Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing, China.

Ok, I'm heading off to Beijing for the Easter holidays and I'll be back next week. So no new posts here until then.

Apparently the fixed gear thing hasn't really caught on in China yet but who knows what I will find there? Most of the world's cyclists are in China, after all. 

And just look at the pic above, Tintin was apparently riding a brakeless fixed wheel track bike in China already in 1936 when his adventures in the album The Blue Lotus did take place. 

Also, the brand new Laoshan Velodrome built for the 2008 Olympic Games look pretty neat in pictures.

"The Laoshan Velodrome track is 250 meters in length and 11 meters wide. The wood-surface track has a seven-meter race lane and a four-meter safety lane. The track is banked at between 13 degrees and 47 degrees, according to the standards set by Union Cycliste Internationale.

Track Cycling has been a part of every edition of the Olympic Games, except for the 1912 Games in Stockholm.

Track cyclists wear special "space-age" helmets and ride brakeless, fixed-gear bicycles. The helmets, which might look strange to some, are bicycle helmets adapted to minimize air resistance.

With just 90 seconds separating them, the contenders compete for time, and the cyclist who completes the course in the shortest time wins.

The Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games saw the introduction of many new technologies and new materials, including the spokeless, carbon-fiber disc wheel. At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Britain's Chris Boardman used the latest technology available and became Britain's first Olympic cycling gold medalist since 1920. Boardman's bicycle took full advantage of carbon-fiber technology and new innovations in aerodynamics and weighed less than nine kilograms.

Track cycling races are held on an oval track -- the velodrome -- that is banked, with the outer track being higher than the inner track

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

MTB Jocks hate Fixie Hipsters in Germany too.

I've been blogging about those pesky little hipsters on fixed gear bikes recently. And I also admitted that in a way I myself might fall into that category, if one looks strictly at stuff like clothes and gear.

Well, it's been all good but now some Super Aggro 100% Poser Free German Single Speed MTB Jocks here and here are unfortunately taking the hipster hating a bit further. Check out the pic above. Here's a (bad) translation of the texts, courtesy of John Prolly's nice blog:

"Left Side:

Cheeky hat made of imitation denim with wannabe sponsor logo
Insect-resistant and stylish "nose-bike" (slang for sunglasses)
Model: Mandy Whorehole
Alternative: Eyepatch or "wood-eye" (like the eye in a plank of wood)
Weight-optimizied acceleration baby-beard
Model: booger- and snot-retardant "respect beam" (I think this is more unusual slang for mustache)
Alternative: None, really. Ah, well, maybe black sharpie.
Nitto NJS handlebars & stem
(limited edition anodized = powerful penis enlargement)
NJS-stamped track components generally increase the style and standing of fixie-pilots and will give your rivals even worse penis envy and make them salivate uncontrollably.
Alternative: Forget it, kid.
Tri- or Aerospoke front wheel
Most important is that it is made of plastic and is usable (I could be wrong if Platik isn't a typo for Plastik)
It doesn't make sense, but hipsters don't give a shit.
Trispokes and Aerospokes ride steady. End of story. ("ride steady" is a guess)
Alternative: Preferably a colored deep-V
Model: (no idea here) Accelerator, Scumpagnalo Pasta or Clammy Nippleator.
Funny stickers, postage stamps or pornographic images emphasizing urban appearance and uglification (theft deterrence), as well as the personalization of your fixie.

Right side:

Grandpa's stuffy flannel shirt from storage
Model: Desert Fox. Warms and protects the urban fixer from incipient semi-sunshine and spy attacks (?) from crazed freewheelers.
No mess bag, no credibility.
Fixie-pilots use the mess bag to distinguish themselves from the masses of ordinary bike riders.
Model: USA (Balkan model, if need be) (maybe)
Ghetto blaster casually balanced on the arm
Music: Punk, Oi or Ramones
Anything else would not be plausible.
Alternative: Riding no-handed with a turntable in each hand.
Bunch of keys dangling flirtatiously from a belt-loop.
Spares the dope in pants pockets and heralds the sweaty pilot precociously.
Cloth pants Model: Dixie ShootMeDead in doodoo-brown.
In a pinch: BiteMeBlue, hand-shortened.
Original Japanese NJS Keirin frame.
The holy grail of every fixie-pilot.
Spoke cards. Imperative.
Spoke cards are the poser's license plate.
The more license plates, the more... something.
Track pedals with double straps.
Double straps, double acceleration.
Battle scars. Boosts urban credibility.
Cloth sneakers with soft-as-shit rubber soles.
Reason: see Trispokes.
No bar tape. Bar tape is gay.
Alternative: Bar tape.
Socks are also gay."

