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Want a ride without brakes?

Then give perpetual-motion fixed-gear bikes a try.

By NICK JOHNSON
Published June 20, 2007


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Fixed-gear bicycling, part of a growing trend in urban biking, has officially made its way to St. Petersburg.

This Friday marks the grand opening party for 66Fixed Bicycle Shop at the Emerald Bar, followed by a variety of fixed-gear bicycle events loosely planned for local riders. Last month Michael Davis quietly opened 66Fixed Bicycle Shop downtown, and he has been busy ever since. His shop specializes in fixed-gear and single-speed bicycles.

"It's a trend that's been growing steadily, " said Davis, who has had all sorts of people come to him for bikes and parts.

"The cool thing about this place is that you get a 16-year-old who's into fixed gear for some reason and then you get a retired road biker who still wants to ride."

Fixed-gear bikes have only one gear, which the chain attaches to directly. That means the rider cannot coast like on a regular bike. Instead they have to pedal the entire time the bike is in motion. They are also often ridden without any hand brakes. Instead the rider backpedals to stop moving.

Single-speed bikes are very similar but have a free wheel that allows the rider to stop pedaling and require a brake.

"You really feel connected to the bike, which makes you feel connected with the road, " Davis said. "It's a whole different experience."

This stripped-down form of bicycling mixes old technology from track bikes that were made for racing on a velodrome, or indoor bicycle track, and urban culture from bike messengers from cities like New York and San Francisco.

Fixed-gear bikes began to attract more mainstream attention about six years ago when manufacturers started making cheaper track bikes, Davis said.

Since then, they have become somewhat of an addiction for a large online community for their sleek and easily customized looks.

"A lot of it's in the style and the look so you can really mix and match to get your own personal feel on the bike, " he said.

Mark Howerton, one of Davis' customers, has been riding fixed-gear bikes for almost 35 years. "They're just beautiful. The simplicity and the elegance of it all is just amazing, " Howerton said.

He got started by racing track bikes when he was 13 and recently decided to get back into it. He was surprised to see how popular it had become with younger guys. "Every 20-something wannabe wants to ride fixed, " he said, but warns that they aren't for beginners. "They're not easy to ride though."

Danny Noriega, 26, said the looks of a fixed-gear bike are what first piqued his interest. "I remember the first time I saw it. It looked really mainstream, just the way a bike should, " he said.

Davis' grand opening party at the Emerald Bar will include contests for fixed-gear riders in the lot behind the bar and give enthusiasts a chance to check out other bikes. A group ride to Pass-a-Grille beach is planned for Saturday and an Alleycat Race, which imitates a bike messenger route in a bicycling scavenger hunt, is planned for Sunday.

Fast Facts:

 

Learn about 66Fixed

For more information on 66Fixed or the grand opening, visit online at 66fixedgear.com.

 

[Last modified June 20, 2007, 02:09:44]


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