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one gear a f ixed bicycle magazine spring issue 2013

GET CRANKY choosing the proper crankset for your f ixie page 4

GIVE ME A BRAKE Stories of braking mis-haps and how to prevent braking accidents while city cycling page 22

12 reasons to ride page 8

fixie faux-pas treat your bike like a pro: do’s & dont’s of fixie fixin’ page 13


one gear magazine

CRUISER OR BRUISER? 2

TREAT YOUR BIKE RIGHT. GIVE YOUR FIXIE THE FIXIN’ IT REALLY NEEDS. Get our TRIXIE tool kit, we promise your fixie will thank you. With heat-treated tool steel construction, this tool is specifically designed with the fixed-gear rider in mind. The tool kit features 15mm box-end wrench, lock ring hook, 8, 9, 10mm box-end wrenches, 5mm hex, and a bottle opener. Seriously, what more could you need? Oh yeah, and there’s a lifetime warranty.

PEDROS.COM 2


february 2013

TABLE OF CONTENTS 4 WHY WE RIDE An inside look on what sets fixed bicycle riders apart from your average cyclist

7

Choosing and adjusting your crankset

“Fixies aren’t just a bike, they ‘re part of a lifestyle.”

The insiders guide to riding f ixed bikes in Brooklyn, NY

Read more on page 11

16

Read more on page 15

22

GET CRANKY

FUNKY FIXIES Everything you need to know about customizing your fixie, including reviews from featured specialty shops

GIVE ME A BRAKE Stories of braking mis-haps an how to prevent braking accidents while city cycling

28

CONFESSIONS OF A FAKE FIXIE “Why I decided to remove the gears off of my existing bike”

34

SNEAK PEAK Check out the latest in bike accessories for the ultimate rider

RIDE OR DIE How fixed-bicycles became so popular and why fixie riders feel so passionate about riding their bicycle of choice

Read more on page 32 3


one gear magazine

GET CR On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which results in a reasonably easy all-around gear). If you have several cranksets to choose from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms

older 10-speeds, the original crankset will

than you normally use (the length is usually

work f ine, though you may need to change

printed on the back, or measure from the cen-

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

ter of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

will work f ine, though you may need to change

cadences easier to handle on fast downhills.

from, pick one with slightly. On these older

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine,

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

will work f ine, though you may need to change

though you may need to change the small

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which

from, pick one with slightly.If you have several

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

results in a reasonably easy all-around gear).

cranksets to choose from, pick one with slight-

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

If you have several cranksets to choose from,

ly shorter crankarms than you normally use.

from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms

pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than

If you have several cranksets to choose from,

On these older 10-speeds, the original crank-

you normally use (the length is usually print-

pick one with slightly shorter crankarms On

set will work f ine, though you may need to

ed on the back, or measure from the center

these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will

change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth

of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-

work f ine, though you may need to change the

model (which results in a reasonably easy all-

bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher

small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model. If

around gear). If you have several cranksets to

cadences easier to handle on fast downhills.

you have several cranksets to choose from,

choose from, pick one with slightly. On these

On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than

4


february 2013

RANKY

5


one gear magazine // GET CRANKY

On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

n these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

will work f ine, though you may need to change

On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

will work f ine, though you may need to change

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

will work f ine, though you may need to change

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms

than you normally use (the length is usually

from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms

than you normally use (the length is usually

printed on the back, or measure from the cen-

than you normally use (the length is usually

printed on the back, or measure from the cen-

ter of the pedal hole to the center).

printed on the back, or measure from the cen-

ter of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-

ter of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-

cadences easier to handle on fast downhills.

bolt hole).

On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

Shorter crankarms make higher cadences

will work f ine, though you may need to change

easier to handle on fast downhills. On these

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around gear). If you have several cranksets to choose from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than you normally use (the length is usually printed on the back, or measure from the center of the pedal hole to the center of the crankbolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher cadences easier to handle on fast downhills. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

Beyond aesthetics, the appeal of these minimalist machines is the statement made by riding one: It’s an act of rebellion.

f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which results in a reasonably easy all-around gear). If you have several cranksets to choose from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than you normally use (the length is usually printed on the back, or measure from the center of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher cadences easier to handle on fast downhills. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

results in a reasonably easy all-around gear).

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

If you have several cranksets to choose from,

from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms

pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than

than you normally use (the length is usually

you normally use (the length is usually printed

printed on the back, or measure from the cen-

on the back, or measure from the center of the

ter of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-

pedal hole to the center of the crank-bolt hole).

bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher cadences easier to handle on fast downhills.

Shorter crankarms make higher cadences easier to handle on fast downhills. On these

On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

If you have several cranksets to choose from,

older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work

will work f ine, though you may need to change

pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than

f ine, though you may need to change the small

the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model

you normally use (the length is usually printed

chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which

(which results in a reasonably easy all-around

on the back, or measure from the center of the

results in a reasonably easy all-around gear).

gear). If you have several cranksets to choose

pedal hole to the center of the crank-bolt hole).

