Monday, December 31, 2007

The Final Indignity of 2007: Giant Looming Posteriors

As I typed my last post announcing my vacation, I did so with trembling hands. Not because I was excited to take my leave, nor because I feared blogging withdrawal, nor even because I had just received a substantial Nashbar gift certificate for Festivus and could finally take advantage of their Inventory Reduction Sale to purchase Primal jerseys, obsolete Shimano components, and wire-bead tires with single-digit thread counts at unbelievable prices.

No, I trembled because I had been traumatized less than an hour before.

I had been riding Manhattan-bound over the Brooklyn bridge when I was overtaken on the incline by another cyclist. As he passed me, I noticed to my astonishment and horror that the waist of his jeans was so low that it revealed a sizeable percentage of his buttocks. I'm not talking about the sort of incidental plumber's crack that's so commonplace in our society that we hardly notice it. No, I'm talking more crack than Chris Rock smoked in "New Jack City." I was being mooned. Maybe not a full moon, but certainly at least a waxing gibbous. What's more, it was pretty cold out that morning, so the entire objectionable region was redder than Kentucky on election day.

While I generally observe a policy of not taking candid photos of other cyclists out on the road, I do make an exception when I feel that I have been wronged. And nothing's more wrong than exposing yourself to a fellow commuter like a mating baboon. At that moment, all bets (and, apparently, undergarments) were off. So I took this:

Note that I have maintained a respectful distance. (Though in all fairness and honesty, the distance is more out of fear than respect.) However, through the dubious magic of modern technology, I can zoom in to give you a better sense of just what I was subjected to that awful morning. Fortunately for you, as I zoom in, the resolution suffers--so you don't have to:

Note the strategically-placed bag strap. Unfortunately, it was not strategically-placed enough. Had it been a mere centimeter to the left, it might have covered his gluteal cleft and I might have been able to convince myself that I was simply looking at his back and not at his backside. That was not the case. In such moments, I find myself contemplating how the fate of man is often decided by the tiniest of margins. What if the Titanic had changed course just a little bit sooner? What if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed? What if Fignon had not lost those eight seconds to LeMond? Tough to say. All I know is, if only that strap had covered his ass crack, I might still believe in God and I might not have spent the rest of the morning rubbing my eyeballs with sandpaper.

Closer still and we note a few more items of interest. Our assailant appears to be riding a fixed-gear bicycle with SPD pedals in dress shoes and socks. He is also wearing a lock around his waist which may be the only thing keeping his pants from falling any further. I may very well owe that lock my life.

I'd like to say that after he passed me he receded into the distance and the image of his chapped rear receded from my mind's eye. That was not the case. Instead, after passing me he slowed just enough so that I was stuck behind him until we got to Manhattan. I'd also like to say that this is the only time this has happened to me. It isn't. It's just the only time I took a picture.

In fact, I was so traumatized that later that day I took a totally different route home. While it took me completely out of my way, I did encounter the following:

A Brooklyn Machine Works Gangsta Track simultaneously: 1) proving that top tube pads are indeed out of style; 2) showing that it has clearance for bar spins even with a 700c front wheel; and 3) doing an uncanny impression of a dog licking itself.

Green lights as far as the eye can see as a brace of spankin' new fixed-gears (complete with reflectors) dutifully wait for their owners outside an Avenue A bar. (New fixed-gears + drunk riders = fun!)

A friendly reminder or a bewildering reminiscence, depending on how you read it.

A lovely sentiment, or a graphic reminder of my morning nightmare, depending on how you look at it.

Fortunately, though, nobody exposed themselves to me as I headed home to embark upon my vacation. Which, save for tomorrow's holiday, is now over. So there it is--a chapped and repulsive ending to 2007. Let 2008 be more modestly attired.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Later for Now


Depending on who you are, you'll be either dismayed or relieved to know that as of today I am officially on vacation. While it's possible I may pop in for a random post if I have something compelling to share, for all intents and purposes I'll be gone until Monday, December 31st when I'll resume regular updates. In the meantime, I plan to ride, rest, catch up on emails (feel free to drop a line), and observe my annual holiday tradition of gathering loved ones in a cold dark room, watching Werner Herzog movies, and silently reflecting on our own personal shortcomings as human beings.

I want to thank everybody for reading and commenting. I'm constantly thrilled that so many people visit this site, participate in it, and in some cases even enjoy it. Ride safe--I'll see you out there.

--BSNYC

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fixedgeargallery...of top tube trends.

As 2007 draws mercifully to a close, I find myself looking back and rembering all the noteworthy things that have happened this past year. Soporific former Vice President Al Gore left his giant carbon footprint in history by winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Floyd Landis left his carbon-soled footprint in history by losing the Tour de France a year after he won it. Ted Nugent released "Love Grenade." And a man in Vermont found a condom in his Burger King sandwich.

With mere days to go until 2008, it's possible that this year may be remembered for something else as well--the year the top tube pad went out of style.

Now, I'm no optimist, and I'm certainly not one to raise false hopes. However, while they certainly won't disappear overnight, I have been seeing indications that the heyday of the top tube pad may in fact be behind us. As of today, 120 bicycles have been posted on Fixedgeargallery.com since December 1st. And of those, only four--or roughly 3.3%--have what I would call bona-fide top tube pads. Let's take a look:

Pad #1

I struggled over whether or not to count this one. Firstly, it's a polo bike, and bike polo has less in common with actual cycling than it does with pastimes like golf, ultimate frisbee, hacky-sack, and playing croquet ironically. Secondly, the owner calls it a "cum polo bike" in the description, which is just disgusting. But in the end, like the rim of an undertensioned wheel, I gave in.

