Monday, October 01, 2007

Fixed gear enthusiasts are discovering they have a hole in their rear

I came across a website for “Fast Boy Fenders,” an enterprise that makes beautifully crafted wooden fenders for that terminally hip crowd, the fixed gear enthusiast.

The main selling point for this item is stated like this:

“Been wondering what to do with that hole in your frame where your rear brake used to be?”

One would think the main selling point for fenders would be that they keep rain water from spraying up your back, but not these fenders. These are works of pure art, and at $75 for a small rear fender, the last thing you would want, would be to get them wet.

There is an extreme shortage of old steel track frames. They were only a small part of most framebuilder’s production; I only made a handful. Most fixed gear exponents are using road frames, which brings up the question, what to do with all the superfluous braze-ons?

You definitely don’t want to cut them off, because this will devalue the frame, and when this craze is over, probably around next spring, you will be selling off the frame, or converting it back to a road bike.

It occurred to me that a whole cottage industry could spring up, making all kinds of cool shit to hang on your bike.

The top tube pad (Left.) already covers up the cable eyelets on the top tube, so we don’t have to worry about them. Here are some other ideas I had:

The rear derailleur hanger:

The first thing that came to mind was a kickstand. However, I dismissed this idea immediately as not being hip enough. Then I thought, why not use it to hold a bolt-on rear sprocket guard? Why would you need a rear sprocket guard? It doesn’t matter why, it would be such a cool thing to have.

There is no apparent reason to have a top tube pad, but ask any fixie enthusiast and he will give you at least three good ones. Part of the fun would be coming up with a reason to have a rear sprocket guard.

The down tube gear lever braze-ons:

How about two cup shaped knee pads that bolt on to the lever bosses? When you are doing one of those nose on the front wheel stops, just lock your knee into one of these pads and it will stop you quicker than Brittney Spears singing career.

The water bottle braze-ons:

This one was a little tricky. Maybe a bolt-on card holder for those who have aero wheels and can’t put the cards in the spokes?

So there you have it, just a few starter ideas; I’m sure you can come up with others.

My apologies to Bike Snob NYC, who has made a blogging career out of lambasting the fixie crowd; I didn’t mean to steal your thunder. (Your concept maybe, but definitely not your thunder.) If a person is going to steal ideas, then steal from the best is my motto.


BikeSnobNYC said...

I'm honored! And I love these ideas. Maybe one of these "useless" braze-ons could be used for carrying a tape to measure skid length. It would come in handy at contests, and would be the equivalent of a computer on a road bike.


Nofun Notever said...

Top tube pads aren't totally useless. My track frame has cable stops (a mess up in production unfortunately), and occasionally my leg hits them and it scratches up my knee, I've seen a few nasty injuries from cable stops. I've been meaning to cut them off but haven't had time, a top tube pad protects my leg flesh so I can keep riding. That said: in general they're pretty pointless

Anonymous said...

You owe us two more....

Anonymous said...

Alex, I don't buy it. Your "track" frame has cable stops? On the top tube? For brakes? Due to an "error in production"? What?

And although you didn't have time to remove the offending cable stops, you did have time to go out and get a top tube pad? For the track? What? Why didn't you just buy a dremel tool instead of the TTP? wouldn't that have made more sense?

I'm sorry, but your story just doesn't hold water. Try again.

Joshua said...

I'm sorry, but your story just doesn't hold water. Try again.

And neither does his frame!

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I read BSNYC almost as much as i read this blog.
I've ridden track bikes for a decade now and i just don't get the new trends. top tube pad, aerospoke front wheels, road conversions, the whole njs phenomenon...the list goes on.
I scream everytime i see someone change a nice, old steel road bike into a bastard "fixed gear-freestyler".

Yokota Fritz said...

Adrian, I converted my old steel frame to fixed a few years ago because (1) I didn't see the point in putting all new components on an old, fairly cheap bike after the old components started failing, and (2) dérailleurs don't work well in ice and snow anyway.

It's very practical, simple, low-maintenance transportation. But since it's all "hip" now, though, I don't ride it anymore.

Anonymous said...

i would think that buying a dremel, cutting, sanding, and applying touch-up paint would take longer than just buying a top-tube pad and throwing it on.

and i'm not one to normally defend top-tube pads either..

Anonymous said...

I happen to have a passion for older, lugged steel frames and consequetnly, have converted two of them into a fixed gear and a singlespeed. I still ride my road bike loaded with 10 speed Campy, but the simplicity of the fixed gear and singlespeed cannot be beat. I like the idea of not thinking...just pushing the pedals. At my age (54), I look like I have trouble pushing myself away from a buffet table, but I get around fairly well on those two bikes. This past weekend, I did 45 miles on the singlespeed and the following day, did 30 miles on fixed gear. I live in San Francisco, where those little cable cars climb halfway to the stars, so it wasn't a flat fest this weekend. Fad or no fad, I'll keep mine, thank you very much. But at the same time, I will never rid myself of the road bike, either.

Brob said...

At my age (54), I look like I have trouble pushing myself away from a buffet table


Jon said...

I think it's funny that you have a post about cities becoming "bicycle friendly", and another about inattentive drives who run over cyclists, juxtaposed with a post showing that you engage in the same sort of thinking that those unfriendly drivers exhibit.

You don't understand why someone would convert an old road frame to a fixed gear, and that makes it stupid in your eyes. Guess what? Most drivers don't understand why we ride bikes. So, we are stupid in their eyes.

Until you can manage to leave off the elitist anti fixed-gear conversion rants, perhaps you should cease calling the kettle black.

