Friday, July 13, 2018

This Just In: Test Bike Revealed!

*UPDATE: Specs, ordering info, etc. now on the Jones site here*

I stand behind my tweet of yesterday in which I expressed this sentiment:
Nevertheless, when it comes to both fun and versatility you'd be hard-pressed to out-awesome a bike with voluminous tires and a wide gear ratio like the one I've been testing:


Which I can now identify as the Jones Plus SWB complete:


Yes, that's right, complete, like right out of the box.  Why is this a big deal?  Well, let's just say you're someone with a bike like this:


You like riding trails, but you also ride to and from the trails.  And while you love the bike you'd also like a variety of hand positions so you can enjoy the to-and-from part as much as the singletrack part.  So you install a Jones Loop Bar and eventually you wind up with this:


Now you love the bike even more, but having basically turned your bike into a Jones you realize that now you want an actual Jones.  After all, you're never going to put a suspension fork on that suspension-corrected bike, and Jones bikes are designed as though bicycle suspension doesn't even exist, which you find tremendously appealing.  However, getting a Jones isn't necessarily a cheap proposition.  Even the least expensive frame and fork is more than a thousand bucks, and you've got to build it up from there.

I think you know where I'm going with this:


Well now you can!  The Jones Plus SWB complete is $1,799 and here's the story:


(Wow, he's really good at riding bikes.)

I've been sold on Jeff Jones's approach to bikes for awhile now, so when told me he was going to offer a complete bike and asked me if I wanted to try it I politely replied "Send it the fuck over here right now."  Pretty soon after, this arrived:


Right away I opened it:


Took out the bike:


And got to work:


The bicycle arrived mostly assembled and what little I had to do was very straightforward, so before long I had a ready-to-ride bicycle on my hands:


Since putting the bike together this past weekend I've gotten three rides in on it, including a couple of forays into the forbidding Trails Behind the Mall:


I'll save any attempt at nuanced evaluation for a later date (with 60-ish miles on the bike so far I'm only just getting to know it), but for now I'll just say I've been enjoying this bike enormously.  It became clear to me early on that I was never going to get along with the saddle and so I've changed it (changing the saddle on a new complete bike is pretty much a given), but other than that all the components seem solid and I'm looking forward to many more rides on it:


I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sorry for my absence but...

...I was off riding a bicycle in Queens:



Trust me, riding bicycles in the middle of a weekday is the very last thing I'd like to do, but being a semi-professional bike blogger is hard work.  See, I've got to ride all my knobby-tired bikes as much as possible so I can get a better perspective on that mystery bike I'm testing:



So is Jones revealing his first recumbent?

I'm not telling!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

This Just In: Ironman Has Rust In Brain

The day has already gotten out from under me like a triathlon bike from beneath its rider, so I'll just take this as an opportunity to share with you the dumbest cycling-related tweet I've seen in awhile:

You'd think that with a sphincter that tight Christopher Brisley's entire anal canal would have exploded in a hail of congealed energy goo years ago.

What a putz.

Also, I should mention that yes, I've seen this:


I know I'm supposed to hate it but I can't be the only one who doesn't think, "Still with the derailleurs?" at least once a day.  Not that I think this is the future of drivetrains necessarily, and I realize that at this point this is just a glorified Lazy Susan, but I for one welcome our new derailleur-less overlords in whatever form they may ultimately take.  Derailleurs were awesome technology like 70 years ago, but I think it's well past time that we moved on.

Of course this is the point where some weenie pipes up and says "What about my Rohloff hub?!?" because the opportunity to do so is exactly why people go out and buy Rohloff hubs.  And yes, I'm sure Rohloff hubs are amazing, but they also weight ten times as much as a freehub, and what happens when you want to switch wheels?

Hey, if someone can engineer a light drivetrain for sporting-type bicycles that doesn't involve a series of pulleys hanging off the back of the bike then good for them.

Finally, how about that Touring of France finish today, huh?

Yes, I've actually been making a half-assed effort to watch the Touring of France.

The Midlife Fredding Crisis continues...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Testing, Testing

As I mentioned yesterday, I've got a new testcycle, and I've just returned from Day 2 of intensive backwoods testing in the wilds of Westchester county where I duly put the bicycle through its paces on the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall:


I'm still waiting for the go-ahead to reveal the make and model of the bicycle, but so far I'm enjoying it greatly.