Pad #2


There's no denying that the top tube pad on this bike wants to burst forth from its velcro and nylon shroud, stand up, and be counted. Certainly though its presence can be attributed to the zeal of convert--this is somebody's first fixed-gear and he can't buy enough stuff for it. But when the dust settles, the excitement wears off, and the Aerospoke has shattered, I have a feeling he will join the denizens of the naked.

Pad #3

Speaking of cheesy pads, here's someone who actually lives in one. "How can I show off my bicycle, my flat-screen TV, my audio system, my kitchy lizard toy and my sleek, modern furniture all at the same time? I know! I'll post the whole lot on fixedgeargallery!" Oh, right, sorry--the bike is for his girlfriend. That's probably the same thing he tells the cashier when he goes to Sephora and buys $75 worth of skin care products for himself. If he's waiting to upgrade the bike as she "learns to ride better," why didn't he put a brake on it? Have we broken through to a new dimension of irony where you now must master brakeless fixed-gear riding before putting a brake on your bike? In any event, while it doesn't have a brake, it does have a top tube pad. So at least when she crashes the bike won't get scratched.


Pad #4

This bike has a custom silk-screened top tube pad. So he's going to use that thing whether they're in style or not. Speaking of style, he seems to be lagging a bit behind. Hed tri-spokes are the new Aerospoke, and vintage Italian saddles are the new Brooks.

The Also-Rans

Of course, while I'd suggest anybody looking to get into the crotch-and-bike protection racket should wait and see where things are going before they jump in head-first, clearly putting padding on your top tube isn't entirely dead. In addition to the bikes above, there were others that had various kinds of wadded-up crap on their top tubes as well. However, for various reasons, I chose not to count them. Here they are:

Also-Ran #1

I couldn't tell whether this was an actual top tube pad or just a tourniquet meant to stanch the hemorrhage of ugliness. So I didn't count it.

Also-Ran #2



I did not count this one either, since it's not on a road or track frame. Rather, it's on a bike I can only think of as "Gigantitron Lite."

Also-Ran #3



I did not count this one because it's from Latvia. Just as much of the starlight we see at night is actually from long-dead suns, people in Latvia are only now adopting trends that have long since passed here. Plus, arguably it's short enough to be considered a top tube protector and not a top tube pad. Strictly speaking a protective layer should cover at least 50% of the top tube to be considered a top tube pad.

Also-Ran #4



I don't know if he's protecting his top tube from impact or from STDs, but either way rubber doesn't count.

So there you have it. Like spotting a fish in the Gowanus, it would appear that perhaps there's hope for this polluted waterway of bike culture yet. Unless parrots become the new top tube pad. This one may have been trained by Grant Petersen himself:


"Always keep your bars higher than your saddle. Skwaaawk!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

BSNYC Product Review: The Ultimate Cup-And-Ball Game



Once upon a time, bicycle headsets were like the prison system: they were gritty, they were full of caged balls, and they always needed overhauling. Now, however, there is a dizzying array of standards and designs: loose bearing; needle bearing; cartridge bearing. 1”; 1 1/8”; 1 ¼”. Threaded; threadless; integrated; internal; zero stack. Indeed, the headset is truly the most dynamic and exciting of all bicycle components.

Needless to say, when Cane Creek sent me their new 110 headset to review, I was thrilled. If you don’t already know, the 110 name refers to the fact that this headset is backed by a 110-year warranty. Yep, that’s no misprint—110 years. I’m sure you’re asking yourself what allows Cane Creek to offer such an extraordinary guarantee. Well, firstly, they’re incredibly confident in their product. Secondly, the warranty is only valid for the original owner, and since the average human life expectancy these days is only around 80 years they’re anticipating very few claims after 2087. Thirdly, the 1 1/8th headset standard is already disappearing, so in the next few years it’s unlikely you’ll even be able to find a frame to put it in.

Not only does the 110 come with one of the best warranties in the business, but it also comes with some of the most persuasive promotional literature I’ve ever read. “Headsets lead a hard life,” it says, “so no wonder that it’s hard to find one that gives you 100 percent of what you’re looking for.” Well, 100 percent of what I’m looking for is a headset that allows your bars to turn, so if the 110 does that they’ve already succeeded. The literature also says, “We’ve designed and manufactured a few million headsets in our day, so we have some idea of what it takes to create a benchmark, no-compromise design.” Cane Creek certainly has made a lot of headsets. Not only that, but many of them were crappy and more vulnerable to water intrusion than the New Orleans levee system. You’ve got to figure that a company whose failures number in the millions must have learned a thing or two by now.

I was nearly sold, except for one thing: the price tag. $140 is pretty steep for a headset, which brings us to the anodized and laser-etched elephant in the room. That’s right, Chris King. It’s pretty obvious that the 110 is a shot of colorful head tube candy directly across the King bow. For years, King have been taunting Cane Creek with their technologically superior headsets. Furthermore, Chris King's anti-integration stance has make him the Governor George Wallace of headset manufacturers, and his rejection of the integrated standard culminated a few years back with a controversial protest in which he crucified himself outside of Cane Creek headquarters and read aloud from his famous anti-headset integration screed.

But King must be quaking in his Sidis now. Cane Creek have not only apparently figured out how to keep water out of a headset for more than a week, but they’ve also trumped King’s once-mighty 10 year warranty by a full decimal place. Sure, chances are your properly-serviced Chris King headset (or just about any headset) will still be turning 10 years and a day from now. But it’ll be turning without a warranty behind it. Maybe you can sashay blithely around on that kind of thin ice, but I can’t.

