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Urban fixed-gear scene alive and well in Portland

Posted by on March 26th, 2008 at 9:36 am

Fixed gear riders on the Esplanade-2.jpg
Ben Ficklin practices tricks on
the Eastbank Esplanade.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portland’s urban fixed-gear scene is on a roll. A new fixed-gear website has been launched and two upcoming events are testament to the growing community of riders who enjoy the challenges and thrills of riding track bikes in the city.

Alex Kroman announced the debut of PDXFixed.com yesterday. He says he created the site to, “unite the different groups of fixed gear riders in Portland and give them a place to congregate, talk about bikes, and plan group rides.” Kroman says fixed-gear riding is on the rise in Portland and that, “it’s hard to pass a bike rack in this city without seeing at least one fixie locked up to it.”

PDXFixed.com is discussion forum where registered users can post messages and other users can add comments. The topics can be viewed by anyone but you’ve got register in order to post. Current discussions range from advice on what type of gearing is best to use around Portland to how to improve climbing skills (ever do Mt. Tabor on fixie?) and information on upcoming events.

Fixed gear riders on the Esplanade-6.jpg Fixed gear riders on the Esplanade-1.jpg Fixed gear riders on the Esplanade-3.jpg

Hugh Nixon, manager of 21st Avenue Bicycles in Northwest Portland says his shop is seeing an uptick in fixed-gear business. “We’re seeing more and more of these kids coming in and they’re getting a fixie for no other reason than to do barspins and fixed-gear freestyle type riding. It’s not my cup of tea, but I think it’s great…they’re good kids.”

I met a few fixed-gear freestylers on the Eastbank Esplanade yesterday. They told me about an event they’re putting together this Friday (3/28) — The Portland Massacre. One of the organizers, Ben Ficklin says he hopes to turn the last Saturday of every month into “Radderday” and hold fixed-gear events on a regular basis.

Portland Massacre event poster.
More info here

The new Radderday blog says, “This is intended to be a fun event with no limits or expectations for anybody who wants to hangout, and an opportunity for fixed gear cyclists to kick ass and compete.”

Ficklin says he starting riding fixies just for fun, but liked it so much he got more serious and now wants to get others involved. Ficklin — and his friends Lucas Norris and Raymond Flores who accompanied him for an impromptu session on the Esplanade yesterday — say they like urban and trick-riding and they also like to participate in races (sometimes called alley-cats).

Other facets of urban fixed-gear riding include competitions like “footdown”, where riders try to out-balance one another, and “best skid”, where riders are judged on the length and style of a skid (and this is often the result).

Fixed gear riders on the Esplanade-4.jpg
Raymond Flores

Another event for the fixed-gear crowd is coming to Portland in April; a screening of the new fixed-gear riding film, Mash. Organizers of that event have planned the “Mash2Mash” race and competitions to coincide with the showing. You can download a flyer for the event here.

In addition to urban racing and trick-riding, many Portlanders like to ride and race fixed gears in more traditional settings. The fabled Mt. Tabor Race Series features a special fixed-gear class and local riding legend David Auker leads a fixed-gear group ride from River City Bicycles on Sunday mornings from January through the end of February.

But if you want to see where the fixed-gear scene is headed, check out PDXFixed.com and the Radderday blog and head up to Mt. Tabor this Friday afternoon for the Portland Massacre.

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Comments
  • Morgan March 26, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Is it true that fixed gears are the new rollerblades?

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  • Josh March 26, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Morgan, yes it is.

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  • Grimm March 26, 2008 at 10:12 am

    ^– Yes. Now go ride your pista you wanna be fruit-booter. ;)

    It seems like there are enough people riding these type of bikes to justify trying to get together a little more. And with better weather (hopefully) coming soon, maybe it will be the summer of the fixie.

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  • jay March 26, 2008 at 10:18 am

    summer of the fixie…more like summer of the pixie

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 10:21 am

    i was a fruit-booter.

    now i ride fixed.

    man, i\’m NEVER going to be cool…

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  • spencer March 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

    For all the pista haters, get a grip on reality. a piece of crap lugged bike all beat to hell that doesn\’t fit worth a damn is no better than a pista. Give me a break. the reason the pista is popular was because it was the first mass produced fixy, yet it retains track geometry. and its cheap.

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  • tonyt March 26, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Bikes good.

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  • Grimm March 26, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I dont hate pistas, theyre fine bikes. Good and cheap and because of this they have become the cliché. And I happen to know Morgan owns one, so I flung him some s*** (in good fun).

    Jay go back to babbling about your \’singulator\’.

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  • Anon. March 26, 2008 at 10:39 am

    More people on bikes = good.

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  • jay March 26, 2008 at 10:42 am

    well, when yer as BA as i am you dont need singulators or gears. i just put my bike over my shoulder and run faster than all you fixie pixies!

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 11:09 am

    and lo, there was much eyeball-rolling.

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  • Matt March 26, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Urban fixed-gear scene alive and well in Portland

    Totally. Top-tube pad and colored Deep V imports are through the roof this month!

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  • Alex March 26, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for posting about the site. I\’m hoping it\’s existence will increase the amount of social riding that is going on in Portland.

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  • brian March 26, 2008 at 11:57 am

    *****deleted by moderator***** fakengers! I hope you all get tickets.

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    oh, and can i thank the kids in advance for the near-inevitable backlash us actual working messengers will surely experience down the line, thanks to things like \”alleycats\” on thursday at noon?

    the number of muppets \”riding\” fixed downtown on the workdays is high enough already, thank you very much.

