Last Wednesday marked my 23rd year of roaming this earth. Although nowhere near discovering many of life’s mysteries, I’m beginning to put together a big picture for spotting trends by paying close attention to internet video and online social networking.
Every day marketing executives beat themselves up about figuring out how to meet the needs of their target customers while creating, conquering, or even just catching the next big industry trend.
Fixed gear track bicycles have been popular street vehicles for years because of their minimal maintenance, excellent speed / control capabilities, and of course their simple, sleek looks – but right along side the environmental cyclist trends, fixie riders have created a sub culture for their beloved bicycles. Dozens of blogs, social networking groups, film festivals and hundreds of online videos are popping up from every major city with one focus – fixie bikes. Below is a little diddy I’m working on and hope to have screened at the next Bike Shorts show in Brooklyn:
There’s no doubt that media’s mainstreet still runs through cable television, but internet video is rapidly expanding its foothold. Google surely proves the benefits of user-generated public content through Youtube’s 120.5 million viewers, who watched 10 billion videos last month. (comScore video metrix) Marketing professionals are keeping up by having google embed their ads into these videos and linking viewers to their websites.
The most important aspect of internet video [from the corporate perspective], however, is its use in trend spotting. When conducting industry research, most will probably run through the works: update demographics, rifle through news databases, and scope out the planned efforts of competing firms, etc. These steps are a must when creating a solid marketing plan, but they often miss out on a crucial human element. Although helpful – focus groups, surveys, polls, etc. – are usually very expensive and time consuming.
In the years ahead, keep an eye on who’s watching / commenting on what and where those videos take them.
Ever wish you had more time to exercise?
Millions of Americans across the country like to blame their personal health issues, along with their part in the Nation’s $150 billion annual obesity-related illness costs, on their inability to make time for exercise and proper eating habits. Others utilize fixed gear bicycles for commuting and reap the multiple benefits attached to them. These bicycles are sometimes referred to as ‘skinny bikes’ on the West coast because of their tendency to rock thin tires and a simple, sleek look.
“I used to think I’d never figure it out, between school and work… ‘If I can’t find time to exercise now, how will I manage to stay fit when I start working full time?'”, says Sarah of Astoria, NY. Sarah is in her third year of med school at Hunter College in Manhattan – so you could say she knows a thing or two about the importance of keeping healthy. After rigorously dieting and failing to lose her freshman fifteen, she finally broke down last year and began seeking guidance from loved ones. Her closest and strongest influence, her mother Patricia – a regular at the local velodrome and long time bicycle commuter – excitedly told her… “get a bicycle!”
A beautiful woman in her late 40’s, Patricia has had a stunning body for as long as she’s been a bicycle enthusiast. “I work hard to stay strong on the track, but keeping my figure is simply a benefit of my cycling pleasures.” Patricia is fortunate enough to own three bikes; a fixed gear for the track, a fixed gear with a flip flop hub for commuting, and a road bike for long distance touring. She says her best riding is done to and from work on her vintage fixed gear road bike.
Bicycle commuting has been a staple for healthy and environmentally conscious urbanites for many years and is steadily growing in popularity. According to the Daily News, the number of NYC cyclists rose 35% from last year to 185,000 people. Within this growth is the trend toward fixed gear bikes. The continuous, fluid motion of these bikes provides for better cardiovascular exercise than the stop and go of coasting freewheel bikes. They also keep the leg muscles warm throughout the entire ride and workout muscles that aren’t used on non-fixed gear bikes.
Unlike her mother, Sarah was more concerned with maintaining her health than she was about looking good – fortunately though she did heed her mother’s advice. Although she rode bikes all over the place on Long Island as a kid, Sarah was timid about the intensity of cycling New York City streets. “People jumping out into the middle of the road, taxis charging every which way, other cyclists flying by… I didn’t think I could do it.” Sarah’s mother set a lunch date for the two to meetup on a Sunday, grabbed her track bike, switched the flip flop commuter bike to single speed for her daughter and took her on a nice tour of 5th Avenue and through Central Park.
“That same day – I fell in love – I knew this would be how I’d commute to school and work for as long as my legs could spin.” Since then Sarah lost 32lb’s and is at an ideal weight for her height/age. She rides about 20 miles per day on a nice Schwinn fixed gear conversion she bought off craigslist for $375. She’s convinced that she’s already reclaimed the bike purchase expense from limiting use of the mta or paying for gas in her parents car… and that’s not to mention how she now avoids the headaches associated with taking the subway or driving.
Think you’re ready to grab your first fixie?
