A brushstroke of cycling inspiration on the sneaky streets of Brussels
From "Villo" to LOOK fixed gear
Dimitri is been into cycling since he was a kid but never took the time to create his very own precious two-wheeler... until now ! after years of riding Brussel's shared public bikes "Villo" he felt it was the right time to listen to his heart and to go for that dream build. From "Villo" to Look it's quite an upgrade !
The challenge of building a bike yourself
Dimitri found this stunning LOOK AC364 frame-set on the internet and didn't think twice. He ordered it and set himself the challenge of finding all the parts and putting them together. With some help from the guys at Het Atelier Participatif DIY shop he managed to create his first build, a sublime fixed gear bicycle. What was the most challenging ?
"I love the simplicity and minimalism of a bike with no brakes, no gears and low maintenance ! Less parts also help with the process of finding the right compatibility and putting the bike together. Still... I did have a few challenges, the biggest being finding the right chain line. This means basically finding the right positioning between the rear sprocket, the front chainring (given by the bottom bracket axle length) and the size of the front chainring. I've been learning a lot of terminology too !
These 3 factors have to be tuned so the chain runs straight between the rear cog and the front chainring, and at the same time the front chainring has enough clearance (doesn't touch the chain-stays of the frame) for solving these type of problems it was nice to have some experienced help from the shop"
Riding a fixed gear in Brussels
The bicycle is very minimalist, it's a fixed bike, which means there are no gears and no freewheel so the movement of the legs is constantly coupled with the turning of the cranks and the rear wheel. And the brakes ?! Well... the braking is produced by the legs forcing the cranks to slow down the rear wheel, for a sudden halt the rider will give a strong back kick to make the rear wheel skid, the friction between the tire and the ground is the brake. How is it to ride on fixed gear in Brussels Dimitri ?
"I started using this bike somewhere between the first and the second Covid confinement, so the streets where pretty empty ! being my first fixed gear bike it was ideal for getting used to this particularly tricky style of cycling. Now it's a bit more busy and traffic can be quite aggressive in Brussels so I've learned to be very present and aware at all times and specially master the art of anticipation"
The frame is built with steel tubes from the legendary Japanese brand Tange: Champion for the main triangle and Infinity for the fork, comparable to a Reynolds 531.
At first sight the frame looks very classic, with chromed lugs and a horizontal top tube (Dimitri and I share the love for horizontal top tubes) but then if we look more closely, the fork is straight and the head-set is 1 1/8 inches ahead-set, signs of modernity and search for rigidity at the front end, as well as full compatibility with modern stems and bars. It's an interesting mix between old and new.
This beautiful bicycle serves as a commuter on the streets of Brussels, and as it does it brings some color to this urban landscape, thanks to Dimitri for that and for sharing it with us on the blog. Ah! and don't forget to tighten your chain from time to time ;)