When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. - Elizabeth West
Purpose and Mission
To share our experience and to encourage and inspire others to use a bicycle as a form of year round recreation and transportation. To be an example of living car-free and to help others to make the transition to having a car-light or car-free life style.
The simpler a bicycle's drivetrain is the more I want to ride it, given the choice between multi-geared and single speed I will generally pick the single speed. Riding a single speed bike is a liberating feeling, it relies heavily on the riders ability to produce power with a limited amount of mechanical advantage. Go faster?, push harder!
There are times though when having one gear simply is not enough and having the versatility and efficiency of a multi geared drivetrain comes in handy. What generally happens for me is that I end up riding in 2-3 gears even if I have 18-20 gears available. Having the ability to have 18 different gear ratios and only using 2 of them seems like a very complex and costly way to achieve what is essentially a 2 speed bicycle.
I've installed a Paul Components Melvin tensioner which allows the use of two front chanrings for a simple but effective two speed drivetrain. I simply change gears with the front derailleur.
Two Speed Conversion
Lots of chain tension and wrap with the Paul Components Melvin tensioner.
The 18 Tooth Cog - 46 Tooth Chainring Combo
The 18 Tooth Cog - 36 Tooth Chainring Combo
Simple Cable Routing, Bar End Friction Shifter.
Riding this bike as a two speed has made the experience much more enjoyable for me. Making it simple and still enjoying the benefits of a multi geared bike. The bike is just as versatile as it was with 18 gears. It does make the engine work harder, which is a good thing.
It rides and feels lighter without the large rear gear cluster.
I've always loved the cafe racer style of motorcycles; British machinery from the 50's to 70's like the Triumph, Norton and BSA. They were faster and lighter than American motorcycles and they handled much better than Japanese bikes.
I look at the modern versions of those bikes and my heart soars. Having owned many motorcycles in the past, I can imagine what it would be like to ride a modern version.
A Modern Retro Styled Triumph, the Thruxton. A favourite of mine!
A completely modern take on the Cafe Racer Motorcycle: the Street Triple.
A funny thing happens to me when I fantasize about these bikes. I want to go fast. I want to hammer on the engine and give it some "Welly"; hitting the gas and having that sudden burst of excelleration underneath you is awesome and highly addictive. Feel like winding the machine up? Let it go and see how fast you can get it going! Use the power available to you at your will.
Of course, I'm talking about bicycles. You see, everytime I think about riding one of those fast motorcycles, my mind instantly turns to this...
Rocky Mountain Boroughs
All the sensations I felt about the MC are even better on a bicycle. I am the engine. Everything I said above was about riding a bicycle. I find it way more gratifying to be supplying the power. I'm not fast, but I sometimes like to go as fast as I can!
I have a philosophy that says "I'm either growing or dying". I can't be doing both at the same time. Everytime I go out and accellerate my bike so that my heart pounds and races, it feels like I've added a few moments of life to my life. Everytime I push my ability and stretch myself, I've added a few moments to my life. Putting the engine to the test and making it work harder everytime feels like my body is truly alive!
Much more affordable and far more benefits than a motorcycle.
Single speed bikes tell no lies. Without the mechanical advantage of a multi-geared drivetrain, the amount of speed you get out of a bicycle is directly related to your physical condition and your ability to provide the driving force. It feels like a more direct connection to the machine. Owning a single speed bike is really inexpensive and does not require much in the way of maintainence or parts.
In case you did not already know, these are the rules. Rule #1 to #6 seems to have become my personal mantra. I would like to bring your particular attention to Rule # 4 of the rules. In spite of what some twatwaffle (see rule 4) says, it is indeed about the bike. I also know this is true because of what Martina experienced this summer by being on the right bike. She has fallen in love with cycling and with her bike.
Turning folks onto the pleasures and benefits of cycling is really what Saddle Up Bike is all about. I achieved this goal at home with my partner. I have had women come into the shop with 30 year old entry level bikes that were junk originally and were four sizes too big, thinking that they just wanted to try out cycling. If they liked it, they will come back and buy a more suitable bike. We don't see them back and that's unfortunate. Their experience of cycling is simply not the same as it is for someone that tries out a bike that was chosen based on their needs and their environment.
I knew from the first moment I saw the paint scheme, that this was the perfect bike for Martina.
It's painted like an Asian jewelery box. I don't think there could have been any other bike for her. The fact that it's a Specialized Langster just made the decision to buy it for her that much easier. I'm familiar with the quality of construction of their bikes. And as importantly, I like the geometry of Specialized road bikes. The Langster offers a single speed or fixed gear bike with Specialized road bike geometry. I thought that a 49cm bike would be a good size for her considering she is 5' 4 1/2" in height (and yes, the 1/2 inch is important!).