Well, Cane Creek had me convinced on paper, but it was time to try the 110 out and see if it lived up to the hype. I grabbed one of my two BSNYC test-cycles, went over to Dave Moulton’s blog for some headset installation advice, and got to work. Now, I’m always extremely careful when applying hardware to my test-cycles, but unfortunately things did not go as smoothly as I’d hoped. No matter how hard I turned the bolts on my homemade press, the cups would not seat themselves in the head tube. I double-checked that both the headset and the head tube were 1 1/8” in diameter, and indeed they were. I re-read Dave’s instructions and, convinced I was on the right track, went back to work. Still, though, the cups refused to seat, and in fact I noticed that both the headset and the head tube had begun to deform. I had crushed my test-cycle!

So I called Cane Creek, and I learned two important things. Firstly, the standard headset they sent me was apparently not compatible with my test-cycle’s integrated head tube. Secondly, the 110-year warranty does not cover user stupidity.

That said, I still give the 110 high marks. Since its only shortcoming was incompatibility with my frame, it’s unlikely a King headset would have worked any better. So in that respect, they’re at least equal. Secondly, Cane Creek have informed me that they have several new improvements planned for the 110 that will make it even more competitive with the King. These improvements include: a blue and white Zionist color scheme to compete with King’s popular Rasta; a set of oil and vinegar cruets they expect will outsell King’s salt and pepper shakers; and a revolutionary new proprietary top cap.

Now that’s what I call getting a-head!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: New and Noteworthy

As other people compose their holiday greetings I once again find myself composing notes to the people I encounter on my commute. I'd like to say that it's better than lashing out at them verbally, but unfortunately I occasionally find myself doing that too. So in those cases I suppose the notes at least help fill in the gaps between the obscenities:

Dear Car That Beeped At Me,

You beeped your horn at me while I was riding to work. It was not the blaring, impatient honk of the self-important luxury car owner; rather, it was a brief chirp meant simply to alert me to your presence. And while your intentions may have been good—or at least not malicious—please note that I don’t care. Your beeping means you can see me, and I’m not worried about drivers who see me. I’m worried about drivers who don’t. Believe it or not, in a city of eight million people I already operate under the assumption that there is probably a car behind me, and the fact that you happen to be in it has no bearing on which portion of the road I choose to occupy. Please only use your horn when you are about to collide with another vehicle and death is imminent. Thank you.

Dear Car That Beeped At Me Impatiently,

Yours was the blaring, impatient honk of the self-important. What makes you think I care about your schedule or where you have to be? If you were on your way to saving a life you’d be in a truck with a siren, not in a German sedan. You also wouldn’t have food in your lap—unless you plan to resuscitate the patient by stuffing a Blimpie’s sub down his throat.

Dear Car From Jersey That Beeped At Me Impatiently,

When I told you to “go back to Jersey, you piece of [excrement],” you retorted: “I’m not from Jersey.” Now that’s just funny.

Dear Department Store Bike-Riding Salmon,

As I made my way around the double-parked FedEx truck, there you were, headed right at me, your chrome-plated suspension fork crown glistening in the winter sun. The dull sheen of your half-lidded eyeballs was a bit less brilliant, however. Speaking of brilliance, how far from it must you be to ride the wrong way down the busiest street in Downtown Brooklyn during rush hour? Mere feet separate you from the proper lane and safety, just as a mere handful of IQ points must separate you from being able to feed yourself.

Dear Fixed-Gear Caballero,

In New York City, as the mercury goes south the bandanas migrate northward, traveling from head-tubes and jean pockets to riders’ faces. You were one such rider, your hankie tied around the lower portion of your face, bandit-style. However, it just wasn’t that cold. There were infants in baby seats on hybrids with bare faces and they seemed quite comfortable. And if it had been that cold, a bandana wouldn't do anything anyway--except freeze solid with saliva and mucus and chafe your face. Maybe you wouldn’t be so cold if you knew that just because an article of clothing has a picture of a bicycle on it it’s not necessarily cycling-specific. You also don’t look menacing—you look like you’re playing Cowboys and Indians. And I’m not telling you this to mock you. I’m trying to help. A bandana is like a top-tube pad for your face. And the next step in cycling dorkitude is the Euro pirate roadie look
. That’s a step you don’t want to take.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Worst of NYC Craigslist #38-#41

If you can't get it on Craigslist, chances are you can't get it. Then again, if you can get it on Craigslist, chances are you don't want it. Especially when it comes to bikes. Whether it's questionable items, questionable services, or questionable business propositions, you'll find it lurking in NYC's cycling cesspool.

51 NJS BOMBER PRO frame/fork/headset/bb/dura ace hubs/nitto stem - $900 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/que/bik/511474024.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-12-16, 8:43PM EST

i have a beautiful lavender NJS BOMBER PRO. it's a 51 c-c and 52 top tube. it's chromed which will prevent the frame from rusting. it has a hatta bb, which will work with sugino cranksets. seatpost is 27.0. the spacing is different from the norm, so i had to special order hubs to fit the frame. dura ace 110 mm hubs. they cost a ton, so much i have literally blocked it out. over 250. i can't remember exactly. this frame has NO DENTS. some slight scratches on the chain stay. just beautiful. NO BRAKE HOLES. So if u don't know how to ride a track bike please don't bother, i really don't want someone killing themselves on these bikes. I will also throw in a 60 mm nitto perl stem. great deal, amazing parts to start your build. i'll also throw in some used risers i have and if u want i have some bright pink brand new orly's.


