Bikes of All Shapes and Sizes
--There was a time when I really loved BMX bikes, but it’s been a few years since I appreciated one like I did the first summer I owned my Mongoose Expert. That August was, or I recall it as, exceptionally hot. But I rode that damn bike all day, every day. It wasn’t that I had an insatiable urge to ride, but my Mom told me to share it with my older brother until he got a new bike for his birthday in September. I remember petitioning against the ruling, and being awarded a stipulation that he was only to ride it when I wasn’t, therefore, I rode it all day, every day for a month. Looking back, it was certainly selfish, but I’m proud to have been wise enough to ‘find the loophole’ if you will, and use the rules to my advantage. He never did ride it, and my month-long 20′ Tour de Whatever either honed my condition or kept me in a chronic state of dehydration. I can’t exactly remember after all these years.
At some point, I grew out of 20′ BMX bikes both figuratively and literally. It was about the time that Mountain Bike Action magazine started hitting the shelves. I remember the first cover bike. I though it looked stupid. And Mountain Bike Action? It was clearly a sister publication to BMX Action. So I wondered how a magazine I loved and trusted could be associated with this invasion of bastardized big-wheeled monsterbikes. So it was a strange time for me, since my BMX bike felt too little and I damn sure wasn’t going to trade up for this new ‘thing’ with bullmoose handlebars and road bike gears on it. Life didn’t seem fair. That is until I saved up some summer money and bought my first motorcycle. Needless to say, motorcycles begat automobiles which begat cruising for chicks which begat lots of wasted time, but it sure was fun. And so the bike I’d grown up loving sat forgotten, in a dusty corner of the garage being slowly covered in cobwebs and boxes of crap that so often accumulate in dusty garage corners. I doubt I’m alone in saying I found myself in college before I re-discovered the bike. And by this time mtn. bikes looked normal, at least in my eyes, and grown up dudes on BMX bikes looked stupid. They still do today and I don’t know why, it just seems that big wheels come on man bikes and little wheels come on kid bikes. And for the giants that roam freely in our society, we have even bigger wheels. I have a friend who has a 26′ bike and he looks stupid because he’s a monster. He should get a 29er.
Anyway, here’s what got me started: a great way to package bikes. We have a system similar to this. We call it ‘Ready to Ride’ and although it’s a great packaging system, maybe we should dress it up a bit. I like the clear plastic window that allows you to see the goods. The Aaron Ross Flick Trix Signature Bike is a sweet little ride, and it’s certainly light at roughly 24 grams. We liked the geometry and felt like it didn’t hold us back on any tricks, but the hideous color scheme and a loose headset keep us from giving it high marks. The guy that rides this bike (the full size, but still-too-small-kiddie-version) is a pretty hot street rider. We found this video on You Tube the other day. It’s not the best one of his, but it hit home as there’s a tiny clip of Aaron riding right here in Little Rock at about 2:45. All I can do is shake my head and be in awe of the athletic talent that guys like him display on the bike. What I’m most impressed by is his situational awareness. If you watch this video and some of his others, you’ll see that he does a lot of backwards riding, while not exceptional in its own right, he does it a lot towards handrails or walls and knows exactly when to launch up onto the object into a variety of grinds or positions. He rides his kiddie bike on every urban surface he can find. No patch of concrete nor piece of steel is safe. This guy doesn’t discriminate.
--Who knew that crusty machines that maybe, possibly made parts for WWII aircraft could someday have some artistic appeal. It appears that there is beauty in everything, it just takes the right set of eyeballs and a thick smear of mill oil and steel grit. The most important lesson for me is ‘oil worm liberally every day’. Words to live by indeed.
--With the prospect of a 750g road frame, I’m wondering how long it’ll be before I’ll be able to build up a 15lb single-speed mountain bike. Bikes get lighter and lighter, and so far I’m impressed. I haven’t broken a bike in years. And my perception is that we could continue on this path for a while with the hope (fingers crossed) that the engineers will still build-in plenty of fudge factor for those moments when things go a bit wrong. I could see it having a belt drive. They’re superlight and perhaps the most important feature, quiet. I’m sure my 15 pounder will be carbon fiber, and since most carbon bikes have large diameter tubing, sometimes resonance in the frame is awful when the drivetrain gets dirty. Maybe it’s different in other places, but here in Arkansas, it never fails -- sandy spots in the trail are always preceded by a water crossing.
--The guy who built this bike is clearly not afraid of sand and embraces what the rest of the mountain biking world hates with passion. It seems that all it must take to love riding in the sand is a specialized machine with four hubs, four rims and car sized inner tubes. This picture reminds me of a mutant newborn anything (pick an animal) where a minute could be the difference between life as a weirdo and a gasping horrific death. This is that few moments of time captured, the freak mutant alive and breathing. I don’t see it making a big splash in the mountain bike gene pool.