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Fixed Gear

Review: Chrome “Kursk” Shoes

Several months back, the wizards behind the wildly popular Chrome messenger bag line announced that they would be coming out with several models of shoes, all named after famous WWII battles. Fast forward a couple months and they sent RL a courtesy pair of their “Kursk” shoes to try out. With RL’s beefy physique and matching wide feet, those shoes just didn’t fit, so he passed them over to me.

kursk

Here’s a bit about the shoes from Chrome’s site:

•Made of our Weatherproof 1,000 denier Cordura with back-padding
•100% vulcanized construction
•Low profile design to better fit into a toe cage
•Re-enforced nylon/glass fiber shank to support the midsole
•Board lasted sole to eliminate pedal hot spot
•Skid resistant contact rubber on the sole
•Polyurethane contoured crash pad insole
•Durable rubber heel cup with reflective safety hit
•Lace garage so laces don’t get caught in your chain
•Steel aglets to keep laces from fraying

The Kursk shoes are very reminiscent of the classic Converse All-Star, which has long been very popular for urban riders of all stripes. Right off the bat I’ve got to say that Chrome took the general styling of those classic shoes and made them WAY better.

First, the construction — the shoes are made of lightly-padded Cordura nylon and vulcanized rubber. The Cordura is incredibly durable and blows traditional canvas away. It doesn’t stretch, it doesn’t rot and it shakes off a ton of abuse. Same with the rubber toe cap and bumpers on the Kursk shoes — despite some heavy riding and daily kick-around wear, these shoes still look new.

Second, the details — this shoe has several features that make it ideal for urban riders. I especially like the “lace garage”, a loop of elastic that holds the tied laces parallel to the sides of the shoe. No more annoying (and dangerous) windup from a loose lace getting caught in your chain!

garage

The laces have steel aglets (endcaps) to give an extra measure of durability…no more fraying. Also, there are small but effective reflective inserts in the heels for a bit of nighttime visibility. That’s always a nice touch.

reflect

The logos are fairly subtle, and the color combo is one of my favorites…black with red accents. I showed them to my friend David when he was visiting — he’s a longtime Chrome bag user and jokes that his black-and-red Metropolis bag was the inspiration for building up a black-and-red fixed gear bike…after all, the bike has to match the bag, right? Needless to say, he was quite envious. These shoes are understated, yet they catch people’s attention in a positive way. I received quite a few compliments on them.

How do they ride? Quite nice, in fact — the stiffened sole eliminates the hot-spot issue many Converse/Vans/Adidas Samba wearers experience when riding with traditional cage pedals. One simply cannot feel the edges of the pedals digging in to the bottom of your foot with the Chromes on. And the shoes aren’t so stiff that they make walking uncomfortable — Chrome did their homework and found a good balance in that stiffness.

sole

The sole is plenty sticky…perfect for platform pedals like the BMX models I favor, and the shoe’s overall profile lends itself to riding with toeclips, slipping easily in and out of the clips without hangups.

Perhaps the only negative thing I can say about the Kursks is that they’re cut rather narrow. I have fairly bony feet and even I found the toebox a bit cramped. Unlike canvas shoes that will stretch with enough wear, the Cordura fabric of these shoes remains unyielding — that may change with more wear, but I’m doubting it. If you’ve got wide feet, you may consider purchasing a half-size larger than your normal shoes (they DO come in half-sizes from 4.5 to 11.5, with whole sizes in 12, 13 and 14). Or, you may want to find a place locally to try them on before pulling the trigger.

These shoes have become my default “casual Friday” work shoes — they look great and they’re great to ride in. For $70.00, you’ll get a well-made and well-thought-out pair of shoes that will dazzle your friends. Thumbs up!

ride a bike

Check out Chrome’s online store for these and other models of shoes, including the Saipan, the Arnhem and the Midway.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Darn Fixies!

Today I saw a guy riding his pretty fixie with lime green wheels and white frame. He had the stereotypical cut off tight jeans, black shirt and a cap(backwards) wearing his vans with no socks.

As I watched him, I already knew that he would be zipping in and out of traffic as if he was in NYC delivering packages. But no, we were in Southern California. So the rider takes a lane, cuts cars off and runs a red light. I rolled my eyes and said, “figures.”

I hate to admit this, but I’m really starting to resent some fixie riders. There’s a good number of them that are law abiding, but there’s also a bunch of them that put a bad taste in other people’s mouths. Here’s what I mean by that. After getting home my daughter and I went for a bike ride to the park on her new KHS Hot Rod. I ran across 3 fixie riders on the road, and guess what? They were polite, obeyed the rules and they stopped for the light. But because of the lime green fixie rider, I already expected the 3 fixie riders to behave just like the first rider…

This didn’t just happen with that lime green guy, but it has happened numerous times with other fixie rides that we come across in Fullerton or any other city in Orange County.

Now I’m wondering if fixie riders in other parts of the US behave the same way? Do they ride like idiots in your neighborhood?

Redline Urbis Hits the Streets

Back in September during the Interbike show, Redline Bicycles set out some bait and wanted to see what the people’s reaction was to this bike. Well because of the overwhelming response, they are finally coming out with the Redline Urbis.

This is the info I got from Redline directly

affordable fixie freestyle bike, who else other than Redline to bring you a bike designed from the best mix of BMX parts, and Street/Urban design.

This bike will come fixed w/flip flop hub so the customer can put a freewheel on it if desired(a rear brake will be included but not installed).

We had taken some video of the prototype during Interbike and if you missed it, here you go.

But the kind folks of Redline sent me these photos today to give you all an idea on the actual production model. These photos were taken right outside the Redline HQ.

