Category: Fixed Gear


Most of you read my post about my new Brooks B17 Saddle that I purchased for my Swobo Sanchez. One thing that I didn’t care for is the breaking in period, 3-6 months seems too long for me. It also may take me longer since the Swobo Sanchez is not my only ride, I have to constantly switch rides since I’m a bike tester. I was reading Sheldon Brown’s method of breaking in a leather saddle, the fast way:

The easiest and fastest method to break in a new saddle is with a liquid leather dressing, such as neatsfoot oil, Lexol, seal oil (a French favorite) or baseball glove oil.

You can just pour the oil on and rub it in by hand, or for a more drastic approach, you can actually soak the saddle. The easiest way to soak a saddle is to turn it upside-down on a sheet of aluminum foil, then form the foil up around the saddle for a snug fit. Pour in a whole 4 ounce can of Neatsfoot oil or whatever oil you prefer, and let the saddle soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Pour the remaining oil back into the can, and wipe the excess oil off with a rag or paper towel.

Does anyone else have any other methods to speed up the breaking in process?

Brooks Baby!

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

Yes, it’s fixed gear Friday!! Check out my new acquisition for my Swobo Sanchez:

A beautiful Brooks B17 Saddle:

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

I wanted to customize my Swobo Sanchez with a retro-modern look so I added the faux leather grips and the real leather saddle.

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

I also bought their care kit, it comes with a tension wrench, a nice polishing cloth and the proofide. According to the instructions, it takes 3-6 months for the saddle to break-in, but once it has broken-in, it should mold to my ass nicely.

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

The Swobo Sanchez is quickly becoming one of my favorite bikes, not because it’s so cool, but I really enjoy the ride.

Swobo Sanchez
I ride my Swobo Sanchez to work at least once a week, being a bike tester I have to switch bikes often. Riding a fixed gear bike takes a little be of a different mindset and a few ‘habits’ to break. I occasionally try to coast, but not as often as I used to, but I need more improvement on my mounting/dismounting technique. Here’s what Sheldon Brown has to say:

Mounting Technique

Riding a fixed-gear bicycle requires proper mounting technique. Many cyclists have bad mounting habits, such as swinging the leg over on-the-fly, or starting up by shuffling their feet against the pavement. These techniques work even worse on a fixed-gear bicycle than they do on a freewheel machine.

Getting your first pedal into the proper forward-and-up position is a bit trickier with a fixed gear, since you can’t just spin the pedals backward. The trick is to put your foot on the pedal, then lift the rear end of the bicycle up so that you can turn the pedals.

I used to lift the bicycle up by the edge of the saddle, but I damaged a Brooks Pro that way–the rivets that held the leather top to the saddle frame pulled out from being stressed in this un-anticipated direction!

My friend Osman Isvan recently taught me a much better technique: The trick is to straddle the bike, put one foot on a pedal, lock up the front brake and press forward on the handlebars. The forward force on the bars will lift the rear wheel enough to let you revolve the pedal to where you want it.

Dismount Technique

You can dismount in the normal manner from a fixed-gear bicycle, but advanced fixed-gear riders might enjoy learning a special, very cool-looking dismount that can only be done from a fixed gear:

Instead of getting off to the side of the bicycle, the fixed-gear rider can go straight off the back. This technique works best if you ride with clips & straps, but if you are really proficient in disengaging from clipless pedals, try it at your own risk.

As the bicycle slows to near walking speed, disengage your left foot, then wait for the right pedal to get to the bottom of its circle. As the right pedal starts to rise, straighten your right leg and let the motion of the pedal lift you up. Let go of the handlebars, let the saddle move forward between your legs, and put your left foot on the ground. As the bike goes ahead, grab it by the saddle.

It takes a bit of courage to try this, but it is actually very easy to do. It is also extremely impressive to watch. When executed properly, it is very smooth, and you can go from riding to walking in a single fluid motion, without ever coming to a stop.

Interestingly, I found this video of Nick James demonstrating the one of the latter ways of dismounting from a fixie:

Any other tips on how to mount/dismount from a fixed gear bike?

My assumption that the reason why the Swobo Sanchez does not have water bottle bosses is because of the ‘Track Style’ that the bike tries to achieve. Since my Deuter Backpack does not have enough room for my non-casual friday stuff, I decided to install a water bottle holder on my handlebars.

To hell with style, being hydrated under 90 degree heat really beats looking cool.


RL posted an excellent tip on our Mountain Bike Site. He used a pipe cutter to cut the steerer of a fork. I used my smaller pipe cutter to cut the handlebars of my Swobo Sanchez.

The pipe cutters cut straight and they are usually about 10 bucks for the big one, that’s money well spent.