My life with bicycles
I started riding bicycles in 1980 and I have ridden road bikes and mountain bikes. Looking back I have owned quite a few bicycles, and probably had three or four at any one time. In the early days I hung out at a custom bike shop (Avocet Cycles) in Claremont, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. Although I rode bikes as a kid, like every other kid, it wasn’t until I returned to Perth after graduating Uni and working in Melbourne that I really got serious about riding.
I view a bicycle as an object and a means. Much like cars, bicycles are technical sculptures, functional and stylish, but utilitarian. A bicycle is unsurpassed in its ability to convert human movement into motion and distance covered.
Over 40 years I have had good (lots of miles and achievements) years and bad (few and ordinary rides lacking enthusiasm) years. I fell in to some bad years around 2017, riding very little. To rekindle my interest in riding I decided to buy a single speed bike. Why not? It’s a crazy idea reserved for Uni students and insane bike messengers. After buying a “starter fixie” (see below,) I have now moved into riding something more consistent with my road bike – an all black, all carbon fiber, “super fixie”. Despite being almost all carbon fiber, it isn’t super light, weighing about 14lbs, but it gives a solid, stable ride. I love it!
My first fixie. I found this Al frame and bomber wheelset from 6KU bikes, and raided my parts bin for the seat, post, BB, cranks, pedals, headset, CF fork, and front (emergency) brake. I got a new 17deg stem, CF riser bar (run upside down), new cogs (46/17) and some cool Thickslick tires. Total weight 17bs. It is an absolute blast to ride.
In 1902 Henri Desgrange, originator of the Tour de France, wrote in his magazine L’Equipe:
“I applaud this test (of Velocio, designer of the derailleur), but I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft. Come on, fellows. Let’s say that the test was a fine demonstration – for our grandparents! As for me, give me a fixed gear!”
The purity of the single fixed gear is certainly addictive.
The Ultimate bicycle?
My current road bicycle is a 2010 Neo Exile Ultimate frame, with select components.
The majority of components are made of carbon fiber–most of which are made in Germany, while the frame is from China (the largest maker of CF components in the world.)
The build list is below (component weights as measured are in grams)
Frame: Neo Exile Ultimate 975
Fork: Edge tapered 1.5” 340
Headset FSA Orbit tapered 105
Stem/Handlebar: FSA Plasma Compact (sanded) 390
Crank Arms: THM Clavicula 420
Chain Rings: FiberLyte CF 41/51 76
Pedals: Speedplay X1 150
Saddle: AX Lightness AX1000 55
Seat Post: AX Lightness AX2200 80
Seat Post Clamp: New Ultimate 8
Brake Levers: SRAM Red(sanded, BTP grips) 290
Brakes: EE + Swisstop pads 190
Shift/Brake Cables: Nokon 80
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red 150
Chain: DuraAce 7900 230
Front Derailleur: DuraAce 7900 66
Front Wheel: Tune Mig45, Sapim, AX Lightness SRT42 380
Rear Wheel: Tune Mag160, Sapim, AX Lightness SRT42 540
Tires: Veloflex Extreme 450
Rim glue: 20
Cassette: KCNC Alloy 11-23 110
Skewers: Tune 14 33
Handlebar Tape: Forte CF vinyl 20
Bottle Cage: Emporelli 15
Total: 5200g 11.5lbs
My previous bike was a custom bike built on a Giant TCR frame