Friday, October 26, 2007

It's All in the Details: Screw Your Bike!


Among the many reasons to visit the great drunkcyclist.com is to remind yourself how short life as a cyclist can be. Certainly my own commute is often like queueing up for a taco of annoyance at the clusterfuqeria, but I try to keep that in perspective and enjoy the ride as much as possible lest it be my last. And while there are many obstacles to being happy on the bike—among them wayward garbage trucks, clueless pedestrians, and even other cyclists—there are certain things we can control.

One of the biggest impediments to cycling happiness is being overly fixated on your bike. As any Buddhist or the kid from “A Christmas Story” who gets his tongue stuck to the pole will tell you, attachment to material things only causes pain. Certainly your bike is a key component to cycling, but it’s only a tool. The ride is what’s important, and we all know that obsessing about what’s between your legs is only a way of compensating for feelings of inadequacy. If you're too hung up on what you're riding, here are a few ways to free yourself from this crippling attachment:

Downgrade Your Bike

Nothing will make you more miserable than getting stuck in an endless cycle of “upgrading” your components. No matter what you’re using, some German weight-weenies will come out with something else that’s half the weight and twice the price. Furthermore, most people are riding too much bike anyway. If you’re riding Dura Ace, chances are you’d be perfectly fine with Ultegra. If you’re riding XT, you probably really only need LX. Like the new rider who thinks he has to push a 53x12 all the time, most of us are simply overgeared. So sell your carbon bars and replace them with aluminum ones. Ebay the Ksyriums and try some conventional wheels. By freeing yourself from the cycle you’ll worry a lot less and you’ll realize what you thought was an upgrade was actually the equivalent of diamond-encrusted gold fronts.

Let Your Bike Get Scratched Up

Certainly it would be ridiculous and wasteful to purposely damage your bike. However, letting it get scratched up a bit can be liberating. Nothing will limit your enjoyment of your bike more than fretting about its appearance and trying to preserve the fleeting thrill of purchase and acquisition for all eternity. Don't be like Cameron Frye's father in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." This is the impulse that drives people to swaddle their bicycles in top tube pads and bandanas and treat them like lap dogs and bubble boys. Bicycle maintenance should only be about two things—keeping the bike working, and not letting it get stolen. The rest is a waste of riding time.



Remember That Your Bike Has No Soul
You’ve probably heard people say that certain bikes have soul. None of them do. That lugged steel Colnago, that Cinelli track bike, and even that Fat Chance mountain bike are all as devoid of soul as an Avril Lavigne record. I don’t care if Ugo DeRosa himself built your frame while drinking Chianti from a wicker-wrapped bottle, listening to Pagliacci on a warbly phonograph, and discussing the finer points of olive oil with Marcello Mastriani. Bikes don’t have souls—they have decals.

Don’t Clean Your Bike For A Month

Sure, keeping your bike clean is important and makes parts last longer, but when you’re threading a rag between your cogs after every ride you probably need to loosen up. Floss after eating, not after riding. If you’re a compulsive cleaner, lay off the Simple Green for a few weeks and give the dirt a little time to attach itself before you rinse it off. I want to run my finger under that top tube and feel sweat crust.

Work On Your Bike Yourself

Sure, some people just don’t have the time or the mechanical aptitude to work on their own bikes, and there’s nothing wrong with going to a shop when you get in over your head. But a lot of people don’t work on their bikes simply because they’re afraid of messing them up. If this is you, next time you need to repair or replace something get in there and do it yourself. Go ahead, strip a few bolts, scratch a few components, and mess up a few adjustments--it’s not the end of the world. Not doing your own work because you’re afraid of your bike is like taking the cheater line instead of trying to hop the log. Plus, leaving all the work to a shop means they set things up the way they think they should be set up, not necessarily the way that’s best for you. You should learn your own preferences, not have them dictated to you. After all, you choose your own underwear in the morning, right?

Sacrifice A Bike

Constantly selling and upgrading your bikes isn’t healthy, but neither is developing an overly-strong attachment to them. If you’ve got a bike you’re inordinately fond of but barely ride, sell it. And I’m not talking about that fake attention-seeking selling where you write an ad that’s really an essay about how wonderful your bike is and how reluctant you are to part with it and then ask a price you know you’ll never get. No, just list the components, price it to move, and get rid of it. Attachments are like friends in a bar fight—they’ll only hold you back.

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

yay first post. I didn;t even read the article!

Anonymous said...

damn, bridesmaid again

pete said...

"I want to run my finger under that top tube and feel sweat crust."

Try licking it off, goes well with mocha mocha clif shots....

leroy said...

