Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Velospace: Keeping Hopelessness Alive

Occasionally I see signs that things are getting better: a taped bar here; a level saddle there; maybe even a brake or two. But I've learned not to let my hopes soar. Instead, I keep them hooded and tethered to me like a hunting falcon, because there's always some F-15 of awfulness waiting to shoot them down. Here are a few harbingers of doom currently patroling the skies of Velospace:

Taking a hacksaw to a bar might get you thrown out of your favorite watering hole, but when it comes to fixed-gear bicycles it's mandatory. If nothing else, these riders keep finding new ways to mutilate their controls, and the only rule when cutting seems to be to leave just enough to install a pair of mountain bike or BMX grips. This particular example evokes the old "too much metal for one hand." I call it "too much grip for one bar."

Despite the fact that most Italian bicycles are now made in molds, road cycling is still full of Italianophiles who are obsessed with the idea of wine-besotted welders fabricating frames in small workshops under velodromes, and these people go to great lengths to assemble all-Italian bicycles. This is a noteworthy example, and not just because it's so gaudy that Mario Cipollini would refuse to ride it even as he slipped into a crotchless sequined skinsuit. No, the most remarkable thing about this bike is that it appears to be sporting Modolo Morphos shifter/brake levers. If you're unfamiliar with these contraptions, they're sold in the Performance catalog and they purport to be compatible with both Shimano and Campy, and with 7, 8, and 9-speed systems. They're the platypus of shifters. I've never actually seen a pair in use, but apparently every so often someone is duped by their low weight and price tag and buys a pair, because occasionally you'll read a review on some forum about how unuseable they are. They're like ordering lobster at a diner--it seems like a good idea at the time but inevitably it turns out to be a big mistake.

A reader sent me this one and I have to agree with him that it's probably a hoax. As sublime as the brake setup is, it smacks of someone who grabbed a lever and caliper meant for the front and stuck it on the rear for the photo. Same with the top tube pad on the downtube, the mixmatched wheels, and the double crank with untensioned chain. However, if this is a serious attempt at a bicycle, I stand in awe. In fact, it is rivaled in purpleness and perversity only by the man whose guitar its seatpost-mounted brake lever evokes. It is a sad sign o' the times.


meh-wee-uhn said...

Oh Prince! So much funk up in the great white north!

Eufemiano Fuentes said...

keep fighting the good fight BSNYC

M. Weed said...

Is that a tennis ball stuck in the back wheel? Forget spoke-cards, how about spoke-balls.

truk said...

I've seen a couple of bikes in Chicago with the brake lever on the seatpost. Best I can figure it is so they can stop without putting their hands back on their chopped bars. I personally prefer being able to steer AND brake at the same time. Its a handy trick around cabbies and busses. I dunno, maybe its just me.

guero canadiense said...

Quality. Prince and platypi all in one post.

Adam said...

Please please please let the next trend be "imaginative" brake lever placement.

There was one on FGG a few weeks ago that had a lever mounted on the top tube.

Think of the possibilities! The underside of the bottom tube for a sweeeeet reach pose. The awesome custom levers for all the crazy carbon frame or some super huge claps for some of the world's uglier aluminum frames. Somany possibilites!

I'm off to move my lever to the chainstay.

Anonymous said...

Tennis Ball Spoke Card. Horrible Chain Tension. Bar Tape across the front of the stem. Mystery Brake Lever Placeemnt. Down Tube Pad. Is this the hoax of hoaxes???

todd said...

I really dig the photoshop job of the Chef Boyardee bike posing in front of a fleet of Lamborghinis.

It's too early in the morning to even try to comprehend that much cheese.

Olivier said...

Haha.. platypus of shifters.

Never heard of those. You never cease to educate me BSNYC!

Prolly said...

Shit. You're REALLY going to hate my Concept now.

Anonymous said...

+bar tape over the stem
+backwards chain tensioner(s)
+magnet sans-sensor or computer

the hoax bike is a true work of fart.

Anonymous said...

Are my Modolo Morphoses now worth more, or less, on Ebay?

Frank Brigandi said...

I have finally found a true reason to vomit everyday. The bikes, as awful as they are, give new meaning to the definition "Gag". I no longer look toward the olsen twins cocaine riddled svelteness fora reason tocut weight for cross season.
Viva la Velospace boy am I hungry.

Anonymous said...

bikesnkobbie - man I think someone is baiting you with that poople poojoe

a real puejoke!

Anonymous said...

That brake setup could be real! I've seen a bikes on portland craigslist with a similarly useless setup-- a schwinn varsity conversion with the front brake hooked up to the old stem-mounted shift lever mech. totally retarded!

MM said...

Speaking of people doing ridiculous things just for your attention:



Anonymous said...


It looks like that bike actually gets ridden. Cool?

KanyonKris said...

The rear wheel on the Italian Job bike is a nice touch. The triple parallel spoke pattern makes it look like a musical instrument. Imagine, riding out into the Tuscan plains, have a nice picnic of wine, cheese and bread while you play a traditional Italian folk tune on your Harpsiwheel.

