A freaking bamboo fixie!


by Byron on Sep 28, 2006 at 2:10 PM

I’m back home in Seattle, getting caught up on postings, and photos. Mark V is on special assignment for Bike Hugger@Interbike and sobered up from all the crazy partying to email his day one report.

Fixed and Loathing in Las Vegas, Day One

by Mark V from Elliott Bay Bicycles

I strode out the plane, past the airport terminal’s slot machines, into the baggage claim. Next to me, the tanned blonde’s floral print top looked like a tarp pulled tight over a pair of F-16 jet fighter nose cones; nothing’s for real here in Vegas. But I’m not in this city of blackjack and 24-hr liquor stores to talk about reality … or aerodynamics. Byron said to find the fixed gear junk at Interbike, and that’s what I’m going to do … no matter how many $9 rum-and-cokes it takes.

BambooI brought a hangover with me as my companion on the first day, and it told me to steer away from the brighter, louder vendor booths. Then I thought I was seeing things when I found my first fixed gear bike: a bamboo frame with Avid mech discs and cowhorns. Clearly, I had wandered into the Calfee Design booth. Calfee was manipulating carbon fiber into perfectly useable (even sexy) road and track frames back when hot girls were still publicly dressing Greg Lemond in yellow attire, well before the current flood of carbon frames from Taiwan. Now carbon bikes are to masters’ racers what cocaine was to 80s businessmen … self-indulgent, expensive, and additively glamorous. Whether it was boredom or perversion that led them to building bamboo frames, I salute Calfee for a stylin’ answer to the question the consumer market wasn’t asking. Calfee says the bike rides exceptionally smooth because of the natural qualities of that species of black bamboo … WHO CARES! It’s a freaking bamboo fixie! I’d like a double scoop of that craziness myself. Hell, the cowhorn handlebars are really cow horns! You can’t f* with that!

Walking the floor at Interbike is like wading into a Northshore riptide … once you lose sight of where you came dove in, you’re lost. Product is swirling all about you, you don’t know where you’re going, and you could drown any second … only it’s not seawater but product literature that’s swallowing you up.

Co-motion was displaying a steel road fixie with those clever S&S couplings. For the uninformed out there, S&S Machine makes a high precision fitting that once brazed into the top and down tubes of a bike allow you to separate the frame into 2 pieces. The whole point of this exercise is to make it so that you can pack the bike into a case that airlines will take without raping your wallet. From personal experience, I can tell you that nothing makes packing a bike in small S&S case easier than throwing out half the components.

At the Alpha-Q booth, they hung a Crumpton carbon fixie with one of their lightest forks. After several years of seeing loony Germans duking it out to build ever-lighter sub-11lb bikes, I had wondered what would happen when someone figured out that the lightest derailleur was no derailleur at all. Seven pounds 6 ounces is it. That carbon fiber brake caliper puts the flagrant disregard for pragmatism and expense right up front. The most interesting single part was the cog held on by six bolts much like a disc brake rotor, reducing the weight of the hub and eliminating a lockring.

The end of the first day found me desperately searching for the exit, apparently marooned in the bmx section. One vendor booth deployed a small army of bouncing miniskirts to demo a helmet with speakers for your iPod pre-installed above the ears. This one buxom bird with black streaks in her blonde hair stood in my way and inquired if I would like to try it out. I looked at those big, beautiful … uh, eyes. I said “okay.” She was pulling it down on my head when I got to thinking about how many other people’s heads she’d put this helmet on today. But maybe this is an out-dated way of thinking … I mean, who gets insecure about that kinda thing nowadays? It’s only head.

Tomorrow I’ll concentrate on components and maybe messenger bags as a little fan service.

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Magnetic Yellow Card


by Byron on Sep 27, 2006 at 8:33 AM

The Magnetic Yellow Card, is a magnet cyclists can toss onto cars when a driver has endangered their life.

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Surly Xtracycle confirmed!


by Frank Steele on Sep 27, 2006 at 4:25 AM

Surly's all-in-one Xtracycle

Byron sends along this photo from the floor of Interbike, which officially starts today. I’m sure we’ll have more details when the show is open and the bike isn’t locked down, but the long and short of it is: Surly is launching the first production all-in-one Xtracycle.

That means folks who love the idea of an Xtracycle will have one less obstacle to hurdle: No more kit-building. Also, I can’t see any reason the Stokemonkey wouldn’t work.

Questions for our eyes and ears in Vegas: Is Surly selling this as a frame or a bike? What are they calling it? What’s the availability?

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Photo of the Day: Girl with Cruiser


by Byron on Sep 24, 2006 at 11:43 AM

Girl She was enjoying the sun, the view, and riding her old cruiser bike along Alki.

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Bike Zeitgeist


by Byron on Sep 24, 2006 at 8:13 AM

As Todd said in email, “I got your zeitgeist right here pal!,’ and linked me to BikePortland’s post on Electra’s new Amsterdam bike. The concept of a stylish, simple transport bike, be it “working,” “urban,” “townie,” or sport-utility bike, can flow right into that mood of change that’s going on in cities.

Given a good alternative, I think people want to get out of their cars.

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A ferocious turf war in the city


by Byron on Sep 24, 2006 at 7:24 AM

The NYTimes reports today on a bike-friendlier New York. With “an estimated 120,000 regular cyclists in New York” and “40,000 of them” commuting, there’s a ferocious turf war. And an absolute moment of opportunity. Just like Seattle.

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The Walla Walla Gran Fondo


by Byron on Sep 24, 2006 at 5:42 AM

The Gran Fondo Walla Walla is a ride that has been around in concept for about 10 years. It has had different people interested in promoting it, sponsoring it, and helping put it on for at least 5 of the last ten years, but it was not until last year that everyone that was interested finally sat down at the same table to put it al together. And when they put it all together, they decided to do it for people with cancer.

The Gran Fondo is on 9/30/06. Registration is $40.00 and includes a lunch and beverage.

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Raise the hammer


by Byron on Sep 22, 2006 at 7:15 AM

Ryan McGreal sent us an email about his essay, Can the Bicycle Save Civilization, in the September issue of Raise the Hammer.

Ryan believes that the “lowly bicycle could be a key to our long-term survival.”

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Ephraim the Track Bike


by Byron on Sep 22, 2006 at 6:40 AM

Ephraim the rather snarky track bike answers readers questions at the SFWeekly and this week responds to the question of “why hipsters would imitate bike messengers?” Hipsters even have their own line at Timbuk2 and aging frat boys can find cycling-inspired shoes this Fall (better than bowling-inspired shoes) from Skechers.

If you really want to try something hip, climb aboard a tall bike dressed like superman, and try not to seriously hurt yourself like you would in the old days of penny farthings and busted skulls.

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The car you don’t drive


by Byron on Sep 22, 2006 at 6:29 AM

I was chatting with Drew about cycling in the UK and he linked me to Sustrans, a “sustainable transport charity.” Imagine that, a charity set up just to make a better commute.

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