Translation: "I know very little about bikes but nonetheless I deceded I had to have an NJS track bike, even though I wasn't sure exactly what that meant. Consequently I got in over my head financially, and now that it's cold out I'm not interested in riding anymore anyway. Now my disillusionment can be your gain! Also, I'm not really concerned about someone killing themselves because they 'don't know how to ride a track bike.' I really just want to make the act of riding one sound badass--or at least as badass as riding a lavender bike can be. In reality I'd sell you this frame even if you've never ridden a bicycle in your life. My rent's not going to pay itself. Oh, right, one more thing. I meant 'Ourys.' 'Orly' is an airport in France."

BICYCLE FITTING DONE BY EXPERIENCED FITTER - $80 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/511809188.html
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-12-17, 8:24AM EST

I have been doing bicycle fittings for custum road bikes for 10 years (currently still in the business if you need a reference). Let me meet with you, check you out on your bicycle and make the adjustments needed to get you in the ideal position for your body type. I can meet you at a place of your convenience with my Cyclops trainer and tools. Send a contact number if your interested.

Call me a prude, but there's just something creepy about someone soliciting for bike fittings on Craigslist. I can't help imagining Blondie's "Call Me" playing as a Mercedes pulls up outside and a guy in a satin shirt unbuttoned to the mons pubis pulls a trainer, a laser pointer, and a case full of scented oils and candles out of the trunk. I wonder if he has trouble explaining to clients why a bubble bath is an integral part of his bike-fitting process. I also wonder if the $80 includes a happy ending.


Bike Mech. needed for disassem, invlvd with Frame Re-Painting prt time [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/511330992.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-12-17, 8:24AM EST

I own quality equipment for spraying bikes with lacquer based automotive paint and have experience with painting bike frames and forks on a custom job type of basis. The experience I don't have is with properly dismantling and re-assembling bikes for the purposes of painting them. Something like a track bike is easy enough, but you put an 18-speeder with brakes derailer etc. in front of me.. and well... it could get ugly.

In the past, when I was located in Atlanta, I have had customers and friends take their bikes to an actual mechanic for dis/re-assembly, but I am looking to start the operation up here in Bushwick and need someone with this type of experience. I can offer profit sharing on a by-the-job basis, free paint-jobs (at materials cost), and the co-opting of equipment and tools needed for the purposes of maintaining your own stuff. I can guarantee the work wont be steady but the occasional odd job could be good if that is what you're looking for. Someone who needs supplemental income or extra cash is the right person. Ideally the right person to get involved would also be able to show me how to do basic things like remove a fork and would be available to do more advanced things themselves like remove a bottom bracket etc. I'm not a total idiot, I'm just not a gear-head- I'm proficient with tools but obviously dont understand the specialized field of bikes.

If you have your own tools, that's great. If you don't have your own tools but know what you need, I can acquire what is necessary provided you give me the working knowledge and some information/justification. I'm not asking for someone to be a wrench-slave, we're talking the occasional dis/re-assembly and possibly some maint. knowledge along the way. PS: I will only be taking paying-paint jobs, and you will be promptly paid your share in CASH upon finishing each job.

you can contact me at: [deleted]. Respond with "bike painting" as the subject please, and include a brief description of your experience and a phone number so we can meet up at a coffee shop and discuss plans. Individuals who do not respond with a phone number will not be contacted. Thanks for your time and enjoy the ride.

Free advice for aspiring frame painter: require customers to bring you their frames and forks already disassembled. If they can't do it themselves I hear there are these things called bike shops now that can do it for them. Here's a free slogan for you, too: "You strip it, I spray it."

Softride - Solo XL - Shimano 105 - Aero Bar Shifter - $525 (Midtown East) [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/509322767.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-12-14, 2:41PM EST

Great starter bike for tall riders. Over 5'11". Used for two seasons. Nimble wheel NOT INCLUDED is $200.00, extra.



There was just a collision at the intersection of Triathlon Street and Vile Bike Avenue, and this is the twisted, smoking wreckage. But whatever you do, don't rubberneck, unless you want to be haunted by the gruesome aftermath for the rest of your days. And don't bring the Jaws of Life, because this is one crash victim that should be left to its fate. Yet I can't stop looking. I avert my eyes from the triple crank, only to have them alight on the downward-angled seat. (Though I suppose the angle is to account for the sag once you straddle that ridiculous see-saw coming off the top tube.) Confounded by that, I move on to the handlebars, only to be tormented by the shifter cables hanging off the front end like downed power lines in a hailstorm of ugliness.

I have nightmares in which I look up only to find thousands of Softrides falling from the sky, their riders straddling carbon beams and waving their helmets wildly like Slim Pickens in "Dr. Strangelove." I think the only people with the wherewithal to answer this ad are either the fixed-gear freestylers looking to get a good deal on the Nimble front wheel, or the kinds of people who like to watch live surgery. This is not a "starter bike" as the seller claims--unless what you want to start doing is riding around in short-shorts and a crop-top and making young children cry.


The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Falling Down In Public

(the Brooklyn Bridge this morning)


As reader, insightful commenter, and pun enthusiast Leroy pointed out in the comments on the last post, if you rode over the Brooklyn Bridge this morning, chances are you paid for your poor choice by falling down at some point--especially if you tend follow the roadie's guide to negotiating snow and ice, which is as follows:

1) Panic!
2) Stiffen your entire body
3) If your wheels should start to slip, apply your brakes forcefully
4) Fall and break your collarbone (Roadie collarbones break like Bontrager steerers at Paris-Roubaix. Every time a roade fractures his clavicle triathlete hem lines get a little higher. Why do you think they show so much skin?)

