Kona Paddy Wagon 2013

In January I replaced the cheap fixed gear bicycle I had since July – reasons behind this rather quick replacement might come in a later post – with a 2013 model of the Kona Paddy Wagon and I’ve been riding it pretty much every day since then.

I already owned a Kona Coilair 2012 and I must say that I am still amazed by this horse’s reliability and quality so it was kind of a natural choice to go for the same brand.

The bike is very decent the way it’s shipped but, not that the original parts were bad in any way, I changed a few things: the pedals (mounted my Crank Brothers Candy), the tires (I’ll ride Schwalbe CX Pro until the end of the winter) and the saddle (since my wife got me a brown Team Pro Chrome Brooks saddle for my 32nd birthday why should I sit on something else?).

Nothing wrong to report so far – apart for the front wheel nuts that already began to rust (snow & salt must have something to do with that) – but I’ve had the bike for only a month. Long live the Paddy Wagon and if it proves to be as solid as the Coilair (and can keep up with at least 500 kilometers a month) I’ll probably still be riding it in a couple of years.

Do you ride one? Are you pleased with it? If you have anything you want to share on Kona or on the Paddy Wagon don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

the MBK project – cleaning up

I thought I’d spend Christmas day on the couch letting all the available body energy flow to my busy stomach but my obsession with bicycles had other plans for me.

A couple of months ago my dad bought a brand new road bike but did not throw away his old school MBK Super Sprint even though pretty much nothing on it was in working order: rusted brake callipers, stucked derailleur and shifters. The frame being in rather good condition with compatible drop-outs I could only think of one solution to get that bike back on the French country side roads: I had to start with my first conversion and build a fixed gear bike.

Since I did not know I was going to convert a bike during the Christmas season I did not have the parts I needed to complete the work but I started anyway and removed all the useless bits and pieces I could find on the frame. It did not take long and the bike is now waiting for new components and I’ll make sure I order them in advance or find them in my own stock before next time I pay a visit to my parents. Here’s what I need before I can ride this “back from the deads” MBK: a front brake, tires & tubes, a fixed gear rear wheel, a chain ring and a chain. Duly noted.

the MBK project

I’m now back in Stockholm, Sweden and the project is on hold for a while but stay tuned (subscribe to the RSS feed if you don’t want to miss the followup to the MBK revival).

give me a brake!

This morning could have ended pretty badly if it were not for the front brake. Yes I do have a brake on the fixie and I’m glad I did not sacrifice it for aesthetic.

I was rolling down Södermalmstorg (the ugly curvy bit of macadam connecting Hornsgatan to Skeppsbron) when I rode over something that I believe was a small pothole. It was not that deep of a hole but bad enough for the back wheel to slightly move forward from the shock and loosen the tension on the chain.

It took my legs a fraction of a second to realize that what was bound to happen just happened: the chain had fallen off and I was literally coasting at 30+ kph towards the red light. It took another fraction of the same second for the signal to go from the legs up to the brain and down to the left hand before I was pulling on the brake lever and safely stopped on the side of the road.

I read here and there, in books and on Internet forums, stories and statements from hipsters who claim a pure fixed gear bike cannot have brakes. That is just plain wrong and stupid. For your own safety and the safety of others you should and you must have a proper working brake on your horse.

Pedro’s Trixie multi-tool

Riding a bike wouldn’t be fully rewarding if it always took you from A to B no matter the time, the weather or road conditions. So once in a while – often when you’re least excepting it or you’re really in a hurry – your bike will remind you it needs love and make you stop for a minute or two of mechanics intimacy.
And when your bike faces you with a flat tire they’re no escaping its needs for bonding: you have to fix it or you’ll be late to work.

As most of the cyclists I carry a bag when I’m riding so I thought I could open it up and show you what’s in it that helps me handle those situations. The first thing you should do when you have to fix a flat tire is remove the problematic wheel. There are probably guys out there who can patch a tube without dismounting the wheel but I’m not one of them and I’d put on a new tube rather than patch the old one anyway. Tubes are quite cheap and I can’t be bothered to find the hole, apply the glue and patch, … especially when it’s pouring rain or -10 degrees.

I own two sets of wheels which are not of the quick release kind and, even better, are of different standards: 15mm nuts on one set, skewers with Allen key heads on the other. But I found a nifty multi-tool that supports both standards (with different spanner end sizes), has a lockring hook and even a bottle opener (specifications): the Pedro’s Trixie.

Pedro's Trixie

It’s light & flat and therefore easy to fit in a bag. A must have in my opinion even though it’s not that cheap.

dry & warm

If you thought Stockholm was an idiot free city let me get this straight: you’re wrong.

The more bikes around in a city the more bike thefts & demolitions and – the cyclist in you will agree – there is nothing more annoying than not finding your bike where you left it in the morning or (and that’s maybe even worse) finding it smashed into pieces after a day at the office.

fixie, dry & warm

But even in an idiot free Stockholm a bike would not have a long life expectancy if it were to be outside 24/7. While it has a pretty easy life during summer, it has to deal with rain, snow, ice and salt most of the winter.

There’s fortunately some landlords that have sacrificed a couple of square meters from an indoor parking (basically the surface previously occupied by a single car) and built a parking for a dozen bikes instead.

I’m pretty lucky since my office is located in a building owned by such a landlord & I can leave my bike indoor behind a secured door during the day. One drawback though. Such a facility encourages people to cycle to work and the parking is often very crowded.

yet another blog

I’ve been on and off my beach cruiser since 2006 until it got stolen last summer in front of the house and I was facing a not so difficult choice: go on with a public transport pass for 790 SEK a month (120 USD) or get a new bike.

I chose the latter and bought myself a rather cheap – I did not know if that was really what I wanted – fixed gear bike. Almost four months later, still alive, I enjoy my daily commute (9 kilometers one way) to work a little more every day and thought I could share my experience with you who are reading these lines.

my daily commute

Stockholm is one of those cities where you can very easily go from A to B on a bike and like 150,000 other cyclists I just can’t stand the subway anymore (I’m not even talking about riding a car).

From beautiful and easy rides in the summer to freezing cold and slippery roads in the winter, welcome to Stockholm, Sweden.