Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Fix is In

Regular readers know that I've been pondering acquiring a fixed-gear* road bike or single-speed mountain bike for a few years. Well, 2 weeks ago, I bought a fixie**.

It's a 2007 Cannondale Capo in the clear-coated raw-aluminum finish. Yes, I know it's much cooler to convert some random old road bike to fixed-gear operation or at least repurpose an antique track bike, but I couldn't resist the Capo at this price point. For 720 dollars--I get a bit of a discount at my shop---I got a frame and fork that would cost around 800 bucks if bought separately, plus all the rest of the components. Admittedly, as you can see from the spec sheet, the components range from junk (the hubs and bottom bracket) to mediocre (the bar, stem, and seatpost), but the bike was still a good deal. Besides, I can always upgrade the components later.

Actually, I've already removed the rear brake calipers and lever as well as replaced the saddle, post, pedals, brake-cable housing, and even the grip tape. I'm Brian with the overhead projector when it comes to the silver tape; I think it looks very sharp. Perhaps I'll do the same with the Seven.

So far, I'm enjoying the challenge of the fixed-gear and the intimate connection with the drivetrain.*** I'm still working on descending, however; I've only tackled moderate downhills. I'll try some steeper descents in the next few rides.

A word about gearing: I'm running a 48/17 gear, which, with 700x23c tires, works out to 74.26 gear inches. Chris recommended that gearing to me, based on his own experience riding in the same areas I ride. So far, that's working out pretty well, but I reserve the right to change it later.

Anyway, here are some photos of my new rig:

* A fixed-gear bicycle is a (nearly always) single-speed bike that does not coast.

** I should point out that, as the spec sheet indicates, the Capo comes with a freewheel, making it a single-speed rather than a fixie. However, I put a fixed cog and lock-ring on the other side of the flip-flop hub before hitting the road with it. After a week of riding, I found that I never felt the need to switch to the coast-able mode, so I took the freewheel off.

*** Plus, I get to use the word "fixie" all the time now. Don't you agree that "fixie" is great fun to say? Fixie, fixie, fixie. Fixie.


  1. Cool bike!

    I've been thinking about getting a fixed gear. Though with Baltimore roads, the SS mountain bike is working out well.

    Did you think about getting the handlebars that point up? Maybe it's because I'm not flexible, but I would never ride in the drops.

  2. Brian,


    Yep, one of the downsides to the fixed-gear thing is that you can't bunny-hop over obstacles. Still, I find that by stand (and continuing to pedal) I can ride over some fairly rough surfaces without my nether regions suffering too badly. I'd encourage you to borrow a fixie from someone to give it a try. You are welcome to take mine for a spin, but, since you are something like 6 inches taller than I am, it may be a tight squeeze.

    I don't claim to be the most physically fit person on the planet, but I am more flexible than most. Additionally, I have short legs and long arms. You may have noticed on the photos of my other bikes than I run the bars very low. I do have the fixie's bar about 1 to 2 cm higher, because it's harder to go deep into the drops on a fixed-gear. I still use the drops quite a bit, though.

    Several of my fixie-ing friends have bull-horn bars. They say the bars give them more leverage. I'm considering getting a bull-horn myself.

  3. Dear readers,

    Please note that I added a short paragraph about the gear ratio I'm running. I'd be interested to hear your comments on that issue.


    What chainring/cog combination are you using on your SS MTB, and what size are its tires?

  4. I wish I was enough of a gear-head to know. Basically, I recycled old parts and it's the largest front chain ring on a typical mountain bike and a middle cog. The tires are the enormous nobby off-rode tires (over 1.5' wide).

    When I switched from slicks to the nobby tires and from a rigid to a suspension fork, the extra weight was staggering. But, my route is particularly pot-holey, so I think that it's worth it.