Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fixedgeargallery...of the sublimely ridiculous.

One of my favorite things about fixedgeargallery is the sheer variety of bicycles and defects. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for quirks and inconcistencies to reveal themselves, and sometimes the moment I click my mouse I'm nearly thrown from my chair as though I've triggered an ejector seat. In this batch, there's a little from column A, and a little from column B:

This bike has got to be one of the ugliest things I've seen in awhile, bicycle or otherwise. The red, the bubblegum pink, the toptube pad...this is more ill-conceived than a sports bar in Williamsburg. The only possible justification for this bicycle existing would be if the owner is a professional clown who rides it on the job while honking one of those old-timey horns. Barring this, it's a disaster.

Almost subtle in comparison is this rough beast from Chicago, slouching towards Wicker Park to be born. This bike is the equivalent of that guy who always wears a really annoying hat, or an ascot, regardless of the weather. Yes, we all notice you, don't worry--you can stop looking for a pink saddle. And why do I get the feeling somebody's saving up for a white paint job?

This is one of those bikes that took awhile to start annoying me. The first thing I noticed was the top tube pad, which makes the bike look like it's wearing a turtleneck. Putting a top-tube pad on a bike is like putting a sweater on a dog. Then there's the brown color scheme. It's not as bad as the pink, but in its own way it's just as precious. What's with all the color coordinating on fixies? They're bikes, not Barbie dolls. Also, this thing has chain tensioners on horizontal dropouts. Chain tensioners are borderline pointless in the real world even on track fork-ends. On a conversion with horizontal dropouts they're just awkward, sticking out at an angle like exhaust pipes on a Kawasaki. And what's with the rental car? Is that the rider's or his parents'? Either way something's just not right about posing your fixed gear with a motor vehichle.

If this bike isn't "studied chic" I don't know what is. This is a by-the-numbers trendy build. This bicycle says, "The guy who rides me spends way too much time picking out his outfit in the morning." I imagine if you go up that walkway and into that house, and then proceed to the bedroom closet, you'll find a closet full of barely-worn Nike Dunks. Of course, color coordination is present in the purple chain, hubs, and grips. (You know, people who actually ride change their chains and grips too often to make sure they match.) I don't know what that top tube pad is made of, but it looks like either crushed velvet or snakeskin. This bike looks like it's congratulating itself for getting into a really trendy bar last night. How long before he ditches that IRO frame for something NJS?


Anonymous said...

Today I started a new game, I look on FGG first and try to guess which posts I will see on your site next. This one was easy... I'm surprised I didn't see this one... I don't think it's very smart to have a front brake that does not release on it's own.

Anonymous said...

the chicago bike actually lives about a block from me, i see him all the time.

Pink is my favorite color, and so I actually kinda dig the bike =)

Grey said...

good stuff. keep it up.

Art said...

Gotta love the top tube protector and bullhorns combo on that Bianchi. It's like riding around on a pair of clinchers with a tubular folded up under the saddle.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous #1,

I like that game. Just so you have the inside track, I'll tell you that once a bike reaches a certain level of weirdness or absurdity I just leave it alone.

Thanks all for the man's cotton candy dream is another man's fiberglass insulation nightmare.

Anonymous said...

The "studied chic" bike took the guy three (count 'em 3!) MONTHS to build! I have totally overhauled complete cars in less time - engine, transmission, interior and a paint job!

nikcee said...

first of all i have to say i love your posts... you make some very valid and sharp points...

but i do have a couple of retorts to your FG remarks...

chain tensioners are actually really useful for centering and holding rear wheels in place. yes, it's pretty easy to centre your wheel after putting it back in your dropouts and hopefully you can summon the strength to tighten your track nuts correctly (kids, if you arent running track nuts on your rear wheel please purchase these immediately, run... don't walk), but running one on your drive side makes the micro adjustments required while 'walking' your wheel back to get a good chain tension many many times easier.
of course, if you like dropping your chain (too loose), or wrecking your drivetrain (too tight) go for it, or even running your wheel off-centre go for it... and based on some of the bikes i see on FGG or the streets people seem to be unaware of these issues.

street skidding also seems to create wheel slip far more easily than velodrome riding (i know its CRAZY! i ride both) so having the tensioner on there helps reduce this.

but to be fair making jibes about 'fashion builds' on FGs is a bit harsh given the colour schemes that road racing has given the cycling world. watch a PRO peloton go by and you need sunglasses to be able to look at half of the team kits, and we are talking about a form of cycling that positively celebrates something i've always thought to be amazing impractical, that being white bar tape. the work that must go into keeping that clean and shiny for your weekly group rides must be crazy.

but back to this post... i cant believe you missed the fact that the brown bike appears to be running a brake on an unmachined rim. mix that with some nicely coloured brake pads and you get a lovely mark on those pretty rims. ooops!

Chris Mayhew said...

No, I'll tell you what's sweet about the Fagin, besides the name. Heh.

