Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saying goodbye to an old friend (for now)

Well, the time has finally come. My first fixed gear conversion has to be put away for a while. The reason is simple...

Ghetto Fab is trying to kill me.

Yes, it's hard for me to accept this. I remember pulling the old mountain bike down from the rafters in the barn and madly scheming that it might make a pretty good fixed gear. The excitement I felt when I learned that there was enough clearance to put 700c wheels in there. The joy I experienced when I found a front brake that fit perfectly. It seemed like everything was going so well that it was too good to be true. Even when I overcame the problems of the vertical dropouts by fiddling with the chain/cog combination until I found the perfect one.

Well, apparently it was too good to be true. Vertical dropouts suck. There I said it. Sure it was great and beautiful while it lasted, but all great things must come to an end. When that new chain stretches a bit, that's the ending part as far as I'm concerned.

In the last week I've thrown the chain twice. Once with no ill effects and I was able to stop easily. The second time was day before yesterday. I was going down a pretty good hill when the chain flung itself away from me, deciding that this wasn't enough it then chose to wrap itself around the hub between the track cog and the spokes. That was the most incredible skid I've ever done on a bike. Downhill speeds on a wet road make for a pretty exciting skid, especially when there's nothing you can do besides just try to stay upright and not die.

This last one made me realize that I need to do something better if I want to keep riding this bike fixed. I could keep chasing that perfect chain/cog/crank set up (and I know in my heart if I went to a 43 tooth on the front it would work- good luck finding one with a BCD of 94 though), but I'd be throwing money at a limited solution. It would only work with the one chainring/cog combination and nothing else. Seems a bit limited to me. No, what I need to do is just bite the bullet and have track ends put on the bike. Probably wouldn't cost that much more to have a proper track end brazed onto the bike. My first choice would be the ones from Paul Components. Their track ends look pretty bulletproof. Too bad they don't have a bottle opener on them though, but the flexibility they would offer with more than one set-up and the tensioner device would be more practical than the bottle opener option...

I e-mailed David Cheakas over at Southwest Frameworks to see if he could help me out. I'm sure he can, he's a really approachable guy that makes beautiful bikes. Maybe he can help Ghetto Fab out. Who knows, I might even get him to shoot a real coat of paint onto her.

I guess if I get really desperate, I can always convert the Cross Check to fixed gear again for a while. But it's my super grocery getter... Sometimes it's nice to have gears on a bike that's carrying a load.

A moment of silence for my friend Ghetto Fab... She'll be back in another evolution sooner or later:

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