Desert Island, Desert Island Bike

02.8.2006 | 4:02 pm

Is there a more hackneyed conversation starter in the world than, “If you could bring only one _______________ to a desert island, what would it be?”

The answer to that question is, of course, “no.”

But I’m going to ask it anyway.

If you could bring only one bike to a desert island, what would it be?


First, the Island

If I’m going to a desert island, I get to stipulate the island’s terrain. So I pick an island that is mountainous. It is forested on the south side, while it is truly desert-like on the north side, with lots of sandstone.

Deer and goats live on this island, and they have been busy for centuries walking the same routes. Insta-trails! Also, for some reason, the goats like to frequently walk the perimeter of the island, which is much less technical and rolls pleasantly.

The daily high temperature is 68. The daily low is 62.

It rains for half an hour each day, enough to keep the trails from getting dusty.


Now, the Bike

There’s no bike shop on the desert island — for some reason, while it is the absolutely most perfect place in the world to bike, nobody rides there — so I want a bike that is super-reliable. Let’s make it a singlespeed. In fact, let’s make it a fixed gear. And I want to be able to do both technical mountain biking, and spinning.

So let’s make it a cross-style bike, with extra clearance for big fat mountain bike tires (while there are no bike shops on the island, I do get to bring as many kinds of tires as I like, and the island has the magical property of bikes never getting flats or wearing out their tires. Or — what the heck — of needing chain lube) when I want them.

The material? Titanium. Doesn’t corrode. Bombproof when well-made.

Oh, and it’s set up for panniers, so I can go collect coconuts and go on goat-hunting expeditions and stuff.

Basically, this is the bike Matt Chester’s going to build for me someday. Now all I need is to find the island.

On this bike, on this island, my riding style would have to change. I’d gain all kinds of new skills as I learned to ride technical terrain on a fixed-gear bike. I’d become stronger as I climbed on a singlespeed. I’d generate massive endurance as I rode my perimeter course (which is exactly 100 miles long).


The Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway: Your Turn

What’s your island? What’s your bike? You saw these questions coming a mile off, didn’t you?


Today’s weight: Today I weigh 170.8 pounds, meaning I need to lose 1.6 pounds in the next 48 hours, or give up the jackpot.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 4:09 pm

    Don’t you mean dessert island?  Cause if you don’t, I do.  Just think, no goat hunting, or coconut gathering.  Instead, coconut cream pie,  chocolate cake, and well you get the picture.  Bike?  What would I need THAT for?  I’m going to get fat, fat, fat on my dessert island.  but if I have to have one, it’s a townie with big, fat, solid core tires so I don’t have to change flats.  And the island is flat, too. 
    By the way, is the island deserted desert?  I’m just askin’.

  2. Comment by Jsun | 02.8.2006 | 4:46 pm

    Well if’n we are just making up the rules I would like my desert island to be Australia, for obvious reasons.  But if you mean deserted island, the terrain would have expansive beaches, and packed clay(cruisers).  There would have to be some mountains with lucscious green, shady areas and snow packed peaks (downhills). 
    My bike choice, for best all around usage might be the Surly Pugsley ( so I could ride it on the beach and through the outback, or snow.  The hills and trails would be tougher, but I won’t have anything else to do but build up them muscles and handling skills while forraging for food (that’d suck, I still want to pick Australia).
    I might even bring along a volleyball for company.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 5:38 pm

    Can I bring a paddleboat to get off the freakin’ island?

  4. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 6:35 pm

    i think the bike is obvious. who wouldn’t want a big wheel? i used to rock my neighborhood on those things.


  5. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 7:13 pm

    My island is Fuji, because the native girls are hott (ever seen the Fujian umbrella girls at a UCI Pro Tour race?), they have a good rugby team, and that’s where the bikes come from.  Or am I confusing Fuji with Fiji?  I can never keep the two straight. 
    I’d have to go with the Surly 1×1, set up with a flip-flop hub, with the Tuggnut chain tensioner/beer bottle opener on it.  Because I’d hate to interrupt my romps with the Fujian native girls, to have to run out to the garage to open another beer or to screw around trying to tighten my chain by eyeballing it, loosening the track nuts and "walking" the axle back.  And the flip flop hub is needed because if you’re going to live the laid back life on a nice little island somewhere, you might as well coast once in a while.
    The second choice would be England/Scotland/Wales, and a Moots Vamoots.  Because if you have to be stuck on an island, you might as well be stuck on one with good beer, excellent sausages, and plenty of good roads for riding. 
    Third choice is Australia, and a Rivendell.  Oz would be the first choice ordinarily, but BIG Mike is there, and sooner or later I’d bump into him in a ditch as we both vomited halfway up the side of some godforsaken hill, it’d degenerate into a combination hammerfest/celebration of how greatand skinny we both never were, and frankly, it’d be fun and busy enough that it couldn’t properly fit into the "stranded on an island" fantasy. 