If you have several cranksets to choose from,

from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms

Shorter crankarms make higher cadences

pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than

than you normally use (the length is usually

easier to handle on fast downhills.

you normally use (the length is usually printed

printed on the back, or measure from the cen-

on the back, or measure from the center of the

ter of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-

You may need to change the small chainring

pedal hole to the center of the crank-bolt hole).

bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher

if it’s not a 42-tooth model. If you have several

Shorter crankarms make higher cadences

cadences easier to handle on fast downhills.

cranksets to choose from, pick one with slight-

easier to handle on fast downhills. On these

On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset

ly shorter crankarms than you normally use

older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work

will work f ine, though you may need to change

(the length is usually printed on the back, or

f ine, though you may need to change the small

the small chain ring if it’s not a 42-tooth mod-

measure from the center of the pedal hole to

chain ring if it’s not a 42-tooth model. Shorter

el. Shorter crankarms make higher cadences

the center of the crank-bolt hole). Shorter cran-

crankarms make higher cadences easier to

easier to handle on fast downhills.

karms make higher cadences easier to handle

handle on fast downhills.

6


february 2013

On these older

10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which results in a reasonably easy all-around gear). If you have several cranksets to choose from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than you normally use (the length is usually printed on the back, or measure from the center of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher cadences easier to handle on fast downhills. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which results in a reasonably easy all-around gear). If you have several cranksets to choose from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than you normally use (the length is usually printed on the back, or measure from the center of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher cadences easier to handle on fast downhills. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model (which results in a reasonably easy all-around gear). If you have several cranksets to choose from, pick one with slightly shorter crankarms than you normally use (the length is usually printed on the back, or measure from the center of the pedal hole to the center of the crank-bolt hole). Shorter crankarms make higher cadences easier to handle on fast downhills. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you may need to change the small chainring if it’s not a 42-tooth model. On these older 10-speeds, the original crankset will work f ine, though you might need to change the small chainring.

7


one gear magazine

GIVE ME A BRAKE

8


february 2013

SKID STOPPING Is “danger” (or “speed”) your middle name? Then

PACE PEDALING

the skid stop is probably more up your alley. The process is started by leaning forward on the bike and relieving the weight on the rear wheel. If you have the balance to lif t the rear wheel ever-so-slightly off the ground, even better.

Decreasing the speed of your pedaling is the easiest

Once the traction of the rear wheel has been taken

ways to slow down a f ixie. Since the rotation of the

out of the equation, use your feet to lock the ped-

rear wheel and the movement of the pedals are di-

als in a horizontal position. Push down on the ped-

rectly connected, slowing down your strokes will put

al coming up, and pull up on the pedal going down

a damper on forward motion. In non-emergency

(this is why being attached to the pedals is import-

situations this should bring you to a smooth, natural stop -- time/distance permitting of course.

ant). This should slow the suspended rear wheel

While ideal in typical riding conditions, a disadvan-

should cause the rear tire to skid, causing the bike

to a stop. Shif ting weight back onto the rear wheel to slow to a stop.

tage to this method is that if you try to stop very quickly, the pedals will simply continue to turn,

Skidding on the rear wheel will stop a f ixed gear

bouncing you up and down. This typically happens

bike more quickly than pedal pacing, but (obvious-

when you are afraid of hitting something, can cause

ly) can damage the tire (even causing f lats with

loss of control, and is very ineffective at slowing you

light tires). In slippery conditions, pedal pacing may

down.

actually allow you to stop more quickly- optimal stopping power actually occurs just short of a skid.

USING BRAKES A sure f ire way to stop a f ixed gear bicycle (or any bicycle) is to apply smooth and gradual pressure to both brake levers, bringing the bike to quick, short and safe stop. In situations requiring a rapid stop, almost all of your stopping power comes from your front brake, so mounting only a front brake is an acceptable compromise. Some track bikes don't have mounting holes for rear brakes, but at the very worst you can get a fork that allows for a front brake.

9


one gear magazine

FIXIE HOT SPOTS 100

orange county

75 los angeles

san jose

f ixie index:

50

san francisco santa barbara chico modesto

number of f ixies per capita

25

10

eugene sacramento honolulu san diego


february 2013

According to our data, Manhattan is actually more hipster than Brooklyn. Short of surveying the snugness of men’s pants in each borough, it’s not an easy assertion to quantify.

we apply this methodology on a national scale. Which cities are most hipster based on their aff inity for f ixed gear bikes Before we ran the numbers, we were pretty sure the answer would be Portland. San Franciscans (which we are) take a particular delight in being weird, but not being quite as weird as the people from Portland. This seemed like a great opportunity to point out “hey we like these impractical but cool bikes in San Francisco, but we haven’t taken it too far like those misguided folks out in Portland.”

