a Brooks on your behind) NYC Snob followed this up with the New Fixed-Gear Bicycle Owner's Manual; Funny Stuff.

For the most part I like off-the-rack track bikes. More inexpensive entry-level anything is a good thing. It's what a lot of people are doing with these bikes that's infuriating. And manufacturers have followed suit by blithely dismissing brakes on their websites, festooning their bikes with graffiti, and naming models after trendy neighborhoods. Look to find something like this hanging off the bars at your LBS soon:

New Fixed-Gear Bicycle Owner's Manual

Contratulations on the purchase of your Bianchi Pista/Specialized Langster/Cannondale Capo/Jamis Sputnik or similar. Your new bicycle should give you many days of enjoyment until you tire of it for aesthetic reasons and list it on Craigslist for the full retail price in order to help fund the purchase of an NJS-certified keirin bike, a vintage Fender Telecaster, or your move to another, trendier city.

Until that moment arrives, here are some things you need to know in order to get the most enjoyment out of your new toy:

A Note on the Fixed Gear Drivetrain

Your bicycle is equipped with a fixed gear drivetrain. For this reason you may want to alter your riding style accordingly. Firstly, ride slowly. Very slowly. This is the best way to avoid obstacles. When riding with friends on city streets, in bike lanes, or in parks, it is acceptable to disregard the flow of car or bicycle traffic and ride in whichever direction you choose. Slowly. If you find yourself traveling in the same direction as traffic and encounter an intersection with a red light or turning vehicle and are unable to stop, simply turn right. Riding around the block will eventually put you back on course and save you embarrassment and injury. In fact, did you know it's possible to get to any point on an urban street grid using only right turns? Well, it is. And it's safe and fun! Remember this acronym: AAL (Always Avoid Lefts).

Furthermore, your drivetrain enables you to enjoy your bicycle without having to actually ride it more than a few feet at a time. Fun things to try include: skidding, skip-stopping, trackstanding, and putting stickers and colorful parts on it.


It is important to begin the process of upgrading your bicycle’s appearance immediately. This can occasionally have the side-effect of improving your bicycle’s performance as well. Fortunately there are increasing numbers of track bicycle boutique shops. These shops dispense with the selection, service, and expertise of old-fashioned bike shops and instead focus on catering to your every candy-colored whim. They can also offer you sound and practical advice. Best of all, they carry lots of cool t-shirts.

Proper Usage

Though the model name or advertising copy for your bicycle may include words like “pista,” “track,” or “entry-level racing,” in no circumstances should you attempt to use your bicycle on or for any of the above. Doing so shall void your warranty.

“Proper Usage” includes: riding slowly to the bike boutique to purchase accessories and clothing; photographing your bike for submission to on-line galleries; participation in ad-hoc skidding contests; and doing track stands for hours outside of the residence of a person you would like to impress.


Your handlebars are wrapped in tape made of synthetic cork. Please note that the purpose of this tape is to protect your bars during shipping. This tape should be removed immediately.

You should be aware that once the tape is removed the bars may be slippery and difficult to grip. If this is the case, remove bars from stem, invert, and re-install. Then, using a hacksaw, cut in the middle of the curved portion until the excess length is removed. Your hands will now be slightly less likely to slip from the bars due to the limited hand position. This is called “flop n’ chop,” and your bicycle is now a gelding.


Depending on make and model, your bicycle may have been shipped with a brake or a pair of brakes pre-installed. These brakes should only be used in emergencies. Once you are comfortable bringing the bicycle to a safe and complete stop without using the brakes, they should be removed and discarded.

The term “safe and complete stop” means bringing the bicycle from 5mph to 0mph in a distance of no more than 50 feet.


Whenever operating your bicycle, safety should be your primary concern. Be sure to have a qualified mechanic install a top-tube pad immediately.

Thanks very much for your purchase, and welcome to the exciting world of track cycling!

