Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fixedgeargallery...of gaudiness, gaffes, and gumption.

The writers in Hollywood may be striking, but fortunately Fixedgeargallery offers more laughs, tears, and high drama than any movie or TV show ever could. Some entries deserve "thumbs up," some "thumbs down," and some just make me want to use my thumbs to gouge out my own eyes. Here are some of my favorite recent episodes:


I know I'm supposed to pant and slobber all over a pristine Hetchins, and that's probably why they have the reverse effect on me. I'm not afraid to admit I'm totally unimpressed by this bicycle, especially when it's photographed in such a contrived and melodromatic manner as to make Randy the Veloliloquy bike look like it was thrown up against a graffiti-covered wall and shot with a cell phone cam. Take this shot for instance:

"Ooh, I'm hiding. Aren't I coy? Don't you want me?" No, not really. I like a lug as much as the next guy, but the curlicued and filigreed lugs of the Hetchins leave me cold. Probably because they remind me of a window in winter. I realize many people see beauty when they look at these, but I just see frost, fractals and stress risers:






I'd rather have seen a photo shoot with a little more wit and irreverence. Like maybe the owner could have put on a tweed top tube pad, stuck a Sherlock Holmes hat on the bars, and laminated a few pages from a Kingsley Amis novel and used them for spoke cards. I also see nothing to celebrate in a bike that's over 40 years old and looks like it's never been ridden. If this bike were to somehow fall into my hands the first thing I'd do is take it for a three hour ride in some road salt. This should doubtless make Hetchins fans cringe. Of course, Hetchins fans also cringe over things like sloping top tubes and carbon frames bulging with bubos, despite the fact that the overwrought lugs and curvy chainstays on those old Hetchinses are the mid-20th century equivalent.

On the other end of the spectrum, in the gaffes department, we have this ill-advised build. Singleator? See ya later! Who's going to be the one to tell him it will all end in tears? I feel like I'm looking at the Titanic just as it left port. (As opposed to the Hetchins, which just makes me want to drink port.)

Thankfully though there are still people out there who know how to rig kludges that actually work. If you were as big a fan of the Kludgie winner as I was, you'll be thrilled to know that not only is there another rider out there with similar gumption, but he's also apparently from the same place as the Kludgie winner. All I can say is that Peachtree City, GA must be home to the beating heart of the American way. Is there anything they can't do there? Personally, I'd take this schizophrenic freak bike over that Hetchins any day, even if it does look like the guy just fished around in his parts bin blindfolded and bolted together whatever he pulled out. I'm afraid I can't give away a second kludgie, but the least I can do is honor this guy with a "Shimmy:"


90 comments:

Anonymous said...

Boonen!

Anonymous said...

Zabel!

unotache said...

turd

Chazu said...

Good post, Snob.

GhostRider said...

Uh, I sort of like the goat...it's a nice addition on an very "Frankenbike"-ish machine. Function over form, to be true...with a silly little touch to make it more whimsical!

I gotta disagree with you about that Hutchins, though...although it looks like a museum piece rather than a frequently-ridden bike (and that's a shame), that amazing lugwork is gorgeous...you just don't see that kind of craftsmanship on the beaters and junkwagons that dominate FGG!

mhandsco said...

That's just crazy talk - you know you'd take the Hetchins just to say, "Oh that? It's an old British six-day bike. I'm kind of into bikes..." like it ain't no big thing.

Scott said...

The Kludgie beat out the Shimmie in sense because he used travel agents when combining incompatible cable pulls in his brakes. The Shimmie will work fine until his wheel goes so much as a millimeter out of true and then he'll have some nice brake pad rub.

leroy said...

I like the goat too.

Good choice not to wire little red lights into the goat's eyes.

Understated is always better.

Anonymous said...

the eternal top ten

nolucker said...

I gave away my Specialized Roubaix to my son- maybe I should have fixied it. Then again, I would have to find a carbon fiber cog.Go figure

Anonymous said...

