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.
Monday, July 16, 2007
New Fixed-Gear Bicycle Owner's Manual
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.
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!