Now I'm not saying I fell today, and I'm not saying I didn't. But I will say that falling during a commute is much worse than falling in a race--not because it's any more severe, but because there are lots of people around. A fall during a race is in context while a fall in the city is just embarrassing. If you do happen to fall, here are some ways to pull it off:

--Stay down. Make it look as though, while you certainly didn't mean to wind up on the pavement, you're kind of happy you did. Go into your bag, make a few phone calls, maybe eat something. Or else just fold your hands behind your head, relax, and gaze wistfully at the sky. People respect people who take life as it comes.

--Make it count. Once you realize you're going down, maximize the shock value. Send the bike sliding for a few yards. If you can, take a few other riders with you. Then get up and finish your bike off like Pete Townshend laying waste to his guitar at the end of a concert. Maybe even take out a car windshield too. Clumbsiness is embarrassing--carnage is awesome.

--Be hostile. People might ask if you're OK, but they're really just gloating. You know what's good for wiping the smugness off some self-satisfied good samaritan's face? A snowball.

--Jump right up and shout incredulously. "Holy crap! Did you see that?!?"

--Accost and blame a diminutive, non-English speaking tourist.

--Breakdance!

Here's what not to do:

--Try to pretend you're not hurt when you are. I've seen this one before. That's when someone has an awkward fall, is obviously injured, but is to embarrassed to acknowledge it so refuses help and just rides off in obvious agony. Not only is that unwise, but it just doesn't look good. It's kind of like Pee Wee Herman leaving the biker bar. Falling over because you couldn't get out of your pedals may look stupid, but getting back on too soon, riding the wrong way down a one-way street, and getting run over by a Fresh Direct truck looks really, really stupid.

--Say "I meant to do that." Again, it was funny in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," but it's lame in real life.

--Bang your seat back into place with your palm. Why do people do that? It's not a race--take two seconds, use an allen key, and do it properly.

--Attempt to commiserate with passers-by over equipment damage. "Look! See that? The brake lever's all bent now!" Nobody cares.

--Cry

So remember, it's getting messy out there. If you can't be careful, at least be dignified. And stay off the Brooklyn Bridge after bad weather.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This Just In: Apoca-Watch Update

Controversial BSNYC commenter and noted fixed-gear freestyler Prolly reports that rapping person Kanye West has just purchased a Cinelli Vigorelli track bike from New York City shop Trackstar. If this is indeed true and not a hoax, the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse may be drawing even nigher than heretofore thought. Photos of Kanye with the bike were not available, but Prolly submits this artist's rendering:




In other news, a candid photograph discovered by me indicates that Hillary Clinton's press secretary Jay Carson may have an affinity for fixed-gears as well.

Finally, apropos of nothing, Greg Lemond's house was recently featured on The Travel Channel's "Luxurious Log Homes." I'm pleased to report that his log home is indeed luxurious.

Now back to today's post, the Cannondale dramatization.

Gilding the Lily: Building a Better Bike

Every so often I like to check in with the websites of the various big bicycle companies. Of course, when I do I know that I should not expect to find much actual information, since finding a fact on these sites is like finding a marble in a kiddie pool full of oatmeal. Instead, I visit simply to be entertained, and I'm rarely disappointed--especially when it comes to the copy. Here's a bit of copy I read recently which I found particuarly provocative, as well as a dramatization of what may have happened between the lines:



The copy: "Our Cannondale Vredestein team thought we were insane, 'Why would you want to change something that’s perfect?' Our engineers asked, 'What would make it better?' The team responded, 'More travel, lighter, stiffer.' Done."


ACT I
TEAM: You guys are insane! Why would you want to change something that’s perfect?

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Wow. I mean really, wow. You think the bike’s perfect? I’m blushing!

TEAM: Yeah! Well, I mean, it’s kinda weird looking, but we’ve already got all the wrenches for it and stuff. Not only that, but we’ve also got all the riders’ seat and bar heights and junk just right. If you make a new bike we’re going to have to figure that stuff out all over again. That could take hours.

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: I see. But don't you want the bike to have more travel, and to be lighter and stiffer?

TEAM: Not really, we just run the suspension on lockout. Light's good I guess. Easier to carry.

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Oh. Well, at any rate, don’t worry. You’re gonna love the new bike.

TEAM: Whatever.

ACT II

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: [Throwing bike out window] We need a totally new Scalpel!

ENGINEER: [Dropping protractor in surprise] What? Why? What would make it better?

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Selling more of them, that’s what! What do you think this is, a kibbutz? We’re a publicly-traded company! You know what our stock’s trading at right now? Four cents a share! [Digs in pocket, grabs some pocket change and throws it at the ENGINEER.] You know what I did just there? I just bought thirty-two percent of the company! Someone could buy us out right now for less than it costs to do a load of delicates at the laundromat! There are literally people standing in front of vending machines right now and asking themselves, “Hmm, I could buy this bag of peanut M&Ms, or I could own half of Cannondale.” And you know what they’re doing? They’re buying the freaking candy!

ENGINEER: All right, all right. But think for a minute. Even small changes are a major pain in the ass, and those changes cost money. What about a decal redesign?

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: You don’t think we’re doing that? We just hired someone off Craigslist. But there’s only so much we can do there. We’ve got one of the longest names in the industry and there’s only so many places on the bike we can fit it. Man, those guys at Trek have it so easy!

ENGINEER: Okay. What about a name change?

