Fixed-gear singlespeed bikes are everywhere these days; on city streets and college campuses, on TV, in magazines and catalogs, and especially in the halls of the Sands Convention Center at Interbike. While some purists scoff at the "fakengers" or "posengers" riding "hipster sleds," the fact is that they’re popular for a reason. They are a mix of style and function. Sure, often times style outweighs function and crosses the line of ridiculousness. That is the way of popular culture. But the clean lines of a classic bicycle frame without geared bobbles and cabled bits can be a thing of beauty. A good example of this is the BH Gira, my personal Interbike transportation.
BH, which stands for Beistegui Hermanos, is a Spanish bicycle company with a small but growing US following. Mostly known for their road racing bikes, BH is celebrating their 100th year of bicycle production in 2009. The Gira I was riding is one of 100 serialized bicycles produced in celebration of BH’s 100th anniversary.
Paying homage to a century of producing race bikes, the Gira is built with Reynolds 525 steel tubing with nicely curved seat stays and the classic horizontal top tube. Nicely detailed lug work adds to the vintage look and classic style with understated cream/medium tan paint and simple red and white BH panels.
Front and rear caliper brakes with interrupter style levers are included. Rear brake cable routing is old school through removable chrome bands on the top tube allowing for an even cleaner look running brakeless in fixed mode.
Some nice modern touches improve the versatility of the Gira including the bolt-on rear hub that is adjustable with a 5mm hex wrench and a flip-flop rear hub and cogs to allow fixed and freewheel riding. When purchasing the Gira you also get two handlebars, a classic Pista style bar and a low-rise bar. A nice touch to allow the rider to mix it up.
Riding the Gira around the wide, flat gridwork of Vegas asphalt, the bike felt right at home. The narrow bars are perfect for squeezing past stretch Hummer limos at stoplights and sprints across four lanes of oncoming traffic. Mine was set up with the Pista style bars which for me are more suited for track use than on the streets. They were so narrow that the only comfortable riding position was in the drops — a little low for my taste. But if the bike were mine, I would switch to the low rise bar and I’d be good to go.
I ran the Gira both fixed and freewheel. It was great to have the freewheel option after a long day at the show and not wanting to work too hard to get around Vegas at night. Switching from fixed to free was as simple as loosening the 5mm rear hex bolts and the horizontal dropout (fork end) adjusting screw, flipping the wheel around and tightening everything back up. It took less than 3 minutes.
All in all, the Gira is a great looking and versatile bike with lots of options included to customize your riding experience. BH did an admirable job incorporating style and function in the 100th anniversary Gira. Find out more at www.bhbikes-us.com.
[Ed notes: During Interbike week, we borrowed a variety of bikes from companies to ride from our rental house to the indoor show, plus to parties and happenings around town after dark. Not only did this make our experience much more enjoyable, it allowed us a closer look at some of the latest offerings in the realm of transportation and utility bikes. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be presenting our impressions of our time with these bikes as mini-reviews.]