Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Single Gear (fixed/free) Bicycles (How much is that Bianchi in the window?)

I have been meaning to blog about the Giro D'Italia but I have not got around to it. The Versus Network ran coverage of Sunday's stage 8. Even though Robbie Mc Ewen and some of the other sprinters were dropped by the Peleton the finish was extremely exciting. As I said in a previous post I have come to really appreciate the sprints. The idea that you have to ride 200 km so that you sprint the last 500 meters is just so cruel. Check out http://www.steephill.tv/2007/giro-d-italia for complete coverage and results.

Robbie Mc Ewen almost got eliminated in stage 8 but came back to finish second in stage 9. I guess Mr. Mc Ewen is planning on dropping out before the big climbs so that he can get ready for Tour de France. Mr. Mc Ewen was the winner of the green jersey (best sprinter) at last year's Tour.

On to the main topic of this blog Single Gear (fixed/free) Bicycles.

For a long time I really did not understand the whole concept behind single gear bikes if you were not on a velodrome. However, lately I have been fasicinated by them. From my observations single gear riders are the telemark skiers of the bike world.

When I was growing up in Central New York I was a member of the Onondoga Cycling Club which was run out of the Konski Engineering offices. Mr. Konski was an avid cyclist and ran the club as a labor of love (even though he seldom rode with the members). Mr. Konski used to park his car at the gas station in Minoa, NY and ride by my parents house on the way out into Madison County. To the young cyclist in Central NY Mr. Konski was a mythical figure. We had heard about how many bikes he had and how good he was. However, I was always disapointed to notice that Mr. Konski always rode a single gear bike (I am pretty sure he rode fixed without brakes as well).

Early this year I was in Pacific Bicycles in San Francisco (http://pacbikes.com/index.cfm) and I was eying the single gear bicycles. I notice that the rear hubs had a gear on each side. I was wonder why. I figured that each had a different purpose but I also notice that both gears were the same size. I was talking to one of the guys at Bike Haven in Fair Haven, NJ and he told me that one side was able to coast (free) and the other was not (fixed). With a fixed hub if you are moving you are peddling. That sounds painful but it also sounds cool. Going up hill is painful and going down hill is scary. When I asked the gentleman at Bike Haven what it was like climbing hills he said "I would rather not say!"

I am now starting to understand that fixed gear riders are hard core. It is the world of bicycle messengers (http://www.kingkog.com) and alt-country guitarists Eric Ambel (http://www.ericambel.com/BikePics.htm). I keep running into more and more of these types of people and their passion is extremely contagious.

I imagine that the workout from riding a fixed gear bike is similar to a spinning class. No gears to help you get up the hill just get out of the saddle and push yourself up. It certaintly sounds like fun.

I noticed the Bianchi Fremont in the window at Bike Haven and it really caught my eye. These bikes are just so simple and elegant. I am thinking that my next bike is going to be fixed gear bike although I think I am going to use the free spinning side of the hub.

Check out this multimedia presentation from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/khtml/2007/04/29/nyregion/thecity/20070429_FIXIES_FEATURE.html

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

bike for guitar?? what kind of guitar