Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Jaws Was Never My Scene... And I Don't Like Star Wars

Okay... It is apparently summer, and by rights we should be all outside making the most of the long daylight hours, warmer temperatures and that we shouldn't really have to wear coats. Bearing this in mind, the thought arises: what activity would take advantage of all these things, and would be good for me too?

Well, there are many, depending on your persuasion. However, I have noticed that there seems to be a lot of bikes around these days. There are a lot of good reasons for this; the ridiculous price of petrol, for one; the fact that we are, as a nation, getting fatter for another. This prevalance has got even me, whose last bike was a Raleigh Grifter, obsessing quietly about two-wheeled transport, in particular the so-hot-right-now world of fixies.

The fixed-gear bike has acquired a growing army of fans, and an increasingly interesting culture surrounding it. This is not so surprising when you realise that a growing number of ageing skateboarders are getting fixies, with names familiar to 30-something skaters such as John Cardiel and Julien Stranger advocating the joys of riding a bike.

As you would imagine, while a lot of fixed-gear stuff seems to come from the US, it has been taking off over here as scenesters and trendies up and down the land hop on the fixed and single gear bandwagon.
All scenes need a mag, and lo-and-behold if there isn't a brand spanking new magazine recently launched to cater for the growing UK fixed gear scene; the imaginatively titled Fixed.

They seem to have it pretty well sorted; if you can't find a paper copy, you can download the first issue as a PDF from their site and it looks pretty good; it's got a kind of Barbara Kruger/Supreme layout style and good photography; basically, all the things you look for in a decent mag.

To compliment this, have a look at skate photographer Gabe Morford's MASHSF project, a documentary on the fixed gear culture in San Francisco. Here's Gabe in action from the movie:

To commemorate the project, Gabe has teamed up with Vans Syndicate to produce a fixy-friendly range of classic shoes that come with a special Vans bike tool. I'm totally sold on the whole pack, particularly on the HalfCab, which is - as I am sure you are aware - one of the greatest shoes of all time. Period.

One last word on these bikes; it is important to know that these contraptions have NO BRAKES, and that they DO NOT FREEWHEEL... it appears that the only way to control these bikes is through a combination of non-stop pedalling, skidding and sheer dumb luck.

You never know, though... get good enough and maybe you could get involved in one of the many illegal races that maniac bike couriers get up to:

If, like me, you know fuck all about bikes, then these guys seem to be a good enough place to start, and a friend of mine works for 'em. He tells me that staff discount is a whopping 30%, so start buddying up to the guys in the shop ASAP.

Some links:

Bootleg Sessions blog

Fixed Gear Gallery

Bicycle Race

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