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  • too scott March 26, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I\’m with Joel. Also, is Spencer a Bianchi rep or something? That emo sob about the validity of pistas almost came out of nowhere.

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  • I'm a Coaster March 26, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I think it great that it\’s getting \’cool\’ to ride a bike, even if it is a fixie. Look at what snowboarding did, resurrected the ski industry. And skateboarding helped the alienated youth find a passion and get productive. And look at what these things have brought them. Snowboard legal resorts. Skateparks! If the youth get hooked on riding bikes, we actually might have a shot at kicking the oil habit and fixing our auto-centric infrastructure. These also happen to be kids that are of age to start driving, which is when biking gets uncool real quick. Step beck and see the big picture here before you start dogging on something different. They might actually be a part of the solution, so lets encourage them!

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  • SkidMark March 26, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    What\’s a \”fixie\’?

    Fixed gear freestyle? Is that like Artistic Cycling?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 26, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    \”If the youth get hooked on riding bikes, we actually might have a shot at kicking the oil habit and fixing our auto-centric infrastructure…They might actually be a part of the solution, so lets encourage them!\”

    I agree with this. From the guys I met, to speaking with Hugh Nixon at 21st Ave. Bikes about them, they seem like good kids who have found something fun that they really love to do. Their culture — with its videos, fashion, youth, skills, etc… — reminds me of the surf/skate culture and I\’ve always thought the bike scene needs more of it.

    Also, I think it\’s ironic that some messengers feel like these kids will give them a bad name…when we\’re all aware of how the conduct of some messengers have stained the public perception of biking to such great extent.

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  • brian March 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    The fact of the matter is that cops left messengers alone until fixed gears became so trendy. Messengers on fixies end up taking the fall for fakengers who can\’t even stop on a fixie if they had to.

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  • mizake March 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    \”…we\’re all aware of how the conduct of some messengers have stained the public perception of biking to such great extent.\”

    Ouch.

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  • BURR March 26, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Is that another editorial comment, Jonathan?

    ;-0

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 26, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    \”Is that another editorial comment, Jonathan?\”

    yes. Am I not allowed to make editorial comments?

    I hope that comment isn\’t misunderstood. perhaps I should not have generalized with the term \”messengers\”.

    many people know that I have a lot of respect for them but I hear over and over and over again from non-bike people (motorists) how they see \”messengers\” riding crazy downtown, etc.. etc… and much like Critical Mass, that type of public perception has a negative impact on the attempt to gain legitimacy and respect for the bike movement.

    now…back to the topic of fixie freestylers…

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    skid – well, it *would* be like artistic cycling, if they wore unitards. :) i am totally 100% pro this being the genesis (rebirth?) of serious artistic cycling in the us, same as i am 100% pro the fixie craze benefiting youth in track racing. as it stands, what theyre doing lies somewhere in the grey area between artistic cycling and flatland bmx, with a healthy dose of skateboarding thrown in.

    coaster – i think its great that its getting cool to ride a bike too. its about freaking time. and im not dogging the fixies – hell, i love em. im dogging the legions of barely-competent riders on them, launching themselves into live traffic, putting their lives on the line for trinkets, and spending more time futzing around with barspins than RIDING – who will inevitably get mistaken for working messengers; working messengers who will then take the brunt of things once one of the myfixedspace crowd clocks an old lady or a baby or something.

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  • Qwendolyn March 26, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    What\’s a \”fixie\’?

    Fixed gear freestyle? Is that like Artistic Cycling?

    Yes, but with tighter pants.

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  • Anonymous March 26, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    it\’s been a long time since i posted on this, or any other bicycle related site. wanna know why? because \”fixed gear freestyle\” has made me want to give up on bikes. trends are trends, and these unimaginative fashionable youths aren\’t riding bikes, they\’re riding trends. i quit. these d-bags make me sick.

    and jonathan. please quit it with the \”messengers give cyclists a bad name\” line. it\’s tired, and it\’s not the truth.

    bicycle messengering – the best job i ever quit. thanks, kids, for helping me to lose faith in yet another great pastime.

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  • BURR March 26, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    jeez, is everyone being judgemental enough? More people on bikes, including fakengers, critical mass riders and everyone else, is GOOD. People that are annoyed or upset by these elements of the velorution have small, small minds.

    ;-)

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  • Alex March 26, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Brian and Joel,

    I\’d love for you both to join the site and try to help out / teach the riders who aren\’t as experienced as you. Maybe with enough \”wear a helmet and put a brake on your bike\” posts there won\’t be any kids running into old ladies on their pistas.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 26, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    \”and jonathan. please quit it with the ”messengers give cyclists a bad name” line. it’s tired, and it’s not the truth.

    I know it\’s not the truth.

    I should have been more accurate in my initial comment. I realize it\’s not fair to say \”messengers\” have given cycling a bad name, I should be more clear and should have said that

    … the general public\’s perception of what they think are messengers and how they think messengers ride, causes them to paint all bikers with the same brush of negativity they associate with that perhaps mistaken perception.