The set-up we have settled on for now.
She has been able to experience Calgary in a different way travelling by bicycle.
Views of the city not available from the seat of a car.
You don't see this waiting for a red light.
Having a bike that is truly fun to ride has really made a difference in how much Martina enjoys cycling. I find she is now planning our days around bike rides and it's awesome. I've watched as she has grown stronger and become more fit. Most importantly, because we are car-free, I believe that she has found a new sense of freedom very much like those women from the early days.
“I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft…. As for me, give me a fixed gear!” Henri Desgrange Tour de France
I'm 51 and riding fixed, not sure what that says about me...
At my age I simply can't resist a nice rack...
Axiom Streamliner Road DLX
The rack tabs mount onto the axle.
The rack mounts to the brake caliper bolt.
Simple mounting system on the panniers.
The panniers lock into place.
The narrow design reduces wind resistance and negative effects on handling.
Having the ability to bring essentials along is quite freeing on a bicycle.
A fixed gear bike for the over 45 crowd. At my age, I'm more about function than form and this bike is quite often my bike of choice when I'm doing long distance rides. I've enjoyed many 100 km + rides on this bike.
I am fascinated by the early days of cycling, particularly around the time period 1895-1905. It was a time when the bicycle threatened to replace the horse as personal transportation. It somewhat parallels today because cycling is on the rise. With rising gasoline and car prices plus a downturn in the economy, people are turning more and more to affordable modes of transportation. Plus it's fun and a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. It is now the bicycle that is once again threatening to replace the car as personal transportation.
Being born in the 1950's, it was the bicycle that gave me freedom as a young boy, just like a horse would have done a century earlier.
Melbourne Australia 1895.
A boy on his bike with a horse and carriage in background.
Stopping to have his photo taken.
This is serious business!
An early hipster messenger.
Can't stop! Got to go!
The Scorcher has been revived in modern times. Here is a link to an interview with the Ibis bike creators about their Scorcher from the early 1990's by 63xc.com. You can read a review of the Ibis Scorcher on the adventurecorps website...
Even custom bike builder Mike Flanigan (Ant Bike Mike) is getting in on the Scorcher action...
...with his custom built Scorcher from Alternative Needs Transportation (A.N.T.)
Which leads me to my tribute to the Scorcher Bicycle. I present to you: The Electra Ticino Scorcher Lux!
Flipped and chopped cruiser bar.
Ticino hand brazed cromoly stem. Nice!
Bar tape and hemp twine.
Triple butted Cro-Mo crowned fork and Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires in creme.
My new favourite pedals.
Retro Single Speed crankset complete with chain and pant guards.
High flange star hubs with ceramic bearings.
Rear horizontal dropouts with screw chain tensioner, single speed or fixed gear flip flop hub.
Brooks Aged B-68 saddle.
When I first saw the Electra Ticino Lux, I immediately started thinking about how I could customize it. That's the beauty of bikes from a company like Electra. They leave open the possibilities for personalization and customization. I wanted a new bike that would remind me of the bikes that were being ridden back at the turn of the last century. Something simple and elegant that was hand built with retro styled quality parts that I could actually afford. A bike available at the Local Bike Shop.
I'm really happy with the way the bike turned out. It really is a pleasure to ride. The long wheelbase combined with the steel frame and fork make for a very comfortable ride. The 35c tires roll along with very little effort. The chopped and flipped cruiser handlebar put me into just a slight lean forward that feels very neutral. I'm not so upright that my body is acting like a sail; yet I'm not leaned over so far that I feel excess weight or pressure on my hands. Extended rides are always comfortable and perfect for Scorching the pathways. Electra's literature calls the Ticino Lux a "gentleman's fixie". Indeed, just not too gentle.
From the Rough Riders blog...
"A hundred years ago, cyclists weren't sissies like today. With only one gear, no coasting and not even one brake, not to mention no suspension or paved roads, they rode better than most do today. A few examples: In 1897, John George of Philadelphia rode 32,479 miles and John Noble rode 253 centuries in one year! The Ibis Scorcher takes its name from the renegade, rules-be-damned cyclists (proto-mountain bikers?) of this era that were scorned by pedestrians and "traditional cyclists" alike. The scorchers, while held in low regard, however, were immortalized in poetry."
I am the scorcher!
that appertains to my spine!
With head ducked low
over man and beast and woe.
Unto the thing
that fails to scamper when I ting-a-ling!
Let people jaw
and go to law
to try to check my gait.
If that's their game!
to kill folks,
but I will do it, just the same.
they clear the tracks for me;
because, you see,
I am the Scorcher, full of zeal,
and just the thing I look like on the wheel.
The vintage photos that I used for this blog entry were found over at Rat Rod Bikes. Pay them a visit. It's an awesome website.