Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Worst of NYC Craigslist Bike Ads #7 and #8

There is a fixed-gear conversion chop-shop of sorts somewhere in the trendy part of Brooklyn that has been posting regularly on Craigslist for at least a year or two now. The following two ads are typical of their postings. It's kind of a meth lab for bicycles in that it operates from someone's apartment and its product is extremely dangerous. The first post is to hook the new users, and the second targets the addict--watch how he changes his tone and approach from one to the other. Both posts are insidious and infuriating. Consider the implications on your Independence Day ride tomorrow:

Once You Ride Track You Never Go Back! Fixed Gears and Single Speeds - $100
[original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/363527325.html]
Reply to: see below

Date: 2007-06-30, 2:18AM EDT

What does this mean? I'm scared! Does this mean I will ride around and around a velodrome until I die? I mean, I love to ride, but that literally sounds like hell.

Once You Ride Track You Never Go Back! Fixed Gears and Single Speeds If you want to ride track, or just want learn more about it, we can help you find the right bike. CALL [deleted] after 5pm and call back if i dont answer!

Oh, I see. Riding "track" means riding a fixed gear bicycle. Got it. I have a friend with one of those. Sounds pretty cool. I think I'll read further.

We have several fixed gear and track bikes ready to go- 2 peugeots, 2 Fujis, a Schwinn, a Bianchi, a Univega, and a Panasonic. We can answer any questions you have, and we have a good selection of fixed gear and single speed bikes starting at $100. Every bike we sell comes with a six month warantee, and we are always happy to explain how to care for and maintain your fixie. Both converted rear hubs and track wheels are available for any bike, as well as flip flop wheels, with freehweel on one side and fixed on the other, for those who like variety. See below for more wheel info.

Why do I feel like I'm about to buy a black market parrot or something?

Every bike we sell will have: -a straight chainline -a secure cog and lockring -a rear wheel centered in dropouts -a front brake for added safety -new cables and housing -new bearings in the headset and bottom bracket

Sounds OK so far. I love added safety! Mom and Dad will definitely wire me the money to buy a safe bike like this.

For those who are wondering, here is a rundown of our procedure for converting rear wheels: A fixed gear is distinguished by direct drive; the pedals and the rear wheel are connected directly by the drivechain, so the if you pedal backward you go back, and if you stop pedalling you stop, unlike with a freewheel bike. On both converted road wheels and track wheels, the cog and lockring screw onto threading on the hub, but only a track wheel has reverse threading for the lockring. This way, when you pedal forward, you tighten the cog, and when you pedal back, you tighten the lockring. On a conversion, the cog and lockring both thread on the same way, so that whan you pedal backward, the chain torques them both loose. For this reason, for our conversions, we weld the cog and lockring onto the hub, so that when you stop, your cog wont pop off! In our experience, the welded conversion is just as safe as a track hub; neither one has ever broken that we know of. However, if you plan on riding without a front brake, we recommend using a track wheel just to be sure. The rest of the conversion involves adjusting the axle and spacers and re-dishing the wheel. We put longer spokes on the drive side of the wheel and shorter spokes on the other one; this ensures that the cog and the lockring are in a straight line and that the rim is centered in the dropouts. Both these things are critical for a functional fixed gear: if the chainline isnt straight, the chain will derail and the chainring will get bent, and if the rim isn't centered correctly, the balance and the steering of the bike will be off....So make sure any fixed gear you buy is set up right- don't be afraid to ask questions!

Well, I'm convinced. Welding a cog to a hub sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I doubt I'll ever want to change my gearing anyway. And I'm comforted by the fact that he says not one has ever broken "that we know of." Why, the only way they wouldn't know if one had broken would be if the rider had died, and I certainly doubt that's the case. In fact, I think I'll cut-and-paste this entire paragraph and email it to Mom and Dad so they'll feel better about wiring me that money.

We are between workshops right now, so we're temporarily working out of my apartment in williamsburg- please contact us to set up a time to come by. If you tell us your height, your price range, and any other preferences you have, we'll let you know what bikes we have that might work for you. Please call [deleted] for more info- leave a message with your number if i dont answer and i will get back to you asap.

Hmm, surprising that they're between workshops. I'd think an operation as professional and conscientious as this would already have a chain of legitimate retail outlets all over Brooklyn. Oh well--I guess I'll just keep trying until he answers. He probably can't hear me over his welder.

50cm Bianchi Track Bike (fixed gear, NO BRAKES) for sale - $600
[original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/365387986.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-07-02, 9:28PM EDT This vintage early 1980's Bianchi Pista is a beautiful classic track bike in pristine condition. For the CL police who will no doubt post some smug comment about new Pistas selling for the same price, let me point out that I have just had the frame professionally powder coated, and I have also customized it with new upgrades of just about all the components. Even without the custom rebuild, the older Pista frames are vastly superior to the flashy new models, and unlike the Pistas currently on the market (which most racers would be too embarrassed to bring to a velodrome), they were actually made for RIDING ON THE TRACK. This bike is not drilled for brakes, and it has authentic track geometry. The new finish is a metallic sky blue color, and I have rebuilt it with all black components including:

Hold on there, Skippy. Last time I was at the velodrome I saw some of the fastest riders in NYC riding recent-vintage Pistas, and they didn't look too embarrassed. In fact, the only rider who would be "embarrassed" to ride a reasonably-priced and versatile bicycle is the kind of rider who would be afraid to enter a race in the first place. If you ever raced, you'd know that most real racers don't have a vanity bike for each and every discipline, and are more concerned with actually riding. Also, maybe you've been blinded by welding flash, but if you check the Bianchi site you'll find that the current Pistas do have true track geometry. Yes, they're handicapped by those pesky brake holes, but you can easily weld those shut.