Your bike is worth $20

Bike thieves suck. They are the bane of my existence. Fortunately I am a policeman and have been so for 25 years. I post a link on the Santa Cruz Police Department web site (Bikes Found/Stolen) to show both stolen bicycles and those we recover. The sad part is we return very few bikes. Since your average bike owner can’t even find the serial number on their bike most of the recoveries I make come through comparing sparse descriptors to the bikes tweakers were riding when they were arrested. BTW your bike is worth $20. That is the amount of dope most drug attics get no matter what the quality of your bike is. That’s why I suggest you get to know your bike. Find the serial number and write it down; don’t rely on your LBS to write it down for you. Of the three bikes I bought new, twice the serial number was written down wrong. Also, make sure you can read the serial number. Many times it is painted over and illegible; use an engraver and dig out the paint. Treat it like you’d be really heartbroken if someone stole it. Don’t leave your bike sitting locked at a bus stop or outside bike rack for hours. I don’t care if it’s locked or not; eventually someone will steal it. All locks can be defeated. And if the thief can’t defeat the lock, he’ll just cut the frame and take the bike for parts. I do find solace in the fact that if a drug addict if caught on a stolen bike they will become ineligible for Prop 36. Finally, be paranoid! Assume that every time you park and/or lock your bike, someone is planning on trying to steal it; because they probably are.

NYC Snob

I will be re-posting a number of NYC Snobs posts here because the guy is just flat out funny. These two posts fit together so well they have to be read together.

Worst of NYC Craigslist Bike Ads #7 and #8

Once You Ride Track You Never Go Back! Fixed Gears and Single Speeds - $100[original URL:]Reply to: see belowDate: 2007-06-30, 2:18AM EDT

What does this mean? I'm scared! Does this mean I will ride around and around a velodrome until I die? I mean, I love to ride, but that literally sounds like hell.

Once You Ride Track You Never Go Back! Fixed Gears and Single Speeds If you want to ride track, or just want learn more about it, we can help you find the right bike. CALL [deleted] after 5pm and call back if i dont answer!

Oh, I see. Riding "track" means riding a fixed gear bicycle. Got it. I have a friend with one of those. Sounds pretty cool. I think I'll read further.

We have several fixed gear and track bikes ready to go- 2 peugeots, 2 Fujis, a Schwinn, a Bianchi, a Univega, and a Panasonic. We can answer any questions you have, and we have a good selection of fixed gear and single speed bikes starting at $100. Every bike we sell comes with a six month warantee, and we are always happy to explain how to care for and maintain your fixie. Both converted rear hubs and track wheels are available for any bike, as well as flip flop wheels, with freehweel on one side and fixed on the other, for those who like variety. See below for more wheel info.Why do I feel like I'm about to buy a black market parrot or something? Every bike we sell will have: -a straight chainline -a secure cog and lockring -a rear wheel centered in dropouts -a front brake for added safety -new cables and housing -new bearings in the headset and bottom bracket

Sounds OK so far. I love added safety! Mom and Dad will definitely wire me the money to buy a safe bike like this.

For those who are wondering, here is a rundown of our procedure for converting rear wheels: A fixed gear is distinguished by direct drive; the pedals and the rear wheel are connected directly by the drivechain, so the if you pedal backward you go back, and if you stop pedalling you stop, unlike with a freewheel bike. On both converted road wheels and track wheels, the cog and lockring screw onto threading on the hub, but only a track wheel has reverse threading for the lockring. This way, when you pedal forward, you tighten the cog, and when you pedal back, you tighten the lockring. On a conversion, the cog and lockring both thread on the same way, so that whan you pedal backward, the chain torques them both loose. For this reason, for our conversions, we weld the cog and lockring onto the hub, so that when you stop, your cog wont pop off! In our experience, the welded conversion is just as safe as a track hub; neither one has ever broken that we know of. However, if you plan on riding without a front brake, we recommend using a track wheel just to be sure. The rest of the conversion involves adjusting the axle and spacers and re-dishing the wheel. We put longer spokes on the drive side of the wheel and shorter spokes on the other one; this ensures that the cog and the lockring are in a straight line and that the rim is centered in the dropouts. Both these things are critical for a functional fixed gear: if the chainline isnt straight, the chain will derail and the chainring will get bent, and if the rim isn't centered correctly, the balance and the steering of the bike will be off....So make sure any fixed gear you buy is set up right- don't be afraid to ask questions!

