Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LSD Fixed Gear Bicycle

EDIT: In the following months after writing the below post, my enchantment with LSD has turned to a cold reality. I have been trying to beat around the bush and not make any enemies, but I guess I should just come out and say that unless you are looking for a biking community, you should bypass LSD completely. They are expensive, slow, and as mechanics they are moderately to dangerously incompetent. We have had so many problems with them and it is heartbreaking since they had so much potential.



Before coming to Korea, I searched around to see if Seoul had a fixed gear scene. I came across a bike shop called LSD ( Through the magic of google translate, I gathered that they act as a hub for bike events and rides. I tried finding their shop a few times with no luck, but then finally figured out that they were in a basement shop with the staircase in sort of an alley.

Within five minutes of being there, I had a beer in my hand (a Hoegaarden) and knew that I had found a new home. It is a decent sized shop (for Seoul standards) and has lots of parts, frames, wheels, etc. The language barrier is definitely present, but they had heard of bike polo and definitely want to learn. I borrowed someone's bike and we rode around in the alley doing some tricks - it has been 21 long days away from my bike.

A shot of some of the swag in their shop - lots of Roundeneers, Michle, a few pieces of Phill Wood, some Aerospokes, and boxes and boxes of all colors of glittery cable housing. I didn't see a single break or deurrailer in the place, so I'm not sure what the cable housing was about.

A full line up of Park Tools. They seemed open to letting people use their tools.

I spent a few hours there and a steady stream of people came in and out to say hello or buy parts - not bad for being in the middle of winter, coming up on a large holiday (the Lunar New Year) and in the middle of the afternoon. One person came in who had pretty good English - we were making small talk and he asked if it was hard for me to get into the country, which it had not been. He then asked if I had ever been to the US... I was a bit confused and told him I was from the US. Apparently, when I had told people that I was from Portland, they had heard Poland!

After a while, I asked where a bathroom was and was lead to a storage area and pointed towards a door. I walked through and found myself in a very short stairwell that led nowhere, filled with some random pieces of wood and a few boxes.

Squat toilets are not unheard of here, so I began searching for one, but couldn't find anything. After a few minutes of thinking, I figured that when I asked for a bathroom, it might have been heard as backroom. Cognitively, it made no sense whatsoever, but I decided to go back and ask again. Turns out that one of the walls was actually a sliding door to a regular bathroom... go figure.

There is an absolutely beautiful De Rosa frame at the shop - usually I'm not a fan of bright colors - I prefer grays or browns or blacks - but this green De Rosa calls to me.

I was snapping photos of the place when someone asked for my camera and called everyone around for a group photo.

LSD does rides on Fridays or Saturdays, with monthly events, etc. I'm looking forward to getting back on the saddle (they offered to loan me a bike) and learning the streets of Seoul! I don't know how easy it will be to find ski poles, but all the other parts for mallets are readily available. I think I'll start working on that while talking people up for polo.



youngrog said...

hello, when I visted LSD,I heared about you.
there are staff who can speak english very well in LSD.
but, he went ski-trip.
he will come back, soon.
When you happen to be around LSD again, be sure and look us up.

PS : May I link your homepage at LSDbikes's homepage?
your homepage has very nice and unique infomation.
korean fixed gear riders may like your homepage very well :)

Sasha Friedman said...

Hi Youngrog - good to hear from another Seoul fixie rider! I was very impressed with LSD - friendly shop and a lot of good bikes. I can't wait to get back on the saddle and start riding... and playing polo.

Feel free to link whatever you want.

haelan said...

hey this is haelan, I heard that u visited LSD, and about polo.
Actually me and my friends are going to make Mallet this sunday, we've find parts for Mallet, finally!
We gettogether at Hongdae area a lot, and ride every Sunday, so hope to see u soon.

Sasha Friedman said...

Haelan - thanks for writing.

That is very exciting that you found materials for mallets - may I ask where you found used ski poles? I have found everything else except for that.

Once I get all the materials together, I hope to have a mallet making party and make quite a few (20?) for everyone to use.

I'm going to be on a ride this Sunday with LSD - maybe I'll see you there.

revphil said...

sasha, i am completly stoked that you have found some bike culture.

well done!

Anonymous said...

So, how much does a frame cost over there in Seoul?
It is probably more expensive than in the states or in Europe, I guess?

Sasha Friedman said...

Frames are quite expensive here - and often shitty - especially if you don't have any contacts and have to go through bike shops. A used, beat up, Cello track frame runs around US$400.

I would strongly recommend bringing your own bike and tools if you are coming to Korea. If you can't, I strongly recommend only using bike shops that have formal mechanic training. I've been handed absolutely unacceptable and unsafe work done on my bike.

I now go to a Trek store for my mechanic work - they either let me use their tools or will do the work for a nominal fee.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply.
Another question.
When you had the chance to meet those LSD folks.
How are these chain rings?
LSD Chainring BCD 130 / 144
Are these in a "good shape"?
Does it make sense to order them from Korea to Germany?

Anonymous said...

I mean, how are the cranks, rims, cog, toe strpas, etc in genral?
Is it good quailty?

sorry for the double post

Sasha Friedman said...

I was trying to beat around the bush and not make any enemies, but I guess I should just come out and say that you should bypass LSD completely. They are expensive, slow, and as mechanics they are moderately to dangerously incompetent. We have had so many problems with them and it is heartbreaking since they had so much potential.

Any and every LSD product is a normal product, like the cranks, with an LSD sticker or decal on them. Looks like the cranks are Pista with "LSD" laser etched on. I don't really understand why they do this.

The fancy paint jobs they do are done with spray paint. After they sent Sara's frame to a machinist that burnt and gouged the frame, we had them "paint" it. (They did not offer to fix it until we asked them to.) They presented us with what looked to be a good paint job, until we got home and I scratched to bare metal with my fingernail.

Do they put their name on good parts? Sure. Is there any reason to buy from them? No.

I buy parts from and have them shipped from the US. It works out to be the same price, a bigger selection and much faster.


Anonymous said...

Man, thanks so much.
I am kinda new in this biz...
yeah I know, swimming with the trend and stuff...
Anyway, in Frankfurt, there seem to be starting a solid fixi szene.

Just got a Koga Miyata frame (I think, it is '79 roadwinner or 80 Racer gents... they look so alike).

Getting a fixi and ride through european cities. Yeah!

double_lees said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
double_lees said...

I'm not sure if you are still in Korea but I have that Green De Rosa frame. I'm going to be leaving korea in May and want to sell my bikes.
1) De Rosa Frame 51cm
2) complete 2008 Bianchi Pista Concept 49 cm with extras.

If you know anyone interested please e-mail me at: jonsvw2000(at)yahoo(dot)com
I even have a thule hardcase.