Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What Will Be the Next Trendy Bike?

Obviously the undisputed trendy bike of the moment is the track bike. However, it's becoming abundantly clear that they are jumping the shark. They've been written up in just about every mainstream news publication, and even your average sedentary middle-aged non-cyclist equates "hipsters" and "those bikes with no brakes."
Certainly with this kind of attention the young and trendy must be scrambling to find a new bike to not ride, and if I were in the bicycle business I'd be racking my brains over what that might be. Here are just a few possible candidates:

Cyclocross Bikes
Cyclocross is becoming more and more popular in the US every year. Not surprising, since it's possibly the coolest form of bicycle racing ever, and one of the few that's even fun for spectators. But will 'cross bikes become hip?

Pros: Cool-looking, fast, versatile, single-speed friendly (Bianchi offers a pre-built singlespeed 'cross bike, so there you go) and offered by major manufacturers and boutique builders alike

Cons: Somewhat practical, which means you might actually have to ride the thing

BMX Bikes
I'm already seeing plenty of 20-somethings riding 20-inch-wheeled BMXs around the trendier neighborhoods, spun out at 7 miles per hour and kneeing themselves in the chins with each pedal stroke. But is this the new black?

Pros: Relatively inexpensive, single-speed, complements the skater/urban aesthetic, completely ill-suited for commuting and urban transportation outside of a two-mile radius

Cons: The embarassment when some 16-year old shows you up in front of your girlfriend

Old Road Bikes
The old road frame with horizontal dropouts has long been the standard for fixed-gear conversion. But inevitably, some fashion victim has got to realize, "Hey, this thing's pretty cool as it is!" before he strips the thing (or pays a shop to do it). And who knows--maybe the people introduced to cycling by the fixed gear fad may actually discover they like to ride and seek out a bike with gears for longer jaunts.

Pros: Appealingly "vintage," can be had cheap, lots of people have the parts left over from their conversions
Cons: Obtaining information and parts can lead you into a strange, creepy, unhip and unappealing world of retro-grouchery and extremely long headtubes

Tall Bikes
These stupid things can be seen being ridden by smelly squatters who do stuff like joust on them.

Pros: Already a fixture of the trendier neighborhoods, aren't these things ripe for mainstream appropriation?
Cons: Even the most determined fad-monger has to admit these things are completely ridiculous (not to mention impossible to get into an apartment)


Fixed gear, no brakes!

Pros: Leaves hands free for juggling
Cons: No NJS unicycles...


big jonny said...

This is my new favorite site.

snot said...

i like my long headtube!

i love this site!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Thanks, guys.

I begrudge no man his long headtube. They're better than long quill stems (or almost vertical threadless stems)...

Anonymous said...

Coaster brake is the new fixed gear.

sumadis said...

vintage bmx is the new white pleather rocker belt.

waddabout 'amsterdam' style 3spd commuters? makin' a comeback with the wallpaper magazine set.

Flavamost said...

Personally, I'm hoping recumbant bikes make a big push for popularity in 2008. There's nothing like long wheelbases, low centers of gravity, long beards, rear view mirrors duct-taped to helmets, and pachuli-smelling ex-hippies clogging up roads and bike paths everywhere.

Flavamost said...

Hey big jonny!

You should include a link to your site too!

-Your fellow yuengling loving friend from philly.

Zoe said...

Thanks to Mr. Jonny for pointing us here to your site! Good ideas, great writing.

Here's my question - where do you draw the line with people riding the urban fixes? For example, I've been seriously riding a bike (100+ miles a week) for about 9 years, own several bikes, multiple sets of wheels, use clipless pedals and bike shoes and wear a helmet. (I did try racing but didn't feel the interest.) HOWEVER I set up a city fixie just a year ago. Yes, the frame was found in the trash. (I'm 5'3", small frames are hard to find!) And I do have tattoos. I totally defer to the shop on reparing items that involve cables or bearings. (I'm all thumbs with bike mechanics, but I do my best.)

In riding a beat-up Univega around the city, am I a hipster or a "real cyclist"? And how can I, or anyone else, tell the difference?

I do live in Boston, where we have fewer hipsters, so the whole question may be moot here.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Thanks for the excellent question.

I own, ride, and race (poorly) a number of bikes, of the geared, singlespeed, and fixed variety.

Awhile back I was riding my cyclocross bike home from work (I often commute on it during 'cross season) when I rode by some guys hanging out with their fixies. As I passed they yelled out something (in a derisory tone) about how I should "get a fixed gear" or something like that.

Never mind I might actually already own and ride one. Never mind that a fixed gear might not be an optimal choice at my next 'cross race. No, these guys, brimming with the zeal of the converted, were so high on themselves that they were heckling other riders.