Obviously all of that is supposed to be humor and it is pretty funny, but: picking on stuff like this and calling  things 'GAY' (=Schwul) is in my opinion really only a small step a away from evil stuff like gay-bashing etc. Basically it's an illustration of  "You're not like us, you're different, you and your bike is stupid, we hate you!" -type of mentality. 

So here's my regards: 
Hey guys! Just start wearing those cool Swastika armbands again, will ya?

Anyhow, this just goes to show how divided and full of ill will the cycling world is on the inside. And it also proves that the fixed gear trend is blowing up big time in Germany.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Play The Fixed Gear Hipster Bingo.

If you're riding a fixed gear bike, the odds are pretty high that someone will think you are a hipster.

Wanna find out for yourself? Print this out and play the updated fixie-centric version of the famous hipster bingo...

I admit I scored scarily high on this one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bike Thieves in London Town: Emma's Lovely Vivalo Stolen...

I've been checking out the London Fixed Gear and Single Speed forum a lot lately and it seems like bike theft is a big issue in London, unfortunately. There's been so much of that nastiness going on lately that some people put up a blog reporting stolen bikes, here

What's even more scary is the fact that it appears that the crooks stealing bikes in London are often highly professional and efficient with proper tools and knowledge, not just some sad sick junkies trying their luck. 

If you want to read more about how to protect your bike AND to see how easily the real pros will nick your ride, look here. That stuff is genuinely disturbing. 

"Stolen from outside Tesco on Bethnal Green Rd, London, was locked up and only left for 2 mins. Bike description: 50cm Vivalo Gloss Black with rainbow sparkles, Dura-Ace sealed NJS headset, Nitto Stem, Riser's with Grey Champ grips, Grey seatpost with EGKS written on the side in black marker pen, Kashimax black saddle, Dura-Ace cranks (90's), MKS clips(odd one is a medium one is a large), Single black toe straps, Shimano Bottom Bracket, Front wheel- Dura Ace hub radial laced with black spokes on a white Velocity Deep V, Rear wheel- Dura-Ace hub Laced 3x with silver spokes on a Black Velocity Deep V. Note: one of the hubs has been custom coloured, instead of a navy blue background with white shimano dura-ace text... it is a white background with black text, (inversed) the owner is very sad, this is a one of a kind bike. She will be so happy if she can get it back. Thanks in advance.

If you have any information on this bike email:

Let's hope she gets her lovely ride back ASAP. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kjell Carlström Scored The Biggest Win Of His Career On Stage Three Of Paris-Nice

"Liquigas' Finnish rider Kjell Carlström scored the biggest win of his career on stage three of Paris-Nice on Wednesday, beating his breakaway companion Clément L'Hottelerie (Skil-Shimano) in the two-man sprint."

The news above has almost nothing to do with fixed gear bikes, (see below, though) but I need to share is here anyways. Why? Because I'm Finnish and this is a landmark in Finnish cycling history of recent times. And yes, I know this is actually pretty lame but I don't care as the patriotic warm glow warms my heart up right now. Check it out: 

I'm quite sure that Kjell does not practise on fixed gear bike during the winter season like many cycling greats of the yesteryear did but I think he should, and if I ever happen to meet him somewhere, I will talk some sense to him.

Also, I love the fact that in the pic from Tour de France 2007 above, he's rolling strong with a HED Trispoke frontwheel, which is nowadays pretty popular choice for some of the fixed gear tricksters out there.

Fixed Gear Fashion: Casio G-Shock is Back?

Apparently everyone riding a Japanese Keirin track bike should have a Casio G-Shock watch now.