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Wow, you’re a genius. You wanna be head of marketing? I think you’d be great at that. Idiot. Scalpel’s the perfect name! We’d be nuts to change it! It’s sharp and precise! Do you know how many names we went through before we picked it? Paring Knife—too culinary. X-Acto Knife—already trademarked. Samurai Sword—too ethnic. The Hedge Clipper—too landscapey—

ENGINEER: All right, how about this? We move the fork leg from the left side of the bike to the right and we call it the “Righty.”

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Where the hell are you gonna put the brake?

ENGINEER: Uh, we’ll make an adaptor?

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Do you know anything about bikes at all?

ENGINEER: No! I told you that when you hired me from that novelty company.

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Yeah, well call me crazy, but I thought the guy who invented the Superfly Oinking Pig might know a thing or two about engineering.

ENGINEER: Well, I’m doing the best I can.

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: I know you are. [Putting his arm around ENGINEER.] Hey, look, I know I’m being tough on you. I’m under a lot of pressure is all. I’ve got LeBron James breathing down my neck like a teenager on a date. I just wanna make a hit out of this thing, you know?

ENGINEER: I know.

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Great. I knew I could count on you. Now let’s build a bike!

[They high-five]

ACT III

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: So here it is, the new frame.

TEAM: Cool. Decals are a little cheesy. Why is the fork leg on the right? What are we supposed to do about the brake?

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: Just flip the wheel around.

TEAM: Oh. Well thanks.

HEAD OF CANNONDALE: No problem—thanks for the input.
FIN

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The BSNYC Holiday Gift Guide

I generally treat the holiday season like a cyclocross race--I keep my head down, try not to crash, and pretend it isn't happening. Unfortunately, though, no matter how determined you are to ignore it it's inevitable that you're going to have to participate in it at some point by buying someone a gift. If you find it absolutely necessary to buy a cyclist a gift this holiday season, here's a list that will hopefully help you get the whole ordeal overwith and get back to riding:



Roadies


This is the time of year when amateur road racers across the country work on designing their team kits for next season. And as all roadies know, the more brightly colored the kit the more pro you look. Unfortunately, though, some of these colors can also be translucent, and even the most dedicated roadies stop shaving at the upper thigh. If your team happens to wear light colors you can easily fall victim to VBS, or "Visible Bush Syndrome." That's right, I'm talking about that embarassing dark shadow in the crotchal region that can ruin your next podium appearance. Fortunately, pubic hair dye is easily available. It's inexpensive and it comes in a variety of colors, including Passion Plum, Intense Red, Amber Flame, and Carmine Pink (formerly T-Mobile). It's the perfect gift for the special roadie in your life.



Fixed-Gear Freestylers
Wanna make a fixed-gear freestyler happy? Well, nothing makes them happier than skidding. Unfortunately though, while epic-length stem-humping skids are fun, they're also tough on tires, and a dedicated FGF can go through more Armadillos in a month than a tractor-trailer on a Texas highway. That's why airless tires make a perfect gift. Sure, the ride quality is terrible, but it's about skidding, not riding. Best of all, you don't have to change a tire until you hit rim! (Or until your rear wheel looks like a decagon.) He or she will be skidding like a drunken teenager from Greenwich in Daddy's BMW on prom night!


Commuters
Commuting by bicycle is all about two things: smugness and safety. And while your favorite bicycle commuter probably already has all the "One Less Car" stickers and t-shirts he needs, he can always be safer. Now he can burn with the brightness of a thousand suns--or at least three million candlepower units--with a hand-held spotlight! There won't just be One Less Car--there'll be like fifty less cars when he blinds oncoming drivers with an output equivalent to roughly thirty automotive headlights and runs them clear off the road. Why not help him take back the streets by taking away someone's retinas this holiday season?


BMXers



The year was 1987. In movie theaters, we were thrilled by "Robocop," swept away by "Dirty Dancing," and laughing at "Full Metal Jacket." On TV, we were delighted by the antics of "Alf," "Night Court," and "60 Minutes." And on our Walkmans, Michael Jackson was still "Bad," Bon Jovi was "Slippery When Wet," and we were swept away by the "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack. We were also in the grip of Scooter Mania. That's right, freestyle BMX-inspired scooters were all the rage. For a brief and exceedingly dorky moment America's top riders tore up the half-pipes on the Mongoose Miniscoot, the Dyno Zoot Scoot, and the General Sidekick. Sadly, those days are gone. But what BMX enthusiast wouldn't want to own a piece of the most embarassing chapter in BMX history? If you'd like to help him--or if you're looking to stay on the cutting edge of retro-chic--head on over to http://www.bmxmuseum.com/ and check out the classifieds.




Freeriders, Gravity Riders and Other Wearers of Full-Face Helmets



If you've got a friend or loved one who rides a bike that looks like it should have a motor and weighs over 40 pounds, chances are he'll love the THE Torch sweatshirt, forwarded to me by a reader. This is the ideal garment for riders who also enjoy things like paintball, DJing, bands like Korn, and first person shooter games with racist overtones. It's also a great gift for messengers--not the fixed-gear messengers everyone likes to copy, but those other messengers who ride mountain bikes , wear goggles and full body armor, and don't get invited to parties in Williamsburg.

Cyclocrossers

Sure, every cyclocrosser worth his cantis has a pair of Crocs and a pair of knee-high rubber boots in the rear of his Subaru. But only the most dedicated have a pair of full-on waders. These are absolutely essential when you're on pit duty for a friend or teammate in the Florida everglades, the La Brea Tar Pits, or parts of Oregon. (Includes a handy pocket for storing GU packets, cowbells, and the shards of your dignity.)