So on this site, I like to poke fun at idiots like that--idiots who don't understand and appreciate the cycling scene as a whole. Additionally, since like anybody I'm guilty of my own cycling prejudices, I like to rib others who in my own selfish opinion I see as clueless. (And I've certainly been clueless in my day, and I'm thankful to those who taught me what I know.) Am I doing what those hecklers did? Maybe. But it's all in fun and I think it makes for amusing reading.

So to sum up, I think as long as you: 1) ignore idiots like those, 2) ignore idiots like me, and 3) continue to ride that Univega into the ground on the streets of Boston, then you're a "real cyclist."

--The Snob

Flavamost said...

I think it's time for me to make a confession: I might be considered-on certain days-to fall into the "Jack Black in High Fidelity" category of bike mechanics. But here's the thing: I think it's really justified on certan days. I mean come on, Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You"? Dura Ace cranks with sneakers? I really don't see the difference. It's not cluelessness that enrages me though--it's cluelessness mixed with arrogance. Therefore, I think I'm okay. But I'm open for disagreement.

Flavamost said...

Apparently I can't type today...

Silas said...

Cruiser/townie bikes for sure...

Think Bianchi Milano, Electra bikes, etc. And for those hipsters on a budget, dumpster diving and hunting yard sales will still work.

Art said...

Great post. I'm putting my money on the Schwinn Stingray. Banana seats and streamers are the perfect accessories for the jaded hipsters who've lost the will and ability to approach anything un-ironically.

sumadis said...

Let's not forget the flat-bar road bike in the sub $1k range. Gotta recognize what the manu's are pushing.

Kevin said...

Its all about the converted mountain bike w/ fenders, racks, lights, bells, whistles and an esspresso maker. Oh yeah and it weighs 45 lbs. 'natch.

Adam said...

I personally want to see the return of ape hander handlebars and the sissy bar. I might have to fabricate and weld a sissy bar on my hardtrail to start this trend up though...

Adam said...

er, ape hanger. banana seats too.

BikeSnobNYC said...

I really love townie bikes and hope they do become more popular. Most new fixie riders are simply using their bikes as townies anyway. Why not just ride townies? They're cool and practical. The townies at the Handmade Bicycle Show were great:

I don't see the point of taking a track racing bike and putting risers or cruiser bars on it so you get the same position you'd get on a Raleigh three-speed, which I see people do all the time. It's just as bad as the awkward, hyperbolized racer position others adopt. (Bars too low to ride the drops, grips on the tops...)

Use the right tool for the right job. It's the gross misuse of bicycles that I find so upsetting.

Toast Ghost said...

if there is any justice, road frames with 3-speed hubs will be next. hipsters can still have them built to deep-v's and have the taut-chain look (a must), but they are shockingly useful and reliable. real fenders are already becoming cool because we all know that that plastic bullshit doesn't work, so hopefully we see those too. upright bars or drops, it's all great. wouldn't it rule if something sensible became trendy? i've already had fewer blacked-out crashes since i went from fixed gear to three speed.

as a side note, for what it's worth, people who use coaster hubs to try to emulate track coolness suck, but the hubs don't. the original bendix coaster hub is utterly bulletproof, easy to overhaul, and stops on a dime.

p. squiddy said...

Children's Penny Farthings are the new fixie:

HPG said...

Folding bikes!

lucky07 said...

BMX seems like the next-obvious thing. Next/Next?: Beach cruisers and or old Raleigh 3 speeds (easier to ride while talking on the cell/smoking/handling lattes.

eärendil said...

I have already seen the hippest of the hip riding vintage ten speeds. For the truly hip, fixies are a fashion accessory only, it was never about stunts.
I also see great possibilities in beach cruisers and town bikes, and I don't think english three-speeds are out of the cards.
I also postulate that the seeds of the apocalypse have already been sown, and the beginning of the end is not when the PistaDex dips below a certain point, but when it peaks. After all, the Pista is the bike for the followers who couldn't get a vintage keirin frame, and when the hip can no longer stand so many (to the untrained eye) indistinguishable lookalikes, they will move on to something new, and my best bet is the vintage ten speed. I take solace in the belief that it will most likely be another bicycle, and a more practical one at that, and the fact that thousands of people have taken up bicycling because of this trend.

eärendil said...

P.S. Seattle PistaDex at $637.50!

Alex Walton said...

Next big thing is:

This derailing system, which is basically just cool as shit. Possible to rig up at home, looks fixed, no gear levers necessary.

Curtis Chorizali said...

what about a 20 something on a bmx if you actualy do tricks on it? eh eh eh?

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Kirk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well, you called it. The winner is cyclocross.

...although my spellcheck isn't ready to accept it as a word yet...

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