In a classic guilty pleasure movie of mine, Days Of Thunder, Cole Trickle (a.k.a Tom Cruise) has to pull of a minor miracle and use just the one gear he has left to finish and win a NASCAR event. He screams to his pit to get him out in front of the pace car since he’s going to have to ramp up that high gear to any decent kind of speed, or he’s out. Let me just say Tommy, I feel your pain, I feel your pain.
For the past week, I’ve been tooling around with just ‘the high gear,’ or at least, one of them, on a Redline 925 that I picked up last week. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I ride a sweet little frame from Italy that goes by the name of Torelli, and she’s set up with more gears than I will likely ever use in a years time….all mine for the taking.
The 925 is different though, it’s a single speed, and has just one gear. Remember when we were kids and had BMX bikes, or Stingrays with banana seats, or any other number of bikes that only had one gear? And we got along just fine, right? That’s the deal with the single speed once again. One gear, just one thing to go round, and round, and round. Here’s a shot of the one I picked up.
It’s set up perfect for commuting with fenders for those rainy days, a little blinky light up front, and a brake. I know, you’d think a brake would go without saying, but if you flip the rear hub around on this guy, the bike becomes a fixed gear bike, or as the youngin’s call them, a ‘fixie.’ Right now, when I stop pedaling ,the bike keeps moving, and I hear the gentle purr of the freewheel humming along. On a fixed gear, when back wheel moves, the pedals move…forward, or backwards. You go fast, they go fast. You go slow, they go slow. And get this, some yayhoos, er….courageous souls, even go without a brake, using just body parts to get the thing to stop. Basically, you have to slow into a stop, or skid it, if you’re going fast. Look up ‘fixie skid’ on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, it’s been fun to just hop on the ol’ bike without worrying about special shoes to attach myself to the bike with, or the appropriate matching clothes to look like I belong on said bike. Instead, just hop on, throw on my laptop bag, and ride on into work. The whole bike cost me less than the wheels on my Torelli, so I don’t get too concerned about riding it in the rain and ugly weather. Not to mention it’s already been called ‘hot’ and ‘sweet’ by a few of the single speed / fixed gear riders on the forum I frequent.
Riding with just one gear, although fun, can also be a little brutal…especially for an old, chubby dad. Climbing Commercial street with what would normally be the gear I ride at 15-16 mph is MUCH more work than the granny gear. In fact, I thought about riding all the way out to Cycleworks, but turned about halfway up Commercial, and pulled into DayBreak Coffee for an iced coffee instead.
Now I just need to finish up the other single speed I was building out of the Karate Monkey so other Pez family members can ride along.