In the meantime, while we're on the subject of testcycles, I should probably apprise you of the status of the other bikes I'm currently evaluating.  By the way, this is as much for my own benefit as yours, since I've got a lot of bikes on loan and it's getting increasingly difficult to keep them all straight.  Anyway, in addition to the Mystery Bike I've also got the Islabikes Luath 24:


Naturally this bike required a test pilot more diminutive of stature, and so I've engaged my 8 year-old in that capacity.  (Child labor is both free and legal when you're the parent.)  The bike was an immediate hit, and he's taken to it like a Fred to Lycra--although I'm sparing him the indignity of Lycra:


Drop bars certainly aren't for every child but this one seems to have inherited the cursed gene that causes some of us to gravitate to them.  They're very natural to him, and it's heartening to watch him master the various hand positions and learn how to remove and replace his water bottle while riding.  Also, if you're grooming a juvenile Fred or Frederica, here's one bit of advice: keep a safe distance.  As a parent I prefer to ride behind my child so I can keep an eye on the situation at all times, but they're completely incapable of taking your presence into account when braking.  (Or at least this one is.)

Anyway, $800 is certainly a lot to spend on a kid's bike--unless you're sure they've inherited the gene, in which case you'll find a way to justify it, and I don't see how you'd find a much better 24" bike than this one.  Single ring, integrated shifter, cantis...basically it's the all-around bike you'd want for yourself, only smaller.

Moving on, I have of course also been testing the Renovo Aerowood since last November:


As I explained recently, I've come to love this bike.  As I've also mentioned on many, many occasions, the bike needs a damn water bottle on the downtube.  In fact, just this past weekend I partook in a race in Central Park.  In something like 20 years of park racing I've never dropped a water bottle, but guess what I managed to do on the second lap of this particular race?  Not only that, but the bottle kind of danced around between the seat- and chainstays while the spokes batted at it, and now the rear wheel has a blip in it.  Nevertheless, I did manage to finish the race, albeit parched and with my mouth nearly glued shut as I had nothing to wash down my energy gel.

Other than that, it rides like an absolute dream.

Then of course there's the 1950 (or 1957 according to one commenter) Drysdale from Classic Cycle:


I have been dying to get fully wooled up and take this thing out for a proper ride, but as of yet I have not made the time to do so.  The period between the end of school and the start of camp is a busy one for a parent, but now that camp has started this ride will happen very soon.  (I'm thinking a little jaunt to Stone Barns for an artisanal lunch would be perfect.)  I also plan to ride it to the site of the old Drysdale workshop, which I believe was in Hell's Kitchen or something.

Of course what I'd really like to do is try to race on the thing, but frankly I don't know if I've got big enough testcycles to try it.

So for now I think that about covers it.  (Note I'm not including bikes like Ol' Piney, which started life as a testcycle and then got absorbed into my permanent collection, or the Brompton, which they'll get back over my dead body.)  As someone who loves bikes I probably have no business testing them since unless the bike's a true piece of shit (like the Base Urban, what a piece of crap) I basically just enjoy the hell out of all of them, but I'm not gonna let that stop me.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Who Are You Calling A Litist?

Wow, I have so much exciting stuff to share I don't know where to begin!

Okay, fine, let's begin with my latest Outside column:


Which is like super topical now thanks to this tweet:

I'm surprised Twitter's algorithms didn't auto-reply with a GIF of someone eagerly eating popcorn after that one, because whoa.

Anyway, I highly recommend perusing the thread, because what's more ironic than a smug celebrity bike activist from Scandinavia calling out other people for their white privile(d)ge?

And yes, this is totally white privilege in action:


In more exciting news, I've taken delivery of a brand new testcycle!


Alas, I can't yet reveal the identity of the testcycle, but I can tell you the following:

  • It will be reasonably priced;
  • It is not made of wood.
Rest assured that I'll share all the details as soon as I have permission to do so, and that in the meantime I'll be using the bicycle extensively because this is the kind of bicycle you want to use extensively.

Finally, this past weekend I wound up in Brooklyn and came across a sign that said "free kayaking:"


I hadn't even gotten past the word "free" (is there a sweeter assembly of letters in the English language?) when next thing I knew my progeny and I were adrift in the fetid brine of New York Harbor:


It was all rather delightful.