Dang, if my shrink had only told me half of this stuff, I could have saved a bundle. But I might have spent it on upgrades.

Another great post BSNYC!

Saw the interview in Bicycling yesterday. Very funny!

Prolly said...

You forgot the "Try to ghostlock your bike in Union Square to build trust" section

Old Balls Kimberley said...

BS, Props on the Don "no soul" Simmons reference. It is still a shame that every 7 minutes a black man is born with out a soul. Perhaps the proceeds of your stickers could be used to help fight this condition.

jeremy said...

"Attachments are like friends in a bar fight—they’ll only hold you back."...Amazing.

Should I stop reading this blog? I seem to be getting more and more attached to it.

KP said...

"clusterfuqeria" It can't get better than that.

Anonymous said...

...intellectually, i fully understand that my bike doesn't have a soul but that becomes harder to accept in relation to the length & difficulty of the ride...

Sorelegs said...

Queing up for a taco of annoyance at the clusterfuckeria. Holy Crap that is brilliant! I lost it. All my co-workers here at the clustefuckeria are wondering what is wrong.

Karl Rover said...

The clean bike obsession has taken root in CX culture. Must be the huge influx of Cat II roadies looking to boost their ego a bit. It doesn't make much sense to show up to a race with your bike looking "show room" clean when it will look like you dragged it through the Battle of the Bulge just 15 yds into your warm up lap. Unless of course you are wealthy enough to have a warm up bike and a separate race bike.

Jeff said...

I have been living to these rules for years now.

AnnaZed said...

“….taking the cheater line instead of trying to hop the log.”

Snob, seriously, I admire your prose style, but I have no idea what this means.

Joe said...

Bikes don't have souls because souls are too heavy.

R. Zach Thomas said...

So because my road bike is crusted-over with filth, and my brand-new Voodoo 'cross bike has goose shit stuck in nearly every crevice of the frame, I'm not taking bad care of my bikes? Awesome! I'm glad to see that my maintenance plan, i.e. I spray Prolink on the chain when it starts making noise, is worth keeping.

db said...

+1 on the Don "No Soul" Simmons ref.

Its cruel symptoms can strike anyone. Let's take a look.

The apex of David Alan Grier's career.

Ahab said...

Holy crap. +2 on Don 'no soul' Simmons. Lolz for real.

mark said...

BSNYC--this is brilliant, and a welcome grounding in reality after reading fatcyclist.com today. You are the yin to fatty's yang.

Jill said...

All words to live by.

woogie said...

BSNYC -

Analogy is a bit off today. Ralphie was fixated on the Red Rider air rifle.

Flick was the one who go stuck to the pole on the triple dog dare.

Anonymous said...

— Yer so right on here with these "returning to Zen cycling" ideas...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Annazed,

Taking the "cheater line" in mountain biking is going around an obstacle instead of up or over it.

Woogie,

I meant that as a play on words since Buddhists eschew material attachments but Flick is literally attached to a material thing. Yes, of course Ralphie had the metaphysical fixation, and Flick's predicament is a metaphor for that fixation. Maybe. Or something.

There is no greater pleasure in life than referencing Don "No Soul" Simmons.

--BSNYC

Tim said...

Ha! my De Rosa doesn't have decals, the "De Rosa" is all paint.

Jim said...

HERETIC!

gewilli said...

sarcasm and humor aside...

all that stuff is right on...

It is about the ride. Not what you ride.

"and enjoy the ride as much as possible lest it be my last."

here's to hoping Bret was having a kick ass!

...enjoy the ride as much as possible lest it be my last...

n8 said...

"strip a few bolts, scratch a few components, and mess up a few adjustments"

Some of the best things I've done.

fatcyclist said...

wow, we're talking about the same thing today, kinda/sorta. and to my relief, our points of view are compatible.

if anyone asks, though, i will clearly state that my post was up first and that you are a copycat.

Colin R said...

preach the fuck on.

Patrick from Astoria said...

How very un-snobbish today. And enlightening. I liked this.

However, one small advisory: Keep an eye on the paint in the long run - rust never sleeps. Even some of the fancier alloys (like, oh, Fuji's VALite tubing) will start to corrode (and weaken, and break in a perfect circular shear) after enough time (like a frame-tweaking accident back when I was a teenager) right when you least expect it (going down Second Avenue just before 14th Street last Wednesday).

Bikes may have no soul and may merely be a tool, but when they go away - especially after twenty good years - it's still a loss.

And if anyone has a line on a super-cheap 58cm replacement frame, please let me know.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Fat Cyclist,

Creepy! Get out of my head!

--BSNYC

PS: What are we posting about next?

Anonymous said...