  6. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 7:15 pm

    I already live on the best mountain biking island.  If it suddenly became deserted, I would be able to ride for a very long time before I ran out of bike shops to graze from.  I wouldn’t need to choose one bike, but could try all sorts before deciding my Marin was the right one after all.
    My wife rang me this afternoon to tell me there was a parcel on the back step when she got home from work.  It was my Banjo Brothers Messenger bag.  It is brilliant.  It will get a proper try out tomorrow.   Thanks again.
    Sole Banjo man in the UK

  7. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 7:20 pm

    Hey Al almost agrees with me.  All you Jack Mormons reading, reafirm
    your faith & get yourselves on a mission to the Chorley tabernacle.  I’ll
    take you riding in the beautiful north west.

  8. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 7:26 pm

    ONE bike?  The Castlecraft SeaCycle would help bring the fish in and maybe get my ass home.
    Doesn’t count as a bike?  For a desert island that has blackberry bushes, then, I’d pick a wooden hobby-horse velocipede with those nifty no-flats wooden wheels.  Can repair it with rawhide and tree branches.  And no latex all over myself from blown tires.

  9. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 7:35 pm

    Well I’ve just read on Rocky’s blog that these mormon missionaries have to pay for it themselves.  You’re still welcome to come over and ride

  10. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 7:51 pm

    Yo, FatCyclist, when are you going to quit MSN Spaces and get your own page? Your current set-up takes 15 seconds to load and crashes the living daylights out of Firefox. My comments were going to be far and away the funniest here, too… Maybe Microsoft is paying you to stay here, but honestly, unless they’re putting your kids through college, it’s just not worth it. It looks like you’ve bought (it redirects to here), so all you’d need to do is get a cheap webhost (like $20/year) and then build a new page using WordPress or Blogger. There’s probably even a painless way to export all your old posts to it. Please. It would make your blog a <i>much</i> more pleasant read.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 8:13 pm

    lose 1.6 lbs by friday….just use some of those sprinkle diet things your shilling for…..sheesh wtf

  12. Comment by Unknown | 02.8.2006 | 8:21 pm

    just to be contrarian – (stupid wednesdays)

    my island would be sisyphus-ian in nature. 
    climb to the top of the hill and you’re back at the bottom.
    my bike would be a 80 lb. k-marche special ( we are in hades after all)
    oh and, even though i only know him through this blog, dug would be there lobbing caustic barbs at me the whole way

  13. Comment by craig | 02.8.2006 | 9:27 pm

    I would be riding a IF TI 29er singlespeed frame.  Though, I would be running the new Ti/carbon/Rolhoff Speedhub.  (not invented yet, it weighs the same as a regular hub).  I would have two wheelsets.  One with big nasty looking knobbies for all the root and ledge infested singletrack that my island is famous for, and one with slicks for cruising the strip at the Womens only Surf Camp I have set up on the east side of the island, you know, near the world class point break.   Gotta pay the mortgage somehow.   

  14. Comment by tayfuryagci | 02.8.2006 | 9:29 pm

    an Aegean island (on the southern side) and a Corratec Superbow Ti set up as a singlespeed. yeah that’d be cool.

  15. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 02.8.2006 | 9:50 pm

    Rocky – What’s a skinny guy on a mountain bike doing fantasising about a FLAT island?
    Al – I think Fuji is in Japan and Fiji is in your dreams.
    Mine would be a volcano.  Of course it’s long since extinct and has weathered perfectly smooth.  In fact the crater looks remarkably similar to a velodrome, and the slopes leading up to this area are a pedestrian 3-4% gradient, comfortable for a trackie yet still giving a good cardio workout.  Outside the crater would be a meandering coastal road with a set of traffic lights every couple of miles that were permanently red as you approach them.  They will turn green when my heart rate monitor drops to 120.  This allows for ideal interval training.  My little grass hut would be shared with the masseuse, I’m not sure whether it’s Angelina Jolie or Jessica Alba.  I guess it doesn’t matter really because she’s only there for a relaxing leg rub after a vigorous ride.

  16. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 02.8.2006 | 10:33 pm

    Oops, the bike… The beloved DaRoMi track bike.  Of course the palm trees wouldn’t grow coconuts, but 200 gram silk and latex tubulars.  The things that look like bananas are actually CO2 cannisters.  And there’s a wize old gorilla riding a derny endlessly around the velodrome.

