"Fixes," or fixed gear bicycles have become an essential accessory to hipsters nationwide, on par with ironic tees and a taste for PBR and bands you're not cool enough to know. And San Francisco is no exception. One would think San Francisco would be an exception, considering that NOT having brakes or gears would put one at a distinct disadvantage when tackling the city's famous hills. Nevertheless, they are everywhere. And it is no longer just the specialists who know how to ride them out there on the streets.
Now, I understand why bike messengers have them. The financial district is fairly flat, and having no gears and brakes makes a bike a lot easer and cheaper to maintain, as well as making it less of a target for bike thieves.
But as a commuter? I'll admit they look cool, and I'll also admit, that surprisingly, you can actually make it through SF without hitting a lot of big hills (thank you whoever invented "the wiggle"). But if all you're looking for is street cred with fellow skinny jeans-wearing academy of art students, maybe you should think twice. Not having brakes on Market Street sounds like a really really bad idea.
I thought I would share this craigslist ad I found. Hilarious.
Fixed Gear Death Trap - $350
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2008-03-16, 6:34PM PDT
I'm selling a complete fixed gear. It is totally ready to ride and will probably kill you.
I pushed it into a bike shop recently to have the rear wheel trued. At the bottom of my receipt it read, 'My advice, get a new bike.' So, I am. And maybe you are too! He was reserved enough not to use the words 'death' or 'trap,' but I'm not!
The frame is probably an old Raleigh that could have been worth something. It's rattlecanned and chipping rapidly. The paint is almost completely gone where my car's bike rack grips. There are, however, parts of the bike that are still entirely painted.
Looking a little deeper, the headset is completely fucked. Unless you can ride a unicycle, you can't ride this bike with no hands. I'm expecting something terrible to happen in the headset in the next few rides that will pitch me onto the pavement. For the right price, this could be you!
Also, the pedals were never supposed to house toe cages. So, the cages are kind of ruined and inoperable. Sometimes when I'm skidding, my front foot will almost slip out and I'll get all wobbly before righting myself. During these moments, my eyes are usually plate-wide with terror. This could be your terror!
There are still front and rear brakes installed, because it was always kind of a half-assed conversion. These could definitely be removed, though. The bike shop guy even tightened up the rear brakes for me. You could be the only fixie rider in SF with fully functional rear brakes.
But the brake cables are also completely shot, so I wouldn't count on it.
The handlebar tape is falling off and one of the plugs is missing.
Also, I don't remember what kind of cranks are on it but the pedals are super long. Every now and then when you're riding they slam off the ground and get more ruined. Again, there's some aspect of terror here.
The gear ratio is 52/20. The rear tire is flat and the Presta valve is broken off.
This bike is what my brother affectionately refers to as a 'time bomb.' Why? Because there's no track hub or cog. Actually, there's a freewheel with loctite in it. So far, I've been able to learn how to ride fixed on this setup without it falling apart. But someday it will. And when it does, someone is going to get fucking screwed.
I paid $80 for it 8 months ago in Buffalo. Considering we're in San Francisco, the asking price is $350. I think that's only fair.