|Bike, out of the box. Assembly time: 20 minutes.|
Heading back to Portland post-Belize, I started researching prices on cheap fixies. Maybe it was amid-life crisis thing. I mean, what does a former NYC bike messenger who hates cars and lives in America's hipster HQ get to feel 18 again? A Sports Car? Not likely.
Anyway, I was researching the idea of buying a fixie second hand off Craigslist when I stumbled across the webpage of a company called Solara Bicycles. I liked the looks of their single speeds, which - at under 300 bucks with shipping thrown in - fit the cheap category. I called their number and the owner took the time to answer my questions about the company, always a good sign. A few other things I liked about the bike besides the price: Steel frames guaranteed for life, flip freewheel / fixie rear hub, and - this was the kicker for me - one of the models on their website actually glowed.
As in: Dead Alien in Repo Man's trunk Glow.
My Specialized Rockhopper, tricked out for long distance hauling, is jet black, and even with a couple of reflectors and helmet lights I still feel like a Ninja riding at night. Not a bad thing in certain circumstances, but hardly safe on a rainy Portland evening.
Riding a fixed gear bike at high speeds at night is inherently a bit risky. So I figured having one that glowed in the dark would be a good compromise between the gods of danger and safety.
And glow it does. This is a blurry shot, but demonstrates the glowey-ness of the Ghostwheels sitting in my apartment, lights off, after being ridden for a couple of hours before sunset.
|GhostWheels in Pitch Black|
The wheels, however, glow like a slot machine for hours, retaining a slightly eerie glow late into the night. In the wee small hours Ghostwheels sits in my hallway. It is my nightlight.
Aesthetically the bike's a looker, day or night, her good looks marred hardly at all by the inner tube I've wrapped around the top tube, which serves the dual purpose of protecting the paint job during lock-up and keeping tidy the cable for the rear brake I installed (another nod to the Gods of Safety, especially if I ever decide to flip the hub to freewheel).
|Hipsters who run Grill Cheese Grill food truck are not impressed.|
She a joy to ride as well. (And really, how often can you use that sentence in polite company?) The steel frame, deep-dish wheels make for a stiff ride on the road, the gear ratio strikes a good balance between long ride practicality and short sprint feasibility, and the parts are all more than acceptable for an inexpensive bike. At some point I may swap the current bars for dropouts to make for a wider variety of hand positions, but I'm in no particular hurry.
My experience with the whole mail order thing was pretty positive, despite a bit of damage during shipping. The plastic thing that protects the fork dropouts broke during shipping, and the front fork came with a slight but noticeable bend in the drops. Long story short: I emailed Solara, and 72 hours later I had a brand new one that took ten minutes to install. (I straightened out the old one, so I now have an extra fork, or maybe a glow-in-the-dark helmet rack. Either way, I've come out ahead.)
Anyway, big shout out to the Solara Bicycle Company. Check out their website here.
Now if I can only knock out a thousand words of the novel before six I can ride to Saint John's. I love riding over that bridge.
|Pictured: Not the Saint John's Bridge, Portland.|