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    jonathan:

    Also, I think it\’s ironic that some messengers feel like these kids will give them a bad name…when we\’re all aware of how the conduct of some messengers have stained the public perception of biking to such great extent.

    zing! :)

    dare i mention that ANYONE doing anything crazy downtown is automatically assumed to be a messenger?

    the blame assigned to us for public perception of cyclists is, and always has been, out of proportion to our population. there are, and always have been, more of \”you\” than there are of \”us\” (if i may fall for a moment into the trap of that whole them/us nonsense), and i daresay that the vitriol leveled at messengers is largely unjustified.

    there are perhaps 50 working messengers in portland, maybe 35 actually riding on any given day. during a recent sunny day, while riding around town, i ran into no less than 7 different groups of 3-10 kids riding around town on fixies, aping the risks shown in far too many youtube videos.

    ive watched fixie crackdowns happen in various cities around the us over the last 10 years, and every single time, its been easily tied to a boom in fixie popularity amongst the non-messenger population.

    i dont feel like they will give us a bad name. i feel like they already HAVE.

    and seeing the greater cycling community repeat the same old tired nonsense about messengers\’ negative impact on public perception of cyclists as a whole is as discouraging as its ever been.

    portlands small messenger population is largely made up of experienced, career messengers, far more so than most cities. by and large, were not the reckless hoodlums you make us out to be – surely you have us confused with some other crowd of fixie-riding young people.

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  • Brandon March 26, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    There already is ample opportunity for fixed riders to compete. Mainly at the velodrome. Obra does a very good job of handling things. I\’ll stick with them.

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    the general public\’s perception of what they think are messengers and how they think messengers ride, causes them to paint all bikers with the same brush of negativity they associate with that perhaps mistaken perception.

    thank you for that clarification, jonathan – now if we can just get people to make the leap of logic from that statement to not blaming messengers for the publics mistaken perceptions.

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  • pushkin March 26, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    somewhere in portland is a shark, and he has been jumped.

    as of the posting of this article, the pistadex experienced a slight upswing but it will not be enough to stave off the forecasted downturn.

    tip: liquidate your stock now.

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    alex –

    dont come looking to me for \”put a helmet and a brake on\” posts, cause that aint my bag. im perfectly fine with people riding without either. :)

    what id love to see them riding with is common sense, and theres really nothing i can post thatll give them that. all i can say is the same thing i used to chase down red-light-blowing rookie messengers in sf to ask them about the stupid risks they were taking: \”what makes it worth it?\”

    internet forums, youtube, and the rest got us (meaning messengers) into this whole co-opting-an-underground-subculture mess. it aint gonna get us out of it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 26, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Joel… thanks for your comment #30.. those are very important points you make.

    I should know better than to make a comment like I did without being much more clear about my true feelings.

    On a side note, I just replied to an email from Beefa (a professional messenger). A few weeks ago he asked me to join him on an all-day ride along and I accepted. We\’re working on a date and I\’ll plan to do a story after it\’s done.

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  • Steve March 26, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I think that fixies need to be as flashy as possible they are a great way to express yourself.

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  • BURR March 26, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    The Portland Business Alliance works very hard to make sure that downtown Portland is free of any elements that will disturb the Washington and Clark county surburbanites arriving by motor vehicle to shop, eat and play in downtown PDX. This includes the homeless, hipsters and bicyclists of all types.

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  • Qwendolyn March 26, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    RE: pushkin #33

    The question is whether or not the feds will be waiting with a corporate bailout for Bianchi after the fixed-gear apocalypse.

    Also, when the PistaDex plummets, will the velcro from all the top tube pads be recycled for use in bulletin boards and children\’s toys?

    Important questions all.

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  • Ugh March 26, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    \”with a healthy dose of skateboarding thrown in\”
    dang, wish i didnt hear that one.
    reminds me of aggressive inline bike dancing.

    fixpush:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=b2885aR6o6s

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  • jay March 26, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    does every article about track bikes on the street have to end up in a flame war in the comments section? seriously, if it\’s not all of us trying to defend the bike against some average joe cyclist who thinks fixed gears are an unacceptable danger outside the velodrome, it\’s a fight inside the subculture of those who ride them. while i\’ve been riding fixed for a couple years now and don\’t really get into the freestyle aspect (i\’d rather just go really fast, on the track or the street), i\’m not dogging them for doing what they do. maybe it\’s just a passing fad and maybe it\’ll still be here in five years… i could care less, i\’m still gonna ride my bike.

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  • MIN March 26, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I\’m honestly a bit bummed that the introduction of pdxfixed.com had to coincide with the \”cool kids\” flipping tricks on the esplanade.

    Fixed gear bicycles are just that… that have a fixed gear. Some of us don\’t have a \”cool kids\” agenda and prefer to ride fixed gears for the love of drivetrain simplicity, not because of some passing fad.

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  • jay March 26, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    HOW HEAVY THIS AXE

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  • Cheesus Christ March 26, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Top tube pads are functional in a number of ways, and, yes, slightly fashionable, if not even by default.
    I mean, who doesn\’t like to match?

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  • Steve March 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Rollerblades are totally different then rollerblades because you can coast. Plus you have to wear big boots.

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  • Steve March 26, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    i mean fixed gear.

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  • Bob March 26, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    At least riding a fix you don\’t have to wear spandex and listen to right said fred! Fruit Booters…

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  • Eric March 26, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    When is the mtn bike fad coming back?

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  • pushkin March 26, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Qwendolyn –

    I was wondering the same thing about a bailout too. A mcmansion house bought at a temporarily low rate : a fantasizing homeowner :: an overpriced fgf neon monstrosity : fakenger. So maybe there is a chance of a bailout for Bianchi, unless they are still in Italy, in which case I don\’t think they are under the umbrella of fed protection.

    As for the velcro from the pads, judging by recent entries on the fgg (http://fixedgeargallery.com/2008/mar/3/JamesStevenson.htm), there is a potential for them being biohazards and as such are unsuitable for children.

    cl pistadex latest figures:
    03/21 $315
    03/22 $400
    03/23 $387
    03/24 $376
    03/25 $326

    Jeez, the market is already dropping, I was wrong to speculate an upswing. I say, sell! sell! sell!

