Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Binging and Purging: Getting Over the Handmade Bike Show

Photos continue to pour in from this past weekend’s handmade bicycle show, and like most of the cyclists who weren’t there I continue to pore over them. Yes, many of the bicycles were beautiful. Yes, we are truly fortunate to be alive during a handcrafted bicycle renaissance. Yes, it’s great to see so much innovation from so many independent builders. And so forth.

Frankly, after gorging myself on pictures I thought I’d gotten the whole thing out of my system already, but I haven't. There’s still something about the show that’s bothering me. It’s like a slight ticking from your bicycle that you still can’t get rid of despite multiple tear-downs and re-builds. Certainly I’d like to just sit back and appreciate the bikes. But as the sort of person who sees a child smiling and wonders, “What the hell are you smirking at?,” sadly I am just not able. Here are some of the ways this figurative ticking has manifest itself:

It Makes My Bikes Seem Crappier

I’m a strong believer in bicycle modesty. I don’t like flashy bikes, or precious bikes. I don’t believe in pampering them, upgrading for vanity’s sake, or spending extra money for incremental differences in quality. Still, though, after looking at show pictures I catch myself resenting my own bikes just a little bit. And that’s dangerous. First you’re coveting some DeSalvo and not bothering to keep your own bike in good working order, and eventually you’re throwing your bike down the steps for missing shifts and being ugly like you’re some kind of lycra-clad Ike Turner.

It Makes Me Feel Guilty

Handmade bicycles are built voluntarily by people who are passionate about cycling and have studiously unusual facial hair configurations. Mass-produced bicycles are built by slaves who don’t know the Maillot Jaune from the Khmer Rouge. Probably the only thing that differentiates my most expensive bike from my cheapest bike is that the people who built the expensive one were over 13 years old and were fed that week.

It Makes Me Feel Like I Have To Do Routine Maintenance

You can only look at so many close-ups of pristine drivetrains before you finally admit your own needs overhauling. If it wasn’t for the stupid bike show I could have left mine alone for another few months. Did I care before that my chain links are so gritty and sticky that spinning my cranks sounds like a bongo solo on a scratchy record? No. Do I care now? A little.

It Makes Me Resent Portland

As a New Yorker my image of Portland is that it’s some kind of moist cycling paradise, and this was furthered by the handmade bike show coverage. Apparently, the streets are lined with custom bike builders, and you can get one made while you wait. Just pop in, place an order, go next-door and spend 15 minutes shopping for organic hemp underwear or whatever it is that people wear out there, and then come back and pick up your new frame. Between the emails I get and the articles I read it seems like Portland is a place where cyclists frolic in ample bike lanes, race cyclocross in dresses, and lock their exquisitely-crafted bikes not with chains and u-locks but with trust and love. Of course, I should be happy for them, but instead I catch myself wanting to bring them here so they can choke to death on some reality.

It Makes Me Resent Portland

And what’s with all those townies and commuter bikes? Sure, I’m all for the marriage of craftsmanship and practicality, but is there a city on Earth where you can actually leave a bike like that outside? And if so, is it Portland? I think any city benign enough to ride bikes like that in would eat me alive—with kindness. Here in New York we’ve learned not to grow attached to our bikes in the same way that the gazelles of the African savanna know not to get too attached to their young.

It Makes Me Resent Robin Williams

Apparently Robin Williams was there checking in with Independent Fabrication about his new bike made out of 953 tubing. Good for him. I can see him admiring it as he combs his shoulder hair. I hear he styles it with Phil Wood’s Tenacious Oil.

Vanilla Bicycles

I admire these beautiful bicycles as much as the next cyclist, but it’s enough already. Sacha White’s wait list is so long that if head tube diameters keep increasing at their current rate they’ll be at least five inches wide by the time you can expect to take delivery. Vanilla has become so popular that I think we're about due for the inevitable backlash for backlash’s sake. So be careful. By the time you get your hands on a Speedvagen they could be more out of style than REO Speedwagon.

157 comments:

Anonymous said...

Poop!

Anonymous said...

eat that, blog racers! Poop on your firsts!

Bun E said...

I hate Robin Williams

Anonymous said...

And poop on leroy while I'm at it! Drizzily Coors-induced poop!

Anonymous said...

Portland...moist...funny.

Chris said...

i'm choking on my triscuits right now

Beau said...

Bike Snob, You're really hitting on the reasons I chose not to move to NYC and came to Seattle instead. Seattle isn't Portland (It's a real city), but it's a helluva lot closer to it than NYC.

Anonymous said...

Top 10!!!!!

paul hobson said...

portland vs. seattle feuds always make me laugh

Karl Rover said...

Yes, Portland is like the Rivendale of Middle Earth. Everything moves in slow motion while your Liv Tyler like barista hands you fresh coffee with soft, warm eyes.

Yellowburd said...

Mass-produced bicycles are built by slaves who don’t know the Maillot Jaune from the Khmer Rouge.... Ohh bike snob, you made me funny-fountain my oatmeal.

datamonkey said...