I'm constantly amazed how cyclists who marginalize other cyclists can be upset that drivers marginalize us all.

Anonymous said...

wow, tough crowd.
I applaude everyone on a bike. I just hate to see vintage, steel, lugged, track bikes overlooked for new modern tig welded ones. With bells and whistles that don't do much for the actual performance of the bike. This blog often helps me refocus on the fundimental dynamics of cycling and the function behind the form of older, well build, lugged, steel frames; track, road, or otherwise.
I found a beautiful italian, steel, lugged frame with it's original chrome fork for less then a lot of the newer bikes are selling for. And i love it.

Anonymous said...

I've converted two road bikes, one of them semi-classic, to fixed. Hell, they made them with long horizontal dropouts in the day so you could do just that.

I'm 54, ride about 600 miles a month, climb hills, and have done two fixed-gear centuries in thee last few weeks on the Bottecchia fixie. Lot more comfortable to do that kidn of mileage on a road bike converted to fixed using the built-in provisions for doing, I think.

Plus I think bikes from the '70s and early '80s are just prettier than most modern bikes (or at least the ones I can afford).

I keep the braze-ons, though, in case some later owner wants his gears.

'Course the Bot had only fender braze-ons. And I put fenders on it, so there!

Nofun Notever said...

Doug, that is indeed correct. There was a run of bare knuckles that had cable stops brazed on. It was a mistake, they're not meant to have them and most don't. Buying a top tube pad is a lot less time consuming than buying a dremel and removing them. I didn't say I use the top tube pad on the track. I don't. I don't skid on the track so the top tube pad would be 100% pointless and just make me look like a douche. I do use my track bike on the road as well as the track, and on the road I do skid/skip. I don't want a chunk of my leg missing, so I cover up the cable stops. Ok by you?

Bill in South Carolina said...


Get over yourself.

I thought the whole reason we had fixies, road bikes, mountain bikes, cyclocross, triathlon, TT, BMX, commuters, etc. was so we could all diss each other!

When I tuck my lumpy 64-year-old ass into royal blue spandex and hop on my road bike, I know you all make jokes. Hey, we all pay a price!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

Sorry I didn't believe you. It's up to you if you want to have a top tube pad and skid around when you're not at the track. But if you're worried about looking like a douche, I hope you don't mind if I make a few suggestions.

1. If you're riding a bike with a TTP, you look like a douche.

2. If the cable stops are both useless and cause serious injury, you should invest the time to get rid of them. Leaving things on your bike that cause chunks of your leg to go missing makes you look like a douche.

3. Skid stopping makes you look like a douche, for a couple of reasons. One is that tires cost a lot; brake pads cost a little. Throwing money away on nothing makes you look like a douche.

Another reason is that skidding is a poor way to stop; that's why all cars come with anti-lock brakes. I feel strongly about this: skid stopping is dumb. You stop a lot faster if you don't lose traction. Skid stopping may work OK in normal circumstances, but emergencies call for brakes.

I mean no disrespect. I have a steel Raleigh fixed-gear conversion, which I love and would never give up. But my front brake has saved my life twice. Consider brakes.

Anonymous said...

haha brakless riding is our way of balancing out the cycling community... we end up killing ourselves before we can reproduce thus the introduction of new fixie cyclist into the world is somewhat contained, otherwise, world would be overrun by the (superior) fixed gear cyclist... you're welcome...

just kidding.

I've been riding a gios conversion for a few months and i love it. its my first road bike, and i regret getting into cycling on a fixed gear during this trend, but what can you do? i took the brakes off mine recently-- something i told myself i would never do. but being the tattooed angsty 21 year old i am i had to give it a shot. sure its dangerous, but thats part of the allure of it. just like rock climbing, or sky diving, or drag racing, if there wasn't some risk of death it just wouldn't be the same. even so you wont catch me with a ttp or bmx style bars any time soon...

Anonymous said...

You are all very boring people just ride your bikes and stop talking bollocks.

Anonymous said...

the fixed gear fad is lame as shit, you got kids who dont know anything about bikes and never ride goign out and buying a fixed, then riding it suicide style all over austin. and yea htye got toptubepads and cards in the spokes,. anyway, im biased because i figure for city riding if i cant bunnyhop a curb or swerve and jump one its not worth my time to ride, but thats me i ride bmx. no dis to fixie or anyother riders skills, what im saying is its pretty stupid to put your life in the hands of auto drivers who might cut you off or run you off the road, so i think you might learnt the hard way why brakes were invented. besides as mentioned, do you really want to skid out all the time ruining your tires? anyway, im biased ive already said, its just in a city like ausitn you see kids in capri jeans with big sidebags and bandanas on their face riding their suicide bikes liek maniacs and running through traffic etc.

ive riden, but i think the idea of a "connection" is overplayed and mighty convenient. you get pretty connected to your bike bombing hills and jumping curbs and stair-steps too, seeking out lines. its all a matter of preferences, . the defensive arguments and reasons are because of inferiority complex and knowing that you are a newbie poseur trying to act like you know.

Anonymous said...

Who gives a shit? Let people put as much weird ass stuff on their bikes as they want. Personally, I like the idea of more people on bikes, as opposed to cars.

Anonymous said...

trendyposeurfixedgeardude..... I see your piont abou te maneuverability of the fixed gear bycicle but i beleive that your view is a little too biased.... sure a fixie is dangerous but, thats part of the whole allur of it. It's simply a fun and exhilerating way to get around without adding to the increasing pollution and limited oil problems.. It just makes more sense.. it is also great exercise.