Frank the Tank said...

I understand the metal guy, but who's the guy with the drink and the hat?

AnnaZed said...


OK, maybe I amstrange, but I like that Giant bike. I would ride it. I even like the disc brake.

So sue me.

Jay Parkhill said...

I used to see a lot of bikes with scratched down tubes from the "hoist the bike over the top of the rack and lock the wheel to the down tube" security method.

I've been thinking it's about time for a down tube pad to avoid this kind of damage. Kudos to the forward thinker who beat me to it.

bink said...

Uh-oh. Let's go.

Anonymous said...

Jay Parkhill-
YOU, sir, have a winning smile.

Sprocketboy said...

Those Modolo shifters were so good that I think a character in "the Matrix" was named after them. I actually was thinking of buying a set to replace the downtube shifters on my 7-speed Bianchi until I read the installation instructions. I think that DaVinci painted "the Last Supper" in less time than it would have taken to make these things work. And the tricolori paint scheme on the Torelli is pretty subdued compared to what Colnago was shipping around the same time. At least it does not use rectal braking.

Sprocketboy said...

On second reading I wonder, O Bike Snob, if in fact your "platypus" reference should be "Proteus." Not that there is anything wrong with platypi.

Joe said...

I actually own the Morphos levers, and once they break in (about 200 miles or so) they are very smooth. The down side is until that time you are convinced you will need to start doing "thumb presses" to ever be able to shift on a regular basis.

I've put over 4000 miles on my set, and other than needing a new set of the rubber hoods, they've been great. I've used them with 7 8 and 9 speed cogs as well.

Love your blog!

MM said...

Hahaha. How about the lever is NEVER mounted and the cyclist just holds it in their own hand the entire time, maybe rubber-banded to their wrist.

Anonymous said...

we seem to be in somewhat of a comment drought. After the record breaking mission bicycle interview (133 comments a bsync record as far as I can tell) it seems that we have scared ever one off. shure there are the regulars, prolly, mrweed, niki, and that guy with the picture of the bull. but even silly euphoria of someone pointlessly posting "podium" in one of the top three spots is clearly absent today. Come on people good comments make better blogs, just look at the gilded watter bottle post. Classic bsnyc work, and all because of someones sarcastic remark

comment crisis 08!

Lee said...

Thought this or through this? Or both? BSNYC- check your email!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:09 --

I'm speechless.

The Italian bike reminded me of Garrison Keillor's story about his childhood longing that his stolid mid-western parents would reveal the fact that they were secretly Italian and then all would erupt in a boisterous chianti and mandolin celebration. That bike would have to appear under Keillor's Christmas tree.

But I couldn't find a link.

Then I was amazed that BSNYC found a Prince guitar shaped exactly like the brake lever on the seat stem of the purple hoax bike. There is something further to be said about the similarities between Prince's stage maneuvers and riding a bike with one's hand between one's legs.

But I couldn't figure out what exactly that something to be said is.

So all I am is speechless.

But of course that hasn't stopped me from speaking.

daddo.one said...

lobsters are quite good - get another analogy, snob

quaffimodo said...

I think that we should come up with a plan to dupe the kids into believing that sequined skinsuits with crotchal wedges are the new tight jeans, Harpsiwheels are the new Aerospokes, and seatpost-mounted brakes are the new no brakes.

Clayton said...

yeah, i agree, daddo. ordering lobster is only a mistake if you're tight on $$$ or if you have a seafood allergy.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Daddo.one and Clayton,

I said "ordering lobster at a diner," which is not a good move. Very dangerous to go to a diner for a simple sandwich and get seduced by the overly ambitious specials.


Anonymous said...

Yet another Australian reference (viz. awareness of Midnight Oil, acknowledgement that the Southern Hemisphere’s summer occurs in the North American winter, etc).

Clearly, NYBS is an Australian polymath who can (like most of his kind) fake a NY accent effectively.

And I can testify from experience that lobster analogy is apt.



mr.complaint said...

Peugot Executive?

Is there such? I had a Mercury Commuter Wagon. But never heard of an Executive.

"This bike is inspired by all the persuit bikes that I see on tv and the track. I enjoyed building it up and it is a dream to ride"

Peugot? Persuit? See on TV?

Where did you find that?

I'm off to mount my break leever on my hellmit and leave it in the closit whair it balongs.

Clayton said...

ohhhhhh, diner. that's a very important distinction, for sure. tomorrow i will read more carefully.

chad said...

I have been noticing gradual changes in the NYC Langster that I see near my office. Yellow tires and a saddle with more yellow on it have appeared, but most shocking is the mandated bar chopping. The now-narrower bars are wrapped in a cloth tape that looks like athletic tape. Each time I see it I think of a double amputee with its nubs wrapped in bandages.

Surprisingly, both brakes remain intact.

Polygraf said...

