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Thursday, October 22

Maybe I need a unicycle

While the well documented "fixed gear for fashion" movement trudges along with no hint of ending there still seems to be an immense amount of practicality in the use of a fixed geared machine for my line of work. Most messengers start out delivering packages on whatever bike they have available. For me it was an old 1992 steel Stumpjumper with a rigid fork and purple Dia Compe brakes. When that bike started looking worse for wear I upgraded to a Supergo Access frame with a Manitou 3 fork (with holes drilled in the bottom so the rain could drain out). In its final days I ran it with a single 52T front ring until I felt like the cable lock was about ready to wear all the way through the seat tube. The final predecessor to The Fastest Bike in the World was my DeBernardi road bike. This is where the evolution began.

I bought it off eBay, and it came fully equipped with Shimano 600 components. I didn't like the road bar set-up, so I swapped it over to a flat bar with a thumbie for the rear shifting duties and a down tube shifter for the front. Eventually, as things wore out, this bike became a 1X8, and then a 1X5, and it ended up being a 1X1. In between the replacement of chainrings and cogs there was also the occasional replacement of brake pads. These were usually swapped out after I would spend the better half of a rainy day brakeless because my miserly (or lazy) ways would catch up with me.

After awhile the thrill of doing bike maintenance after a long day of riding in a February rain got old, and in an effort to reduce the moving parts on my bike I went fixed gear, and shortly after that, fixed and brakeless. No more sticky cables, worn out brake pads, expensive cassettes, worn out derailleurs, (sorta) expensive chains, broken cables, worn out rims, frozen freehubs, black fingers after fixing a flat in the rain... so many things I wouldn't miss from the old days. That does not mean I'm totally free from all maintenance, though.

I had been going through chains at a rate that seemed a bit quicker than normal. Being that I don't ride that many miles anymore (enough to be wearing out chains that quickly) I eventually caved in and looked into it a little further. Of course I knew what the culprit was... I just hate working on my work bike.

On the right is one nasty, worn out chainring. Eater of chains, destroyer of rollers, maker of grotesque noises... it had to go along with his little steel friend.

The cog was looking a little sharky itself. This little bastard probably brought an early demise to many an innocent PC-1.

No doubt about it, fixed gears are just a shit ton less work. I don't know how many nights I would come home soaking wet and cold knowing that I had at least an hours worth of work to do on my bike (once I was clean and defrosted) fixing what ever failed that day or would probably fail tomorrow if I didn't do something about it. Those moments are few and far between on the fixed gear. Is the chain loose? Tighten it. Is it pulled too far back? Measure it. Is it worn out? Replace it. Oh yeah, check the air pressure once a week, and that's about it.

New ring, new cog, new chain... I can feel the awesomely quiet transfer of power from my legs to the street. That's gotta be the best reason to ride a fixed gear ever... well that and I get an excuse to wear my daughter's jeans.

5 comments:

kevin b. said...

These are the kinda posts that I like. A little Dicky history a little tech and some maintance tips all rolled into one.

Christopher said...

I back Kevin. Nice, Dicky.

JamOut Racing said...

purple cannondale m300, fatboy tires--blue trek singletrack with maguras, fatboys--red rocket klein with bullhorns, 52t chainring and priority one mousepad/duct tape top tube protector---and i thought it was a miracle moving from 26" wheels to 700cc

bentcrank said...

I can't believe you guys want to hear about Dicky getting in to his daughters pants! There is something really wrong with that statement. LOL

Mike Ockhurtz said...

Maybe you should just wear a skirt and skip the girl jeans. That way, you won't blend in anymore with the rest of the messengers.