Well, I'm convinced. Welding a cog to a hub sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I doubt I'll ever want to change my gearing anyway. And I'm comforted by the fact that he says not one has ever broken "that we know of." Why, the only way they wouldn't know if one had broken would be if the rider had died, and I certainly doubt that's the case. In fact, I think I'll cut-and-paste this entire paragraph and email it to Mom and Dad so they'll feel better about wiring me that money.

We are between workshops right now, so we're temporarily working out of my apartment in williamsburg- please contact us to set up a time to come by. If you tell us your height, your price range, and any other preferences you have, we'll let you know what bikes we have that might work for you. Please call [deleted] for more info- leave a message with your number if i dont answer and i will get back to you asap.

Hmm, surprising that they're between workshops. I'd think an operation as professional and conscientious as this would already have a chain of legitimate retail outlets all over Brooklyn. Oh well--I guess I'll just keep trying until he answers. He probably can't hear me over his welder.

50cm Bianchi Track Bike (fixed gear, NO BRAKES) for sale - $600[original URL:]Reply to: [deleted]Date: 2007-07-02, 9:28PM EDT This vintage early 1980's Bianchi Pista is a beautiful classic track bike in pristine condition. For the CL police who will no doubt post some smug comment about new Pistas selling for the same price, let me point out that I have just had the frame professionally powder coated, and I have also customized it with new upgrades of just about all the components. Even without the custom rebuild, the older Pista frames are vastly superior to the flashy new models, and unlike the Pistas currently on the market (which most racers would be too embarrassed to bring to a velodrome), they were actually made for RIDING ON THE TRACK. This bike is not drilled for brakes, and it has authentic track geometry. The new finish is a metallic sky blue color, and I have rebuilt it with all black components including:

Hold on there, Skippy. Last time I was at the velodrome I saw some of the fastest riders in NYC riding recent-vintage Pistas, and they didn't look too embarrassed. In fact, the only rider who would be "embarrassed" to ride a reasonably-priced and versatile bicycle is the kind of rider who would be afraid to enter a race in the first place. If you ever raced, you'd know that most real racers don't have a vanity bike for each and every discipline, and are more concerned with actually riding. Also, maybe you've been blinded by welding flash, but if you check the Bianchi site you'll find that the current Pistas do have true track geometry. Yes, they're handicapped by those pesky brake holes, but you can easily weld those shut.

Chris King sealed bearing headset Salsa stem straight aluminum bars with matching blue grips (or Nitto drops or bullhorns if you prefer) Dura Ace aerodynamic seatpost Koski Engineering leather saddle Campagnolo record track bottom bracket Truvativ track crankset and chainring Campy Record track pedals w/ new clips and straps Maillard high flange track wheels with Swift S11 deep dish Sunrims and butted spokes Dura Ace cog and lockring I am asking $600 for the complete bike, including 6mo. warrantee. This is a really cool looking bike, all blue and black, and it rides beautifully- very smooth and quiet. Sorry, I dont have any pics. If you would like to come see the bike please give me a call at [deleted], preferably after 5pm, and day this week. You can also email me, but I dont check my email very often so phone is best.

Good for you. Sounds like a hot setup. I love mix-matched ISO and JIS tapers. And I'm sure your warranty counts for a lot. Go back to welding lockrings onto Panasonics and leave bicycle retail to the shops that have some knowledge and accountability.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bicycle videos

There is some pretty funny things out there. Here are a couple of my favorites

How to build a Single Speed


Ted Shred or how I learned to ride a Single Speed without the need for brakes

Oh come all ye faithfull!

In the summer of 2001 I was born again; to single speed mountain biking and a short time later to fixie road riding. This is a picture of my main squeeze. It takes me to work everyday and has seen the finish line of a couple of centuries. It has gone down hard and rose like the pheonix. There's more to come but it's late and I'm old.