I am down with your pain. I worked for a long while in Seattle for a guy building custom hand built furniture, same thing as hand built bikes. Bunch of guys with questionable chin beards using words like Heirloom and time honored and then bitching about the fact that most folks wont throw down 7 or 8 grand for an entertainment center, most folks just want a place to put their TV and most folks just want a bike that goes and stops. "You'll work harder with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day, slave for soilders til you starve and have your head skewered on a stake." Khemer Rouge and Ike Turner in the same blog. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Calfee is coming out with a new model made from bong resin and a proprietary natural fiber woven exclusively from Robin Williams back hair.

Scott said...

I don't care what anyone says, REO Speedwagon is awesome. You can all go to hell.

Richie said...

Do people really clean their drivetrains?

Bobby said...

Hey Snob-

If it's any consolation to you, a friend of mine just took delivery of a Vanilla. Not only did the price double during the two year wait, he said if he had to do it over again he would have gone with another builder.

Apparently all the hype is going to Mr. White's head and is making him a bit of a cranky pants.

Still, he likes the bike enough to not sell it on the eBay so that's a good thing, I guess.

Kelsey said...

I absolutely dispise Portland! yes, it has vast bike lanes, yes there are seemingly, thousands of custome frame builders... but there's no passion. no drive to do anything with class, and bikes are so common place that the odds of getting hit are much higher than in a city that is less accepting. Also, let's not forget that the Max Tracks run all catawampus throughout downtown. besides, that much courtesy is annoying. PDX v SEA fueds are hillarious! (seattle is the superior city by far... BTW)

Anonymous said...

Even on the CR mailing list there was some hating of the NAHBS

Ka_Jun said...

For shame, BSNYC, REO Speedwagon comes with this cyclist's maudlin seal of approval!

agentdetroit said...

datamonkey
bravo for the dk reference.

bsnyc
how do you feel about indy for 2009? i'm pushing for detroit 2010!

bother yam said...

I've just been to Portland (before the NAHMBS) with my wife. We're both smitten with the city. We'd move.

Of course our barista wasn't some doe-eyed lovely, but some skinny, tattooed dork with eyeliner and a porkpie hat. I bet he rides a fixie.

On second thought, we'll probably stay in Minneapolis. It's almost as good and the winters keep the homeless away...

Anonymous said...

before bikesgonewild, michael balls, and various anons get to flaming eachother in an hour or so, let me say that todays post was great.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Agentdetroit,

I don't know. Is Indianapolis the place with the wheat?

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

i recently did a study while cooking at a restaurant. it's the music-to-rage-ratio study. as you can probably guess, certain music is put on the stereo (usually by someone who actually likes it) and i time how long it takes me to have a violent visceral reaction to the music. here are the results so far:

country music radio: almost 3 hours!
any other commercial radio: no more than 4 hours
sublime: 2 hours
tupac: under 2 hours

reo speedwagon: less than 10 seconds

Matt in Seattle said...

In a conversation with Bruce Gordon we were discussing the price of handmade bikes. At the time he was showing a $13k bike that was almost completely fabricated by hand, by him, parts and all. The reality is, if you want one of those bikes then get one, if you want a regular bike then get one of those, but don't bitch and moan about the price of a handmade bike, those people need to eat too and none of them are filthy rich for building bikes.

Also, the painter at IF is a friend of mine, she does some pretty impressive work, eh?

Bobbo said...

excellent post..excellent

GGehrke said...

Wow. Started as sort of a downer but by the end I was loling away. Awesome.

Cameron said...

To me, these handmade bike guys need the mass produced proletariat just to have someone to look down on (and feel they're better than). I'm happy to oblige them.

Snob, don't forget, this was a bike "show" so clean drive trains and trailer queen bikes should be expected but not taken too seriously.

Anonymous said...

"eventually you’re throwing your bike down the steps for missing shifts and being ugly like you’re some kind of lycra-clad Ike Turner."

Dude, isn't it kinda soon?

Ka_Jun said...

http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/mis/569701714.html

Man, Valentine's day is in the air.

Jim said...

Dude, I had a red one, a Khmer Rouge that is. I totally used to ride it all the time.

It wasn't much to climb on or for commuting, but I distinctly remember it killing field sprints.

Pol Pot said...

Jim:
"Killing field" sprints. Funny.

Sprocketboy said...

Matt in Seattle: You are right: if you want one of these bikes you have to pay the price. I saw a superb Llewylln at Cirque du Cyclisme in June and I think it took 300 hours to fabricate. When you add up the Campy parts and everything else, $10G is not really as insane as it first appears.

The custom builders there (Sasha White, Richard Sachs, Peter Weigle et al) all agreed that the waiting lists were too long but when they raised prices even more people signed up! It appears that demand is stiff, yet compliant.

Anonymous said...

bikesnobnyc actually LIKES bikes? Who would have thought.

nuovorecord said...