    Someone must have had an inside tip that jonathan was posting this story.

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  • Cheesus Christ March 26, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I also agree with Joel.

    There are obvious signs that point to the fact that the working cyclist is not the problem, and that the problem may in fact be partially caused by misconstrued shows of emulation.

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  • Morgan March 26, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for clearing up the rollerblade issue.

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  • Eric March 26, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    I think it\’s interesting to watch fads come and go…I don\’t think riding fixed is completely going away or dropping off as quickly as rollerblading did. The core of it is still biking whether it\’s fixed or not. And there is so much more utility to riding, like transportation. The utility of the activity keeps it going. Scooters, 6 wheeled skateboards and things like that dwindle because the novelty wears off, where biking is still the same as when you were a kid.

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  • Anonymous March 26, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    so thats me and my friends in those pictures and im suprised at this explosion of arguments. i didnt realize that people would get so mad because we were having fun. and for those of you who think we are ruining your image as a fixed gear rider maybe you shouldnt base your individuality on the type of bike you ride. if you are your own person than what we do should not effect what you think of yourself or what other people think about you and therefor there should have been no arguments here. were not trying to prove anything we just like to have a good time and maybe a bar spin or two is fun to us at the moment.

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  • Donald March 26, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I\’ll bet the farm that almost anyone on a fixed gear steelie can outpace me and my 1980 Raleigh Comp (10 gears fwd/0 rev) up the Vancouver corridor.

    To which I say: Nice arse.

    Let the kids have their fun. Good on them.

    Some of you trend haters oughta be out starting something new instead of gnawing on old facinations.

    More bikes, please!

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  • Qwendolyn March 26, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    RE: Dabby #49

    imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

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  • sean March 26, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    anonymous #26:

    quitting is so hot right now!

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  • Brad Ross March 26, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    What\’s the worst thing about being a rollerblader?

    Having to tell your parents you\’re gay.

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  • pushkin March 26, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    brad probably means \”gay\” in the sarah silverman sense: \”gay\” as in retard, not \”gay\” as in homosexual

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  • felix March 26, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Does each fixie come with its own amount of smugness or does that cost extra?

    ONE LESS FIXIE!

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  • anonymous March 26, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    >

    i\’m surprised that this offends you so much. I agree that the term alleycat is best left for the messenger population of the world and the concept of this form of racing was born from that same population.

    why is it so hard for you and/or others to accept a group of \”young people\” -or ANYONE really, setting up a checkpoint race around the city that they, as well as you, live in in an effort to have… fun. Fun with friends from out of town, fun with neighbors, and fun with other riders in the community.

    so, i\’d love to here what you have to say and i\’ll continue to avoid the word \”alleycat\”, but i will not stop riding in anyway for anyone.

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  • anonymous March 26, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    The last comment is in response to Joel\’s comment #15 regarding the post on pdxfixed.com regarding a thursday checkpoint bike race.

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  • freebird March 26, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    People have hated bike messengers since long before the first trackbike barspin or janky girlpants conversion ever hit the streets. (Joel, I know you spent a lot of hours at the Wall, and I know you know it\’s true)
    Let the young fellers alone. All they\’re doing is riding bikes in funny clothes.

    Oh, and anonymous #26, nice dedication, dude.

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    \”MIN
    March 26th, 2008 13:59
    41

    I\’m honestly a bit bummed that the introduction of pdxfixed.com had to coincide with the \”cool kids\” flipping tricks on the esplanade.

    Fixed gear bicycles are just that… that have a fixed gear. Some of us don\’t have a \”cool kids\” agenda and prefer to ride fixed gears for the love of drivetrain simplicity, not because of some passing fad.\”

    TAA-DAAA! bingo! and there are very many folks who feel the same way, some of them even wearing tight pants and owning chrome bags.

    i know i don\’t pretend to resemble, act like, or give the impression of being associated with messengers at all. nor do i personally give a crap about getting people to see me bust a wheelie or a double fishtail.

    i\’ve seen messengers blow through lights, or laugh at kids on expensive track bikes. and i\’ve seen bandana-bandits pulling stunts IN TRAFFIC or just riding around a fantastic machine to get coffee and see who notices them.

    there is no one reason to blame here. people behave well or don\’t on all sides, and each are misperceived forever. getting everyone to behave perfectly won\’t stop that at all!

    and fads freaking happen. blue jeans. baseball caps. cargo pants. beepers. ipods. the unshaven. fixies. they come and go, and always there are those that will do what they do for reasons outside of those ascribed by the \’experts.\’ there are even those that evolve their personal aesthetic FROM or DURING a fad.

    if you love doing it, for whatever reason, just do it, and EVERYONE try to be a little bit mindful of each other.

    cops are going to crack down on people that are behaving improperly, messenger or fakenger, alike. personally, i think that\’s a much better scenario than people being able to break rules that for the most part are meant for safety.

    and the fad popular thing will peak and fade to the next thing, and the only folks that will be troubled to the point of their interest being \’ruined\’ are waaay to worried about what other people are thinking and doing anyway, no?

    most of these issues on this board and others are PERSONALITY issues, not cycling ones. flamers don\’t prove anything by lumping all kinds of people together with catchy one-liners.

    quit flaming. go ride around or something.

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    ps, comment 55, by sean,

    …is solid gold.