Before emailing, calling, texting – stalking – all the fixies for sale on Craiglist or other blogs, we need to consider a few things. For starters, think about why you might need a fixed-gear bike. Will you commute with it; how far? Is the bike for velodrome racing, tricks, bike polo, exercise, or just plain beating around town? What size bike do you need? Where will you store it; do you have bike friendly roommates, or will the poor soul be left out on the cold streets?
More specifically, why a fixie? Do you need a bike that looks sweet, requires minimal maintenance, is about half the weight of the average bicycle? Ever wish you could ride in a light rain and still have good control of the bike? Would you prefer riding with a fluid, smooth motion that proves better health for your legs by keeping your muscles warm – or maybe you just want to go faster?
Hopefully you’ve had a chance to whip up and down the block a few times on your friends wheels, but if not – just go look at one that’s for sale. Don’t expect a seller to ride you around on the handlebars though, or even let you take the bike for a ride yourself unless you’ve got cash in hand.
Overall, a fixie purchase can be broken down into three elements… style, quality, and of course price. Although you’ll most likely get two – you may never get all three – so you need to decide which trade off is more important. If you buy a nice new Specialized Langster, or Bianci Pista from a bike shop you obviously get style and quality but will easily cough up well over $650. On the other hand you can definitely find a nice clean fixie conversion for under $400 but it might only have a few brand new components. The beauty of Craigslist though… negotiations – bargain hard. Here are a few other key points to think about while looking:
The most important thing about bicycle sizing is comfort. You really never should buy something like this without seeing and feeling it. One of the perils of buying any unique item online – sight unseen – is that you don’t really know what you’re getting until it gets there.
Many bike shops offer ‘free’ sizing measurements when purchasing one of their $1,500+ road bikes. They usually use a formula similar to the one laid out in the Correct Frame Size article at eHow, which tells you how to take your inseam measurement. Once you get that… just plug it into the frame size calculator at Totalbike.com.
Common rule of thumb though… just stand over the top tube (or ‘crossbar’ in the diagram above) and make sure you can lift the bike an inch or so without interfering with your tender parts.
Although your gearing needs may change depending upon what it is you’re doing with the bike, it’s important to have a good idea as to what your ideal gear ratio is. The best way to get an idea of what suites you best is to play around with Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator, and take note of how each gain ratio feels when you go on test rides. A popular beginner set for NYC is 42T/16T (42 tooth chainring/16 tooth cog) which gives a 5.2 gain ratio. The higher the ratio, the harder it is to start and stop, but the faster your top speed.
As you could imagine… seeing how the bike is controlled directly and, if you have no brakes, – only – by the drive train, it is extremely important to have a straight and tight chain line.
Your first fixie should have a front brake… if you look at one without, ask… chances are the seller has the original and can easily throw it back on. Rear brakes are fairly pointless for fixies because you’ll naturally apply back-pressure on the pedals (and hence, the rear wheel) when stopping.
While digging for some history of the café racer, one will soon cross the phrases “do the ton” or “ton-up”, which refer to hitting 100 mph on a motorcycle. The terms were originated as part of the 1960’s subculture in the UK called rockers, who were strikingly similar to the modern day NYC hipster.
These ‘greasers’ or ‘ton-up boys’, often hung out at 24 hour hotspots like the Ace Café – located at North Circular Road in London since 1938. Being a transport shop this place became a perfect spot to turn up the jukebox, grab a bite to eat, and tune up your bike.
Today, the Ace Café London hosts daily events for both motorcycle and car enthusiasts. This September 11-13, 2009 they’ll open up the 16th annual Ace Café Reunion which they call the worlds coolest motorcycle event.
The place seems like a great venture… food, drinks, friends, and of course – bikes, but why don’t we have an Ace Café New York? California has a few bicycle cafes like Mojo. I’d love to startup a fixie/moto restoration cafe in Brooklyn… any ideas?
First annual motorcycle show at the Wedge in Coram, NY this Sunday July 26, 2009. Running from 11am – 4pm, the Long Island Abate chapter will offer food, drinks, vendors, music, and give trophies for the “best bikes” — whatever that means.
Not sure what to expect, but should be worth the trip. Details at Motorcycle Monster.
For all you equestrian-hearted fixie riders trapped in the city… stop by Sara D. Roosevelt Park (Broome between Chrystie and Forsyth) on Sundays at 1:30 for some bike polo. No experience needed, they’ll show you how to play.
I have yet to get out there and whip the mallet around but it looks pretty bad-ass.
Get more info at Going.com
Some good old fashioned “pudding bowl” style cafe racer crash helmets. A bit pricey for my taste at $350, but damn sexy lookin’.
Check them out at CB750cafe.com
Take a ride to the lawn at Astoria Park monday night for a free movie.