Geez! Why all the hating on Portland? Most of us don't give a rat's ass if were better than Seattle, New York or anywhere else. We like our city, warts and all, and there are a lot of us working hard to make it a better place to live. Sorry if your city can't get it together to do that.

realbikesgonewild said...

anon 12:57 is sooooo above us....snarf!!

Anonymous said...

hemp underwear gives me saddle sores.

but what about the bike parking crisis? sheesh thats like when people get trampled to death at concerts.

A Godforsaken Wasteland said...

So...among the throngs of photos from the NAHBS on Velonews was one showing a new Shimano wheel....when did Shimano start making anything "handmade"?

REO rocks...

Anonymous said...

I heard that they're are no black people in Portland? Is that true?

KanyonKris said...

"And I can't fight this feeling anymore.
I've forgotten what I started riding for."

ufniahs said...

that ticking is the worst

Anonymous said...

sure the bikesnob likes bikes, just not mine.

Anonymous said...

Wheat? Why yes, right in the infield of the Major Taylor Velodrome. They don't call Indianapolis the Paris of central Indiana for nothing, don't you know.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 1:41. One word: Trailblazers!

Sprocketboy said...

Shimano does in fact build handmade wheels. Actually, they are constructed by little girls with clever fingers in Malaysia. No lie.

portlandmademe said...

I was born and raised in Portland. You're right, it sucks (wink, wink), so stop all the out-of-towners from spoiling our little urban paradise. Thanks BSNYC for doing your job in keeping California, New York, and all these other places out, we gotta keep our property taxes low and the crackhead bike thieves from the Bronx at bay.

Robin Williams said...

I enjoyed the post from another blogger (can't find it any more) about how many of the attendees were bitching about having to pay $18 to get in.

So they could ogle $10K bikes....

I simply walked in, ordered 3 of each model, and left. Can't be late for my back-hair cut & perm.

Miriam said...

Yes, Portland is a moist cycling paradise. But with the paradise we have issues too. In the summer parking is a bitch there are bike traffic jams, and slow commuters to be dodged. And we do have theft, a lot of theft. You do not want to park you 10k hand made bike outside, unless you can afford the security detail for it. Its not as bad as Eugene or NYC, but still, its a damp green oasis for cycling.

We do however, contrary to Kelsy's post, have a very low car/bike accident rate. The fatal accident rate between cars and bikes has been on the decline for several years (dispite some a great deal of coverage regarding the deaths this year involving cyclists and large trucks). Plus, we have a bike master trasit plan.

aaron said...

it sounds to me like portland is the cyclist mecca of the world and we should all make a pilgramage at some point in our life.....or just go to italy

theangryczeck said...

mass transit - trash it, buy a car, much more practical and reliable than a stupid bike.

Anonymous said...

I've been racing on handmade bikes for the past 15 years: http://www.marinoni.qc.ca. I have 4 of them in my apartment.

We here in Montreal, Quebec, have had at any given time a half dozen hand made bike manufacturers. Then again, we just called them frame builders.. I always thought all bikes were made by hand. How naive of me. It's only recently that Marinoni has started importing CF frames

To me all these bikes just look like regular old steel frames we had 20 years ago.. with more gears and better paint jobs.

I'm sure old Man Giuseppe Marinoni is rolling his eyes over this new resurgence..

Peter said...

great post BSNYYC,
& a DK reference.
my day is complete.

thanks

Anonymous said...

Today's post gave me a responsive read with lateral stiffness, vertical flexibility, and a superior thought to word ratio.
Thanks, BSNYC !

Meep said...

Dear Snob,
I moved to Portland. Gasp! I want to ride my bike here but I'm afraid of 1) looking too snobby (around my neighborhood everyone rides an ugly fixed gear with vegan advocacy stickers) and I left my gigantic U-lock and chain in Texas, 2) getting hit by a car and then someone stealing my saddle.

On the plus side, you can drink the tap water here, unlike in South Texas or DC. On the minus side, I'm not sure if this is bicycle heaven or hell.

Commiecanuk said...

I heard that Calfee is coming out with a new model made from bong resin and a proprietary natural fiber woven exclusively from Robin Williams back hair.

The new model will be named in honor of Robin Williams, using new technology:

High
Efficiency
Racing
Performance
Executive
Special

Nanu-nanutubes.

Handmade bike show: bikes for guys who don't ride bikes.

Anonymous said...

Sprocketboy,

The term you are looking for is inelastic. If demand does not change if prices go up, then demand is inelastic.

I would argue inelastic is counter to the stiff yet compliant image you're looking for

Sprocketboy said...

I think in this case the prices are stiff but the clients are compliant.

Commiecanuk said...

Sprocketboy said...

Shimano does in fact build handmade wheels. Actually, they are constructed by little girls with clever fingers in Malaysia. No lie.


The same girls are then smuggled to the US for "therapeutic massage", either way, it's quick release.

Anonymous said...