Kayaks truly are the Fixies of the Sea.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Shoal-ly You Jest

Is there a scarier sign than this?


I haven't been so spooked by signage since the Great Coyote Scare of 2018:


Fortunately I've been studying up just in case I have to take legal action against anybody in the event I fall victim to a triathlete and/or wild animal attack:


What kid wouldn't want to be a lawyer after looking at that inspirational cover?

Alas, the message it sends is that you can be a lawyer just as long as you're a balding white man...which I guess means I'd better go to law school:


We're partners in the law firm of Fredly and Schmendrick, LLC.

(And don't ask what I'm doing with that book, that's abysmal imaging work even by the lowly standards of this blog.)

I am pleased to report that this morning's ride was blissfully triathlete- and coyote-free:


And the Milwaukee continues to serve me exceedingly well on my mixed-terrain rambles:


If you're wondering #whatpressureyourunning, I went with 199psi on the rear and 2psi on the front, and it was perfection.  Sheer perfection.  

Finally, as we move into July 4th, let's take a moment to meditate on the urgent need to heal our increasingly fraught relationship with our neighbors to the north:

Yes, shoaling remains the subject of much discourse, and I daresay it's the most pressing issue of our time:



Eben Weiss concludes by saying “I daresay one of Canada's trademark apologies is in order.” He is right. And while Canadians may be boycotting American ketchup, bourbon and “preserved meat of bovine, other than in cans or glass jars”, in response to the Trump Tariffs, we will never boycott the Bike Snob. As a Canadian, I unreservedly say:

Sorry.

I was duly moved by this apology, though what most American's don't know is that in Canada the apology doesn't really count unless it's also issued in French.  That's how they fool us Americans--it's basically the same as crossing your fingers behind your back.  Also, I'm afraid to say I've been forced to impose a tariff on this blog, which means if you're reading it north of the border you're going to have to pay a 50% premium on the current retail price of zero dollars.

The bike culture trade wars will destroy us all.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Thrills, Spills, and Grills

The Fourth of July is coming, and you know what that means:

Civil War, baby!

Oh, and also grilling:
My first thought upon seeing the Knister Grill was that it was a disaster in the making, and that the rider would receive a face full of hot ash on the first section of pavĂ©.  However, I'll be damned if the inventor didn't think of everything:


Plus, it conforms to German safety standards:


I have no idea what German safety standards are, but it sounds impressive.

And who would think to defy this warning?

But while it may live up to German safety standards, there's no way it could live up to American eating standards:


Food for 10 people?  On that?!?

That's like a snack for one, at best.

This is how we like to do it:


In other news, Chris Froome, the world's most athletic asthmatic, will get to race in the Tour de France, which is a popular annual stage race:


Although Froome’s sample was reported to contain a concentration of salbutamol in excess of 1000ng/ml, the UCI said it had closed the case based on Wada advice pertaining to permitted use.

“The UCI has considered all the relevant evidence in detail (in consultation with its own experts and experts from Wada),” read the statement. “On 28 June 2018, Wada informed the UCI that it would accept, based on the specific facts of the case, that Mr Froome’s sample results do not constitute an AAF.

“In light of Wada’s unparalleled access to information and authorship of the salbutamol regime, the UCI has decided, based on Wada’s position, to close the proceedings against Mr Froome.

A decision resulting in much wringing of hands:

Though as far as I'm concerned, in 2018, it's hard to muster up much more than a "whatevs" in response to this news.  Pick any context--cycling, sport in general, the current political climate--and Team Sky's occasional forays outside the margin in pursuit of marginal gains hardly register.  Anyway, going for the Giro-Tour double is basically an admission of guilt anyway, so we might as well just sit back and let him go for it.

It's like playing with kids: they always bend the rules, but it's easier to just let them win than to endure all the whining when you try to call them on it.

Finally, in Brooklyn, fishing is the new fixie, or something:


To test his lures, Mr. Wool uses his bathtub and then goes to the East River, which, he said, has only about a foot of visibility. His favorite spot is a 10-minute bike ride from his apartment. His bike is black, has ape hanger bars, green pedals and a milk crate attached to the back that carries his tackle box and rods. It’s the hipster equivalent of a fishermen’s pickup truck.

As for me, I've bypassed the whole artisanal lure thing and now just go spear fishing in the East River:


It's a zen thing, you wouldn't understand.