That’s where the Fixie Bike Index comes in. At Priceonomics, in order to build our bicycle price guide, we measure what kind of used bikes people are trying to sell and the quantity sold in any city. By mining our database of 1.3 million bicycle listings, we can tell what are the largest markets for used bicycles, how the prices vary by region, and where people who prize f ixed gear bikes live.

Unfortunately the data did not comply with our desire to tease the people of Portland. In fact, we were shocked to learn that Southern California is the epicenter of the f ixie community and that San Francisco is the fourth most popular area for f ixed gear bikes. By the f ixie metric, it appears that Portland is about as hipster as khaki pants and a blue button down.

Fixies (f ixed gear bikes) are considered to be a strong indicator of hipsterness. For those unfamiliar, a f ixed gear bike requires riding in a single gear and the only way to stop the bike is to pedal backwards to help skid the bike to a halt. You can’t “coast” on a f ixie; when you are biking downhill, your pedals will keep moving so you better keep pedaling too. Because of the minimalism of this f ixed gear system, the bikes tend to be aesthetically pleasing but somewhat challenging to ride. This enigmatic combination may be what draws hipsters to the bikes, or not.

Southern California also tends to refer to these bikes as “f ixies” while the rest of the country tends to use the less silly term “f ixed gear bike” instead. Are Orange County and Manhattan actually bastions of hipsterdom? If not, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate whether f ixie-aff inity should be part of the hipster stereotype. Southern California also tends to refer to these bikes as “f ixies.” Are Orange County and Manhattan actually bastions of hipsterdom?

In short, f ixed gear bikes = hipsters, and New York boroughs that have more f ixies per capita should have more hipsters per capita. We sampled our data to see the number of used bikes for sale per capita in each borough with the term “f ixie” or “f ixed gear” in the product title to create the Fixie Index. In short, f ixed gear bikes = hipsters, and New York boroughs that have more f ixies per capita should have more hipsters per capita. We sampled our data to see the number of used bikes for sale per capita in each borough with the term “f ixie” or “f ixed gear” in the product title to create the Fixie Index.

To our surprise, f ixies are nearly twice as popular in Manhattan than Brooklyn! Moreover, Manhattan is almost 20x more hipsters than the Bronx, and inf initely more so than Staten Island. One might argue that maybe bikes in general are just more popular in Manhattan than Brooklyn, and that’s why there are more f ixies per capita there. In fact, the opposite is true. There are more bikes that are offered for sale in Brooklyn than Manhattan, but only 8.3% of them are f ixies versus 9.5% in Manhattan. Of course, if you drilled down by neighborhood you could get a more nuanced picture, but sweeping generalizations are more fun! Next,

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one gear magazine

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february 2013

WHY WE RIDE Adopted by a band of kamikaze messengers in New York City and San Francisco in the 1970s, f ixies and track bikes have become nauseatingly popular among young, hip urbanites. Beyond aesthetics, the appeal of these minimalist machines is the statement made by riding one: It’s an act of rebellion. Or, as the author and cycling-culture guru Lodovico Pignatti Morano put it, “a suicidal response to urban conditioning.” But despite what the hipsters might want you to think, riding a brakeless f ixed-gear isn’t so crazy. With some practice it’s surprisingly easy to scrub speed or even force the rear wheel into a skid. A f ixed-gear has at least as much stopping power as a beach cruiser with a coaster brake. Direct feedback from the pedals allows for quick and precise speed adjustments, which are crucial for riding in busy traff ic (especially if you don’t always keep both hands on the bars). It’s impossible to lock up the rear wheel inadvertently since that would require stopping the pedals, and so it’s easier to gauge traction on wet streets. There are other benef its. A f ixed-gear has fewer parts to purchase and to maintain. It’s easy to balance in place without putting a foot on the ground; just turn the front wheel sideways and rock the pedals forward or backward to keep upright. Fixies can even go backward, so if a lane of traff ic closes, just reverse and try a different path though a maze of stopped cars.

“It’s the intimate connection between rider and bike, as diff icult to articulate as the pleasure of driving a car with a manual transmission instead of an automatic, but just as real.”

Then there’s the security: A f ixie has fewer parts to steal. And before f ixed-gears became ubiquitous, an unsuspecting thief probably wouldn’t make it to the end of the block without crashing. But the best reason to ride a f ixedgear is the experience. It’s the intimate connection between rider and bike, as diff icult to articulate as the pleasure of driving a car with a manual transmission instead of an automatic, but just as real. Since decelerating requires effort, the rider learns to negotiate obstacles not by altering speed but by altering direction. Rather than robotically plodding along in a straight line, the pedaler weaves and bobs spontaneously across the road. This soulful, f lowing style of riding has been compared to surf ing. Sometimes it’s a drag not to be able to coast, change gears, and stop pedaling to bunny-hop a curb. But that’s what the other bikes in my quiver are for. Practical or impractical, hip or outdated, riding a f ixed-gear is just fun.

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One Gear