Monday
Jul272009

« Fixie Fever—Prescription »

Just a couple posts ago I was talking about a pending foray into fixed gear biking. Well, here is what it has come to:

my new torelli bikeTorelli Tipo UnoIt isn't every year I get two bikes, but this is an exceptional year, you see? After many months of consideration, I decided I'd have to jump into the pool and get wet, come what may. I wrote in the other post about how its hard to walk into a shop and try more than a couple fixies that may or may not even be the right size. So when this one came onto Craigslist, I had to have a look. I gather it has enough off-the-shelf value to start me off until maybe I get snobbish about components. The brand is known for their racing bike frames and this one is the only complete bike they sell. Even new it is $850 but this came to me for $625 used, not too very different from the Specialized from earlier this year.

As you can see, I didn't go for the ultra modern aesthetic here like last time. I made my peace with drop bars when I had to face the fact they offer more options for leverage and positioning which enables the single speed riding some assistance. The bike has a road friendly geometry that is not as tight and close as a track design. The hub has both fixed and freewheel options. The ratio is rather steeper than my Specialized; this is 46x17 compared to the 38x16 of the Specialized. This may change if the hills are too hard, but I shall try to meet this thing on its terms. I bought it from a guy in Point Loma, and for my test ride, I rode a section of Talbot Street which was manageable in its general incline but almost brutal in a few steeper sections, forcing me to concede this would be a challenge. Not having the freewheel also was biting off a big chunk. But I shall keep on.

There was a bit of drama to begin with. I took it to my bike shop right after purchase and had them look it over, and immediately we decided to get a better lock ring on the cog. No prob. I was going to leave my truck in near the bike shop in Mission Hills and bike back home, with a return trip to get my truck at a later time when I did my volunteer delivery later on today. I started on down the hill near the shop and got less than a mile away and blew a tire! At least there was no problem. It happened fast but I was already in a slowing trend. I walked back to my truck and the bike shop and promptly bought two new tubes just to have them. Usually they'd work on my other bike for nothing, but since this wasn't their product, I didn't want to push for free bench time, so I just took the tubes and went home and for practice, patched the rather badly busted tube. It has held, so I call it good. It was a bummer beginning though, but it gave me time to bond with the baby, I guess.

I've been kicking around the neighborhood streets with their mix of flat areas and inclines of various types, getting a feel not just for the power needed to ascend, but the new sensation of trying to fight the downhill slopes. It is a nice feeling cruising steed; a nice ratio that goes fast if you push it but smooth and graceful at a cruise. Quiet too. My anxiety is more about the new business of road tires and their light feel and tolerance for road debris. It is a bummer that most of my riding has that to contend with. I just recently got better prepared for all that with the requisite box wrench and flat kit and pump and other paraphernalia.

Justifying the cost is pretty easy. Today, after seven months of 2009 and 820 miles, I went to the gas station for just the fourth time. I have used only about 49 gallons of gas this year. The price has ranged from $1.93 to $2.69, and my total bill has been just $117.09! Kelli and I were even getting to the point of entertaining a one car household, possibly retaining use of my truck if she wants to relearn how to drive stick.

So just like all the other consumer items, there is no being perfectly happy. Of the complete fixie bikes this one seemed least gimmicky and had a decent pedigree and worthwhile parts to start with. It is good enough to continue my quest for the bedrock of biking. The education I've gotten about bikes has been a good side benefit.

Since I had the camera out, here is what the other bikes are looking like right now:

my pretty darned new specialized globe bike, a lot more futuristic looking with its more beefy frame and zippy looking geometry.The San FranThe Specialized San Francisco dressed up as my main get-around steed for this year. This one got me a lot more confident about riding to get places rather than to just kick around. Pump and patch kit are new additions after having to borrow some assistance and a tube to get home from a social ride recently. Tires are rather new after obliterating the stock set with a shortcut through a patch of briars. The brakes have been dialed in nicely. It involved setting them on fire for a moment. Really.

my old commuter comfort bike in its quite remarkably rebuilt form.My old Nirve made new with a complete rebuildMy older Nirve comfort bike which I got in 2003 to help fight depression. Now it has been my project bike to throw money at for no good reason. Actually, after replacing damn near everything on it, I enjoy it a lot more. It is just that I enjoy singlespeed even more now, and am on a dare to myself to ride singlespeed as much as possible. But this one is fun to get on once in a while to see how the rest of the world gets by. Seriously, I began to swap out components on this shortly before getting the silver bike, and haven't stopped. The entire drive train is new, including the back wheel, cassette, crankset, shifters. The seatpost and saddle, stem and handlebars got swapped out to more closely match the geometry of the larger San Fran bike (21 inch), which made this one feel rather cramped and short at its 19 inches. There was just enough space to fudge the geometry to get things comfortable.

Yep, that's my world on two wheels.

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