Well, I had one and I dug it a lot but that was in the 1990s. I also do have a NJS certified Vivalo Keirin bike but somehow I'm not - yet - so eager to go back to that decade.

"It's a Zen thing. Once you get used to traffic, then you can float through the chaos"

If you are into fixed gear bikes, you will eventually come across someone praising 'the transcendental experience of riding fixed gear bike' by saying stupid something like this: 
"It's like a Zen thing, dude... you're one with your bike and the street...".

While I don't want to question the validity of this statement as such because up to a certain point I actually agree to it, it's now so used up it has become a cliché repeated in every fashion/lifestyle magazine article about "The Fixie Craze" hitting your town.

But then, I wanted to find out where did this statement came from, who said it, when and why? Well, I found out that certain Mr. Jim Wirtanen said these things on an interview and article in Wired already back in 2005:

"Basically, a track bike is the perfect invention."

"You take the brake off and you can't get any crazier for field testing your skill level than playing in traffic on a track bike."

"If you are an intelligent cyclist, it makes you far more aware. Instead of looking a car or two ahead of you, you have to look three to four blocks down the road and have to scan left to right constantly to look for escape routes."

"It's a Zen thing. Once you get used to traffic, then you can float through the chaos..."

If you want to read the whole article, click here and enjoy.

In addition, the article tracks down back in history of when the FG phenomena begun San Francisco, taking it beyond my post yesterday about the backlash...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Fixie Backlash Has Begun. Years Ago, Actually.

While The Fixed Gear Phenomenon (tm), or trend if that's you want to call it that, is currently taking over the world by storm, even now in the times of globalization where information travels around the world at the speed of light, in different cities and countries the popularity of FG bikes is still at very different levels.

From what I've gathered, places like San Francisco, NYC and Tokyo are way ahead of lots of other places on the curve but here in Europe particularly we've been pretty slow in catching up. While the scene in London, for example is growing fast, cities where you would think such new things would catch up quickly, like Paris, Berlin, Milano, Barcelona and Amsterdam, are all still lagging behind when compared to cities in USA or Japan. This could of course be a good or a bad thing, depending on where you stand, or whether you care at all. 

But, as every thesis has its antithesis, every trend has a backlash just waiting around a corner. As a proof, , here's a link to a rather nasty article from SF Bay Guardian from 2006 which presents some early signs of the inevitable backlash an shows how far ahead SF is in this. 

Here's some good quotes if you're too lazy to read the whole thing:

"Sounds like a pain in the ass. If you're like me, the first question that comes to mind is "why?" Well, the modern SF two-wheeled steel, aluminum, and rubber hipster fashion accessory has its roots in racing, like other wheeled vehicles that don't really translate to street usage."

"Like trucker hats and PBR, what started as a bike messenger thing has become a fashion statement and status symbol. You've got kids in the Mission with the left leg of their jeans rolled up, a little biker hat on crooked, slip-on Vans, and a brand-new fixed-gear Bianchi; and they don't know their ass from a light socket."

"Riding a fixed-gear is like handicapping yourself. The bikes are so awkward to ride that not looking like an idiot while riding one is an accomplishment. It's like riding a three-legged horse in the Kentucky Derby. To do that well, you'd have to be an excellent jockey. At the same time, why not be in it to win it and ride a horse with four legs?"

"The fact of the matter is, the popularity of these bikes has nothing to do with the bikes themselves or the few people who actually have the chops to ride them with style. The fixed-gear is to 2006 what the Razor scooter was to 1996: a wheeled freak show for wannabes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dyno with Black Mags. Fixed.

An important aspect of the Fixed Gear culture is building and the constant upgrading of your bike(s). Well, some people are more innovative than others and manage to take their crazy ideas even further out there.

Fixed Gear Gallery is the most popular place to show yours and marvel (and diss) at others' creations. Between the endless supply of mostly boring and crappy road bike conversions sometimes some real jewels of DIY innovativeness pop up.

Like this one here. Dyno with black mags. Fixed gear, of course. Brilliant. 

And what's even better, it's currently for sale, here,  for only 100 USD. I bet it'll be gone before you can say 'click the link'. In addition, there's even a cool rap song that praises the magical combo of GT Dyno with black mags.