Every time I read this blog's posts I can't help but be reminded of Dennis Miller and his smarmy remarks. Very entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Deep. Very Deep.
How did you know that I struggle with these issues. My Bstone disgusts me with its heaviness but it fits like a glove and I clean it sooo much. I'm building a fake Italian siren Torreli which is way more bike than I need. I think I want it to hurt me; it laughs at my ability in a Madame Bouvary way. I've built it with used parts as revenge. Could you like do a radio call-in show

Matt said...

One of the joys of working on your own bike is getting all done and then discovering you have parts left over. Makes the bike lighter you know.

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 4:08pm...while i used to find miller entertaining & while we are all entitled to our own opinions, that fact that miller's lips are firmly entrenched about 4 inches up the bush administration's ass makes him hard to stomach pour moi...

Anonymous said...

can someone post up a scan of the "bicycling magazine" bsnyc article so I don't have to buy it?

it's much like the 'disappearing sun' show on pbs sponsored by DOW chemical, a bicycling magazine filled with automobile ads.

mr.complaint said...

Snob - Did you have a shitty commute today also? It must be Shithead Friday.

The choir is laughing.

PS

I love SuperBicycleRepairMan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eCdIe0wdvU

BadgerLand said...

It IS all about the ride and not "what" you ride... I agree with 99.1% of all you said except for the cleaning part. My 90 second ritual of a pledge wipe down each week is more of a zen than obsession.

Anonymous said...

I'm leary of anyone who's bike isn't scratched up at least a little bit.

AnnaZed said...

"...can someone post up a scan of the "bicycling magazine" bsnyc article so I don't have to buy it?"

Second that please. Though I would buy it, out where I live in the sticks there is no such thing as a newspaper stand, and the bike store where I work refrains from stocking this publication (after years of no one buying it).

So, as for BikeSnob selling out, it's not that big of a marketplace impact I'm thinking, but still - I WANNA SEE IT!!

ahem ... er... thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey, wait just a minute here!

The Riddle has a soul man.

Anonymous said...

I have a sturdy, no-name bike that I bought second-hand for 70 dollars. I've had it for years. No one messes with it because it's ugly. But guess what? It gets the job done, has rarely been messed with (I leave it outside), and is utterly reliable.

THAT, my friends, is the perfect bike for getting around NYC.

bikesgonewild said...

...yes, anon 6:39pm, that's true...but didn't we all learn that 'the riddle' is not just any bike ???...

Anonymous said...

ya gots ta keep yer bike clean -- otherwise hows you gonna spot the cracks forming in the carbon fibre?

marlo said...

It's like the Fight Club rules of cycling. Rad.

Philip Barrett said...

funny how most bikes look pretty much alike when you're actually riding them...'cept for bar tape that is.

Josh said...

People actually clean their bikes?

Polygraf said...

How come people with great well paying jobs imply that they work merely for satisfaction, how come guys with highly desirable girlfriends play it off as if they never notice beauty, how come people with sweet rides always tell you that the ride is what its all about, I think its because they are stupid. Perpsectives from privilage tend to suffer from memory loss and can be remedied with a quick smash to head using any seat that cost you less than 70 dollars. In all sincerity I am now going to clean my rims and yes use a drop of armor all on my tires.

Russ Troester said...

quite profound...advice we should apply to many of our material possessions. After all, it's only stuff, right?

By the way, I loved the pictures for visual reference...hilarious!

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

i didn't buy the bicycling mag I stood there in the newstand and read the whole thing. But i enjoyed the article.

Everyone over at lafixed.com needs to read this post. it's like the belle of the ball over there with njs this, and gold anodized that....

Philip Williamson said...

First poster made me laugh louder and longer than the beautiful rising riff about Ugo deRosa and the opera chianti olive oil bike building soul.

BSNYC, are you a "mountain biker"? Or were those similies just like 44 year old white guys saying things like "that's the way I roll"?

cycles and cynicisms said...

Bike Snob!
I have to say that even when I don't agree with you, (which is very rarely), I am still amazed at how eloquently and cleverly your posts are written! Bike Genuis NYC just does not seem as bad ass! Also, I would beg to differ on the "bikes have no soul" comment! If it requred silver or brass braze during fabrication, it has soul!

Mat said...

Great post BSNYC. I was expecting some scathing remarks, but it was all completely on the money. I would call this required reading for any cyclist.

Matt Bort Sucks said...