BOOGERD

mm said...

I didn't understand that weird wall-hiding-thing and I also thought "Why is it all blurry in the rear?" Every part of the rear and saddle have been blurred in Photoshop or something.

Weird.

Polygraf said...

The hetchins is sweet and its obviously playful and can levitate upon command. Its good to know that when in germany pedaling is faster than shifting, put that wall back!

mm said...

Oh, and that Shimmy's got MOJO!!!

mr.complaint said...

Very deep stuff here Snob.

We need a "Free the Hetchins, Back on the Road Tour" campaign.

I never understood the kid that didn't play with their action figures. Think of the sad Barbies that never got a real haircut.

I have visions of the overweight union stagebuilder guy that keeps saying that he's going to get back into shape. Maybe he'll have time now to ride with all his writer friends.

I like the floating trick that the Velogoat is doing in the first photo. Kinda like the Floating Exercise of Kundalini Tantra. Ohm Shanti.

Is that a Tibetan goat or a French one? Do you think the goat makes plastic goat milk and plastic goat fromage?

Ooooo, my head is spinning.

Chris Mayhew said...

I'll make the podium when you other dopers get busted in a month.

How awesome is it that the Shimmy bike has a goat on it. Goatf**k indeed there bro.

bikesgonewild said...

...nothin' sketchy about that 'hetchy'...

Prolly said...

I think someone emailed the guy about the singleator.

Love the fractals reference. It's what I was thinking too!

n8 said...

I love that Kludgie and Shimmy work together. I would pay to see them ride together.

What a team.

I picture helmet mirrors and head lamps and some sort of goggles, and maybe one of those old BMX mouth guard things.

Oh, and hiking boots with cleats.

steph said...

BS--Maybe occasionally you could blog something juicy for your female following!

dukegroover said...

Whoa, baby...little mean spirited today. You've descended from the paved high road to a sardonic goat path.
Remember, sarcasm is a dish best served with finesse and discrimination.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Dukegroover,

Thanks for the culinary advice. But mean-spirited, really? I actually complimented the Shimmy bike!

--BSNYC

GGehrke said...

mm, I'm not looking too closely at them and it's hard to tell with the uber-jpg compression, but I think most of the blurriness there is just utilizing a tight depth of field. He may have even used what's known as a shift lens, which lets you skew the focus. Or it could be faked, I dunno. They really are nice photos, but I agree they're pretty contrived and pretentious.

dukegroover said...

Don't be hurt. With respect to the Hetchins it was only that your usual satiricl tone lacked the subtle irony that makes it so delightful.
Points for Kingsley Amis, though.

Jim said...

Fractals? Kludges?

Oh, I'm sorry. I was looking for bike snob. Didn't realize this was the Vax 11/780, Fortran 77 & Touring Bicycles Fan Club. Eh, you seem cool anyhow. Want to get together to play some D&D and drink Blatz?

Olivier said...

I think the focus effect has been done with a "lens baby", a plastic lens on some bellows that allow tilt & shift... (not sure though)

Anyways. Fancy lugs are not my (yorkshire) cup of tea either. The whole photoshoot is a bit pretentious, and that "bike hiding" picture makes it look silly or funny, I'm not sure yet.

Finally, glad to see the Kludgie has a brother. But the Kludgie remains the one and only... oh that was a good post BSNYC :D i just reread it.

Clayton said...

i think i might need to lay off comment reading for a while. some of the regular commenters here are really starting to annoy me.

Anonymous said...

i second that emotion, Clayton. i also think that the Orbea and shimmy look hella fun to ride. why you gotta be hatin on the utility folks?

Cody said...

