Tag Archives: bicycle

The fixie as a cultural influence. And some fixie tricks.

So I came across a site called ‘Prolly Is Not Probably‘. It straight away made me laugh when it described itself as a “website based in Brooklyn that covers a cross-section of cultural influences. Bikes, Music, Architecture, Media, Fashion, Art, whatever.”

Let me just pull that up and run it once again: “…a cross-section of cultural influences. Bikes, Music, Architecture, Media, Fashion, Art…”

Now, I love bikes. Right from my first bike, which was a second hand Raleigh girls bike (my Dad insists it was a boys bike, but it so obviously wasn’t that I just go along with it.  He must be deeply ashamed) I have loved bikes. I’ve messed around with BMXs, road bikes, commuters,  and various forms of mountain bikes over the years. And biking effects the way I live my life. But I think it’s being a little bit ostentatious to site ‘Bikes’ as a cultural influence. Come on. Really?

Anyway, that’s really an aside. What I wanted to post about here was a trailer for a video that I found on ‘Prolly Is Not Probably’; a trailer for a film called Empire. It’s about a year old, so don’t expect anything new here. It’s a film about ‘having fun with your bike in the city’, and it looks great: nice production values, lots of footage of hip looking guys and gals doing crazy shit on their fixies, cool locations… awesome, right?

I don’t know.

For a start, as a guy who rides through some of the busiest traffic in London on a daily basis, I was wincing slightly at some of the traffic dodging going on in this clip. I do like to play it fast and loose with traffic to get from A to B as quickly as possible, I will occasionally jump red lights, and I do, almost every day, end up in a silent race with another pumped-up rider, but there’s always a bit of a nod to safety. Especially the safety of pedestrians, who don’t expect or choose to have to deal with some speeding dude on a bike when they’re crossing the road at an authorised point. I’m the last person to get all stuffy about this, most of my friends think I ride ‘like a dick’, but (and I can’t believe I’m about to type this) the guys in the vid come across as a bit…irresponsible. Take risks with your own body by any means, but don’t involve other people.

For another thing, whilst I like fixies and think their smooth lines and uncluttered profile is an attractive thing, I think they look a bit stupid doing urban tricks. It’s a bit like powersliding a caravan – it’s just not right. When you look at Danny MacAskill or the Collective guys their bikes look appropriate for the kind of riding they do. And they are. But a track bike adapted for the road just doesn’t look all that comfortable jumping off stuff. The wheels are just to thin, the tyres too skinny. Get a trial bike or a BMX. I know I’m way out of date on this and that fixie freestyling is the latest thing, but I just don’t buy it.

Anyway, you can judge for yourself!

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Fix up, look sharp

I read with interest that in the Netherlands and Germany, pioneering companies are setting up mobile repair services for bicycle commuters. I like this idea. Over the past year, it has felt as though London is becoming more of a cycling city. Not cycle-friendly – the cycling infrastructure is still very poor, as documented by every cyclist commenting on every message board on the internet, and drivers still seem to have an attitude to cyclists that swings between vehement hatred and total obliviousness – but a city that cycles more. And the facts bear this out: According to the Mayor’s website, cycle journeys on London’s roads are now up by 107 per cent since Transport for London (TfL) was created in 2000, and an estimated 545,000 cycle journeys are made in the capital every day. Anyway, with more people cycling comes, inevitably, more breakdowns and on-the-move repairs.

I’ve been cycling for a while, and carry a multi-tool, a spare tube, pump and levers wherever I go – they’re all lightweight pieces of kit and I hardly notice them in my courier bag. And over the years – mainly through emergency trail repairs when mountain biking – I’ve learned to fix most fixable things. Broken chains, bent gear hangers, malfunctioning derailleurs have all been encountered and dealt with. But there are sometimes breakdowns you just can’t fix. More to the point, with lots of new cyclists on the road, most without any basic cycle repair or maintenence training, I think there could be a real demand for this kind of service.

Fahraddambulanz

The services in the Netherlands, Fix Fiets and Bike Mobiel, and Fahrradambulanz in Germany seem to charge on a ‘call out’ basis. I wonder whether there might be an opportunity in setting up a bicycle equivalent of the AA or RAC – an insurance-based approach where you pay an annual or monthly sum to have access to the service whether you use it or not. Granted, it might need to be geographically limited – maybe only within certain London ‘zones’, say 1 and 2 to begin with. But I think the idea could work.

I have to thank my friend Aaron (@Granoldo) for flagging this up for me via a link on Twitter.

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