Readers may remember that Mrs. G and I had our bikes stolen by a trio of wretched fiends last Fall. Shortly thereafter I managed to piece together an English three speed from the components of a pair of such bikes. Ye Olde Raleigh looked good, had vintage appeal, and was serviceable.Best of all, I could ride it in a jacket and tie. But still....
I missed my old fixed gear bike, like hell actually. At my age (37), it's a tough thing to talk about with people given the obnoxious "hipster" connotations associated with such a bike. Admittedly, at the age of about 22 when I first learned to ride fixed, it had more to with aesthetics and "street cred" (how I hate that term) than anything. I can admit that, because at 22 the opinions of others matter more to most people. But as I get older, I thankfully outgrow the obsessions of my youth, which in most cases leads to better things informed by the spirit of that which came before. Still, fixed gear bikes are hard to "outgrow". It;s a totally different way of riding a bike, and after fifteen years of practice one not only gets used to it, but prefers it. Imagine driving stick all your life and then being compelled to drive automatic. It's like that, but with bikes.
I recently received a new bike I ordered online from State Bicycle of Tempe, Arizona. As someone who built most of his bikes from collected parts, I was leery in general of a store bought complete bike, even more so of buying one online. But the word was good about State Bike, the bikes looked sharp (important) and at $429 with free shipping, the price was right, so I bit. I may not have outgrown my fixed gear obsession, but I have definitely outgrown my aversion to the convenience of buying a new bike in ready to ride condition. Besides, at 22 I never had that much money at once. Age has it's advantages, too.
The bike arrived via UPS in about a week, in 3/4 assembled condition. It only took me about ten minutes to attach the handlebars, pedal, seat, and front wheel. The tires came about half inflated, but in no time I was off and running. State bikes aren't the lightest in the world at about 20 lbs, but that is not a complaint. The steel frame rides easy and handles the bumps and holes the city throws at me. The geometry is set perfectly for street riding, not as tight as a track frame. In fact, it feels as close to my old modified Fuji road bike as any thing could. Painted matte black with no decals save one fairly handsome logo on the head tube. Should dress up nicely with a brown leather saddle, cork grips and a wire basket.
True, it doesn't have a beautiful old style lugged frame like my Fuji did, but the welds are clean and low profile. I think I can live with it. If it can help me lose a few of the pounds I've gained spending way too much time driving around in a car, I'll take it.
It even looks right at home hanging out in my Shop, an important consideration.
For those of you not into fixed gear, they also offer a pretty sharp looking single speed called the "Saturday Bike", with bonus points for having a chain guard and an old style quill stem. At $429 shipped and in my house in a week, State Bicycle is worth every penny.
p.s. I'm keeping the old Raleigh. It has it's moments.
p.p.s. I initially went to my favorite local bike shop to get a new bike, a practice I fully recommend. After perusing their website and deciding on what to buy, I went in with money to spend. Unfortunately, the fellow who "helped" me repeatedly said I was "too old" for fixed gear, insisted on showing me bikes I didn't want, and then flat out refused to sell me the one I did want because, according to him, I'm an "over the hill hipster" and I need to "grow up" ( quotes because those are his actual words. Imagine it). Little did he know he was talking to the world's youngest old fart. Somebody needs to teach that guy that sometimes good customer service is giving advice and educating customers, but sometimes it's keeping your mouth shut and just taking the money. Knowing the difference is the trick. I suppose he was trying to be sarcastic or funny or something. Jokes on him, my money went elsewhere.