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.