Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fixed Filosophies

I was talking with a coworker today about bikes. This coworker, who is fairly knowledgeable about bikes and rides herself, knows that I do most of my riding on a fixed gear bike and made the comment that I don't carry around with me that hip-urban-messenger vibe that all the other fixed riders she sees around do. More power to those riders in that scene, but, aside from the fact that very few overweight middle-aged guys like me could pull off the "hip-urban-messenger" vibe, I look at riding fixed from a slightly different angle. My inspiration for fixing is the club riders of the past. Peter Kohler discusses this on the Retro Raleigh Site.

"One of the great traditions of British cycling was "club riding": small, local groups of cyclists organized into clubs for regular sporting or recreational rides. These could comprise long or short tours, day trips, time trials or roadracing. The emphasis in many clubs was more camaraderie than competitive but it was not always a pub crawl. Many group rides were multi-day affairs and as varied as the British countryside."

Very often the bike chosen for these rides was a bike with more relaxed geometry than a racing or track bike, an all day fixed gear rider with room for wider tires, fenders, provision for lights and two brakes, and maybe even some luggage capability. Bikes like the Raleigh Lenton pictured above from the 50's, and bikes like my modern Rivendell Quickbeam. Bikes like this also make for reliable transportation and utility use. Sounds about perfect. I think it is the same aesthetic which makes me like wool over synthetic, acoustic over electric and revolvers/bolt action/lever action over semi-autos (well, except for the M1 Garand). I have nothing in particular against innovation and all the high zoot products that are out there. In fact some of the progress is amazing, like LED lighting. But much of what I see is no real improvement over what has been used for years, and still works. I'm interested in reliable, affordable, proven designs. But I don't want to fall the other way and get all anti-consumerist either. I want to choose what works for me, and I'm glad we have such a wide variety of choices.


Blogger Brett said...

Your lack of the Bike Messenger theming used so often these days to look cool simply shows your true street cred in jumping ahead to what I predict will hot next, the middle aged dude look. You look mahhhvelous.

2:52 PM  
Blogger James said...

The first time I saw a Quickbeam I thought it was a Raleigh Lenton and had a freakout and then forgot about it, then one night whilst staring at the Momovelo site, I had an epiphany, quit looking for another Lenton to restore and turn a Quickbeam into one, the quickbeam even has the right dropout spacing for the 3 speed hub, the right colour, all it needed was a bit of help to make it useful and after a few months I'd built myself a brand new 1949 Raleigh Lenton tourist, one of hte best bicycles ever made.

3:08 AM  

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