Monday, April 14, 2014

Riding a Fixie

Not well suited to the streets of San Francisco, single-speed bikes are perfect for flatter regions and can be loads of fun.  Riding a fixie will likely feel very strange at first and take some getting used to. It gives you a strong feeling of being connected to your bike and gives you far more control. You have to learn to slow the bike down with your legs and it’s a great way to build up strong muscles.

For me my first fixed gear ride up and down the road was a bit strange, different, a bit terrifying, but at the same time a rush, as I felt so in contact with the road. Although intrigued by its beauty, I initially dismissed the bike based on the fact that I couldn’t coast.  Riding a fixed gear will most certainly seem strange to road riders at first, but you quickly learn the subtle skill of easing off to brake and before too long the single ratio becomes second nature.

If you’re not totally committed to the idea of being “fixed”, buy a bike with a flip-flop hub. This system allows you to take off your back wheel and flip it around- on one side of the wheel is a fixed cogwheel (sprocket) on the other a cogwheel that allows you to freewheel.  In fact this is what I recommend for most riders. You get the benefits of a single gear bike, without the challenges and the advanced skill set required to safely ride a fixed gear bicycle. Because they have no gears, fixies do not have to be expensive bikes.

Do yourself and the rest of the people out there a favor though,  keep the brakes on your bike and the clothes on your body.

Riding "the Liberator" by Baseline Bicycles

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bicycles without pedals? Baseline Bicycles brings back the velocipede.


April 1, 2014
Baseline Bicycles, a relatively new manufacturer/retailer of fixed gear bicycles has taken the back to the basics styling trend further than any bicycle company to date.  Several companies market “balance bikes”, bikes without pedals that help small children transition to riding bicycles. Baseline bicycles is taking the opposite approach and marketing their bikes to adults seeking to simplify their bike riding experience.

Velocipedes launched the personal mechanized transport era in the early 1800s, predating bicycles with pedals by some 40 years. Why bring them back?  Ray Banks, the founder of the company, explains what prompted him to do away with pedals. “I originally set out to design and market fixed-gear bicycles (fixies); simple, beautiful, single-speed bicycles. I have long held the philosophy that simpler is better and that a back to the basics approach is a healthier, more beautiful, more enjoyable way to live.”  When visiting the factory to check on the progress of his first order, Banks found that although the bikes were almost complete, they were waiting on the pedals. Nevertheless, having made the journey to the factory, he decided to take a sample out to gauge how the bikes would be received. 

He was very pleased by the attention the bike garnered; especially on college campuses. Of course lacking pedals, observers would laughingly ask how one rides a bike without pedals. Intending to be funny, Banks jokingly got on the bike and used his feet to propel himself around. This drew even more attention and Banks soon realized that he had stumbled onto an untapped market.

The company is now selling their bicycles from their website Banks considers his bikes to be works of art based on the minimalism school where design is pared down to only the most essential elements. Other fixed-gear bicycle manufacturers have gone so far as to remove the brakes from their bicycles. Banks believes safety to be paramount and therefore considers brakes to be essential and so they are included. Pedals on the other hand he considers to be non-essential and thinks having them results in a “cluttered” look.

To see what a bike without pedals looks like and how it is ridden check out the video:

  April Fools!