Ahh the cycling in portland. Actually kind of sucks. Don't believe the hype! Way worse in my opionion then other places i have lived, michigan, ohio, florida, virginia. In pdx there are cars everywhere. Good luck finding a quiet country road within 30 miles of the city. It actually gets worse out of the city. And no shoulders on any of these always busy but little roads. Group rides. Huh whats that? Pacelines can't do them, no room and constant interuptions. Commutter Assholes on bikes. Oh yeah we got plenty. Trails for MTBs, Nope, only for walkers or runners. I re-visit Ohio, midwest, I think I'll move, quiet lovely and peaceful roads are plentiful, such a contrast to cars whizzing by every 10 secs.

The Diamond Jew. said...

I live in Seattle and just got a hand made Davidson built up while I waited for my grande latte at Starbucks it's just that easy up here BSNYC,I just gave my homie Billy Gates a call and he pulled a few strings.

Publikhair said...

The only good thing about Portland is that you can eat a steak while getting a lap dance.

Syke said...

I love your sense of reality - today's my day off from work, so I'm in the garage with the kerosene heater pumping madly to keep the room warm, putting bar end shifters on my 1969 Magneet Sprint (my 15 speed long haul tourer), and looking at the row of bikes hanging off the workshop wall.

All nine of them would sell for enough for a down payment on one of those bikes at the show.

What the hey, I still knocked out a 12 mile loop before the freezing rain hit this morning, I'm riding regularly in February, and I'm enjoying myself. And I don't need anything like what was shown at the show to have such a good time. I'm having more fun upgrading the Magneet than I would have having my toes stepped on from the crush at the show.

Next to wrenching and riding bikes, your writings are probably the most enjoyment I can have in a day.

datamonkey said...

Anon 2:36. I lived in Seattle and spent time in Portland, and although these places are billed as great places to bike and be all around outdoorsy, the problem is that they are filled with folks who want to do that, so there are just too many peeps. The thing that I couldn't take was that everything was an event and a hassle like to go cross country skiing or hiking or biking, it was traffic and parking and then people. I made the leap and headed back to WY and couldn't be happier. Hundreds of miles of empty roads, trails, and rivers. Get back to OH, the rustbelt is calling you.

Gram in PDX said...

Don't forget, not only can you eat a steak while getting a lap dance (at the acropolis in portland), you can be taking a shot and smoking a cigar at the same time. Bars aren't the same when there is no smoking, and I don't even smoke.

There is a lack of MTB trails here, and a serious fixed gear fakenger surplus, but there are so many people into all things cycling that I'll probably stay here for a few more years (until I get sick of there not being any decent cheap skiing around).

Great post Snob, and its true, the sidewalks in portland grow moss...ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Who needs handmade $5K commuter and pizza delivery bikes? Oh, excuse me... porteurs.

Looked like a wankfest, from what I've seen.

Anonymous said...

Don Walker makes crappy bikes anyway. So I am sure the show just blew huge Wankfest chunks full of lug shavings.

BikeMike said...

Darn near a 10.
BSNYC, the leading hand crafted bike blog builder...Please keep doing it, we will read, no matter the price.
Special mention to Jim and Commiecanuck for the added laughter!

wine soaked lips said...

"Vanilla has become so popular that I think we're about due for the inevitable backlash for backlash’s sake."

beat ya'll to that one - sold mine a few years ago.

Poppy said...

I'm not certain what is worse, the price of the custom frame or all the cheese/coffee/wine/tomato/frozen yogurt/small batch soda-inspired marketing bullshit used to sell it.

I don't want my paint job to be "delicious" I want it to be "durable" or "bulletproof." Actually mine came form a can and I like it! "Delicious" is for the Pinkberry kooks. And what's with calling your painthouse "Coat." How twee of you.

Like Briko sunglasses, 29ers and
fixies, this too shall pass.

Son of Númenor said...

Rover, I think you Prolly meant Rivendell, not Rivendale ... We take these things fairly seriously ...

nolucker said...

And what's wrong with hemp underwear? You got some nerve, Snob, you know that?

Gator joe said...

Snob, I hate to tell you this, but I don't think they wear underwear, hemp or otherwise, in Portland.

Anonymous said...

As far as cycling, there is a lot to be said for living in a smaller city. In NY, my commute was from W 110th down to Houston, and it was never that pleasant. I could make great time down Broadway, but it was kind of stressful (to a 40 year old, anyway) and the other avenues were not much better. The Westside bike path, on the other hand, proved to be a bore.

Here in my new home city of Copenhagen, there are enough side streets and bike paths that you can mostly avoid major avenues altogether. I find, too, that I actually get to ride my finest bike all the time and locking it up with a mere U-lock is sufficient. Since I have stopped wearing a helmet, though, my happiness could be short-lived. I could always suffer the same fate as Knud Enemark Jensen!

Mr. Beattie said...

When did leather handlebar tape become such a hot item? It seems perhaps next ebony and ivory will be on the list for things to trim your headset with and plug your bar-ends. Also Velo Orange is a quite similar deal, in that these dudes are mostly obsessed with antique French crap that they'll never actually ride. Sure restoring and fetishizing chrome and leather are great, but certainly not practical, and no, not a single "city bike" at NAHBS could be locked as a commuter in any part of New York City. It's a joke, right? A $5000 commuter bicycle that you cannot lock up anywhere. Certainly Moots makes a joke with their "Comooter".