    ;)

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  • felix March 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm
  • joel March 26, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    They take risks because they are young and trying to get LAID. The same reason young men and women have been doing stupid dangerous shit for eons. I have also seen that MASH video, which is basically a skate video with bikes and I have to say their tricks are not nearly as entertaining, really folks its all about the $$$$$$$$$$$. Just like the antithesis of the fixed gear the 10-speed cassette not much better than the 7, 8 or 9 speed, just something new to buy (god do you think shimano is going to go 11 speed next year?). Go buy an new bike and forget about it.

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  • april March 26, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I think fixies are kinda sexy…but I don\’t know if I\’d ever ride one! Hills are difficult enough to go up already, not thrilled about making it hard work to go down, too.

    But more people on bikes, is more people on bikes! Woo!

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  • mizake March 26, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    April (#66) just sold 11 new fixies.

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    and another thing:

    i believe the word should be \’fixocalypse.\’

    ;)

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    …and it\’s coming.

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  • Matt March 26, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Speaking of which, did anyone else notice that Performance is now selling a fixed frame under their house label?

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  • 2GOAT March 26, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Help a novice get up to speed here. I don\’t get the history…how did Bike Messengers become synonomous with \”Fixed Gears\”. Weren\’t they first used just as track racing bikes???

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    they were initially, until immigrant (west indian, mostly, it seems) labor began using them for messenger jobs in good ol nyc.

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    correction:

    that\’s track bikes, specifically, i mean.

    fixed gears are older than that. all bikes were fixed gear before the invention of the dérailleur.

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  • weltall82 March 26, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    from wikipedia:

    \”…Almost immediately after Pierre Lallement developed the forerunner of the modern pedal-driven velocipede in 1864, people began to use the bicycle for delivery purposes. David Herlihy\’s 2004 book on the early history of the bicycle contains several references to bicycle messengers working during the late 19th century, including a description of couriers employed by the Paris stock exchange in the 1870s[18]. During the bicycle boom of the 1890s in the United States, Western Union employed a number of bicycle messengers in New York City and other large population centers. In a curious foreshadowing of contemporary Western messenger culture, these couriers generally rode bicycles equipped with a single fixed gear.

    The earliest recorded post-war American bicycle courier company was founded by Carl Sparks, in San Francisco 1945. According to the San Francisco Bicycle Messenger Association, \’Sparkie\’s went on to become Aero, which was bought out in 1998 [and] later absorbed into CitySprint.\'[19] By the late 1970s, there were well-established companies offering bicycle messenger services in many major cities in the U.S.\”

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  • josh m March 26, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    blah blah blah.
    Man, these kids are going to ruin our rep.
    Kids from other cities always ask if we do \”tricks\” here. I tell them, us showing up is our trick. That and going faster than 15mph.

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    weltall82 –

    fixed gears are older than that. all bikes were fixed gear before the invention of the dérailleur.

    er, nope:

    1. several multi-gear drive systems were available prior to the invention of either front or rear derailleurs

    2. assuming youre using \”fixed gear\” in the now-common sense (that of what would be correctly termed a \”fixed wheel\” – ie direct drive), multiple free wheel arrangements also existed prior to the derailleur.

    :)

    also, i still take that whole jamaicans brought fixed gears to nyc story with a big ol grain of salt. like a boulder.

    anonymous –

    i dont give a hoot whether you call them alleycats or anything else, or whether non-messengers are holding them or whatever, or really, whether you hold them at all – im gonna be grumpy about thursday noon alleycats by civvies regardless, simply because i know, historically, who gets the blame for people on fixies racing around town in traffic, regardless of whos riding. if you post in a public area, youre gonna get both positive and negative responses. deal.

    2goat –

    bike messengers, quite arguably, are largely responsible for putting the fixed gear back in the public eye. messengers started using them because they were cheap, easy to maintain, and less desirable in the eyes of bike thieves. from there, street fashion picked it up, as did the resurgence in fixed gear use for road training etc.

    and roads predated race tracks, so fixed gears were road bikes first :) but the fixie as it is popularized today draws its greatest influence from track racing bikes.

    is all this mess going to make me like fixies less? nah. sure, it winds me up, but then, so does my coworkers racking up hundreds of dollars in tickets they cant afford simply because something becoming a fad brought it to a few cops attention.

    thats enough from me on this. thats what i get for reading this on my day off! hah! :)

    have a nice ride, folks.

    -joel

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  • Crash N. Burns March 26, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    I want to comment so badly, but after reading all the other comments, all I could manage to do was throw up a little into my mouth.

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  • jay March 26, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Joel, don\’t act like roadies training on fixed gears happened because messengers \”brought them back in the public eye\”. The roadie training thing has been going on forever, before America they did it in Europe, and it\’s long been known that training on a low geared fix improves the range of RPM\’s one can pedal and maintain as well as improving the pedal stroke. Seeing messengers riding fixed gear in the street had absolutely nothing to do with it, and the two movements happened independent of eachother.

    I agree that courier culture should be respected, but people should also see that times are changing and you can\’t go out and say that \”only our subgroup of people can ride this type of bike\”. No one in Portland themselves invented courier culture (no, not even Sharky), and this elitist, excluvist mentality that only couriers are fit to fixed is silly and incompatible with reality. Funny because I\’ve known and gotten acquainted with more than a handful of PDX couriers and the majority of them don\’t have this excluvist mindstate; in contrast, they\’re some of the most down to earth people riding bikes that I know.

