Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A note from my friend Larry, re: fixters

I think I'm beginning to understand the fixed gear fad. It's BMX for big kids. The mentality is the same as the young kids who buy so-called BMX bikes -- you know, the boat-anchor 20-inch wheel bikes they use for just fooling around...jumping off library steps, wheelies on front or back wheel, sitting on while smokin' a cigarette, hangin' with their buds...that kind of stuff.
Time has passed. The same kids want to do the same stuff but they're too big for 20-inch bikes. So they've "invented" the fixed-gear 700c bike. Same devotion to fashion with the "in" parts versus stock ones. Same wheelies, jumping off curbs and smokin' cigarettes. Same stuff, different bike.
This idea came to me as Heather and I rode by a playground. Here was a hipster/fixter, all alone, practicing his wheelies and other BMX-inspired trickery. Reminded me of descriptions of Major Taylor in front of the bike shop in the old daze.
How long before the BMX brands come out with hipster/fixters? I think they already have them but not branded with the same name. Mongoose, owned by Pacific (the Sprawl-Mart brand) is probably having 'em cranked out by some Chinese factory as I type this.
Performance Bike Shop/Nashbar has 'em. Even some legit distributors have them now. I made a snarky comment to one of them them when I saw his newest contraption: "I hope you don't have too many of these in the pipeline; this fad isn't going to last much longer." But who knows what these kids will take up next...
At least they're OUTSIDE - not sitting on the couch playing video games!  Perhaps one or two of 'em (just like with 20-inch bikes --- as in Robbie McEwen) might eventually take up "real" cycling.

In response to Larry's letter, I said that I wouldn't care about these guys - if they didn't look (to the public's eye) so much like me and my bikerider friends. Larry said that they DON'T look like him, meaning I believe that he wears lycra clothing and a helmet, not knickers and a tiny-billed "cycling" cap. 

The fixters do look more like me than they do like Larry. Since my crash seven months ago, I have not felt (and please don't ask me to explain this) like a bike rider. So I've been riding in jeans, worn over cycling shorts. I have not looked like a genuine roadie. With pants clips around my ankles, perhaps I look like a hipster, an aging one in a red, white and green helmet - and mountain bike shoes.

I think Larry has something there about the BMX kids morphing into fixie kids. Otherwise, where did they come from? And, as some Greek said, nuthin' comes from nuthin', right?

PS  I don't know why there's this giant space under my post. I tried and tried to get rid of it. Sorry.


bike games said...

This is going to cost you a lot. This sucks for sure.

Jon said...

"I wouldn't care about these guys - if they didn't look (to the public's eye) so much like me and my bikerider friends." So, if you ride a fixed gear you aren't a "bikerider"?

Hmm. Well, I ride a fixed gear quite a bit. In fact, I commute 17 miles round trip, every work day, with panniers on the rack, lots of lights and, yes, a helmet. The helmet seems logical, since I am riding in traffic ten times a week, increasing the chances for the need.

I don't always wear a helmet to the coffee shop, ot the grocery store, or on other errands. And sometimes, as I ride helmetless, I am on a bike with gears!

Gosh, I hope I don't look too much like a bikerider to suit you, as I put 5000 miles a year on my non-bikes.

Anyway, you've finally done it. I think I'm just going to stop reading your blog, since you continually spew out this kind of nonsense. (And I don't recommend that you read mine, since it's full of non-"bikerider" fixed gear content.)

I really used to enjoy your column in VeloNews, and so I thought I would like this stuff, as well.

I suppose it just goes to show how much credit a good editor should get for good writing.

Feel free to attribute my felleings to being "overly sensitive", as that is the fallback position for most bigots.

Anonymous said...

Jon, your comments were mean and hateful besides missing the point of the post. You seem to be very sensitive about riding your bike. Let me remind you; it's a bike. Not your gender, not your race, not your faith; it's a bike and in that context, the word "bigot" seems a bit much.

I enjoy Maynard's writing as much now as I ever have and own both his books. I've never read anything by him that would illicit such a defensive and hateful reply. You really need to get a grip on your anger issues. It's just a bike.

Jon said...

At least I sign my name to my opinions. And, those are just that: my opinions, based on my convictions.

Yes, it's just a bike. And we are all just bike riders, regardless of the type bike we ride. That's my point.

And, a bigot is omeone who looks down on a group of people for being in that particular group. maynard seems to constantly look down on and belittle the "fixter" group.

Just to be clear: I don't ride freestyle (on a fixed gear, or any other kind of bike). i just don't like seeing the old "I'm a racing cyclist so my cyling is more real than yours" attitude crop back up. I got enough of that as a mountain biker in the late 80/early 90s.

Anonymous said...

Jon may ride a bike with a fixed gear but he doesn't sound like the "fixter" type at all. I may be wrong but I thought these types were the guys you see riding the wrong way, on the sidewalk, doing various (and mostly unsafe) tricks and generally annoying pedestrians, motorists and other cyclists. Jon seems to be just another cycling commuter so WHAT exactly is he so wound up about?

Gob said...

Some points:

•Fixed Gear kids didn't come from BMX. BMX kids generally continue to ride BMX, or abandon bikes altogether. There are several types of BMX kids as well, racers, freestylers, street riders, dirt jumpers, contest riders, flatlanders, all with their own credos, POV's, and rules. There is some overlap, but by and large each group keeps to their own. BMX is fiercely protective of what they see as their own territory, and they mostly hate MTB and Fixed Gear Freestylers. This is not to say that all BMXer's don't ride fixed, it's just a small porportion.
•Fixed Gear kids are hipsters. As has been stated, they are just the latest iteration of punks, mods, new wavers, grunge rockers, hip hoppers, greasers, or emo-kids. They are different from all of these, and yet virtually indistinguishable. They are just trying to be different, all in the similar ways, the way some of us did when we were that age, the way 18-25 year olds will always be until western civilisation collapses.
•Jon is not a hipster, he's an overly sensitive commuter who happens to ride fixed.
•Not all Fixed Kids ride like assholes, but the vast majority of them do. However, there are plenty of roadies and triatheletes who ride with equally little regard for traffic laws- neither group is without blame.