Beat the Traffic

Divine Messenger

Sep 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

Surly Steamroller l $800

Sure, Lance Armstrong puts in long days in the saddle, but he doesn't have to thread the needle between cabbies who treat you like roadkill and harried execs multitasking behind the wheel. So what's the bike messenger's tool of choice? Typically, a fixed-gear bike like the Surly Steamroller. Single-speeders are low-tech. Like turn-of-the-century bikes, there's no freewheel, which means that when the wheels are moving, so are your feet. With no derailleurs, only one brake—a hand brake on the front wheel for oncoming-Mack-truck insurance—and no geegaws like suspension, the Surly is almost a zero-maintenance machine. The bottom bracket and hub bearings are sealed and the wheels are built with 36 spokes for durability, so there's no upkeep other than pumping up the tires and oiling the chain. Plus, the fixed gear lets you apply extra body English to the 19-pound bike, which makes the Surly extremely agile when snaking down tight city streets. Quick-steering frame geometry adds to the bike's razor-sharp handling. It's a perfect for fit commuters who aspire to a life of minimalism: That one 42x17 gear is a quad-pumping grind uphill and spins you senseless downhill. Antitheft aesthetics: The poop-brown color won't catch the eye of bolt-cutting thieves. Antitheft mechanics: If it gets stolen, the uninitiated filcher will break his neck trying to coast.

Dressing up your wheels: Zoic's Pintee jersey ($30) has T-shirt styling but uses wicking polyester to avoid the sweat-soaked look.  • With their relaxed cut you'd never guess Sugoi's Conrad Radial shorts ($90) have a chamois liner to baby your derriere.  • The X-Ray Pro ($100) is Bell's flagship helmet, and includes a snap-off visor and easy-to-adjust pads and straps.  • Vans Mental shoes ($90) use a high-top inside cuff to protect ankles from errant chainrings, and despite their skate-shoe look, they're compatible with clipless pedals.  • Spinning through Little Italy? With eyes shielded behind the black iridium lenses of your Oakley Straight Jackets ($130), you won't hear, "Hey, what are you lookin' at?"

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