GRUMP said...

These trendy bikes make me want to puke........ "fixed gear", "wood", "Carbon/steel/Ti combos", "five year waiting lists".......What's next, a frame made from terlet paper tubes??.....
Just give me a nicely painted Waterford frameset, and I'll be happy.

woogie said...

son of numenor, the D&D blog is elsewhere...

Anonymous said...

It appears 29'ers are never satisfied. Now they want another 7 inches. And by the looks of it, some of them are crazy enough to actually pay from this thing.

http://twentynineinches.com/2008/02/06/36-inch-wheels-update/

Anonymous said...

http://twentynineinches.com/2008/02/06/
36-inch-wheels-update/

I should have previewed that. Sorry. But seriously, this shit is just ridiculous.

Karl Rover said...

Son of Numenor,

My bad, that's how we spell it in Gondor.

carevenger said...

I'm still waiting for my chocolate frame. made of chocolate.

Anonymous said...

when is Craig Calfee going to start using animal excrement in his frame building process?

Bat guano lugs, horse shit grips...

crunkenuncle said...

If pdx doesn't suit you maybe you should move here to Denver...miles of commuter/bike lanes completely ignored by motorists, air quality so bad you practically need an knife and fork to breath in and don't forget about the absolute lack of moisture! It is a wonderland I tell ya!

It does have miles of world-class single track within 20 minutes of downtown. It's also not too far from Fruita...and there is the fresh powder in the mountains. Maybe it isn't that bad!

Plus I just found out you can buy cowboy boots that are spd compatable!

Anonymous said...

Calffe should just go all the way...frames made from dried spun loogie.

Kelsey said...

Crunkenuckle

You're kidding! i had that idea like 2 years ago... i'm glad(?) to hear that it exsists!

Kelsey said...

i mean the boots.

Anonymous said...

Little girls with clever fingers from Malaysia are responsible for the whole "sex tourism" trade. I had no idea that Shimano was involved, however. Boy, the things I have learned from reading this site!

Commiecanuk said...

carevenger said...

I'm still waiting for my chocolate frame. made of chocolate.


I'll keep a look out, but my old Shimano Dura Ace chain definitely must have had chocolate rollers.

Jim said...

when is Craig Calfee going to start using animal excrement in his frame building process?

Dude, anybody who can manage to stay in business by selling wooden cross bikes and gold plated carbon fiber bikes, is already using about as *much* animal excrement in his framebuilding business as the market will bear. Probably masculine bovine type, if you ask me.

King George said...

The bike show was cool but Portland sucks. Friday night at about 9pm I went out to buy a bottle of whiskey to calm my stomach and I couldn't. WTF kind of city doesn't sell whiskey at the local grocery store or mini mart? Had to buy a crappy tall can of PBR at a 7/11... that really sucked.

Anonymous said...

Speedvagen - REO Speedwagon.... simple, but damn funnny! hahaha

Anonymous said...

Dude, anybody who can manage to stay in business by selling wooden cross bikes and gold plated carbon fiber bikes, is already using about as *much* animal excrement in his framebuilding business as the market will bear. Probably masculine bovine type, if you ask me.

haha i had to read it 3 times to get it, im such an idiot...its what drives the industry

mr.complaint said...

Anon 1:58 That's not wheat it's popcorn.

Snob - I feel that pain. But you don't need a custom bike unless you have a weird body shape, like most of the weight lifters at the gym and the opposite extreme.

When was the last time you dissed a nice De Rosa Corum with Ultegra?

Was your bike like a Belgian:

http://tinyurl.com/2o63wo

And it can be done in NYC.

I don't know about Sacha White but several of those other builders could take a lesson from Sheldon Brown and get an assistant.

Back to the sofa.

Andy Pandy said...

Vanilla Sanilla There is only a limited number of ways you can weld three tubes to form a triangle and the magic number is one. Let’s see how they hold up at warp factor five Scottie. These guys are getting money for jam. Unleash your artistic juices and make a bike out of four sided geometric shapes, or why stop there try a pentagon or dodecahedron

Matt in Seattle said...

Hey Grump, Waterford was there too. So much for your 'outsider frame builder'.

endo-king said...

bother yam 12.55

"On second thought, we'll probably stay in Minneapolis. It's almost as good and the winters keep the homeless away..."

I hope you're never homeless in winter, bro,' in MPLS . . . and never say 'never.' Your compassion is evident.

And the rest of youse - get offa Robin Williams' hairy back, 'cause he sure as hell didn't spec it. I didn't either.

twentysevenfuckingspees said...

I love REO speedwagon, dick

Anonymous said...

hehe.

Anonymous said...

I think he really is human.

Rob said...

King George has obviously never been to Utah...

Anonymous said...

