And while I may mock many of these bicycles, even I realize and appreciate the fact that bicycles must evolve, and that different lifestyles demand different bicycles, and that today's aberration may be tomorrow's industry standard if it proves both functional and appealing to enough people. Take for instance the following bicycle, which I feel embodies the present state of fixed-gear evolution pretty well:
hey my name is Christina here's my fairly new Greek baby bike!
its a 47cm nycbikes frame 650c deep v's ,fixed/fixed rear hub,(thanks to Richard from nycbikes who hooked up!), nitto anodized flat bar, oury grips,carbon fork, specialized toupe seat.
its still undergoing upgrading changes ( possibly the crank set) but for now here it is. this bike is lots of fun!
Sure, this isn't my sort of bike, but apart from the lack of a brake I can certainly acknowledge its functionality as a swift little urban runabout. It even manages to display nationalistic pride without veering off too wildly into the realm of the tribute bike. Okay, if it had an integrated apotropaic eye and a top tube pad with the phrase "My Big Fat Greek Fixie" embroidered on it we might be getting into Trail of Tears 2K8 territory, but as it is it's just a relatively subdued blue and white. And while I personally may abhor things like colored chains, if they work just the same as regular chains then go right ahead and use them if you must. Hey, if she vibes Hellas and it's her classic peep during Art History, then she should vibe away.
On the other hand, we have this:
greetings from baltimore. this is my 1988 nagasawa. i got it used from a japanese website --e-framebank.com-- for real cheap. i'd recommend it for anyone who is interested in a used keirin frame and doesn't mind waiting two months while it's shipped over in a rice boat. the dropouts are spaced at 113mm for some reason and the slots were about 8mm so it took some respacing and grinding to get the back wheel on. the dude at the bike shop thinks the frame may have been built for a disc wheel. also the cranks i had were not compatable so i had to grind the shit out of those to keep them from bottoming out. theres a bit of an overlap problem as well so im having to use powergrips on mountain bike pedals until i can afford to go clipless. everything else seems to be running smooth though and if i didnt have so much crap to carry places i'd sell my car....and move to brazil. thanks for the site. i check it at work when i'm not driving the zamboni.
Apart from the naked bars with the Oury shoulder pads, I didn't cringe when I saw this bike. In many ways it's also the opposite of the Hellenic bike in that it's pretty traditional. I did, however, cringe at the description. Apart from the little bit about it being "shipped over in a rice boat," the owner's cluelessness regarding the spacing was especially disturbing. Uh, it only takes about five seconds of Googling to discover that 110mm rear spacing with 8mm slots was simply a Japanese Keirin frame standard. (I'm sure the extra 2mm can be attributed to the frame being slightly out-of-spec or to simple mis-measuring.) You'd think he'd take the time to figure that out and maybe seek out the appropriate components for his frame before deciding to "grind the shit" out of stuff. (If not before even buying the thing in the first place.) Just because you've never heard of something doesn't mean it's wrong. If you bought an Italian frame and your English bottom bracket didn't go into it, you wouldn't say it was threaded backwards "for some reason" and then jam the thing in there anyway. You'd do five minutes of research, learn about the difference between English and Italian bottom brackets, and get the correct component.
Hey, I don't even mind that he grinded or respaced the frame. It's just some metal tubes welded together, it's his, and he can do what he wants with it. I just wish he'd taken the time to learn something about his Keirin frame first. Instead, he blithely took file to frame because it had a certain spacing "for some reason." Using an old frame in a new way is open-minded. Using and old frame the wrong way because you don't know anything about that frame and haven't taken the time to learn is closed-minded. He didn't modify the frame, because modifying something requires understanding it. He didn't butcher the frame either, because even a butcher understands the animal he is cutting apart. In this case, he mutilated it. And by the way, the "overlap problem" is not a problem at all. It's a track bike, not a mountain bike. It's not designed for technical slow-speed maneuvering.
If anything good is going to come out of the current fixed-gear customization fad, it's going to be that more and more people are going to learn how to build their own bikes to suit their riding styles, and consequently bicycles will become more neatly integrated into their lives. If a rule doesn't work for you, throw it away. You don't need to ride what the big companies are trying to sell you, and you don't need to build your bike according to anybody's rules. But at least read the rule book before you throw it out. Toe overlap on a track bike is not a "problem." Frame spacing is not arbitrary. Frames are not wrong--people are wrong. It's 2008, and there are a tremendous number of fixed-gear frames on the market with standard spacing and plenty of toe-front wheel clearance. Why wear heels when what you really want are sneakers?