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  • nerf March 26, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    all you little muppet ****** make me puke in my mouth.

    portland will be next next town a fakenger is killed in.

    mark my words.

    and then you will all of ruined it and moved on while the rest of us will be here to suffer with the backlash. on to some other culture to trash.
    the american internet age.

    can\’t wait until your all selling your bikes on craigslist for cheap in a year

    muppets

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  • joel March 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    jay –

    (yes, i know i said i was done, but…)

    im not acting like roadies training on fixed gears happened because messengers brought them back.

    i am saying that, specifically, the current resurgence in people riding fixed gears, whether that be mash-style or winter training, is due largely to messengers. like it or not, the frames have become available, and the american population aware of fixies, in no small part due to their proliferation in the messenger scene. im not saying that each and every one of you was inspired by messengers, and that all fixed gears in the known universe can be traced back to messengers, but that the messenger scene has been a major formative influence in the current upswing in the popularity of the fixed gear on the road, in all its contexts.

    believe you me, i know the history of road training on fixed, better than most.

    my statement, again, was: \”bike messengers, quite arguably, are largely responsible for putting the fixed gear back in the public eye\”. it doesnt look easy to misinterpret, but apparently it is.

    the elitist, exclusivist attitude that you, and others, refer to – well, im pretty sure its a figment of someones imagination. id love for someone to show me where ive said that only couriers should/can ride fixed. yes, im criticizing a subset of the fixie-riding population. am i vocal about saying that while i think people edging towards artistic cycling is cool, i also think that the fixie-trick thing is kinda silly? yup. have i told anyone they shouldnt ride fixies? naah. i try to stick to pointing out that too many of the fixie crowd (speaking of the generically-termed \”hipster\” types) ride like theyve got a deathwish, and that id really prefer not to have to clean up the mess. :)

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  • jay March 26, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Sorry, wasn\’t referring to you when I was bringing up the elitist excluvist thing. That was more directed at… other commentators above.

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  • toddistic March 26, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    wow i want my 10 minutes back, some of you people care wayyyyyy to much.

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  • bearhat March 26, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    these fixies seem to be a larger fashion statement than anything else. if you want to ride fixed–having a colored headset, rims and matching fanny pack is pretty illogical.

    what happened to taking it to the velodrome and seeing what they can really do?

    ps: i love brad ross.

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  • Darkness Merkin March 26, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    …but who has the deepest V\’s

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  • Cheesus Christ March 26, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Can you say Campy Atlanta?

    I knew you could.

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  • Zaphod March 27, 2008 at 8:37 am

    My fixie has saved me countless dollars in drivetrain costs and hours of maintenance. My spin is much smoother to boot.

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  • white folks March 27, 2008 at 8:38 am

    the notion that mesengers are getting tickets cuz the kids have locked onto fixed gear bikes is plain dumb. y\’all were getting tickets before the fad and you\’ll be getting them after. bicycling in general is coming more into the public\’s eye, and well they\’re probably sick of sharky blowing reds and cutting them off to make six bucks a run. i work in an office that uses you guys. nothing in this podunk little burg needs to be delivered so fast that you guys need to ride like you sometimes do.

    having said that, I ride fixed, i started as a training aid to my geared racing, and the change has been great. i look forward to riding, anywhere, any weather anytime. I\’m more \”connected\” with my bike. I ride and don\’t think of \”seat time\” or \”miles accrued\” and my life is better for it. I may wear a helmet i may not, i\’m grown and can decide for myself. No brake means I\’mn looking farther ahead, riding at a pace that works with traffic, since a can\’t grab the binders at the last sec panic style, even a skid stop requires planning ahead.

    Fixed riding has improved my cadence, my vision, my \”street sense\” and gotten me back on the bike everyday, all year. my cheapo conversion gets way more miles than my campy\’d out race ride.

    oh well, can\’t believe i just wasted 15 mins like that.

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  • Pete March 27, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Wow, had to give up reading after the vibe took such a downward trend. Someone quit riding a bike because fixed gears got trendy?? Shame on you, missing out on all the fun. I agree this is a great thing to see a whole new generation get hold of. Why do trends have negative connotation? Mountain biking, fruit-booting, skateboarding, fixies – they all get people outdoors exercising and communicating together. That\’s bad?

    Thanks for the article. I fall into the fair-weather-commuter-with-a-car and dorkie-roadie categories, but love to see so many aspects of cycling come together in this blog. Love watching \’kids\’ do fixie tricks and may try riding one myself someday (many roadie friends swear by training on them). And I promise I won\’t wear my original olive Timbuk2 or any other messenger-posing haircut/clothing/painted frame. (But I will wear a helmet).

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  • Ahmed March 27, 2008 at 9:53 am

    This new urban fixie craze is a direct result of the government\’s plan to destroy hipster neighborhoods by giving the kids track cocaine and getting them hooked. Be afraid people! Be afraid!

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  • Ahmed March 27, 2008 at 11:38 am
  • KG March 27, 2008 at 11:48 am

    MTV had it first:

    \”The style sort of blew up after Puck,\” he says. David \”Puck\” Rainey was a cast member on MTV\’s \”The Real World: San Francisco\” in 1994. Though Rainey said he was a bike messenger, few in the courier community remember him. Morris thinks Rainey may have worked for one of the courier companies \”for a few days.\”

    There\’s no disputing, however, that Rainey\’s antics on \”Real World\’\’ made him the public face of bike messenger culture, introducing a generation of kids to a freewheeling lifestyle defined as much by Puck\’s obnoxiousness as his supposed feats of derring-do.

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  • steve March 27, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Joel #65

    You just lost all credibility. Care to explain to the class how the Shimano 7 speed group is no different from the 10 speed?

    You can\’t be serious? Have you ever touched a bike made later than the early 80\’s?