This is technically Indiana's Paris
http://tinyurl.com/2vsj29

Maybe they'll hand out Cutters Jersey's at the door.

And expect some sort of rolled corn husk composite bikes.

Terry said...

All kidding aside, there is a lot to like at NAHBS.

King George said...

Lol, yeah, but I expect it from Utah, they should warn you before you go to Portland for a bike show.

fakebikesgonewild said...

c'mon!
One you bikesgonewild out there must have something to say!

SkidMark said...

endo-king

get a JOB and a haircut - oh, and while you're there, get that nasty habitat for lice waxed off your back

The Beatles said...

Every time I see a Vanilla, it makes me SOOO happy I have a Surly.

KYScoast said...

You killed me off with "gazelles of the African savanna". Reminded me of how I carried the same attitude through my college years after losing several bikes to thieves. I then resorted to $5 bikes purchased at police auctions. Problem solved and I still could ride.

Anonymous said...

In stark contrast to what could be considered high ART from the world of handmade bikes I offer this beauty: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/SOFTRIDE-Triathlon-Bike-medium-size-perfect-condition_W0QQitemZ180213322017QQihZ008QQ

I believe euthanasia would be the best outcome

Anonymous said...

For a bunch of photos from the bike show, see: http://alexandchristine.smugmug.com/gallery/4301856_GNe7g#252364465

There are some more bike show pics there too.

Anonymous said...

You've lost it buddy boy.

Anonymous said...

if it makes you feel any better, my bag bumped Robin Williams a few steps sideways into the Starbucks sign when i was turning around 'cause my friend said "Hey there's Robin Williams."

sam berdoux said...

Very funny post, Snobby. My favorite is the line about how the people who built your good bike were at least over 13 and fed. My bikes are the opposite: my good bike is a recent Giant hardtail, no doubt assembled in a Chinese workhouse. My beater is a 70's Raleigh, whose builder was probably a WWII vet who raised a family and went on seaside holiday with what he earned. Correcting this mess is going to be painful.

sam berdoux said...

Very funny post, Snobby. My favorite is the line about how the people who built your good bike were at least over 13 and fed. My bikes are the opposite: my good bike is a recent Giant hardtail, no doubt assembled in a Chinese workhouse. My beater is a 70's Raleigh, whose builder was probably a WWII vet who raised a family and went on seaside holiday with what he earned. Correcting this mess is going to be painful.

bikesgonewild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leroy said...

Dear Anon 12:29 PM --

May your digestive ailment pass quickly ... for all our sakes.

But honestly, when BSNYC titled his post "Binging and Purging" you should have relaized that was just an expression.

Fake bikesgonewild at 11:43 PM -- According to Emily Post, a hand made bike is not also known as a hand job.

Get a hold of yourself. Errr, on second thought ... never mind, ignore that.

Anonymous said...

Allez les Pacers.

Sacha White said...

Booyah, BSNYC! we really made it!

Bike Snob, you are really good at what you do. Thanks for the late night giggles.

-Sacha at Vanilla

bikesgonewild said...

df

gttim said...

Th e Gary Richrath and Gregg Philbin era REO rocked! Their live album kicked ass. After that, not so much.

I actually bumped into Robin Williams at a REO concert. I didn't think I would ever get all the hair off my sweater. He sheds worse than my border collie!

Daveed said...

Snob,
Adopt my attitude and find peace: I care passionately about bikes -- my own, that is, and no one else's.

People actually have "good bikes" and beaters? What's that about?

Anonymous said...

Leroy, that's an odd comment

dan said...

check this jem out!

Anonymous said...

thank you bsnyc so much for giving portland the FU it so deserves.

-a NJ cyclist

BikeSnobNYC said...

Sacha,

Thank you for the compliment!

--BSNYC

Eric Silva said...

I was at NAHBS. Add Lance Armstrong to the (short) list of celebrities in attendance. They gave him a slot (without qualifying, no less!) in the roller races, but he didn't show.

Portland is awesome.

endo-king said...

skid-mark, 12.59 8.59pm, 12 Feb 2008

"get a JOB and a haircut - oh, and while you're there, get that nasty habitat for lice waxed off your back"

I've got all of the above, thank you, excepting the cosmetic work, which I leave to you.

Nice skid-mark across your cranium from having your head where it usually is.

* said...

FUCK Portland.

BSNYC: I will gladly take you on a tour of this town that will leave you with enough ammunition for months of invective.

I sold my fixed gear commuter bike recently, and have experienced a wonderful cleansing feeling since it shipped to somewhere in Ohio.

I'm a BMXer. If I need to get somewhere, I'll take the fucking bus--and look better getting there than some clueless sonofabitch taking right turns in front of cement trucks in the constant, dismal rain.

The only good things about this city are the strip clubs, dive bars, concrete skateparks and lack of sales tax.

tjh said...

"The only good things about this city are the strip clubs, dive bars, concrete skateparks and lack of sales tax."

That's an aweful lot in my book.

tjh said...

"So be careful. By the time you get your hands on a Speedvagen they could be more out of style than REO Speedwagon."

