A fine way to waste a Saturday morning

Two weekends ago, a couple of friends came over, and we built up a bike. Over a few cups of tea, we overcame a few problems, shared a few tips and cobbled a decent fixed gear from a pile of parts.

If you’ve never done this before, I’ll let you into a little secret: it’s not as hard as it seems. Next time that something starts creaking, you upgrade a part or even want a whole new bike, consider doing it yourself.

Start small, do some research (Bicycle Tutor and Sheldon Brown are cycle-repair bibles) and see how you get on.

Red Bull alleycat shot from helicopter

This alleycat is one of the most professionally organised I’ve ever seen. With helicopter-shot footage, pro-style podium and legion of staff, it beats the charming-but-shambolic affairs I’ve taken part in, at least on paper/YouTube.

It ran through the streets of Auckland in New Zealand, with five checkpoints, or six if you ran a brake. That’s right, being safety-conscious did effectively rule you out of the winning spot. Odd decision, that.

Red Bull Eye in the Sky was a fixed gear, track bike race around Auckland City, New Zealand.
 There were 5 checkpoints around the city and riders had to collect a token at each checkpoint.
 If a rider was running with a brake they had to visit a 6th checkpoint.

The thing is, Auckland isn’t a very good place for a race like this. Being built essentially at random over two thousand years is an advantage, if you’re a city looking to host a good alleycat. All the accouterments of high-level sponsorship can’t make up for the fun of London’s claustrophobic and chaotic street planning.

Someone called Rainier Schaefer took 1st place with a time of 19.22min, in case you’re interested.

Mountain biking on a Penny Farthing

Mountain biking is forking into an ever-expanding number of niches, and the bikes are constantly changing to reflect this.

But forget cross-country, trials, downhill and freeride – the next big thing could be Penny Farthings.

Sure, they don’t have brakes, and even if they did they’d tip you head over heels at the lightest jab of the lever, but they do look like fun. Continue reading

Square wheels rolling smooth

This unusual trike proves that square wheels can roll smoothly over a row of inverted catenaries (a series of half-circles, to you and me). It was built by professor of mathematics and computer science, Stan Wagon.

If you want to try it out you’ll need to head over to Macalester College, where any vistitors can hop on and have a go. The odometer shows that it covers just over 15 miles each year.

But how could this ever be useful? According to the college website, it may have made life easier for ancient Egyptians. Continue reading