MSRP will be around $549.99 to $599.99

RED YOU R DEAD Masher-Review

BikeCommuters.com (west coast) received the RYD Masher back in September to review. I just have to make sure I note that this product was sent to us as a demo; we did not get paid for the review. Here’s our disclaimer.

What: Red You R Dead Masher

Specs:Frame – 100% 4130 Full Cro-Mo
Fork – Full 4130 Cro-Mo, straight rake
Headset – Fully Integrated, Neco Alloy 1-1/8″ Threadless
Handlebars – RYD Alloy 2″ Riser Bar, 480 mm width
Stem – RYD Alloy 60mm extension
Grips – RYD 120mm
Seat – RYD, Steel Rail
Seat Post – Alloy 26.6 x 300
Crankset – 3pc. Lasco Alloy Forged 165mm, 46t
Chain – KMC Z410 white
Pedals – Alloy Body 9/16″, plus PLASTIC cages w/ double leather straps
Front Rim – Maya 650c Alloy double wall 32h, w/ black stainless steel spokes
Rear Rim – Maya 700c Alloy double wall 32h, w/ black stainless steel spokes
Front Hub – KT Alloy 32h, loose ball, nutted
Rear Hub – KT fixed/free Alloy 32h, loose ball nutted, 16t fixed cog
Tires – Kenda Road Racing, 700x23c

Price:$599

I’ve been riding the Masher for a few months now. This bike isn’t your typical commuter bike that we often review, the kind that has fenders, racks and etc. But I wanted to get some time on this fixed gear rig because one of the favorite commuter bikes I’ve ever ridden was my old Redline 925 and I commuted with that as a fixie.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this bike. Let me start off with how the Masher felt on the road. Since this thing uses 4130 Cro-mo, I looked forward to the smooth riding experience. Sure enough, the Masher lived up to the promise of a nice riding steel bike.

With the 650c front wheel, I was concerned that I would be leaning over too much. But to my surprise, the smaller front wheel didn’t affect my riding position. One thing I did enjoy about the 650c front wheel was the lack of toe over-lap. That’s pretty important especially if you’re riding a fixie, you don’t want your front tire clipping your foot as you’re making a turn.

You may have already noticed that the Masher doesn’t come with brakes. Since this bike really was built as track/trick bike, brakes were not included. Even if I wanted to install a rear brake, I probably wouldn’t because the sidewall of the wheels are painted and having a set of brakes grabbing the rim wouldn’t be too effective nor would it be pretty. So what does that mean for a boy like me who is used to grabbing a fist full of brakes when I need to stop? Fortunately, I’ve had prior fixie riding experience so I already know how to slow down my pedaling or skid stop if necessary.

Some of you are already thinking, “what about the fenders and rack?” Nope. This doesn’t come with them. Besides, the Masher doesn’t have the ability to accept traditional racks — it’s a track bike. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use P-Clamps to install them. Fenders… I’m sure you can fit in some nice Planet Bike fenders in there with the use of P-Clamps.
However, there’s a certain level of “cool” that you would lose if you were to add those accessories. Let’s be honest, if you’re going to buy the Masher, you’re not likely to put on those things just because it would make it look goofy. Anytime I needed to carry stuff, I just busted out my handy dandy Banjo Brothers Commuter Back Pack.

Since the Masher is a fixie, there are less things to go wrong. During the last few weeks of testing, the bike never had any major problems. However, it did develop a slight creaking when I would “mash” (get it) on the pedals. That problem was quickly remedied by greasing up the threads on the pedals and adding a bit of lube on the chain.

As far as handling and performance, the Masher is quick and nimble. It’s hard to describe, but when I would mash on the pedals, to get into a sprint, the bike would respond. One of the things I’ve noticed with bikes is that aluminum frames tend to have a snappier feel when sprinting, but with steel, I can feel the rear end trying to catch up with the rest of the bike. But with the Masher I get that same snappy feel as aluminum.

The gearing on the Masher was a bit too big for my liking. The 46/16t drive train made it a bit tough to start at the stop lights. I think a 42/15t would have been more ideal for all around use. The area I live in is relatively hilly. In fact there’s one hill by my place that I usually use to test bikes on. When I took the Masher up this hill, I really struggled with the 46/16. I know for a fact that the 42/15 combo works really well for this climb and it was tall enough to get some good speed on it.

Overall, the RYD Masher really is a great bike. It’s very comfy, it is super attractive and it has been reliable throughout this time. I think for the price of $599, you’re getting a great ride. Just think about it, 4130 cro-mo, all white (I dig white bikes) and this is the kind of bike that will need very little, if any, maintenance. I understand that a fixie or even this trick/track bike isn’t for everyone, but for those who are in the market for this style of bike, you really can’t go wrong with the Masher.

Ride You R Dead Masher

By the way, for those that aren’t too familiar with fixies or fixed gear bikes, here’s a great video that showcases them:

Red Your Dead-Masher: Preview

This beautiful bike just came in yesterday. It’s called the Masher by Red Your Dead. Not sure what the name means, but RYD designed the Masher as a durable, trick track bike. You’ll notice something different about the Masher, the front wheel is a 650 and the rear is a 700. Already I found that I am not experiencing toe over-lap with this bike, that’s a good thing.

RYD masher

White drive train is HOT!
RYD masher

Beautiful sleek, steel frame. 4130 Full Chromo to be exact.
RYD masher

Deep V style wheels wrapped in Kenda Koncept Lite.

Quando front and rear hubs.
ryd masher

16t fixed hub.

A true fixie- No Brakes!

Clean weld jobs.

I test rode the Masher last night and found it to be uber smooth. So this morning I decided to ride it to work. Everyone at the office were pretty impressed with the looks and style of the bike
ryd masher

I’ll be reviewing this bike in the coming weeks, so check for a full report. In the mean time, check out Red Your Dead‘s website.