...and REO Speedwagon outta style? When did this happen?!

Portmanteau said...

I wasn't that aware of the handmade bike movement until about a year or two ago. I find that the quality is twofold...a return to a simpler time when manufacturing was done by hand and skillfully....and secondly the aesthetic of gorgeous detail and care that bring the frame from a commodity to a personal expression of 'art' and craft. I admire the care that goes into these machines...and would think that over time as they develop the scars and patina of age, they will look even better.....

Anonymous said...

umm, can somebody please spell "despite" correctly?

just a friend said...

as long as your not bitter

keithwwalker said...

...is there a city on Earth where you can actually leave a bike like that outside?

Sad but true, I have seen 'his'n'hers' Vanilla bicycles locked up at the local market here in PDX, is that smug enough for you?

bikelawya said...

Seems to me the dude at Vanilla is always building bikes for his kids, trikes and mixtes. No wonder the wait is so long. Do his kids really ride that stuff? Sure they do. That is an example of those builds, all show, no go.

Give me a used stumpjumper with rigid fork, with planet bike fenders and rattle can paint for 75 bucks any day over those mastabatory custom builds!

sacha white said...

Bikelawya,

Are you asking if my daughters ride? They do. My family gets around by bike and the mixte is my older daughters main transportation.

I get the feeling that you have no idea what you are talking about, but feel free to correct me. How much actual experience do you have with Vanilla? With the people who make them, the reason that the wait is what it is, the amount of time that goes into making them right?

All show and no go?

If you are curious who uses them and how, I would be happy to share, or do you just want to be mad about something based on an image that you have in your head?

-Sacha White

Anonymous said...

I know this post is about Portland, but can you New Yorkers explain something to me?

BSNYC says that Portlanders need a dose of reality, but he and the rest of you would also probably say that NYC is unlike any other place on the planet. So how is NYC any more "real" than Portland? Neither city really has much in common with an average American city.

If NYC and Portland have two things in common, it's being atypical and high rates of hipster fixie riders.

B. Witty said...

I can most assuredly attest that Vanilla has as much "go" as they do "show". Sacha builds for people who ride.....alot. He is also a very down to earth sole. Sacha is the furthest thing from an elitest in any way, shape or form. I love BSNYC, but some of you posters are insufferable.

By the way, i am not a Vanilla owner...just a big fan of what the people (led by Sacha) at the Vanilla workshop stand for.

g. lo said...

don't be hating on vanilla bikelawyer---I stopped in unannounced to Sacha's shop and chatted for about an hour. His bikes are even more beautiful in person. Pretty sure a builder that sponsors a cross team wants his bikes ridden and is ok if they get a little dirty.....

bikelawya said...

Dear Sacha White:

Thank you for your post directed to me. Why you did not respond to the other posts about Vanilla (like the guy who sold his) I do not know, but once again thanks.

I am very happy for you. And happy for everyone in Portland that you all lead such beautiful lives!

I know it's hard to believe, but I have no experience with Vanilla. I have bikes that function quite well thank you.

I did note that your website states, "Vanilla bicycles are beautifully badass, timeless, sexy and functional machines made for real people with real needs." So I guess that about sums it up.

However, Sacha, in my opinion (and that is all that it is) the NAHBS is a beauty pageant, and you are someone who participates in it. Like most participants in such a pageant the contestants (and this case the bikes and their builders that I have seen) are fairly far from providing transportation for "real people with real needs." In a world of Jon Benoit Ramseys I'll vote for Little Miss Sunshine anyday.

sacha white said...

Bikelawya,

If you have ZERO experience with a product why would you make a claim like "all show and no go"? Why would you make a claim about if my kids ride or not. Why the bitterness towards my company?

NAHMBS is another situation where I will ask; do you have any experience with what you are talking about?

I brought 8 bikes and 3 frames to the bike show.

4 of those "beauty queens" had been raced all of last year (one in the 'Cross world cups in Belgium, one to gold in theOregon State Chams and one to first in Oregon's Cross Crusade series) They have the same components on them that they have had throughout the race season, and the paint is original (and far from perfect).

Another "beauty queen" was my daughter's bike, which she has ridden and locked up outside of school nearly everyday for the past 5-6 months. The bike was brought to the show in it's normal condition. Some road grime on the rims and drivetrain, papers from the previous weeks classes in the pannier. The bike has chips and dings from everyday use and people loved it for that among other things.

Another bike I brought was a commuter that I had re-po'd from it's owner for the show. He commutes on it 10+ miles each day, but takes care of it, so it was still in prime condition.

Everything I brought to the show belonged either to my customers, or my team. They are real bike, not show bikes.

If you want to make claims about my business, atleast make some effort to educate yoursellf first.

And if you don't know what you are talking about, it's ok to not say anything.

-Sacha

bikelawya said...

Dear Sacha:

Thank you once again for the post. I appreciate your desire for my educational well being.

You keep returning to this desire to let me know how great your work is. And, that it is practical and used here and there. I would never believe for a minute that your work is in anyway inferior, in fact, I would believe just the opposite.