Tourers

While roadies tend to be clean-shaven, touring cyclists generally occupy the other end of the grooming spectrum. Here, hairy legs that evoke Spanish moss and beards that creep unnervingly eyeballward are the norm. For these riders, normal grooming tools can be inadequate. That's why canine-inspired stripping knives make for a perfect addition to any tourist's panniers. And don't forget to include this handy guide--all your favorite SPD sandal enthusiast needs to do is find the dog he'd most like to look like and cut away.




Randonneurs


What Francophilic cyclist wouldn't love the gift of cheese? It's perfect for nibbling by the fire after that Brevet as you peruse the "Rivendell Reader," pet your loyal Alsatian, and inch your spouse ever closer to divorce by holding forth on your feelings regarding fenders, lugs, and braze-ons.

Recumbent Riders

Finally, for that rider in your life who hasn't given up lying on his back with his feet flailing in the air, give the gift of on-the-bike entertainment with a mobile. It's easy to install, it will amuse and delight him as he rides, and it will even make him more visible to motorists. He'll slobber in his beard with delight!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The BSNYC Tuesday Fashion Fun Quiz!

Part of the reason bicycles have become so popular recently is that more and more people are discovering that doing tricks on them or simply hanging around near them can be easier and more enjoyable than actually riding them. Consequently, they don't need to wear garments like bib shorts, jerseys, and cycling shoes, and companies both new and old are rushing to clothe these people in the leisure wear that's more suited to their riding style. In fact, cycling seems to be joining those less physically demanding activities I like to call SIBs--or Sports Involving Belts. These sports don't require serious technical garments. Instead, they simply require slightly modified street clothes. The three best examples of SIBs are fishing, bowling and golf.

Like me, you may occasionally have trouble telling the difference between what I call cycling leisure wear and golf clothes. Following are some ambiguous photos of clothing articles. Each one is marketed towards either cyclists or golfers. Just look at the picture, think, and click on the pastime for which you think the garment is intended. If you're right, you'll see the garment. If you're wrong, you'll see the admonishing and stylishly coiffed visage of cycling fashion plate Mario Cipollini. Good luck.





Sure, "this classic argyle zip mock will keep you warm and stylish," but will it keep you warm and stylish on the bike or on the links?


--Bike




Think carefully--for which activity would a tweed hat be more appropriate?







This large-brimmed cap is named after an African American pioneer in a traditionally white sport. But which sport?








"The fusion between a classic street and _____ shoe find a sweet spot - The Jetsetter."









Lion of Flanders? Or just a lion?









Spats! After all, it's 2007.








"Material: 51% Cotton / 45% Polyester / 4% Elastane. _____ logo on left thigh, back welt pockets with inner loops and fastening, teflon coated overlay on lower back legs for hem protection."


--Bike


--Golf






"Belt loops with 7" elastic strip added in back waistline... This will be your favorite pair!"


--Bike


--Golf



BONUS QUESTION


Are you more likely to find this $25 piece of material designed to protect a long piece of metal in a bike shop or a pro shop?

--Bike

--Golf

Monday, December 10, 2007

Worst of NYC Craigslist Bike Ads #33-#37

Last week I saw something disturbing on Craigslist, as did at least one reader who emailed me to bring it to my attention. No, it wasn't someone looking to trade a kidney for Suntour Superbe Pro crank or anything like that--black market organ trading is so commonplace on Craigslist that it's not even worth mentioning. It was actually something far worse. Someone was selling a Bianchi Pista for a price so shockingly low it brought the NYC PistaDex down to a staggering 350. And it must have sold quickly, because the ad vanished as fast as it had materialized.

At the time, rather than cause a panic by bringing this to your attention, I decided to watch and wait. It was the day of New York's first snowfall, so I figured maybe someone was panicking and that the market would undergo a correction. I was right. While there aren't any Bianchi Pistas for sale at the moment, I think the current crop of fixed-gear frippery should be enough to convince you the Apocalypse is not yet upon us. Or is it...?

Eai Brass knuckle track frame(Sand Green) - $220 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/503364718.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-12-08, 11:10PM EST

Properly used brass knuckle for sale i have original fork I am not selling it with the carbon fork that is on the picture.

the specs are

50cm 1 1/8 headtube (threadless) and

the bike does not include bottom bracket

but will include a head set (not the chris king)

it has scracthes no dents

it has vertical drop outs

aluminum frame rides nicely takes a great mass of abuse

i am a messenger in the city so i can show you it

serious inquires only [deleted]



Ah, so nice to see an old friend. If it is indeed the same bike and this person bought it I do hope he managed to negotiate the original $1,200 asking price. The seller points out that this frame is "properly used," but I see absolutely nothing proper about dressing a track bike like a raver. I also don't see "vertical dropouts," though I do see track ends. Most troubling is his reassurance that this aluminum frame "takes a great mass of abuse." Buying abused aluminum is like adopting an abused pitbull--sooner or later it's going to bite you in the ass. And why does he say, "i am a messenger in the city so i can show you it"? Is he an aspiring tour guide too?


58cm MOTH Track Bike - Tubular Deep V Campy Wheel Set - $650 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/jsy/bik/502510129.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-12-08, 2:53AM EST

This is a great bike, fun to ride, super smooth. Unfortunately I've got to pay rent this month so I have to let it go.
I'm Selling it complete ($650 obo) or the frame or wheel set separate ($300 each).
58cm Moth Aluminum Track frame, integrated headset, aluminum fork drilled for brake.
Campagnolo Track Wheel Set, German Tubular tires, radial front, 3 cross rear.
46/17 IRO drive train, straight and true.
Custom Cinelli drop bars turned into bullhorns.
MKS Chain Tensioners.
Shimano Clipless Pedals.
Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.


