Sunday, February 1, 2009

On One SS

My favourite bike at this point in time is a 2002 On One single speed. Nothing rewards & punishes as much as riding a single speed off-road (except maybe riding off-road on a fixie). The frame appears to have been made in China (or Taiwan) and the welds aren’t super clean, certainly not to the standard seen on some custom boutique frames. But the frame is bombproof and the geometry spot on. Long in the top tube and short in the seat tube for superb handling. No suspension for added simplicity. The geometry of this older frame does not accommodate suspension forks (unlike the current On One frames) allowing massive clearance of the top tube. A riser bar puts the handlebars to the same level as the saddle allowing for perfect weight distribution and balance. Keep long and loose to let your body float over the frame. Grunt & grind as the single track steepens skywards without the unnecessary bounce of a suspension fork. Massive clearance for 23mm+ tyres front and back allows you to roll over the majority of obstacles. No disc brake bosses as single speeds without suspension don’t need them. A BMX for grown-ups. Love it.

Frame – On One Inbred SS 2002
Forks – On One rigid 2002
Wheels – Surly SS hubs with DT single gauge spokes laced cross 3 to Sun Rhynolite rims
Cranks – RaceFace Evolve XC
Gearing –32T with 16T freewheel (13T fixed used occasionally on road)
Brakes – XTR V-brakes (yes the front brake squeals but change the front brake blocks to el-cheapo softer pads and get the awesome control and stopping power without the annoying noise)
Stem – AC
Bars – no name but style matches the frame and it ain’t broke yet
Headset – Chris King bling in pewter colour
Seatpost – GT (seen this around lately?)
Saddle – Terry Fly

old bikes

There are a lot of bikes out there.

Many people collect bikes and each has their own reason. Some are lucky enough to collect bicycles of great value or importance and are admired by many. Even the uninitiated will go “wow that’s Eddy Merckx’s bike” (or “wow that’s Lance Armstrong’s bike” to bring it into today’s context).

Like many others I didn’t plan to collect bicycles, rather it grows out of an irregularity of logical thought and a passion for something that exists in the real world. Once started it takes a life of its own. Collections that have a large pool of varied items (like bicycles) change over time as the collector finds other pieces that they would like to add.

There are road bikes and track bikes and mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes and touring bikes and work bikes and commuting bikes and “lifestyle” bikes. There are bikes that are made of steel, aluminium, titanium, carbon fibre and other rarer composites & materials. And within those broad categories are many varied types and subcategories that boggle the mind of those that do not have the passion to focus on the details.

Some collectors are very focused and collect certain pieces within a defined context. The collections of Colnagos, Bianchi’s, Hetchins or Rene Herse attest to these collectors. Some collect bicycles or bicycle components from certain periods. Other collectors buy whatever catches their eye and have a more ad hoc and often more interesting and varied collection (at least to the average bicycle enthusiast). The lucky collect so much that they have collections within collections.

It is a small but magnificently diverse world for these enthusiasts. The enthusiast of steel bikes with decorative lugwork may take a Bill Hurlow frame and plonk it beside a Ron Cooper or Art Stump. There are comparisons of workmanship (and all handcrafted frames show subtle differences), details of the lugwork, paint (and if it has that desired original and unrestored paint), date of manufacture, and provenance if someone of importance once rode it (esp to victory in an important race). There are others who will look at the same frame and wonder if it is the right size for them to ride it. Whether the wheels are true. Whether the brakes work. Of course many enthusiasts are both, appreciating both the workmanship and function that so characterizes the bicycle.

Here is part of a collection of bikes that have importance to me (an average and undistinguished club racer in my younger days). They are all essentially production racing frames which any amateur could purchase from a frame builder or bicycle store. They are lugged steel frames in the standard diamond configuration. The lugs are simple and without any embellishments although some are more refined than others. Their previous owners could have raced them at the very highest level if they had the qualities and good luck to become a champion.