When I was younger I spent a good portion of my free time atop a mountain bike. My best friend’s dad owned a bike shop in Oakland called Sam and Rick’s and I hung out in the shop many a weekend from about sixth grade to 8th grade when I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I continued to ride mountain bikes through the great mountains of Santa Fe all through High School and when I moved to Riverside to finish my 12th grade year I rode around the streets on my trust old bike until it finally died. I haven’t really had a bike for the last ten years and I have really begun to miss it.
I had originally planned on buying a nice mountain bike, but to really get a good one I would need to spend a couple of grande and right now I have other things to spend a couple of grand on, our wedding for instance. The other day when I was walking home from the gym I passed by a group of bike messengers who always hang out at the top of Hill street and I saw a cool bike with no gears. I had heard about and seen fixed gear bikes before but I asked the messenger how he dealt with hills and he told me they were no problem and that it was actually much faster to go up hill on a fixed gear bike than on a multi gear.
When I got home I looked around on ebay, craigslist and recycler for a good deal on a used bike and I found an old cannondale for $200 which I ended up buying along with an even older KHS after talking the guy down to $174 for both of them. The cannondale didn’t have completely horizontal dropouts but they weren’t totally vertical either so I figured I would try and convert it.
It turned out that the next day was the wheel building class at the Bicycle Kitchen so I called them up and signed up to build a set of wheels. They had the hubs and rims I needed in stock and told me what size spoke to buy, which I did and last night I built both of my wheels.
Today I came back to the BK and finished my bike. I had to use a half link to get it to work, but in the end everything fit together nicely. I replaced the brake lever with a cool short Tektro RX2, put on some new pads and removed all the derailers, rear breaks and cables. I rode the bike down the sidewalk and it is a beautiful ride, although I will need to practice the whole fixed gear technique thing. Once I knew everything worked I donated the KHS to BK along with the derailers and wheels from the Cannondale.
The ride from the parking garage to my loft was exciting although only a block of riding. Being able to slow down and stop by backpedaling is really an exhilarating experience. As they say, once you go fixed you never go back and I am hooked. Yay I have a bike! [photos are here]