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  • 2GOAT March 27, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Hey Weltall82 and joel,
    Thanks for providing some background!!!It\’s more fun following the responses on this site than \”googling\” fixies>

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  • weltall82 March 27, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    meh, i dig ya.

    i should have tried to clarify that the fixed gear (yeah, meaning fixed wheel, which the brits still have right, haha) was the cycles origin, so far as i know.

    HOLY CRAP IT JUST STARTED SNOWING!

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  • weltall82 March 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    \”once you go tarck, you never go barck\”.

    golden!

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  • Torfinn March 27, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I just came here to say, I like bicycles.

    I also like bicycles that look cool, have since I got my first GI-Joe big wheel which looked really cool.

    I used to do skids on it, which was also really fun and cool.

    If I rode a fixed gear now, I would also do skids and tricks, because it looks like fun.

    That is all.

    Anyhow, you guys are all stuck in 2006 Coaster breaks are where it\’s at now.

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  • jenn March 27, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    haha BSNYC would rip into this…

    and the fact that #48 brought up the pistadex is amazing haha.

    just remember you have to figure that some of those aren\’t for full bikes but just for frames and forks, but all in all the pista dex is dropping. either start saving for all the things that are about to start popping up or it\’s about to be a buyers market!

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  • joeb March 27, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    I have no business commenting on this thread because I couldn\’t pull off hip or sexy on a fixie. But fixed riders make it sound fun so one day I may take on poser. People with one gear pass me all the time and I don\’t remember ever passing a single speed. A triple crank with a 10 speed cassette is a drag to clean every week and I have to agree with Zaphod that most of the money saved on fuel is put back into bike maintenance.

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  • me March 27, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    the uber cool with all the \”right\” and \”latest\” gucci gear are always so quick to dismiss anyone else they see riding around on a fixie that they deem not cool enough to be seen on. If you\’re riding a chrome pista, you *must* just be a trend hopper, looking to jump on the latest thing and try to fit in with the cool kids. I couldn\’t give two shits what anyone thinks of any of the bikes I ride, I\’m too old and having too much fun to care. I started riding a fixie because the simplicity of the fixed gear bike seemed so refreshing to me. And being someone who was way into skateboarding before I was too scared to break bones, I like that it is taking up a little of that same sort of punk attitude. Fixed gears feel pure and simple to me. I\’ve never felt more a part of my bike than since I started riding a fixie.

    It\’s fun, and quite a workout too. I\’ve improved my biking skills by leaps and bounds. I say anyone who gets into bikes, no matter what kind, I\’ll welcome you with open arms. no snobby bullshit from me.

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  • me March 27, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    f*** the elitist snobbery. people on bikes are good. period. so if they give it up in a year, big f**** deal. they\’ll probably want to coast sometime and get a geared or single speed bike. Maybe bikes with no cranks and chain will be the next big thing, and everyone will get around by running while standing over a frame. good, still less cars. who f**** cares? no one should feel bad for wanting to get something that\’s currently trendy. Yeah, if fixies hadn\’t been put into the public eye, a lot of us wouldn\’t have gotten one, but we have and a lot of us like it. I don\’t think anyone should feel like they shouldn\’t ride a fixed gear unless they\’re a fucking messenger. A lot of us like earning more than $48 bucks a week, and like to ride fixed gears too.

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  • SkidMark March 28, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Again, what\’s a fixie? I am unfamiliar with this term.

    The only \”trick\” most Portland fixed gear riders do is riding dirty and avoiding the Police.

    I ride a bike not a bandwagon.

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  • pushkin March 28, 2008 at 7:43 am

    me sounds really pista\’d off, and his/her comments prove the theory that as the invective defending one\’s nouveau fix-ation escalates, the pistadex accordingly drops. \”Put in the public eye\” indeed – like a sharp stick.

    A fixie is a crooked bookie. Portland fixed riders and their tricks? – I\’ve seen more tricks performed in a convent.

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  • Qwendolyn March 28, 2008 at 11:04 am

    A fixie is a crooked bookie.

    I\’d say it\’s more like methamphetamines for your legs. Except that when you\’re on meth you can coast.

    I\’d like to know what kroger plans to do about the fixed-gear scourge.

    Will he propose a three point platform:

    1, A New Fixed-Gear Treatment Plan:

    Treatment is the single most important step we can take to lower incidences of tight jeans and grip-less handlebars.

    2, Targeting the Big Fixed-Gear Cartels:

    How long will Bianchi be allowed to flood the market with relatively inexpensive but good quality track bikes with street features?

    3, Sensible Sentencing Policies:

    Mandatory minimum sentences for people riding legal bikes.

    I think we can all agree that this a three-point plan that does indeed have three points. They\’re even numbered so that there\’s no confusion.

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  • Torfinn March 28, 2008 at 11:22 am

    The cool thing to ride is Tommasinni.

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  • white folks March 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    did U see the sweet t-sini 4 sale a lil bit ago on CL?

    $300!!! sooo sweeet, bummer that rent came 1st, if only my landlord was a roadie or sumptin….

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  • here we go! March 28, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    nothingbettertodoinportland.org,
    same thing, new bike:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=IGmFFiL8ytM&feature=related

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  • Beefa March 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    I will take all the blame!!! I was the first PDX messenger to ride a track bike @ work. Ironically it was a Pista. It had a massive gear ( due to the fact that it was a TRACK BIKE ). All my coworkers thought I was nuts. 14 years later and I\’m soo sorry :)

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  • nerf March 28, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    damn it beefa why man why? because of you i bought a mt bike…

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  • jay March 28, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    80\’s Pistas were the shit, arguably some of the best mass produced steel track bikes ever produced.

