Monday, September 29, 2008

Bike of the Month

Here's an example of a beautiful Classic Italian track bike DeRosa.

Doing the Commute

Well after years of thinking about it and never really having a job that was close to home I finally made the jump. I recently changed jobs. My new job is probably within five miles of my house, so I had no more excuses! First thing I did was choose a route that I thought would be safest...remember this is Miami. Then I did a test run on a Sunday looking for potential problems.
This is always smart to do when you can take your time and not have the pressure of traffic to distract you. After scouting my route I had three potential danger spots. 1) A crossing that was under construction that bottle necked the traffic when the light changed- solution I cross when the light is red to get a jump on the traffic to avoid the bottle neck. 2) Busy intersection where to many cars crossing to many directions and a lot of red light jumpers. Solution- I cross in the pedestrian crossing and ride the side walk a couple blocks. 3) a busy four way stop where cars tend to jump their turn. Solution I cut through the back of a parking lot and go around the stop this way I avoid the traffic all together.
The first couple times was hectic finding a system that worked. I put a rack and panniers on the back. One pannier carries my change in clothes, the other my lunch and drinks.
My main concern is being seen, so I mounted a Planet Bike Super Flash. This is a great rear light which has a mile visibility. Another great light from Planet Bike is the Blinky 3. This is a small flashing light, what makes it great is you can clip it to the back of your adjusting strap on your helmet so now you have a second light at eye level facing the driver... my own invention!
I am trying some different front lights out, but since I'm not riding in the dark I'm taking my time on the decision.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Public Relations

What is it about fixed gear bikes? I road road bikes for years and never once had someone compliment me on what a nice bike I had! Believe me I had nicer road bikes than my fixies.
It seems like the general public may be changing their attitude towards cyclist. It's been a long time coming and we need to keep this momentum going. The better the drivers treat us the safer the roads. I usually get a couple compliments a week from car passengers. I always smile and say thanks. It seems the sleek look of the fixie draws their attention mainly the younger crowd teenage and up. The more positive image we portray the more likely some of these people may get into cycling. The more cyclist hitting the roads the more influence we'll have on better cycling laws. So next time your at a light do that track stand, smile and wave, because the person your impressing may be a future lawmaker or cyclist!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Learning to Corner

One thing you will learn on a fixed gear is how to take a corner. It used to amaze me how many riders in a group didn't know how to take a turn, but then most had never ridden a fixed gear. Two things you will learn riding a fixed gear is how to pedal and how to take a turn. You will have no choice the bike will force you to learn. Since you can't stop pedaling in a curve with a fixed gear you have to learn the proper way or you'll crash. When going into a curve you do not lean like a motorcycle. You lean the bike but you keep your body upright. Start slowly then increase your speed. You will feel when your cornering correctly because you will be smooth. On a fixed gear I don't recommend having a crank arm longer than 170mm. Anything longer you run a risk of the pedal hitting the pavement in the turn possibly causing you to crash. This applies only if you plan on riding through curves fast. Most track bikes are set up with 165mm or 170mm cranks. The smaller cranks will also help you spin better, thus developing a better pedal stroke

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick Release

Why you don't use quick release on gear. The front doesn't matter unless your riding track. On track you don't want a quick release, because if another wheel was to hit it and it opened it would spell disaster for you and maybe the other riders. That's why the track policy on no quick release. Now on the rear wheel you don't want quick release on any fixed gear. Reason being is the quick release does not lock down as tight as an axle bolt. A fixed gear applies a lot more strain and force on a chain than a derailleur bike. On a derailleur bike the chain tension is maintained by spring pressure so the chain is never tight like on a fixed gear. If a wheel isn't properly locked down in the dropouts it can slip causing you to crash! I recommend installing chain tensioners when possible. This is a simple device that fits over your axle and connects to the back of the frame. When you tighten it down it pulls your chain tight and helps align the wheel within the frame. It also serves as a safety measure if your axle nut came loose it would keep the wheel from slipping forward. So you can use a quick release on your front wheel when ridding on the street ,but not on the track. No quick release on the rear for any fixed gear bike.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday night Coconut Grove Alley Cat had probably twenty to thirty riders. Not a bad turn out for a late week night run. The race started at 10:30 at the Revolution Bike Shop in the Grove. Plenty of tricked out bikes to look at. To see photos go to

Trick wood look rims. One of the many bikes at the ride.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gear Combinations

C.R 46 47 48 49 50
13- 96 98 100 102 104
14- 89 91 93 95 96
15- 83 85 86 88 90
16- 78 79 81 83 84
17- 73 75 76 78 79
18- 69 71 72 74 75
19- 65 67 68 70 71
20- 62 63 65 66 68

A little chart to help you figure out your gear combinations. Find your cog. Line it up with your chain ring and you have your gear inch ratio. This is helpful when you have a certain gear combination that you like and you want to duplicate it or come close with another combination. If you find you need a little more top end you can see what combinations give what. I'm sorry if the chart is a little crooked. This is the best I could get it after spending an hour on it. There was some kinda of compatibility problem when I downloaded the chart.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Horn Dilema

What to do? Well you got a few options. The squeeze horn which is slow and doesn't always sound off and kinda looks stupid on a fast fixed gear. The Bell ahhh kinda feminine not the look the typical hardcore beer drinking fixie's looking for. Electric bike horn plenty loud push button easy. You still have to install it and keep up with batteries. MegAlert makes one retails $22 your local dealer can get it from J & B the local distributor. Do-able. The air horn-there's a couple versions- the type used at games and on boats. Plenty loud but sometimes to loud for certain situations and you have to custom rig it to mount to the bike or there's a re-fillable air horn designed for bikes. It's ok, but sometimes to loudand bulky. It has a horn connected to an air bottle that fits in your water bottle cage. Sells for $40 called the Air Zound Horn by Delta. Kinda expensive for a frigging horn and adds a lot of bulky crap on your bike. So... my choice a police whistle. They can be picked up at Sports Authority or any sports shop or security police supply store. Cost just a few bucks. You can control the volume and pitch. It get's peoples attention. I hang mine on my handle bars so I always know where it is. When I ride I keep it around my neck. When I get into traffic or bad areas I stick it in my mouth between my teeth ready to go.
Simple cheap solution for alerting bad drivers to your presence!