There's also recently been lot of talk about the revival of the BMX, referring mostly to old school 1980s bikes that everyone used to ride as kids, and also the fact that the current style trend of fixed gear bikes after the MASH SF film seems to veering increasingly towards doing BMX tricks on a track bike that's pimped & blinged up to look more and more like a big BMX. 

Sunday, March 9, 2008

'No Brakes, No Gears' - Fixed Gear Article on The Observer: Mo' Media, Mo' Problems?

Today's The Observer has an article on Fixed Gear bike culture/trend, written by 'Style Correspondent' Alice Fisher. Not everyone on were very happy about it... 

"Riding a bicycle without brakes sounds like a rash move, but a new wave of cyclists is eschewing traditional bikes for a stripped-down machine known as a fixed-gear.
It is one of the most basic machines you can build with two wheels. A fixed-gear bike – or fixie – has no derailleur as it has only one gear, so as long as the wheels turn, so do the pedals. Its rider can’t freewheel and the only way to brake is to stand on the pedals.

The fixed-gear’s renaissance supposedly stems from West Indian immigrants in New York working as cycle couriers in the Eighties. They had used them at home because they were cheap and easy to maintain, and continued using them in the US. Their popularity spread throughout the courier community, crossing to the UK and other countries.

As the fixie craze has taken off so has the number of new riders who enter ‘alleycats’ – unofficial road races consisting of a series of checkpoints on a set route. Alleycats originated in America and were organised for and by cycle couriers but now inexperienced riders participate. Last Sunday in Chicago, Matthew Manger-Lynch, 29, was killed in a collision with a four-wheel drive vehicle after running a red light. He was competing in an alleycat known as Tour Da Chicago. A similar race – the New York Monstertrack, normally the biggest annual alleycat in the US – was scheduled to take place on 8 March, but was cancelled after the Chicago death. 

These races now take place in British cities and threaten to colour public opinion of the growing urban cyclist subculture. Around 30 cyclists took part in one organised by art students in central London last Thursday which finished with a party at a bar in Hoxton.
Roxy Erickson, 28, who is part of the women-only Trixie Chix collective, said: ‘Media reports don’t show the community spirit or the eco-friendly side of cycling. A working messenger [courier] who got hit by a double-decker bus wouldn’t get as much news space.’
The strength of the fixed-gear community is demonstrated on the messageboards that are full of updates on the welfare of cyclists injured in accidents, invites to parties and gallery openings as well as alleycats, which are often held to support injured cyclists or promote causes such as the war on drugs.

Andy Ellis, 28, who is part of the London Fixed Gear collective and builds fixies, explained why the bikes were so popular. ‘You can’t get more linked to a bike than on fixed-gear. There are aspects which compare to skateboarding. You enjoy travelling through the city in the same way, but on a fixed-gear, it’s faster and you have more control.’
The fixie’s simplicity and grace appeals to the fashion conscious, many of whom take customisation to extravagant levels, creating bikes with imported track-bike frames and hand-built wheels that cost thousands.
Ellis said: ‘At first it was anything to get them on the road, but I’ve built three bikes for one guy in the last year and every time he comes back he wants something more exclusive.’

The international fixed scene is now getting mainstream attention, including official sponsorship from bike companies. A cyclist known as Superted – part of the Fixed Gear London collective – is sponsored by cycle brand Charge Bikes. There’s also the Bike Film Festival, now in its fourth year, which showcases films documenting cyclists’ tricks and agility.
The most successful fixed-gear film is Mash SF, which features the Mash SF collective riding in San Francisco. ‘It’s the first big film about fixed-gear trick riding,’ said Laura Fraser, the London producer of the festival and a fixed-gear rider. ‘It’s gone around the world.’

Tom Bogdanowicz, of the London Cycling Campaign, the largest urban cycling organisation in the world, says: ‘Fixed is enjoyable and good for fitness, but you have to acquire riding skills. Once mastered, the bikes are good for urban cycling as they make you very aware of the road and you can maintain speed at a level that’s suitable for traffic. They make you think ahead.’ He suggested that anyone wishing to try fixed in London should go to Herne Hill Stadium where low-cost training sessions were on offer."