My boss frequently refers to lazy people as "sitting around with their thumb in their ass", now if these same people found themselves riding with their thumb in their ass(and I've seen plenty) they can rest assured and find that brake lever under the seat with the greatest of ease.
The gent in the other photograph is obviously signaling that he is also one of these people.
mm said-I think you are onto something with the wrist actuated brake lever, this blog is always full of ideas!

GGehrke said...

When I saw the purple bike with the downtube pad I knew it would end up here. But Snob, you missed my favourite one!


Rich said...

There's a guy in Denver who rides a bright yellow Cervelo TT bike converted into a fixed gear (or singlespeed?) with riser bars. It's often locked up on Larimer St. on weekend evenings. Wish I had a picture.

Bluenoser said...


Maybe you could get Trek or Colognago or someone to do an "Un-Pimp my ride" on your site. You know you could insult some Velospacer and then run his bike over with a truckload of roadbikes...


BikeSnobNYC said...


I did at that. That is easily one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen, bicycle or otherwise. That's what happens when wealth and stupidity copulate--it's like the slightly deformed scion of some inbred family of aristocrats.


Anonymous said...

Here's a brake lever set-up for all to admire.


(I promise to use tinyurl next time)

erik k said...

brilliant. i don't know what to find more offensive those unrideably low hoods, or the moronic suicide bar right in the middle of the areo bars. staring you down and taunting you like the grim reaper, go ahead pull me if you gotten to his point your probably about to die anyways

Semper Augustus said...

That brake setup looks like it is a result of using a 26" front wheel (not because the brake pads would hit the tire, but probably because he couldn't fit the tire into the caliper).

Of course, the real question is if the wheel is there because he couldn't find a road wheel, or if he was going for the old-school time trail bike look.


mander said...

Hey snob, your hoaxer is none other than bikeforums' freeskihp. Needless to say, he's stoked.


That bike is a work of art! Congrats freeski.

Jared said...

what's up with the chef boyardee express being 'semi-custom built?' Is it made to tow an 18 wheeled trailer, or is semi-custom building a process meant to accomodate riders who are a little bit pregnant?

fanbase said...

Lol! bike snob you pwned all those 16 year old kids who posted their crap bikes on the internet, you fucking rule those dicks.

Keep doing it - lol !! - and then find some rubbish from criglist - and then find some more bikes that are not put together very well - lol !!

you are brillinat - lol !

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that noone noticed the BIOPACE chainrings on the grimace bike.
For shame.

daddo.one said...


yes a DINER lobster is a mistake

mander said...

I am fanbase! I say the opposite of what i mean!

Philip Williamson said...

That Kuota is awesome. It's like a Ferrari with a trailer hitch. I'm oddly impressed that someone could fake a Nitto Promenade bar by cutting down some Deda-ma-thingies. Cut up a $70 TT dollar bar to mimic the look of a $14 Wald... nice.

Where's my 15lb fixie?

Bluenoser said...

What was I thinking??

Snob, please excuse my Italian... I meant Colnago.


maybe folks that ride wedges like to show off their tatoos. Or they could all be Plumber Wanabee's. After all frames and bars are tubing.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Fanbase's info-tainment makes you laugh and makes you think. I will point out though that judging from the number of people who mention their wives in their posts and photograph their bikes in their garages next to their minivans I think we can safely say that plenty of these people are well into adulthood. (At least chronologically.)


Clayton said...

i had a healthy chuckle upon reading fanbase's post. - lol !!

i also enjoyed GGehrke's mixed words with the owner of the Kuona over at velospace. the owener seemed rightly smarmy.

Anonymous said...

"Lol! bike snob you pwned all those 16 year old kids who posted their crap bikes on the internet, you fucking rule those dicks."

I missed that guy. Glad he's back.

Anonymous said...

Went through two sets of Morphos (Morphi?) before I gave up. They're definately more comfy than other hoods I've used, but I busted the internals on left shifter both times. Guess that's what happens when you have something that has to be pressed HARD - and you don't know when it's too hard.

Back to barcons...

gttim said...

I was helping out at a local bike co-op last night. In a box of junk I was sorting I came upon some of the very old, ridiculous tri bars. I mean the old handlebar / aerobar combinations that look like ram's horns turned upside down. I was mocking them, which as a triathlete I can legally do, and trying to figure out what to do with them. One of the guys walks over and says "They would be fine for somebody who wanted to cut them down..." Needless to say, I was horrified! How could you cut down such works of art! However, that was his first thought, cut the bars. I hung them from the ceiling and may try and make a chandelier out of them!

Anonymous said...


My new fav Velospace abomination! If you think death can come from just from having no brakes, how about death from substandard home carbon fiber construction...two words I never want to hear as materials for handlebars, balsa wood and carbon fiber!


Anonymous said...

Two words I never want to hear regarding carbon fiber parts: home made.

Anonymous said...

"This is a noteworthy example, and not just because it's so gaudy that Mario Cipollini would refuse to ride it even as he slipped into a crotchless sequined skinsuit."

LOL coffee came out my nose when I read that!

c_c_rider said...

the platypus face on bettini had me laughing for 5 min.

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