Showing posts with label fixed gear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fixed gear. Show all posts

Monday, September 29, 2014

Delayed Reaction

Hi all! About 3 weeks ago my favourite bike, "Summer", was stolen off my front porch. It was chained and padlocked, as pictured below. The padlock had been downgraded for some forgotten reason. Bolt cutters did the trick for whoever took it.

At the time I felt absolutely gutted. I built that bike up from the bare frame. I loved that bike about as much as one could love a material thing. The good news for me is, it would seem that isn't all that much because I'm pretty well over it now.

fixed gear goodness

I've quickly moved from feelings of rage for whoever took it to feelings of pity. I mean, if stealing bikes is where you're at, odds are your life kind of sucks. My life doesn't suck. It is filled with good things and loving people, so much so that the worst thing to happen to me in a long while was the loss of a bicycle. Bicycles are just things and things don't have feelings and are quite easily replaced.

Insurance paid out $1000, much less than the full value, but after deductible, blah blah blah, that's what I got. I have replaced Summer with a bike that is quite different from it, a real all-rounder that should serve me well in both winter and summer. I did not build this one. We are still getting acquainted, but I will probably post some sort of review in the next while. I will say that I think I got a hell of a lot of bike for the money. I'm trying to get away from the "n+1" bike mentality. Our shed and Mrs. Rantwick will be pleased.

Goodbye, Summer! You were a great bike. Thankfully, many bikes are, one way or another.

Yer Pal,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happiness is a New Chain

I was failing to love my summer commuter in a proper fashion and had not replaced the chain in too long. I got around to that and new brake pads and front tire on the weekend. I measured the old chain and thankfully I had done the work in time, such that the cogs probably haven't suffered much, if at all.
Nothing is quite like a smooth running fixed gear with a new, perfectly tensioned chain:
When I see other people on fixed gears, I sometimes notice some sagging in the chain; I feel sorry for those bikes. They need a little more love.
For the detail people: Those thingies at the back of the horizontal dropouts are chain tensioners or "tugs". They aren't really necessary, but the wheels I bought on ebay came with them and I like using them because they make it easier for me to dial in the chain tension just so. Front chainring is a Blackspire Mono Veloce 130/44. Rear cog has 17 teeth, works out to 69.3 gear inches and has served me very well around town.
Yer Pal,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Downtown Fixed Gear, RANTWICK Style

As some of you may know, my summer commuter (named Summer) is a fixed gear. Way back when I did a post about the unhip nature of its setup.

I had a nice ride in downtown traffic on that bike a few days ago. Upon reviewing the video, I realized I had now also made the antithesis of one of those exciting fixed gear films from places like New York.

Taking all the cool and/or hip out of a downtown fixed gear video is much easier than you might think: It is a simple matter of substitution!

Evil Peace
When I went ahead and made the requisite substitutions, I got this:

I hope I am now firmly established as the most publicly lame fixed gear weirdo in North America. When I showed that video to the rest of the Rantwick clan, they just shook their heads. I don't blame them. I don't know why I do such things.

Yer Pal,

Logo from my friends in the cool new indie band called "Evil Peace" You should follow the link and check them out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Forest City Velodrome: A Night At The Races

London Ontario is blessed in that we've got one of only 4 indoor velodromes in all of North America. It isn't fancy, but it is very cool. The Rantwick family went out there last Saturday night to watch some racing. It was a very good time. There was some pretty darn good sprint racing:

There were kids and youth riders competing for their very first time, one (in yellow) as young as 9. As you'll hear, some instruction goes on during the race:

There were sprints, endurance, points and other races many of which I didn't know existed before now. The racers covered the whole spectrum from kids to young women to teenage boys to grey-haired veterans. The place had a great vibe, one of competition and support and encouragement all rolled together. The cost was $10 per adult and my kids got in free. We found it worth every penny. If you haven't attended a Race Night at the velodrome I encourage you to do so... I'm sure glad we did.