  17. Comment by Zed | 02.8.2006 | 10:56 pm

    My island would contain a mountain that mystically morphs into whatever kind of climb I desire on that given day. Some days, singletrack with rocky, rooty steep-move climbs. Other days, long twisty road thousands of feet in the air, switchbacks galore. All of the above lined with trees until you hit a few thousand feet up, and then it would look like the crest of Mont Ventoux where I would be greeted by a mystical, bald elf–let’s call him Pantani, just for kicks–who hands me a golden stopwatch and says, "Not bad, but you’ll need to work on it a little more tomorrow. Try getting out of the saddle a little more often …" Somedays this mystical elf comes along for the ride, taunting and encouraging on the way up. Other days, he waits at the top. This is just getting more twisted as I write, so I’m going to stop here except to say, that I get to descend every route I climb. Of course I go completely insane after only a few weeks of riding these climbs and totally peter out from my lack of nutrition (the native fruit may be high in carbs, but not protein or fat), but those are minor details …

  18. Comment by Braden | 02.9.2006 | 12:24 am

    North Shore style ladders all the way around the island that were you drop  into a cool freshwater pool when you fall….
    50 ways to the top of a big hill/mountain in the middle and 1 jump infested technical downhill trial to the botttom with a huge ramp that throws you into the same fresh water pool.
    Can’t think of a bike that wouldn’t be a rust bucket with falling in the water so much so my island would need crates of bikes to wash dryly on shore every day…

  19. Comment by A Dawn Tinsley | 02.9.2006 | 12:33 am

    I’m picking Bora Bora and I’m not taking a bike because I’ll be swimming in crystal blue lagoons all the time. You can’t ride a bike in a lagoon.

  20. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 02.9.2006 | 1:16 am

    The Island – A high ridge trough the middle that gets just above the treeline.  Has to be mostly sandstone for good traction.  Into the trees would be some long straight downhill stretches next to winding trails so I could take my choice.  Terrain here would be mostly hardpack dirt, with a few rocks and roots thrown in.  Some of the turns on the winding path would be banked (just like a bobsled run, eh?).  Down near sea level would be open fields of low-growing grasses so my dogs (I get to take them too, right?) can run and frolick along side without having to be directly in front of me.  All of this leads down to a narrow sandy beach where I can drop the bike at the edge and then just go drop into the surf for a nice swim with the dogs.
    The bike – a 29" Single Speed Seven Sola Ti mountain rig.  Fixie not a requirement.
    The questions – Oh, yeah.  You telegraphed that one way early.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 02.9.2006 | 1:20 am

    cut-and-pasting comments from a gear head I know…not my opinion, but sounds like good advice.
    Yeah, except he’s not that bright to choose a fixed gear that he have to mountain bike on.  Sure, it would be fun to learn.  But when you have a pannier full of goat meat, it would be really hard jump over every log no matter where you are on your pedal stroke, which would be necessary on a fixy.  What he really wants is a flip-flop rear hub that allows you to switch easily from fixed to single-freewheel by just flipping the rear wheel around.  If hehad a nice big ring in front, he could have a little sprocket fixed in back for the loop, and a big freewheel for the mountain biking (with a better gear ratio for climbing the mountain, and the ability to just coast downthe mountain with his panier full of goat.)The way he’s got it set up, the island better have a really good clinic for knee injuries…

  22. Comment by Donald | 02.9.2006 | 1:59 am

    I would go for a medium sized island, a hill with about 3000 ft of elevation and singletrack winding up one side and stunts going down the other.  It would have trees growing gu and spagetti. Fresh water running all around, and all sorts of game animals. I would have a 6 inch travel titanium bike with a horst link and buried parts all over the island. Did i say Mary-Ann is on the next island over didn’t I?.

  23. Comment by Nanget | 02.9.2006 | 6:02 am

    I already live on the island that some are commenting about, BIG Mike lives here too. So we are already living the dream. However i recall an american tourist (bogucki – his name i think) thought he could ride across western australia "W.A.? It doesn’t look that hard". Australian’s know that W.A. is huge, it is massive and not the kind of thing to ride a bike across. One day after he left another tourist found his bike. 1-2 days after that a t.v. helicopter spotted him wandering around in circles. He may or may not have been deported immediately on the grounds of being an idiot.
    I would like to see how riding would go on that "Lost" island on tv. You’d need a mountain bike of some type, made from strong steel. A gun holster (and gun) to fight off monsters would be good. It would have a camo paint job so you could hide it from the other survivors. And a couple of big water bottles. Actually i think the bottles would be the most useful thing, ditch the rest.  

  24. Comment by Bryn | 02.9.2006 | 6:32 am

    What’s My Island?