The photographs of that Hetchins are just horrid. While I like the bicycle itself, the photos just make it utterly hateable. It's like that scene in Fight Club. "I wanted to put a bullet between the eyes of every panda that wouldn't fuck to save it's species," except in this case, "I wanted to put several .40 cal 180 grain bullets into the knees of every snobby hip classic bike collecting jerk who wouldn't just ride the damn bike to use it because it's supposedly too valuable to use."

Anonymous said...

Bikes are awesome things to collect. I'd do if I had the space.

Clayton said...

if you ever do find the space, be sure you stay away from cody.

mm said...

Steph,
Seconded.

BS, Make fun of us women now! Or, compliment us (that's what we really like).

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 2:08pm,

I don't know how much fun you'll be having on that Orbea when the chain tensioner pretzels and winds up in the spokes.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

The Hetchins is a recent repaint.
That's why it looks so nice.

And it was done by an excellent builder and painter who happens to promote utility bikes and teach people to build frames.

I have no idea if it will see any significant use, but I do agree the photos are quite unappealing and must state that I too don't care for filigree lugs.

For full disclosure, I do like some of the Nervex Pro lugs.

Roll and lock.

mpetry912 said...

That's a nice bike, beautifully photographed. But your underlying socio-philosophical construct - that is, the transition from "bike-as-art" to "bike-as-roadkill" on the highway to postindustrialism - caused me to go on a tear today and take my favorite bike

http://tinyurl.com/ynpa6o

run it full bore into a mud puddle, up to bottom bracket, then beat it with a pipe, paint it with sears exterior latex, and run the chain thru the cat sandbox.

there, I feel better.

Strayhorn said...

What I like best about the Hetchins is the pointed stem waiting to crack your sternum like an Aztec priest.

Perhaps the guy doesn't ride it because he's afraid of it.

crjames said...

I'm a lug girl. The more ornate the better. however, I DO NOT like to be teased by lug-bearing bikes. do not hide from me, Hetchins. you know you want it. your rear wheel might say "no" but your lugs are saying "YES, YES!!"

Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiments on Hetchins. They give lugged steel a bad name - some of the ugliest brazed bikes ever.

M. Weed said...

mm, ggehrke, olivier:

If the focus effect on the Hetchins is real, yes, it's probably a bellows-focus camera with tiltable lens mount... i.e. a 4x5 large format camera, which just makes the bike that much more annoying, since a camera like that costs as much as the bike.

If the effect is fake and it's just imitating a 4x5 camera, then I guess that's even worse.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bike Snob, I believe you are missing the most important factor in this particular equation: ebay spreading bike stupidity like a bird with a very badly gone wrong coloscopy spreading Avian Flu throughout the world as it migrates and leaks it's bodily secretions uncontrolably. All these horrors are "assembled" from parts bought off ebay and other such sites. The availability of unlimited quantities of very variable quality gear of different types makes for the most unlikely contraptions. Rejoice, the fixie conversion brigade are making us very rich in France: we pull bikes from the scrapyards, dissasemble anything even remotely saleable, rub it with wirewool and 50-5000 buck it to you guys. We are winning the war. My banker rejoices in your woes. Regarding the Hetchins, yeah, it's badly overdone, but so was the latter day Jane Manson, and she still has funs. Again, as a bike collector from France, I rejoice that we keep all the good stuff and sell you the junk for you to make bicycles as expertly maimed and about as functionnal as John Bobitt. I suggest you drop 30 000 fixie conversions on Irak, you could pull the troops out within days.

Nick M. said...

Sorry, I wasn't anonymous at all on that comment, I just forgot to click the right button and leave my url. Greetings from France.

Scott said...

mpetry912,

You ruined that bike when you put SPD pedals on it. It was so close to true to form, and then you turned it into a rolling travesty!

Bluenoser said...

Snob,

I knew we were in trouble when I saw that the Classic-Redevous crowd started collecting fixed bikes awhile back. You know the bunch... "Hi I retired from my job designing Lunar Landing Moduals to take up my love of outbidding other people for rare bikes and then putting them in everyone elses faces with pro photographers..."