Please dont assume everybody has the same biking abilities as your self and a bunch of poser fixies. Alot of good riders get stuck riding crap who really need better components, if you can afford dura ace buy it you'll enjoy the qaulity of the bike much better. If we all had a minimalist attitude we'd move to cuba and enjoy what ever scraps the government gave us. I thought you were the bike snob not the bike slob. For those of us that have dished out the cash on nice components, we like to take care of them. If someone doesn't have a few minutes to wipe off thier bike thier lives are way to busy to ride anyway. While im raving answer some of these questions: I'm a want to be messenger in the mix cruising down broadway. Brakes or no brakes? Helmet or no helmet? Shorts, baggy or faggy? Function or fashion? Last but not least. I will hold this to be fixed gear gospel, as a snob should i be riding a tacky red chain or a gaudy gold. I'm preplexed, Thanks.

ps If i had a turd i wouldn't try to polish it either.

G said...

BSNYC, have you seen this? thought you'd appreciate it

http://reloadbags.com/bags/pop.php?img=CLOTHING_hipstersfull.jpg

meh-wee-uhn said...

I see people fetishistically cleaning their bikes and I have to wonder: "Are you eating off of it? Are you scrubbing it down for a little brain surgery in the ER?"

zbicyclist said...

A good post with a lesson to us all.

Buddha was onto something with his idea that desire lies at the root of suffering.

ainsley said...

love.
but i got to admit after the late night ride i just had i feel more attached and connected to my bike. perhaps it was the frame to crotch slip i had when encountering a mini van full of drunk hipsters- who knows!

Nesuto Neko said...

I very frequently take the cheater line.
:(
But I'm always underbiking and riding a road-ish bike with fatty tires on the trails.
Am still I cheating?

Anonymous said...

*throws bike down a flight of stairs*
*trues wheels*
*is satisfied.*

Another quality entry

VeloStrummer said...

Love the picture of Bicycle Repair Man. One of the best Python sketches EVAR!!

Jim said...

Sorry Snob, gotta call Bullshit on the downgrading to make your life better thing. Very funny, and maybe it's true when applied to Those who Pose, but we have a profound disagreement on this point.

Any crossers out there with a nice 16.5 pound Ridley, all SRAM'ed up with carbon wheels and Dugasts want to improve their life, BSNYC Style, I'll be happy to give them my 27/28 pound Surly Cross Cross Check in exchange. When you're back-humping that beloved piece of quality-of-life-improving pig iron up Barrier Hill at the local Wednesday AM World Championships at Hoboken-Gits or Chicago-Heide or Boulder-velde, you'll use your last breath to thank me for making your life so much goddam better.

Not. As my boy Gen. Reginald states, "life is just too short, not to ride fly-ass shit." Yep, the engine matters, but an average rider would need about 8% more engine to haul my Surly up hills at the same rate as a blinged out Ridley. Thems the physical facts. It isn't worth migranes to go from 18 to 16 pounds, but 28 to 18? That's worth a headache. They didn't develop light bikes and silky shifters just to look at 'em; the things have a purpose to them. Even my large ass is tired of giving up 4-5% on every hill in races. Yep, I love my Surly, it's a great training bike, built stout, and a somewhat serviceable cross & utility rig, and I'm not ashamed of it - but I'll take complex, light & blingy if it works better, thanks. I'm not going to keep spotting the competition a 5% power advantage on half the course. Even if getting a fancy light bike makes my life more complex.

hank said...

Screw your bike? Someone might have already tried it. Hubba-hubba!

william said...

"I don’t care if Ugo DeRosa himself built your frame while drinking Chianti from a wicker-wrapped bottle, listening to Pagliacci on a warbly phonograph, and discussing the finer points of olive oil with Marcello Mastriani."

-Priceless!

Fendergal said...

"Clusterfuqeria." Muy divertido!

Anonymous said...

Man caught having sex with bike

Bunsen Burner said...

When you say 'screw your bike' I hope you weren't predicting, spookily, this report from the jolly old BBC about a Scottish pedal-pervert...

** Bike sex man placed on probation **
A man caught "simulating sex with his bicycle" in hostel room is sentenced at Ayr Sheriff Court.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7095134.stm >

Bunsen Burner said...

Damn that Anonymous guy

damien said...

let me post the only comment for december, and let it be one unrelated to bikes.

Marcello Mastriani

While this may be how his name is pronounced, I am a linguist and a 'grammar snob', especially with proper nouns.

Star of Fellini's 8 1/2 is Marcello Mastroianni.

kthx.

lurker said...

Ok, now I'm just scarred. A actual reference to "Amazon Women on the Moon"!-)

BicyclesOnly said...

This post is 100% consistent with my approach toward my bike and said better than I ever could have said it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, LAST post! And I DID read the article!

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Melody said...

Loved it!
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In a nutshell, bikes are my life!

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