Undaunted by the corporate appropriation of their style, fixed-gear riders are continuing to innovate, and one area in which they're doing so is brake lever placement. In fact, it would appear that having a stupidly-placed brake lever is the new brakeless. And while I encourage thinking outside the box, if you're considering placing your brake lever anywhere other than your handlebar you should keep the box closed and sealed so you can bring your stupid idea back to the store immediately for a full refund.
This uniquely-placed lever has the advantage of offering a linear, kink-free path for the brake cable to travel. Unfortunately, it has the disadvantage of being almost completely useless unless you have lobster claws for hands. This rider gets full points for creativity, but somehow I don't think the warthog-tusk brake lever is going to catch on.
Slightly more tenable but still absurd is this placement, forwarded to me by a reader. It would appear that in the process of installing the lever the owner was suddenly smitten by some kind of paralytic dementia and instead diverted it to the top tube. I suppose there could be some kernel of logic buried in here somewhere--perhaps its placement comes in handy for stunt riding, or perhaps the clamp helps secure the top-tube pad from theft. Still, though, I remain recalcitrant and continue to insist that it's better to have both hands on the bars during a panic stop.
But this (thanks to Brian F. of Minneapolis for the photo) may be the pinnacle of brake lever placement inanity. Precious few people have raised stupidity to an artform in our time--among those who have are Jerry Lewis, Wile E. Coyote, and 80s Bobcat Goldthwait. You can now add the inventor of the head-actuated brake lever to that exclusive list.
Another area in which there has been considerable innovation has been in the areas of branding enhancement and elimination. As Americans, we have a love/hate relationship with labels. Some of us want to flaunt them, and some of us want to take great pains to hide them. In either case though we all seem to want what's underneath. Now, I'm all in favor of subtlety when it comes to branding--like many cyclists, I am dismayed that it is now impossible to buy a bicycle that doesn't have a URL on the inside of the chainstay. At the same time, though, I feel like taking great lengths to obscure a label is actually more conspicuous and vain than just leaving it there. It's inconspicuous consumption. It's one thing if the label just peels off. It's another when you have to attack it with gallons of chemicals and a ball of steel wool--or worse yet wrap it in tape:
Covering logos in tape is like hiding hiding money in a wallet or marijuana in a bong--everyone knows what's in there and you're not fooling anybody. Pista owners in particular are prone to this sort of behavior. I suppose they're self-conscious about the fact that they're riding a very popular bicycle. But there's nothing wrong with riding a popular bicycle. There is, however, something wrong with clumbsily and shamedly obscuring it like a suspected pedophile shielding his face from the press.
On the other hand, I suppose I prefer tape in the service of logo-obfuscation to tape in the service of logo embellishment. Decorating a bicycle in tape is the lowest form of adornment. I feel strongly that tape should only be used on a bicycle to finish your bar tape or to mark your seatpost height. Anything else is like putting Hello Kitty stickers on your notebook.
Still, though, I'll take tape decoration--and even quasi-lug fabrication--over the fabrication of a fake pedigree. The owner of this bike claims that "it used to belong to the singer of The Misfits:"
One is tempted to wonder if the owner of this bicycle also has Jon Voight's LeBaron parked in his driveway. Personally, I find it very difficult to believe that former punk crooner turned heavy metal homunculus Glenn Danzig ever owned a Spalding road bike.
In fact, the color scheme, the beach setting, and the coconut call to mind a much more likely former owner: