28 November 2012

Another Blast From My Past: A KHS Aero Track Bike

Here is one of the wildest bikes I've ever owned:

If you've been cycling for 15 years or more, or if you live in a city with a lot of messengers or hipsters, you've probably seen this bike:  the KHS Aero Track bike.

Mine came in the shade of orange, and with the translucent blue panels, you see in this photo.  The frame was built from True Temper Cro-Mo steel.  Most of the components were basic, entry-level stuff from Taiwan, with one exception:  the Sugino 75 track crank.  Had I known better, I would have taken the crank off before I sold the bike!  

(The crank was nice, but it was bolted on to a cheap bottom bracket and, in turn, a cheap chainring was bolted on to it.)

The model you see in the photo is from 1999.  I got mine late that year, and rode it for about three years.  Mainly, I took it on training rides in Prospect Park, which was just up the street from where I was living at the time.  I took a few rides on the street with it--without brakes.  I was in really good shape at that time, but I was going through a kind of midlife crisis that would end when I began my gender transition.  In other words, I was going through one last "macho" phase of my life and I'd convinced myself that only sissies rode fixed-gear bikes with brakes.

But I digress.  My KHS might have been the most responsive bike I ever had.  When you look at the geometry, you can only wonder how it could not be so.  On the other hand, in riding it, I'd feel bumps and cracks I couldn't see in the road.  And, in addition to being harsh, it had that "dead", non-resilient feel a lot of oversized aluminum bikes have.

Still, I had some fun rides on that bike.  The reason I sold it, ultimately, is that it never fit.  It seemed that the Aero was offered in three or four sizes that did not correspond in any way to the proportions of a human body.  And there were large gaps between the sizes.  

A couple of years before my bike was made, KHS made the same model with a curved seat tube that made the rear chainstays and wheelbase shorter.  I never rode it.  But I knew other riders who did; one told me it was more comfortable (!) while another said he liked the response of it.  Chacun a son gout.

In addition to the ride qualities I've mentioned, and its distinctive looks, I will remember my KHS Aero for another reason:  It was one of the last bikes I had in my life as a guy named Nick.