FCV is a not-for-profit organization that runs on grants, membership fees and race night earnings. If you live around London Ontario or are here for a visit, please check it out. I want this thing to flourish and be around for a long time, and it ain't cheap to heat an old hockey arena through the winter. I think non-cyclists might find it even more entertaining than those of us who ride all the time; who knows, maybe you'll catch the bug like I think I may have.

I was a little surprised at how scary the track looked with its 50 degree banks. FCV offers something called "Track 1", an introductory session where they train you up, rent you a bike, and give you a couple of hours of track time. Since I already know how to ride fixed gear, it would be a shame if I didn't try this out. When there is something as cool and rare as this right in my own city, how could I not?

I wonder if they would let me run a camera...

Yer Pal,


Monday, April 27, 2009

Fixed Gear Bicycles - I'm Too Square to be Hip

When riding on snow and ice, I prefer a mountain bike with gears and studded knobby tires. The rest of the time, however, my commuter bike is a fixed gear. When some people think of fixed gear bikes, they think of the track bikes favoured by lots of young trendy people in big cities. Bikes like this:

or this

The thing is that track bikes look dead cool, but they aren't particularly practical for carrying anything with you or staying dry, and many track frames are not drilled to accept brakes. Because you can stop a fixed gear bike with your legs, some people ride them brakeless, just as they are ridden on the track. I have no interest in blowing out my knees or learning the skip/skid stops commonly used by urban brakeless riders. Just so you understand what it is I'm not inclined (or skilled enough) to do, here are some examples:

Skip Stop

Skid Stop:

I can stop faster braking than I could skidding, and skidding eats up your tires. I use my legs to slow my bike down sometimes, of course, but my knees can't take much of those hard "backward" forces without complaining. So, I have a brake.

After some trial and error with pre-built bikes and some clumsy but educational experiments with building a fixed gear using an old road frame, I built up my current bike from scratch, gathering new or almost new parts from all over the place and taking my time. Everybody is different when it comes to what bike will suit them best. For getting around in the city quickly while still being able to carry stuff and ride in the rain (i.e. commute), this is my ideal bike.

It's many beautiful but un-hip features have been highlighted for the benefit of anyone who may mistakenly think that it is cool.

Rantwick's Bike

Fenders: Not cool, but right. Unused cable stops and guides: so much for the much touted "clean lines" of the fixie ideal; I saw no reasons other than BS ones to remove them. Over-researched panniers: well, they are panniers. Automatic un-cool points. Cheesy graphics: to be honest, if they hadn't been under the clearcoat, they would be long gone. Since they are under the clearcoat, I see no reason other than excessive vanity to remove them. Wheels: those are good, solid wheels. They lack sufficient colour and/or non-rimbrakeableness to be cool. If that big hyphenated made-up word confused you, you are normal, if a little un-hip. Rear rack: rack. enough said. Cantilever Brake: it's a brake on a fixie. To be fair, many fixed gear riders use a brake, just not the very hippest ones. By the way, it's not a break, it's a brake; that particular mistake, and its frequency in bike-related Internet stuff, bothers me quite a lot. Mud Flap: It's home-made, from a rubber stair tread for god's sake! Don't I at least have enough self-respect to buy a leather one for $40? Will the nerdiness never end? Well no, not yet...

What's the most un-cool? Knowing a word like kludge? Using it? Alliterating those K's? Using an old bicycle tube in two, no, wait... three distinct ways? The fact that it looks WAY nerdier with the camera (it was in use somewhere else at the time, I forget where) mounted on it? It doesn't really matter, does it? Special weirdo measures taken in order to mount a camera on your bike (thank God it's not my head/helmet) boil down to GEEK, full stop.

Stay Hip,


P.S. During my final read-over of this post, it occurred to me that this whole thing looks like a thinly-veiled excuse to to say, "hey, look at the bike I built! I am so very proud of myself!" Self-awareness blows. Add one more tick to the geek meter...