Friday, March 7, 2008

Times Square Bombing: NYPD Crackdown on cyclists?

What's going on in NYC? First Monster Track main race gets cancelled, then someone on a bicycle set off a bomb at the military recruiting station in Times Square and as a concequece, blogs report that an NYPD bike crackdown is already underway.

"This report was found in the used bike section of Craigslist on Tuesday morning. Listed for sale at $1 on the Lower East Side was the following:

Cops are ticketing bikers at Delancey 
Reply to:
Date: 2008-03-04, 9:50AM EST

Cops were flagging down people coming off of the Williamsburg bridge and ticketing them for running red lights this morning. I just thought I'd put the word out.

The cop informed me that this summer they may be looking to 'crack down' on bikers more. Just to make a point, I'm going to court to protest the ticket I received. The whole thing is just really silly; they want people to bike more, they do not provide "safe" bike lanes, and they punish people who bike. In order to bike safely in the city, you must break regular traffic laws. How they expect any biker to get across Delancey in morning rush hour from the far left lane (where there is no bike lane or shoulder) to the right without running a red light when the rest of traffic has stopped is beyond me. None of this is helping in the "us vs. them" divide between those driving cars and cyclists. About 3 other bikers and I were standing with the cop, and I have to say, it was refreshing that no one had a terrible attitude. Biking puts people in a better mood."

In any case, what's worse is the fact that if you look at my photo up there on right, you might recognize certain resemblance with suspected hooded bike-riding bomber... No, it wasn't me!  

Help Getting 'Bike There' feature added to Google Maps

Please click here, support the good cause and sign this Online petition. Googlemaps is great but it could be so much better, for us cyclists too...

"To:  Google, and the Google Maps team

We would like a 'Bike There' feature added to Google Maps - to go with the current 'Drive There' and 'Take Public Transit' options. 

The feature would take into account actual bicycle lanes from the locality being mapped, and it would automatically plan a route for a bicyclist, possibly even providing the cyclist options for either the most direct route, or the most bicycle-friendly (safest) route. The Google Maps-based third party site, (, provides these features for two metro areas - Portland, Oregon and Madison, Wisconsin, and there are countless other mapping initiatives around the world aimed at accomplishing the same goal. We hope that Google will consider building this feature into the core Google Maps service. 

There are many reasons why this feature would be a wonderful edition to Google Maps. Among them, some of the most influential would be to: 

* Make bicycling safer for millions of bicyclists around the world. 

* Empower world citizens to better adapt their lifestyles to face the challenges of global climate change.

* Help Google realize its core mission of 'organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful.' 

By implementing the 'Take Public Transit' option, Google and the Google Maps team have shown themselves to be concerned and capable world citizens; a 'Bike There' feature addition to Google Maps would be the ultimate statement in support of sustainable development. 

For more information on this feature request please visit the Google Maps 'Bike There' website (

Thank you, Google and the Google Maps team! And thank you, petitioners, for joining us in attempting to realize this very important goal!

The Undersigned"

Fixing A Cog Without Tools? The ROTAFIXA Method

So you're changing your bike's gearing and want to secure a new cog but don't have a proper chainwhip tool, what to do?

Well, first of all, a chainwhip will not really even help you to get your cog on tight enought and secondly, there is a better and better yet complely free method of doing this.

It's usually called The ROTAFIX or ROTAFIXA method due to the Milanese riders' club who've made it famous in the web by showing how it's done but as they say, it's originally invented (or at least used by) the track Legend Giovanni Petella.

Basically it "...enables the secure assembly of a track sprocket without having to use the traditional lock ring too. This is very handy as it enables you to use hubs that don't have space for the lockring, and inverting the rotational directions shown it is possible to remove the sprocket without having to use special tools."

It's really quite simple, click here and just follow these instructions. Or download the PDF directly from here.

