A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Fly Bike Shop Fixie

The fixed gear bicycle that I ordered from Fly Bike Shop in Denver arrived on April third, and due to rain and other obligations, Click to enlargeI had a couple of days to inspect, assemble, and tune it before it's maiden voyage today. The bike turned out to be a Sun Uno from Sun Cycles. Sun is a manufacturer of adult tricycles, unicycles and recumbent bicycles as well as other bikes. The Sun Uno came with a double butted TIG welded 4130 chromoly frame, made in China. That didn't bother me much, as most bicycle companies outsource their frames to China in today's competitive market. The bike was shipped in it's original box, and was packed very well. I removed the bits and pieces and had it assembled in about fifteen minutes using a set of Allen wrenches and a 15mm socket wrench.

The frame had Sun Uno stickers on it in a tasteless lime green color, but they were on top of the clear coat and easily removed. A paper towel and mineral spirits got rid of the sticky residue. Click to enlargeThe handlebars were unwrapped, so I used the supplied brown cork wrap to cover them. The handlebar wrap matches the seat nicely. A clear plastic chainguard was included with the bike. I hung that up in the garage. I have no desire for such a thing on this bike.

The 59cm frame geometry is very tight and "tucked in. The rear wheel spins close to the seat tube, and the front forks are almost vertical, with a 74.5 degree head tube angle, making the bike highly maneuverable. The wheelset is Alex DC19s, 700c X 32 double wall alloy rims with a high flange hub and a CNC machined sidewall. They come with Kenda Kontender rubber. The hubs are bolted to the forks, both front and rear, no quick release skewers here. The bottom bracket is sealed, and supports a 46 tooth chainwheel. There is, of course, no derailleur, no fenders,

The seat is a beautiful leather-like swallow style perch, produced by Velo, Click to enlargebut only for this particular bike. Swallow style seats look uncomfortable, and while it is true they are no lazy boy recliner, they do not create pain. Instead, they prevent chaffing while pedaling. I had thought I might replace the seat with a Brooks if it was uncomfortable, but I have dismissed that notion. The seat is supported by a 29.8 x 350mm aluminum alloy micro-adjustable seat post. One Allen screw underneath controls the angle of the seat, another controls the height.

At the moment I do not have the supplied reflectors installed. I am considering reflective tape, a strip of white on the head tube, and two strips of red on the seatstays to get around local ordinances. I don't want to destroy the minimalist appeal of the bike with sparkly stuff screwed all over it. The bike also came with stainless steel strap-on toe clips. I opted to leave those off as well for now.

Click to enlargeBraking, both front and rear, is supplied by Tektro R310A dual pivot calipers, compressed with Tektro RL576 levers. The brake levers have hinge mounts, and the stem has an open face four screw front clamp, making handlebar swaps a breeze. The stainless steel cables inside the sheaths were of a standardized to long length, so I cut them and soldered the ends to prevent fraying. Unlike some fixie fans, I intend to keep brakes front and rear. I don't need a hard core attitude on a bike. I lubricated the cables with silicone.

Speaking of hard core attitude, the Sun Uno does not come with a kickstand. I considered a Greenfield chainstay mounted kickstand, as the closeness of the rear wheel to the seattube makes fitting a kickstand in the usual place a custom job. I mounted the Greenfield chainstay kickstand, and immediately took it off. It worked, but I did not like the way it looked at all. I will cut down a the bracket and mount it in the traditional manner using a longer bolt.

Of course, the heart of the fixed gear track bike is a fixed rear sprocket. The Sun Uno comes with a "flip-flop" rear wheel, Click to enlargeenabling the rider to change from a fixed gear to a single speed by removing and flipping the rear wheel. The 18 tooth dual cogs on the rear hub of the bike are spun by a 46 tooth alloy chain wheel up front. A 1/8 inch KMC chain supplies the power. I mounted the rear wheel as a single speed. I want to get used to the performance geometry before I attempt a fixed gear configuration.

So, the big question......How does it ride? It was 52 degrees and wet when I took the gunmetal grey racer out this morning, but I put on my sweats and went anyway. I was used to the cruiser configuration, and it took a bit to adapt to having half my weight supported by my shoulders rather than my butt. But as I rode the bike around, I felt my hamstrings begin to stretch, and my neck too, from the agressive riding position. I wasn't used to that. I pressed on, however. I pedaled for about five easy miles before I stopped to take photos. The Sun Uno was smooth. The handling was as certain as it was fast. When the bike was thrown into a corner, it reacted and went where it was supposed to. Click to visit Fly Bike ShopThe pedals seemed a bit small for my big clod-hopper feet, but the swallow style seat was a non-issue.

As I rode by the local bike store, where the owner had tried to sell me a $1200 Trek T1 and then ignored me when I didn't order one, I saw an adult tricycle in the front window. I stopped to gaze........Yes, it was a Sun bike. The recumbents sold there were made by Sun. The place was a dealer of Sun cycles. How ironic that the owner lost a sale two weeks ago because he was an ass. By contrast, the people from Fly were knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Chris, the gentleman who took my order had emphatically said "You are going to like this bike!" I do. Thanks Fly.

On the way back home, on the side of the road, I found a green Raleigh Grand Prix frame. It was solid. It had lugged joinery. It had horizontal rear drop outs. It was free. I hid it in an alley until I could make it back with my Jeep to pick it up. Here we go again..........

Addendum.....The Sun Uno was apparently previously the Cayne Uno.

Click to enlarge

The final bike, with refective tape.

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Anonymous bob@thenest said...

Xavier, I just wanted to drop a note that I find the variety in your blog most fascinating. Always have, but now recuperating from major lumbar surgery, my 4th spine surgery and by *far* the worst recovery, I have a lot of time to peruse my favorite blogs, several times a day albeit in 30 minute max sit-up sessions.

I've never had much interest in many of the subjects you write about, especially bicycles, and the subject of guns is what originally brought me here some time ago.

However, you have expanded my interests and my knowledge in chunks my time will allow and I appreciate that.

Would never have thought I'd be interested in sprokets, but I am and you have resurrected several memories of long ago.

Kudos to you -- you must be a very interesting person with whom to sit down and have a discussion.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous aczarnowski said...

Great! I was watching for the follow up to your original post. That first one got me thinking about putting in an order for myself. Now there's even more fuel for the fire...

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey X,

Below are a few decent fixed gear sites, I'm sure you all ready know about the fixedgeargallery.com. Enjoy. I've had one for about three years and love it.






12:44 AM  

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