Chris King sealed bearing headset Salsa stem straight aluminum bars with matching blue grips (or Nitto drops or bullhorns if you prefer) Dura Ace aerodynamic seatpost Koski Engineering leather saddle Campagnolo record track bottom bracket Truvativ track crankset and chainring Campy Record track pedals w/ new clips and straps Maillard high flange track wheels with Swift S11 deep dish Sunrims and butted spokes Dura Ace cog and lockring I am asking $600 for the complete bike, including 6mo. warrantee. This is a really cool looking bike, all blue and black, and it rides beautifully- very smooth and quiet. Sorry, I dont have any pics. If you would like to come see the bike please give me a call at [deleted], preferably after 5pm, and day this week. You can also email me, but I dont check my email very often so phone is best.

Good for you. Sounds like a hot setup. I love mix-matched ISO and JIS tapers. And I'm sure your warranty counts for a lot. Go back to welding lockrings onto Panasonics and leave bicycle retail to the shops that have some knowledge and accountability.


Anonymous said...


Gotta love the frankenbikes...whatever happen to using the parts that were actually manufactured and intended to be used instead of breaking out the blow torch and solder for every project?

C said...

"the older Pista frames are vastly superior to the flashy new models"

Anyone who believes this clearly didn't work in a bike shop in the 80's!! Despite all the lore the reality is most of the Italian bikes were not very well built. I remember working on Bianchi, Pinarello, and Colnago frames that took an hour or more of prep work just to get to the point of being able to bolt on parts. Gummed up threads, paint overspray, unfaced surfaces, poor chrome, uneven paint, and poor alignment were quite often the norm not the exception. Quality control on bikes at that time wasn't much better than the quality control on Italian cars of the era.

GhostRider said...

C -- I totally agree with your assessment of those old Italians. The quality control of those bikes left a lot to be desired, but once they were faced and the threads cleaned out (and you were willing to overlook the amateurish, poor paintjobs), they were sweet-riding bikes!

Jim said...

we are always happy to explain how to care for and maintain your fixie.

I'm guessing it is a 3 credit hour course on "hose off once in a while," "throw some oil on the chain if it squeaks too loudly," and "try not to get wicked drunk and forget where you parked it."

They also need to offer a graduate seminar on "Drivetrain Adjustments for SS 29'er Riders."

Anonymous said...

Bike Snob, I can't believe it. This crap is outta control. More gutter trash feeding off the fixie euphoria. I'd stop riding mine if I didn't like if more than all the others. At least I now have a few ideas for all the old beaters in my garage .....

Anonymous said...

you stupid twat

MRussell said...

Keep Smacking 'em around Bike Snob...

MRussell said...

Keep Smacking 'em around Bike Snob...

steevo said...


enough said

Anonymous said...

Yeah I think I will sell my current khs track bike that was store bought a year ago, for this vastly superior vintage bike. Infact I will get rid of my newer vehicle and get me a Pinto because it is vintage and everyone knows vintage is better

Sean Lynch said...

You've gotta build your own or it just isn't the same.

I know I wouldn't love my old panasonic half as much if I didn't spend those few weeks collecting parts and putting it together myself...

Then taking it to the LBS and having a pro tweek it right for me.

Funny how all those dumpster parts got swapped out over the last year and a half for better parts.

For all the newbies who just want to buy a fixie, and miss out on the build process, I've been sending them this link.

I tell'em its the next phase of the fixie craze. They can leap frog right to the head of the pack if they skip the two wheel fixie thing altogether.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for interesting article.

Anonymous said...

I know that this is going to sound a bit odd, but I was wondering if anyone has the contact info for the girl on Taafe? I need an old 27", 122mm wide, 5speed wheel, and she might have one that she took off of another bike.

Natch, if anyone has one lying around, I'm interested.

Anonymous said...

Excellent website. Good work. Very useful. I will bookmark!

earth laughs in flowers said...



mobydoug said...

The older lugged steel celeste circa '80's Bianchi Pistas out of their reparto corso factory WERE lovely bikes. Their ride and look and workmanship are special in a way that the new Bianchi generic cheapo fixies are not. I speak from experience. By the way, the top end Bianchi roadie reparto corso frames of the early '80 like Specialissima and Super Leggera were superb rides. I know, having put in 1,000's of miles on one. The Taiwanese made steel Bianchis of the mid '80's were generic klunkers. If you want a beautifully made Japanese lugged steel roadbike from the '80's, try the Miyata Pro, one of the finest production bikes ever.

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