You won't even need a lockring, although using one, just in case, is always recommended if you ride outside of a velodrome, like you most likely do. Also, you might want to be careful because by using this method you can - at least in theory - over-tighten the cog so much that you will f**k-up the treading on your hub. Your cog is (should be) made of hardened steel but the hub and the delicate threads on it are made of much softer alloy (aluminium, or something, I'm not a metallurgist) and rotafixing creates really a lot of torque... Anyway, the cog needs to be really tight, but just do not put your full weight on the wheel when you are turning it to tighten the cog, ok?

FYI the Dura-Ace combined chainwhip and lockring tool in the pic above is really the best money can buy, but obviously it also costs some. Even the chain on it is genuine Izumi chain, made in Japan and used my those Keirin racers...

Puma Presents Fixed Gear 101: DOWNLOAD FOR FREE HERE!

Puma was the first big brand to get hip to the whole fixed gear trend and to support their FG specific clothes line they put together and sponsored a team of NYC messengers and put out a Puma Presents Fixed Gear 101 -guide, which was originally dealt out for free between the free and always very excellent Vice Mag. However, due to the limited supply of the printed version and growing demand some smartasses have selling the free guide on Ebay, like this asshole here.

I'm also sure that many n00bs and wannabe hipsters have accidently bought it. Well, that's just plain stupid because the PDF version of the guide is freely available on teh interwebz all the time.

Click here for the Puma Presents Fixed Gear 101

Thanks to Fixie King in Denmark for hosting it. Incidentally, they also run a cool real life shop in Copenhagen AND a webstore for all your FG needs, if you're in Europe, that is.


By now everyone should know this already. The King of All Alleycats, Monster Track, a brakeless race on the streets of NYC, due to take place today got cancelled 'cos "Our reasons are many but the overall factor was that the race has become unmanageable due to the large participation and our concern for the participant’s safety.”

Actually only the main event, the Alley Cat race got cancelled, not the side events so go there if you're in NYC, it will be fun anyway.

Here's the full press release:


The organizers of Monster Track 2008 have decided, after careful consideration, to cancel this year’s main race.

This decision did not come easy and was debated at length. Our reasons are many but the overall factor was that the race has become unmanageable due to the large participation and our concern for the participant’s safety.

As many of you know, Monster Track started as a race held for a small, close group of NYC bike messengers. It has now become an overwhelmingly all-inclusive event. This, on its face, may seem like a positive direction for a race but in the context of a solely track bike alleycat it brings many problems. First and foremost, the safety of the racers is compromised. We believe that this is not a tenable position for race organizers.

Although the main race is canceled, please join us for Gold Sprints on Friday evening, Fixed Gear Competition (track stands, skids, footdown, freestyle, sprints, etc.) on Saturday and the Velo City Tour, at Kissena Velodrome on Sunday.

Schedule of Events:

Friday March 7, 8PM
Goldsprints at Third Ward
195 Morgan Ave. Brooklyn

Saturday March 8, 1PM
Fixed Gear Comp and injured messenger fundraiser at Rocky’s
South 5th St. at Kent Ave. Brooklyn

Sunday March 9, 12PM
Velo City Track Competition at Kissena Velodrome
Booth Memorial Ave near Kissena Blvd. Queens"

My Ride: Harry Quinn Track Bike

I guess it's good to start off my new blog by showing what I myself ride currently.

It's an older (maybe late 1970ish?) Harry Quinn track bike, hand made in Liverpool, England. Lugged Reynolds 531 tubing, Zeus Pista dropouts etc. Front brake for safe riding in city traffic, very bad rattlecan paint job (NOT done by myself), super light, medium tight geo and rides really smoothly. That's all you really need to know.

Well, if you insist on knowing more about the bike, just look here.

ARTE Tracks: Reportage sur les pignons fixes Londoniens

'Reportage sur les pignons fixes Londoniens', or a very nice mini documentary on the Fixed Gear scene and riders in London.

ARTE is a Frech TV channel and the commentary is in French, so if your language skills are not up to scratch right now, the 7-minutes long film is still very nice with super clean editing and lots cool riding on London streets.

Sprocket Man says: Think Bicycle Safety

Sprocket Man says: Think Bicycle Safety.

Click that, read and learn. Even if he has more gears than necessary and his bike coasts, it's all good.