Dude has a light mounted on his seattube. Maybe he has an irrational fear of being hit from behind by a recument? Seriously, who's going to see that light?

Water bottle on the seattube? Really? Just cut to the chase and use the mortar launchers tri geeks use.

The the front brake/right hand? Seriously, you don't race motorcycles and you didn't stumble on something we haven't learned about bikes in the last 100 years.

Lastly, dude cleaned his saddle, but only about half way. Do it or don't. Don't half ass it and then quit. It's not like it's one of Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" or something. Sack up.

Josh said...

My favorite thing? you're going to crash the FGG website w/ links. THAT's my favorite.

Dan said...

Did anyone else notice the brake lever on the first bike is clamped on top of the grip? Good lord.

john said...

Re bike #4: You've got to love it when the hubs cost more than the frame.

Anonymous said...

...or the fact that #1 is showing about 3" of steerer. First it's above, then it's below....where's it gonna be next?!

Kerry said...

Seriously, someone here HAD to have posted these as a joke right?

I love the last one..."my mechanic friend who built up mostly all of it, I helped some." WTF? Most of WHAT?? Installing the headset or BB that took 10min? Or maybe it was mounting those sweet grips. Don't knock yourself out on that new paintjob either pal, just in case your mechanic buddy finds you another sweet ride.

Jim said...

So many of your judgments depend on the rider/owner trying to pull it off. I know a messenger who rocks an all-pink fixie and it just seems to fit his personality. On the other hand I saw this 40-ish professional with one of those messenger bags that takes a two piece suit commuting on a pink/white combo, and it was chilling. I remember thinking I hoped that the doc or lawyer was heading into work to euthanize some sick people or maybe screw some old folks out of their retirement, since it would be less embarrassing for him than riding that bike.

And as for you, Mayhew... Yeah, that bike probably belongs to the kind of half-@55ed guy who would go to training camp without an espresso maker. A *real* worthless POS.

big jonny said...

I've just got to chime in on the apparent difficulty and requisite years of training involved with building a fixed gear bike these days. Was it so different in the late nineties when BGR and I just took parts off and installed one simple cog & lock ring? Seriously. It’s a twelve pack and maybe an hour after dinner fucking around in the garage. Game. Set. Match.

Kerry nailed with the “mechanic friend” comment. What the fuck did he have to do, push in a chain pin? Thread in the pedals? I’m pretty damn sure he didn’t face the head tube before pressing in the cups, that might require a “mechanic friend”. And he might as well have done it with a piece of 2x4 and a hammer for all the good “steering” is going to do. He doesn’t have any brakes!

I can hear it already, dude, I don’t need brakes, dude, you have to be able to skid. Yeah. When I adjust a brake, there is a whole lot of fun stuff we call “modulation” in between full speed and skid.

Skids are for kids.

Jesus. I’ve got four fixies the garage right now. One I’m putting gears back on, another is going to single speed and the last two I might as well saw in half.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Big Jonny,

I think these new fixie riders are watching too much "Biker Build-Off." Are they fabricating their own frames and machining their own components? Are they using lathes and mills?

Setting a brake up properly is probably the most "challenging" thing about building a fixie. Maybe that's why they're leaving them off.

Don't dismantle all your fixed-gears. Keep one and ride it--we need some people with sense out there to set an example. Otherwise the trendies have already won.


thump said...

alright, I can't resist: The Faggin FG is fabulous, and not just because my first race bike was a Faggin, which I raced until I crashed and bent it. But the attention to detail is spectacular. My Faggin, circa 1988, came with that exact same Vetta saddle! Ahh, the nostalgia!

And, it took 3 months to build up one or some of these bikes? How does that happen? And you need to work "with a mechanic"? Maybe "the mechanic" is the guy with grease for the threads of your pedals. Or, maybe "the mechanic" is the only person in town with access to an unlimited supply of cotter pins.

Why not go all the way and build one of these things up with a set of Wald, golden anniversary cranks? At least that would be funny.

Anonymous said...

I think you spend too much time being cynical and not enough time riding.

Leave your keyboard alone son, your bike's getting dusty.

Anonymous said...

The pink rimmed gray Bianchi is mine, by the way. I am not saving up for a white paint job. If anything, I'd try to just repair the chips in the paint that I already have. I enjoy the gray color.

I am also by no means a Wicker Park kid. I don't have an Ascot, I don't have a trendy hair cut, and I work in a receiving area. I just enjoy the fun colors.

And I agree with some of the other posters. You should get out and bike more. You post a whole lot. By this point, I am sure you have a layer of dust on your bike. The same can't be said for me. 20-30 miles a day, every day, rain or shine. Maybe you should get off your ass more and ride.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't seize on this gem from Wicker Park Man's bike description:

This is my daily rider. And I love it/her to pieces.

That explains all the pink. Sends chills down my spine.

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Yes, we all notice you, don't worry--you can stop looking for a pink saddle.

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