Every other bike we saw in Seattle was a fixie, and many of them didn't have brakes, quite amazing given the hilly terrain. I went into a bike shop and they had a whole rack of fixies, all singing a siren song to me.
So once back in Houston I took my lovely Italian roadster to my LBS and asked them to convert it from 12 gears to one (and no freewheel, thanks). They called me a few days later with bad news - they didn't want to do it because the bike wouldn't be safe (rear dropouts pointing forward and too much space between the chain stays). However, they would be happy to sell me a very nice Bianchi model for $700.
Enter Ebay, and a bike retailer offering a new Dawes fixie for $220 (MRP: $700). This seemed too good to be true, so I did a little research and found out about BikesDirect, a manufacturer of low-spec bikes sold exclusively on-line. The cheap fixie was undoubtedly one of their offerings. On-line opinion of the quality of BD products varied dramatically. Some people were very dismissive, others had better experiences. Since the failed Italian conversion would have cost me about $200, I didn't have much to lose and decided to take a chance on SportyMama (the Ebay e-tailer).
The bike arrived very promptly and I opted to assemble it myself (no gears, so no serious adjustments needed). It has been christened "The Gold Standard" for obvious reasons and I've taken it out for a few casual spins around the neighbourhood. Riding a fixie is definitely different! No more coasting through corners, or after standing on the pedals - the bike tells you quite firmly that this is not allowed. A bit more practice and I'll take it on one of the Saturday morning runs (see previous post), although I won't be leading the group.
Sadly, the acquisition of another bike means I have to dispose of the Italian job. I put it on Craig's List and got a lot of responses - perhaps the price was too low. Anyway, we'll see how serious they are.