    I live on 3 islands. I live in Australia (an island), i live in a
    suburb called Hope Island (an island) and in that suburb i live on a
    street which is called G********
     Island (an island), (like im going to give out my full address, i
    dont want all my fans knowing). Therefore Fatty, i dont have 1 island,
    i have 3, lucky me!

    What’s My Bike?
    I currently have 2 bikes, one been a Giant TCR road bike, which i love
    dearly and the other been a Steel Framed Australian Made average(ish)
    mountain bike, u wouldn’t know the name, so why mention it. These bikes
    are great for my island. One is great for sprinting down the street
    with and the other is great for riding around parks and over the
    hills/jumps out the back.

    I guess i can say i love my island, but not as much as my bikes!

  25. Comment by Unknown | 02.9.2006 | 7:54 am

    You do know how to dream, don’t you! Love your island!
    I guess Cosmo hasn’t actually read your blog… LOLOLOL!! Hasn’t a clue what you do for a living…
    I think perhaps he or she needs to upgrade his/her browser and/or system and/or get a new server. All he or she would need to do is….. blah, blah, blah…

  26. Comment by Unknown | 02.9.2006 | 12:12 pm

    My island was constructed in the South Atlantic by the extra terrestrial race credited with the construction the pyramids of Giza and kick-starting such advanced ancient civilizations as the Incas and Mayans. For them, it served as a runway for their colossal spacecraft, but today it is visited only by a publicity-shy collective of super-intelligent highway surface engineers who use the island as a test bed to further their quest for the perfect road surface. They do this at night.
    The island is 25 miles long and 30 yards wide.
    At one end of the island lives a small community descended from two aliens that were left behind when their comrades departed Earth for the last time. Their staple diet is hot dogs – it is all that they can eat.
    At the other end of the island is a hot dog factory. The aliens have recruited a legion of truck drivers to satisfy their huge appetite for the hot dog, who spend their days driving from one end of the island to the other at terrifying speed, though never once losing control of their vehicles or straying from a perfectly straight path.
    My bike is not visible to the naked eye. It is a product of the world’s finest nano-technology lab, and though it boasts conventional frame geometries, its tubes have the tensile strength of spider’s silk the thickness of a waitress’s arm. When I ride it, the frontal area I present to the wind is smaller than the surface area of a bottle top.
    On the island I hold time trials.
    Dope Control (Seeking a sub-hour ‘25′ this year)

  27. Comment by Unknown | 02.9.2006 | 1:34 pm

    Dope Control – how long you been livin’ on Manhattan?  You might want to recount the number of aliens in NYC – I think there’s more than two.  Having ridden in NYC, I can understand why you think your bike is invisible – no driver ever seemed to see me, and I’m 6′0" and 278.  And how ’bout them Hebrew National Franks?  Good think you got them or the natives’d starve.  (Though I think they’re made in Bensonhurst, not uptown, but who’s counting, right?) 

  28. Comment by Unknown | 02.9.2006 | 3:52 pm

    Just a quick response to MuMo and then I’ll give my island description.
    Fatty’s blog _does_ take a long time to come up in either Firefox or Safari. It’s at least formatted correctly in Firefox. In Safari, the right hand text in the blog is hidden behind the right hand side table element (the column with the Banjo Brothers ad at the top). And "upgrading" to something other than Firefox or Safari may not be possible if nathanv is on a Mac – MS doesn’t support the Mac version of Explorer anyway. What’s the problem with the HTML? My guess is it’s got some MS Explorer specific code that Firefox has created workarounds for that Safari doesn’t have. So, yes, it can be annoying for some of us.
    Now where’s my island? Just south aways from me. Well, a few hours flight. It’s not deserted, but it’s still darn nice. Let’s all head to Jamaica mon. If we could get rid of the crazy drivers, we could ride beautiful roads all around the island, hit some trails in the afternoon, and then eat jerk chicken/pork on the beach for dinner as the sun goes down. Barring that, I’d suggest Elba. Beautiful roads, nice beaches, and great food. A nice ride up to Napoleon’s Chair (where he looked across to his homeland), then down a wonderful descent and then back to the beach for some red wine and pasta (preferably with some squid or octupus in the sauce). Yum. I’d have to have a road and mountain bike on both islands, so I guess I’m violating the precepts of the game here, but it’s my fantasy so :-P!

  29. Comment by Zed | 02.9.2006 | 4:10 pm

    Hey Don C., if you’re referring to Mary-Ann of Gilligan’s Island fame, she actually lives in the next valley over from me–in Idaho. Maybe she’ll get trapped on some island while filming for her next ‘Spud Fest’ movie festival.


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