Re: [CR] Fixie Fad comment

(Example: Framebuilders:Brian Baylis)

Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 09:15:29 -0400
From: "Dr. Paul B. Williams" <>
To: Mark Lawrence <>, <>
References: <SNT124-W5685400789C938999C07F7B8C70@phx.gbl> <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Fixie Fad comment

I have to agree with Mark on this one. When I was casting around for gear options for my Carpenter I played around with the idea of using a 3-spd. hub-gear or going with suitable late-40s derailleurs, but decided in the end to use a flip=flop period-correct set of B&W hubs. The beauty of the Brit bikes of the 30s-50s was that the options were many and single-speed freewheel and fixed (which are now on the Carpenter) were certainly as much common practice on club bikes, time trial bikes, path racers etc. as they were part of the track scene. This I discussed at great length with Doug Smith, Mick Butler, Philip Easton, etc.. I love the simplicity of the single-speed (I haven't yet flipped or is it flopped to the fixed) - it does require a different kind of riding and I don't really hill climb on it, but it is my favourite ride these days.

The one thing which I find mildly irritating is having to explain to people that I have not just joined a fad and that the gearing is period correct for the bike. Now the guy up the street, who is in his late-50s, rides a 1990s lugged-steel Cramerotti track bike regularly on his rides in the Gatineau Hills ( he also has a 1978 Gios Torino Super Record). The chap across the street, in his 40s, has a custom-built steel-frame built up with a fixed gear set up which he uses for commuting to work. So, along with me - closing in on 50, I guess the trendies could claim we are like a little "fixie" enclave of "older farts"!!

On another point raised, I quite like seeing the students around the university with their old steel frames (mostly gas-pipe and rarely butchered) converted for fixed gear riding - there is a tremendous amount of variation and experimentation going on - which is, after all, part of the joy of working with bikes. Isn't it? To me, they are learning how to build up their bikes, tinker with them, adapt them, improve them, strip them down and so on. Haven't we all done this at one point in our life? How many mutt or franken-bikes have we each created in our time? More importantly, as Mark points out, these folks are also riding them, enjoying them and doing their part to reduce traffic, pollution, etc.

Paul Williams, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Mark Lawrence wrote:
> Simon and List
> As much as I enjoy this subject being debated, it urges me to correct people who talk about 'Fixie' as if it was a fad.
> Early cyclists were perceived, as reckless, rebellious, anti-social - when they were riding penny farthings. When people started getting disenchanted with early derailleurs, there was a revival of fixed gear in the 1930s. The 'retrogrouch' Jack Taylor brothers rode fixed gear for their work bikes, as Ken Taylor said 'it gives you more control in traffic'. And I happen to know that the late Norman Taylor rode a 65" fixed gear for most of his rides with the local hard-riders, out and about in the North Yorkshire Moors.
> As the current generation of stopwatch racers want carbon fibre there are more old road frames out there than meet demand. And thankfully, these frames are now getting used. It's not even like fixed gear shops (Tour de Ville and Brick Lane Bikes to name perhaps the most notorious ones) are creating a shortage of nice parts like SLJ derailleurs.
> There's absolutely nothing wrong with fixed gear. Indeed, there's nothing wrong with young, cultish and appearance driven people appreciating bicyles in that bubble which is 'cool'. The only thing that detracts from their campaign is a lack of mudguards and occasionally brakes.
> For a landscape akin to most of Englands, rolling hills and no long climbs, fixed gear is fine.
> Mark Lawrence
> Oxford, United Kingdom
> ________________________________________
> From: [] On Behalf Of simon duval smith []
> Sent: 13 October 2009 11:32
> To: classicrendezvous
> Subject: Re: [CR] Fixie Fad comment
> I could not agree more; London streets are awash with silly trendy track cyclist wannabees/fashion victims, rising fixed wheel or single speed on butchered (often quite vintage) road frames. As I do my 20 mile commute across town on my 1980 Peugeot PKN10E (with 12 speeds), I often tell them that I will object to paying for their knee operations in the future as they pull the wrong gear and strain muscles and joints. I have a fixed gear track bike - a 1950 Claud Butler, it is used on the track, where it belongs. Cycles should be pedalled at 90-110 turns of the chainwheel per minute - any less is damaging to the body.
> There is a whole industry in London here chopping up road frames and selling the fixed result to saddos who think it is cool to ride a minimalist machine with orange wheels and silly little cut down roadster 'bars.
> There, rant over...
> Simon Duval Smith

> London

> UK