Assemblage of the Polo Rig and the Fix/Free

On a rainy weekend day last month I completed two lifelong goals. Okay, one goal was only a couple years old, and I’ve only had the other for a couple months. Regardless, I completed two goals in one day, give me some credit.

For the last couple years, my main mode of transportation has been an old Novara road cycle. I bought it geared, but within a year, converted it to a single speed. Originally, I was just letting it ride on a specific gear on the rear cassette. Then my rear wheel was stolen, so I replaced it and used a single speed freewheel gear. That lasted for about two years, until my breaks (originals I presume) started to not stop, if you catch my drift. As oppose to buying new brakes, I opted for a wheelset with a fix/free flip/flop hub on the rear wheel.

On the aforementioned weekend, I swapped on the new wheels and made some aesthetic repairs to the ride, which I now call Lightning (I call my KM Thunder). The wheelset I bought is as good of a flip/flop I can get for 27″ wheels, according to the Hub salesperson. They cost about $150 for the pair. I ride with 42t on the front chainring and had 16t on the rear. I kept the same ratio when I bought my fix and free cogs. I was able to keep my old tires, but had to buy new tubes with presta valves.

After the wheels, I removed the old, decrepid braking system. I then cut off the “drop” portion of my drop bars, converting them into time trial bars. This was a long sought after change. Then I added a simple black cross brake lever, and wrapped the bars with some hot, eye-blinding-yellow, perforated grip tape. I added a new, bright blue dual-pivot calliper brake, from some company I’ve never heard of. I tried to swap in my pedals from Thunder, but I could only remove on of those pedals. Instead, I took the power grips off, and added them to Lightning’s pedals.

All in all, she’s a good ride. Using your legs and feet to brake is definitely a change, as is resisting the urge to coast on declines. After the learning curve, though, it’s as natural an action as any. My one gripe is that the spokes on the rear wheel were extremely loose and I had to true the wheel around half a dozen times in the first two weeks. I’ve tightened the spokes to a more reasonable level now, but it has just slowed the problem. I may need to buy a spoke tension meter to make sure the spokes are not only at a similar tension, but at an adequately high tension. I have yet to figure out how to skid using my puny leg muscles. Practice is required.

My other bike goal accomplished was modifying my Specialized Hardrock into a legitamite bike polo rig. If you’ll remember, the bike was an old, stock Hardrock. I bought new tubes and inflated them shits. Then I ripped off the front and rear derailleurs. I attached a chain tensioner to the rear hanger to make sure the chain is taught and doesn’t switch cogs on the rear cassette. I removed the front brake, cable and lever as they will not be used whilst poloing. I cut about two inches of each end of the handlebars, then moved the rear brake lever to the left-hand side before replacing the grips. Having the rear brake on the left will allow me to polo with my right hand and be able stop without going head over heels.

I can’t remember what gear ratio I settled on, but it’s low. I was told to pick a low ratio, presumably so I can accelerate quickly on the polo court (it’s not like you have very far to go). The problem is that the max I can go without spinning like a maniac is pretty low. I may bump up the ratio a tooth or two. The seat is pretty miserable, and the seatpost is a good four inches too short. The pedals are also crappy plastic. I’ll replace those as money dictates; none of those issues are a priority right now.

Otherwise it rides well. I can move quickly, stop on a dime, and pedaling is quite smooth. Maybe I won’t suck at polo while riding this guy. I’ll call him Rocky, after the Hardrock birthname and his ability to KO Apollo Creed.

More photos are available at my new flickr page.

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About foambrew

I'm a food science graduate from the University of Minnesota. I spend my time being in Seoul for a year, brewing beer, consuming food, biking, playing the tuba, and enjoying the Twins and Gophers. I can usually be found doing some combination or derivative of these things.
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3 Responses to Assemblage of the Polo Rig and the Fix/Free

  1. nate says:

    the novara looks pimp as hell. any wipeouts from the pedals hitting the ground on sharp corners?

  2. foambrew says:

    Nah. It’s unnerving to be pedaling while turning, so I ride slower and thus lean less into the turns. That will probably change as I get more comfortable. I’ll update with any spill info.

  3. MAx says:

    Nice bike. It’s all about the fixie. I’ve never fallen from hitting a petal on a corner. There’s been a few times where the petal hit the ground and my back tire went airborne for a split second but it always came down and I was able to continued on. It’s a little scary when that happens, but it is really much less of a problem than you might expect.

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