They tried to make me go to rehab…

Fixie-obsessed Michael Stenning wants some MTB action


Like most addictions, my fixie compulsion is probably wrong and will doubtless lead to immoral behaviour and a sticky end. Not satisfied with the Zen-like purity provided by road fixers, I am yearning for some off road action.


No, I don’t mean ditching the guards on the Ilpompino and equipping it with cyclo cross tyres for some tow-path action, I’m referring to full on green laning and muddy forest fun. I’d thought about building a steamroller with a front hub brake and big tyres for such antics but the bottom bracket’s a bit low and I’m in favour of 26 inch wheels.

Enter Surly’s Karate Monkey…

The Karate monkey is crudely an extremely versatile, if slightly overbuilt cro-moly mountain bike frameset in the philosophy of the ’50s road path frames I love so much. The rear drop-outs are of the rear-facing track type but feature a derailleur hanger, therefore allowing the choice of fixed/single speed without the chain tensioning headaches or, equally gears without tears. Alternatively, I might keep an eye out for an old but worthy (read cheap) MTB frameset from the early ’90s which needs refinishing- I’d get a frame builder to cut out the ends and braze in some of the Surly ends before giving it a nice new powder coat/stoved finish.

I’d hitch our son’s trailer bike and he and I would rejoice in the Zen-like nirvana, chasing through the wealth of local forestry, doubtless pursued by my father demanding his workshop back and my wife brandishing divorce papers!

Now, I keep a watchful eye on eBay (a) to ensure my wife hasn’t posted me for sale (b) because I’ve had a tip off there’s a sudden wealth of new, unbranded fixed framesets appearing. From what I can tell they’re pretty minimalist affairs made from equally non-descript cro-moly/7000 series aluminium but look quite interesting and the word is from those who took the plunge they build into good, solid mounts.


Interestingly, some other names are making a comeback. I’ve seen a flurry of Motobecane Messengers- another entry level machine looking and a dead ringer for Fuji’s venerable track SE albeit with rear cable guides and different clothes.