Written by: Bike Shop Bobby
Wanna know the absolute without a doubt best way to enrage a fixed gear riding hipster?
Suggest that he actually ride his track bike on the track.
I know it’s a bizarre concept but when I dug that little nugget out of my cesspool of advice, the advise nearly slashed my throat.
It started out as typical as any Sunday could be. Before the doors even opened a dozen people and their bikes were lined up outside the door. I’ve never understood the Sunday morning customer. 9 out of 10 of them are people who literally wake up that morning, remember they have a bicycle collecting dust in the garage and gosh darn it; they’re going to ride today.
So yeah, you’ve got 9 frantic people who can’t figure out how to put air in their tires and one customer with a legitimate need.
In this case it was a bespectacled dude wearing his little sister’s jeans rolling in a Celeste Bianchi Pista Concept I saw him haul out of his Land Rover.
“I’m running late for a race and I was wondering if I could get my 17 swapped out for a 19?”
“You’re going to race and you want an easier gear?”
“Yeah, it’s a hill climb race.”
So we get his cog swapped out and he’s one his way.
About an hour later he returns as white as a ghost and if you’ll pardon my French, madder than a dog shitting tacks.
“I’m gonna sue you guys for everything you’ve got. Do your mechanics even know what they’re doing? I nearly got killed because of their stupidity.”
Between labored breaths of fear and rage our newest overnight “cyclist” described in vivid detail about how his lil’ hill climb race featured both going up and down said hill which in this neck of the woods translates into being a small mountain.
Coming back down, he was in a great position hanging with the leaders. The only problem was they were approaching a red light at a very high rate of speed. When he realized he wasn’t going to make it, he attempted a skid stop and his cog slipped- nearly tossing him from his bicycle into oncoming traffic. If weren’t for a Flintstone stop which all but destroyed his new, limited edition Nike Dunks our fixie fiend would have been lucky to have enough body parts left to warrant an ambulance ride instead of being a stain on the road waiting to be cleaned up by a street sweeper.
“So let me get this straight. You’re upset because you were riding a brake less bike down the side of a mountain at over 40 miles per hour and you tried to run a red light across a six lane road but when you tried to stop your brake less bike the cog we installed slipped and was the cause of your near death experience?”
“Did you test out the cog to make sure it was tight?”
“No. I was running late. Besides, the only reason why I paid to have it done was so that it could be done right.”
”I don’t even ride a fixed gear and I even I know that it’s common for a new cog to slip right after it has been installed.”
“That doesn’t matter. I almost got killed because you.”
“I wasn’t the one who told you to run red lights and ride a bike without brakes. I didn’t make you make stupid decisions. That was all you, man. Besides, why don’t you ride your bike on the track where it’s meant to be ridden?”
And that was final back breaking straw of logic for him to leave in a tire scorching rage with a vow never to shop at our establishment again. All of us lackeys in the back slapped high fives in celebration at having one less fakenger to deal with.
Really, I don’t mean to sound so harsh (OK, I do) but going into year three of fixed gears being the hot new thing is getting more than a little old. Since the day this whole fad exploded we’ve been scratching our heads as to why.
Are fixed enthusiasts really roller bladers who’ve discovered that riding a fixed gear is less embarrassing than skating around town?
Do people young enough to have grown up playing on safe playground equipment feel some burning, internal need to put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation where social Darwinism comes into play?
How to they squeeze into such tight pants, plain ol’ butter or something like heavy duty Country Crock?
Much like the mystery of Stonehenge, these questions will probably remain unanswered. Since fixed gears are more than likely here for at least a couple more years since fly over country is starting to catch on, here’s a handy list of requirements that I truly feel should be mandatory for fixed gear ownership.
1. At some point since the start of the 21st Century, you have occasionally ridden a non-fixed bicycle, either for recreation or transportation.
2. Possess the physical stamina to complete a five mile bike ride featuring at least one notable hill in 30 minutes or less AND without needing to stop for a smoke break.
3. If you’re going to insist upon riding a Brooks saddle, you are forbidden from asking for a refund because it still makes your ass hurt after two weeks of use.
4. When selecting your Chrome Bag, please, take no more than three into the dressing room to model at one time. And when you make your purchase don’t forget to take the tag off lest you want to look like just started riding a bike. Actually trying to ride your new bike will take care of that part.
5. You fully comprehend that skid stops are not covered under ANY tire manufacturer’s warranty and adversely affect the durability of a tire.
6. You have the mechanical expertise needed diagnose and remedy problems such as a “chain coming loose” without having to drive your bicycle back to the bicycle shop.
7. If a repairing a flat tire is out of your comfort zone, have at least $13.40 in your pocket or left on your parent’s credit card before having said repair completed. It’s all but impossible to “dine and dash” when a bicycle mechanic still has your bike in his repair stand.
8. If Aerospoke wheels sucked when they first came out back in the 90’s there’s no valid reason for them not to suck today. Seriously, why would you want to be the guy that people who know more about bikes than you do point and laugh at?
9. You can pick Eddy Merckx out of a line up comprised of Lance Armstrong, Jeanie Longo, Nelson Vails, and Rashaan Bahati.
10. This is the big one- You have the common sense needed to understand that riding a bicycle can be a dangerous activity especially when you make it more dangerous by eschewing brakes and your local municipality’s motor vehicle code.