The Ruby is a pre-war bike from The Ruby Cycle Works, A small local bike shop (now closed) in Rangiora, New Zealand. It was probably built by Owen Alfred, long time proprietor of The Ruby Cycle Works. I took my first bike to The Ruby to be fixed my Mr Alfred.

It was owned by a gentleman from an even smaller town who used to ride it forty odd kilometres of gravel roads to the nearest city.

The laid back angles and fixed gear are typical of Australasian bikes of the pre-war era, which were designed to travel over indifferent roads for work or leisure (see Jim Fitzpatrick's Bicycles and The Bush for more detail).

I got the machine as a (rusty) frame only, and fitted it out with parts from my bicycle shed.

The cranks and pedals are anachronistic, being 70s era Raleigh cranks and Lyotard pedals. I have some Williams 7" cranks and Chater-Lea pedals which will be much nicer, but they need plating.

Speaking of which, I chromed rather than nickelled the bars and stem mainly because other important parts (hubs and seat-pin) where chromed and in good condition. Thus The Ruby appears as a mid-30s machine. I like the colour of the frame, but wish I'd painted the rims a maroon red rather than the bright red. With the cream tyres and red rims it looks a bit too tarty. Shane Price did the lettering and striping, which looks great.

It handles gravel with ease, but isn't exactly nimble. Surly step aside, this is a REAL steamroller! Those guys were tough back then!

I built it up to ride gravel and wet days (as you can see from the pics). I wanted something that didn't have a fragile original finish; I tend to wince now when I ride the Jones Special (7/05 2,170) on gravel. Once an original finish is gone, it can't be redone!

Hope you've enjoyed a fixxie from back in the day.

Michael Toohey.