I like this ad for a number of reasons. Firstly, I'm a big fan of bike-in-the-kitchen shots. If you were to put a saucer of milk in front of this bike it would look like a gangly house cat. I also like that the seller mentions he's "got to pay rent this month." Why only this month? What stingy roommate, girlfriend, or authority figure has decided to finally put an end to his days of freeloading and ass-above-shoulders riding? Perhaps like Icarus his Moth has finally flown too close to the flame of laziness. I also wonder why he won't mention the brand of the tire and instead only calls them "German Tubular tires." Do sponshorship obligations prevent him from specifying that they're Continentals? But most of all I like that he says the drivetrain is "straight and true." This is the kind of thing a wistful captain might say about his ship's timbers before setting out to sea. I'm tempted to go see the bike if only to hear that description in person. "Aye, her drivetrain's straight and true, her saddle is high as the noonday sun, and her bars are lower than Larry David's testis."


$75.00 to $125.00 ( single speeds ) [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/502611542.html]
Reply to: [deleted]

Date: 2007-12-08, 8:16AM EST

My bike shop with my nephew who lives near the Bedford L train station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

check out our BIKES by e-mail at [deleted]

I believe this is what's called a "sentence fragment." I'm assuming he meant to add the word "sucks" after "Brooklyn." How do you check out bikes by email anyway?

My new bike may be your old bike-- [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/502426962.html]
Reply to: [deleted]

Date: 2007-12-08, 12:21AM EST

So, my acquisition this evening (12/7) is a stellar new bicycle. On the corner of Bedford and Grand in Brooklyn-a gentleman, unsolicited, offered me a stunning bike at a discount rate. I bartered like a savy individual and walked away with a nearly flawless item for less than most pay for a reasonable steak entree or a moderate bottle of wine. Though I am guility- My good fortune may be the source of your tears or at least minute gripes. Common sense dictates this pedal vechicle was originally obtained by my street salesman through less than honest measures. I will return it to the owner if they read this and describe it succinctly- otherwise it's mine.

I was the recipient of a velocipede theft this last summer and understand the actue trauma involved running about like a desperate Italian with your son in tow -scavenging the markets for reminents of your transportation -disgusted, frustrated, and helplessly irate,.......... - Here's your chance to balance one petty injustice-- It's a men's trek- tell me the rest...........


I can tell you the rest, but not about the bike. I can tell you that you moved here after graduating from Oberlin and that you have a penchant for scarves and corduroy jackets with elbow pads. I can tell you also that despite your studied, old-fashioned persona you are occasionally seduced by the internet, and in your idle moments you've caught yourself browsing galleries of 19th century facial hair as part of your ongoing attempt to grow the perfect beard. I also know that when you're lucky enough to get a date you spend at least ten minutes studying the beer list, and when the bartender finally comes to take your order you have to tell her to come back because you haven't decided yet. You also read McSweeney's and may be working on a semi-autobiographical novel with a really long title--in fact, you contemplated titling this post "The Purloined Penny-Farthing: In Which I Purchase a Bicycle Which May Have Been Wrongly Appropriated by the Seller, and In Which I Endeavor to Return It to Its Rightful Owner." Also, your parents aren't really going to Mexico for the holidays. They just don't want you home for Christmas.

IRO Mark V fixed gear 56cm, plus parts, like new - $750 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/498989924.html]
Reply to: [deleted]

Date: 2007-12-04, 8:53PM EST

IRO Mark V, 56cm, fixed gear setup

This bike was built up from the Mark V frameset by Recycle a Bicycle in Brooklyn. All the parts and workmanship are superb.

Maybe 100 miles of riding since new.

NOS Sugino Gold 45T chainring

15T Shimano Dura Ace Cog

170mm Bulletproof cranks

Panaracer Stradius 700x23 tires

Mavic CXP22 rims + Formula hubs (running fixed gear, please note this is not a single speed/freewheel setup)

Kalin seatpost

NOS yellow perforated Selle Italia Concor saddle Dimension stem (threadless headset)

Optional front brake (currently fitted)

3 sets of bars:

Nitto NJS Pista track bars, straight road bars, shortened MTB risers

Kryptonite lock

Bern hard hat I'll even throw in a set of Adidas MTB shoes if you want.

Truly a great deal for someone.



IRO? Bulletproof?!? Dimension?!?!? All this for only $750? Clearly this person saw that $350 Pista last week because he's casting off the fixed-gear lifestyle like a swinger casts off his robe before stepping into a crowded jacuzzi. He's even including the shoes, the helmet, and three bars so you can pose differently on this bike according to your moods. I'm not sure what "straight road bars" are though. Does he mean "straight" like "straight-up?" Or straight like flat mountain bike bars? Or bullhorns? I also don't know what an "optional front brake" is. Are they making brakes that engage automatically now? In that case I suppose I finally understand the brakeless phenomenon--if I couldn't decide for myself when to apply my brake I'd probably ditch it too. In any case, here's your chance to step right into a used IRO for just a fraction less than what two brand new ones would cost.

Friday, December 7, 2007

NYC: Winter Wonderland of Cycling

As New York continues its slow surrender to winter, here a few things that can make you wonder why you continue to live here:




Your bike looks like the rim of a margarita glass.



It's cold in Fahrenheit...




...and in Celcius!


Instead of getting stuck behind a woman talking on her cellphone with a Balducci's bag dangling from her handlebars, you get stuck behind this.


Local retail clothing chain and arch-enemy of tall-bike enthusiasts Brooklyn Industries is having it's annual Holiday Crap-tacular.



The rats dogs are wearing Christmas sweaters.