Everyone who lives in a city must have noticed them: the race bikes or glowing designer fixie bikes are taking over the streets. Boys, and yes girls too, are nowadays taking over the urban landscape on wheels which are not part of your average city or mountain bike. But, this trend, which is literally moving throughout major European cities, is not for everyone, how discriminating that may sound.
A fixed-gear is also known as a fixed-wheel bike, whereby the driver can’t ever stop pedalling, whereas a normal bike can. This contributes to the very simple set-up of the bike, which allows the biker to ride very smooth and fast. That latter bit is even more dangerous, when you know that a real fixed-gear rider doesn’t have brakes at all. This makes clear that you really need some training, attention, dedication and passion to know the technique for biking through major cities with traffic lights, pedestrians, cars and many other obstacles. The rules for having brakes or not on your fixie depend on the legislation of the country you live in. In Belgium for example, brakes on both wheels are required, whereas in Australia one is sufficient, and the Netherlands only demand a good working brake system, but it is not specified what kind. However, when you do know how to ride this piece of design, it surely gives you the benefit of riding so free, smooth and fast that it becomes more than just a means of transportation. Why am I writing about this for NORTH MAG? The answer is simple. It is more than just a hype, it is something which contributes to social life, ecology and your own health.
SPREAD THE WORD ON WHEELS
Before I go further on this topic, it is important to know that this is not merely a new gadget in candyworld for boys. There is a whole culture built up around fixed gear bikes. It includes a specific social lifestyle, an attitude, racing, building and teamwork. To give it a slightly historical signification, you should know that it originally stems from the American bike messenger phenomenon. During the 1890’s and after that, people, especially in the US used bicycles for messenger purposes. The reason is that they can most probably avoid traffic jams and deliver the messages or telegraphs easy, quick and cheap. The Bicycle Messenger Association from San Fransisco twas one of the first to use this method of delivery. In urban areas this certainly is a great way to transport messages quickly. This is clearly the main inspiration of the big bicycle polos or Alleycat races whereby cyclists pick up items at several checkpoints and race to the finish with the collected goods as soon as possible. As there is a whole culture developed around this phenomenon, I thought to give some authenticity to it by interviewing Robbert Seghers, a dedicated bike love and collector.
ROBBERT SEGHERS – BFGXWTC
Robbert Seghers is not your typical hype guy. He carries a certain authenticity which makes me think he is the ideal person to interview for a genuine description of the bicycle culture. Living in Amsterdam with two shy cats, his girlfriend and a collection of race bikes and fixed-gear bikes, Robbert has become deeply passionate about this whole biking culture. He is even building a new single-speed bike for his girlfriend. So yes, it’s also possible for girls to join the culture.
It all started when he was still living in Breda. He inherited his dad’s race bike and from then on he started biking on a regular basis. He and his friends even started to organise special bike trips on which they went from town to town to chat, laugh, bike and drink some locally brewed beers. That was about five years ago. Now they even started their own race club BFGXWTC, of which one of the members Ralf Verheul started up Buro Velo. The team now even has it’s own racing festival in Breda, Paceline.
The purpose is to spread the whole biking culture without loosing it’s authentic value. The boys bike on a regular basis, travel to different countries and organise races and shows. This has really become a big thing throughout whole Europe.
ANTWERP: Bike Polo,
BERLIN: Fixed Days
BARCELONA: Red Hook Crit
To make this interactive slightly, move to the next article which focusses on PRISTINE with the Faster Than You Crew, aka candy paradise for boys on wheels.
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+++Special thanks to Robbert Seghers for contributing+++