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  • jay March 28, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    ahh wait, math was a little off there. sorry beefa.

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  • Nardblast March 28, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Wow,

    in the early 80\’s I got into the \”dorky- at that period\” sport of BMX freestyle…we would have probably been treated with the same level of respect as rollerblading now. Our pants were tight, our duds were neon and the hair was new wave, but it gave us a social connection and something to be proud of together. It took me all over the country competeing and now the sport after so many incarnations is still kicking and very much mainstream. Of course I have had my love-hate romance over 2 and a half decades of it ,but it changed my life and I\’m still riding most forms of cycling 25 years later and I can do amazing stuff on my bike today.I say ride on! no matter what the frame size- brakes…who cares? we never did….I hate on the fixed gear craze sometimes , but in my deeper feelings I don\’t mind it and hope it will become more than some folks are giving it credit for. I ditched my bmx numerous times because I thought I was so OG. got into being a messenger and other stuff, but I still ride it and regret times thinking otherwise…latenight somewhere in a parking garage I\’m coasting around with some other guys who ot\’ to be way too old to fit on those kid things. I urge people to watch the movie Joe Kid on a Stingray. I just could\’nt help my comment because I see too many similarities with the fixed gear trick crew.

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  • Sharky March 29, 2008 at 8:44 am

    You know in any other city this would be a ridiculous waste of space. I am a 40 year old messenger that rides a track bike, and next year when my son is 7 I am going to get him one, and he not a hipster or a messenger. By the way ME #100 you douche bag, $48 a week is not the salary of a courier.

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  • SkidMark March 29, 2008 at 11:52 am

    It\’s funny how some people have no history. messengers didn\’t start riding fixed yesterday, as Beefa points out. When I was briefly a messenger back in about 1986, most messengers in Bostom were on track bikes, though some rode mountain bikes in the winter. This was also at the heyday of BMX Freestyle, and the similarities between it and the current \”urban fixed\” thing are obvious, and intentional. The bright color matched bikes, and the five spoke mags, and the top tube pads…if that isn\’t meant to conjure up images of GT Pro Performers, Haro Freestylers, and Skyway Street Beats, I don\’t know what is.

    Me, I\’m gonna go buy some Tuff wheels for that Dyno D-Tour that Nerf has lying around and practice some endos and rockwalks…

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  • Chessus Christ March 29, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Everything right is wrong again, just like in the long, long trailer.
    (They Might Be Giants)

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  • Anonymous March 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    nerf, mark: I love you fuckers.

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  • Dave March 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    tonyt is succinct and correct: bikes good.

    what\’s not good is hipsters of all levels (yes, the bike riders, the musicocrats, the haircuts, the belt buckles, et al) riding fixies and trying ever so desperately to out-douche everyone.

    Less douchery, more pedaling.

    More smiles. More miles.

    Let the rest be settled by derby.

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  • mark March 29, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    I don\’t know, I feel like there\’s room enough for everyone. it\’s what makes things interesting. I don\’t really try to fit in with any one specific group, so I don\’t care what people are riding what bikes. I have single speed, geared, and fixed bikes, and I love them all. there\’s always going to be subcultures in society, and the fact that they exist here in relation to bikes is just fucking rad to me.

    I am from an area (Texas) where bikes are definitely NOT cool and not a serious form of transportation. so to see bikes being used by people to fit in with others is just strange and intriguing to me. I love the bike culture here, for all it\’s worth!

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  • sic semper tyrannis March 30, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    you know what i\’d like to see? nerf and that guy walton who showed up for portland massacre go off for a match sprint. talk about eating from the bowl of humble soup…

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  • bicyCOLE March 31, 2008 at 9:42 am

    comment 17
    as long as kids are riding.
    lets look at the big picture eh?
    keep it posi.
    for whatever reason they\’re riding, that\’s one less car they\’ll drive.
    even if it is short lived, everything helps. from beach cruisers to 10 speeds, bikes are a GOOD thing…let\’s not forget why the forum was created.

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  • Rocco March 31, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    You kidz and your bar spinz are all a bunch of turdz. Riding backwards is so 2 centuries ago.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4916997780328401984&q=thomas+edison+fixie&total=3&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1
    Ya\’ll are behind.

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  • edjukator April 1, 2008 at 12:02 am

    why oh why don\’t we have a Bike Snob PDX to help get these kids on bikes they won\’t sell after summer because their knees hurt, their skull\’s cracked, their neck\’s kinked, their laces are chewed, and their right pant legs stained…

    Where is our Bike Snob?

    I will give it this- I saw a large group of kids under morrison, \”riding dirty,\” the other day- rolled up expecting to see familiar faces… I only saw two familiar people in the same predicament as I (i.e. not knowing who these kids were)… There was a lot of new organized blood on bikes. Despite the capitalistically inevitable exploitation of subcultures, bring on the new riders…

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  • SkidMark April 1, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Multnomah County Bike Fair has the potential to be HUGE this year.

    I try to be nice to these kids, but sometimes THEY have the attitude.

    Let\’s play nice, and watch this bike thing get bigger.

    …And slap a brake on your fixed gear if you don\’t know how to stop it yet.

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  • fakenger April 1, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    i love the internet

    messengers are crusty

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  • Kphomma July 10, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Wow…

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  • bikepimp@rcyb July 16, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    took wrong turning (down non cycle route)single track turned to stairs a circle on my thigh due to contact with banister i have been advised to fit a brake this is my second day on a fixie love it but must master fixie skid learned so much about myself/bigger picture deep stuff be carefull kids n\’stay legal or you\’l limp home (if your lucky)peacex

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