Yikes... you are so right about the road salt.

-B'noser

Bluenoser said...

Snob,

Chain tensioner pretzels?? God one more thing to think about as I ride my road bike... May as well just start worrying about a plastic grocery bag blowing into my stuff.

Sorry... I'll read all the replies before I mouth off...

-B'noser

pete! said...

the hetchins' photos kinda made me dizzy. i puked a little

bikesgonewild said...

...jeez, that poor 'hetchins' is taking a beating...you may not like the artist's style but that doesn't mean it's he's not creative...

...back in the mid '30's, when there were far fewer cars in the british isles, 'hetchins' developed not only their distinct lug cut-outs but also s-bend seat & chainstays (glad you weren't featuring one a' those bikes or we'd be here all day)...while the s-bend concept dealt w/ poor road surfaces, i would surmise the fancy lugwork was to distinguish 'hetchins' from their competitors at a time when more people relied on bikes for transportation...

...personally, i find 'em to be extreme, but i still have to admire the artistry...

Anonymous said...

Yes, but that Gary Fisher looks awful!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you all remember an absolutely bewildering photo of a Bob Jackson in a house of mirrors, winner of fgg's Best Photo 2005:

http://fixedgeargallery.com/2005/may/DavidDiesing.htm

Well, BJ guy=Hetchins guy. Same person.

mr.complaint said...

M. Nick M.,

I raise my hand. I also have klugded off of ebay.

Olivier said...

yeah I think at some point in the early TdF riders were not allowed to be sponsored and bike builder's name had to be removed from the bikes.

The curly stays on the hetchins gave it away...

mander said...

Terrific post Bikesnob. Unlike some other commentors I don't think you were too hard on the Hetch.

Anonymous said...

you're slacking, bikesnob. get some fresh material; if the hetchins had deep v's and a colored chain maybe there'd be reason for dissent, but leave a classic bike be if it's actually done up right. what's next, critiquing theo bos' track bike?

douglas said...

m. weed:

those photographs are not the same quality as an actual 4x5 film format photograph.

it is more likely it is the hideous "lensbaby" that provided the cheap, gimmicky selective focus. much less expensive than a 4x5, and way more ugly and stupid and pointless.

Anonymous said...

"Like maybe the owner could have put on a tweed top tube pad, stuck a Sherlock Holmes hat on the bars, and laminated a few pages from a Kingsley Amis novel and used them for spoke cards."

Oh my god youre killing me.

S.K.
HTATBL

BianchiBrad said...

Kludgie and Shimmie? Bikesnob, You really need to look at the bikes on FGG that are more than 10 minutes old. Your examples aren't even scratching the surface.

There's gold to be mined! Dig deep.

http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/2005/feb/dornik.htm

Anonymous said...

BianchiBrad

I've always wondered why bike companies don't use more belted drivetrains.

Hi, I'm rags said...

Scott @ 4:23 PM:

You think he ruined it with the SPDs and fail to mention the handlebar-end rear-view mirror?

There's something wrong with mpetry912's bike that's also wrong with the Hetchins, and that's that you'd look like a ponce riding either one of them.

daos said...

totally with you on the hetchins. and the only thing worse than owning one (or wanting to) is to have a hetchins copy/tribute custom made..

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Bob Sterry said...

Loretta, my recently (2004) assembled Magnum Opus, built to replace my old 1962 Falcon fixed wheel ride, (yeah that’s right I have ridden fixed since December 1962) whispers to me that even when her rear triangle tubes were being drawn her nascent soul knew there would be critics. As Hyman Hetchins himself might have said, "You can’t please all the punters!" But it does seem that he can annoy lots of people even after he has been dead for close to half a century. As Loretta and I cruise the flatlands south of Portland, Oregon, it can only add to our riding pleasure to know that we may cross paths with a critic and cause his entry into the ditch, where he may find others of a similar mind.

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