I have some background in the metal arts and was probably fillet brazing with a Victor torch before you were born. I became a certified welder in Tig, Mig, Stick, and a number of other welding processes that are not relevant to this discussion back in 1974, right after I graduated from high school. I was one of the youngest members of the American Welding Society which back in the day was profitable for learning all I could learn about metallurgy. I began welding when I was in the 5th grade because that was my father's trade, and I had to work for him on the weekends at the shop which was a combination welding, blacksmith, and machine shop.

As to riding: in the real world I have many long tours, the longest was 7100 miles starting from sf, up the west coast, BC Frazier River Canyon, and across the Trans Canadian Highway to Nova Scotia in 71 days. I relate all this to you not to get into a pissing contest-as nobody wins in those types of things. This is an effort to let you know that I am not as stupid as you may think about machines and bicycles.

Over the long haul I have seen many cycles in bike industry. Your are experiencing one of those high points, enjoy it while it lasts.

That was all a pretty long winded intro to my point, which is: as to the hand made bicycle show, you are a focal point of this event. In my opinion the event fuels a consumerism that I don't care for. It is a "hip" consumerism, and therefore there are few critics. These bikes are art, functioning art I guess, but don't try to con me into thinking that I have a real need to possess one (real needs for real people).

So… some cyclists can go on living with the long waits, high prices, the obsessive drooling over these bikes, and the worship of a few of the dudes who can handle a torch. When a bike is well fit to my specs, my body doesn't know whether I am on a Magna or a Vintage Masi, it doesn't care the color is a match to eggplant, or the fenders are Honjo or the 300 dollar rack is made especially for vegan scones at the free trade coffee shop. To sum it up, psychologically, I don't care about those things either. That’s why the main post on the show by Bikesnob NYC got my attention, because this free forum of ideas is something I care about a great deal. When I say in this forum that the works at the show are masturbatory, I am trying to express that pretty bikes with the narcissistic paint and lug work are not a necessity in my life. I was certainly not trying to assert inferiority or an inability to their riders to participate in something as grand as World Cups.

In the end, Sacha, your stats on the bikes you brought to the show certainly point to the fact that your bikes are in service throughout the world. I am grateful that you share that they are locked up at school, and have nicks and dings. Regarding that point you win, and I loose. I apologize if I offended you in anyway. One thing I notice is the sun is rising and it’s time to go and ride something in my life that is a necessity.

Have a better one.

Bikelawya

Anonymous said...

Portland...
It started as a bad mood and slowly grew into a city. One big surly sprawl of mean spirits and bad luck. But you know, Portland is ok sometimes, just like a bad mood is ok sometimes, like when you have a good reason to feel shitty. A good day in portland is like that, like the way you feel when you're in a bad mood for a good reason. IT's sort of relaxing in a way, because evertying is nicely focused and clear and there are reasons why everything sucks.

Sacha White said...

Bikelawya,

To be clear, I never said that you don't have experience with welding, or with bicycles in general.

I questioned if you have any real experience with Vanilla, or NAHMBS, the two entities that you have made such definitive statements about.

I would actually like to give you a virtual tour of the bike show and tell you what I saw when I walked down the aisles, because it is really much different than what you describe. Maybe that is due to what people were photographing at the show.

Anyway, I can understand being turned off by the hype, the drooling and the popularity in the media and inernet forums, associated with handmade bkes right now. In some ways I feel the same as you.

To be frustrated with the attention that handmade bikes get is fair. But to fault the bicycle, or the maker is not.

Don't hate the playah... and all that.

I can't speak for other builders, but if we didn't have this surge in popularity, I would still be doing the exact same thing; spending time with my customers, designing something that is right for them, trying to perfect my craft, and run a business with integrity along the way.

The over-hyping doesn't effect what I do at the workbench everyday, which as you know from your metalworking experience, is just good hard work. The stigma generated by forums and blogs has taken on a life of it's own, but is not rooted in the reality of where I and many framebuilders are coming from, which is a place of trying to do something _real_ and _good_.

Maybe the fact that manufacturing in the US is dying, is what brings the spotlight to this handmade movement. It would be a shame though, to focus only on the negative aspects of this spotlight, rather than support what is at it's core; People striving to do the best that they can do, and stay true to an ideal counter to the typical corporate business model

-Sacha

p.s. I don't have anything against beaters with rattlecan paint jobs. One of my favorite bikes is the shabby one that I don't worry about.

bikelawya said...

Dear Sacha:

When I came back from riding today I read your post of February 16, 2008 5:04 PM.

As lawyers like to say, that post was dead on. You certainly convinced me that you are a genuine individual. I like your position about how the hype and the blogs have taken on a life of their own.

As I was riding today, some things began to get a little clearer. For lack of a better term the death of craftsmanship would be a loss.

Perhaps some of my bitterness was prompted by pursuing a career in law, and throwing all of my craft and trade background aside.

Maybe some day I will attend a NAHMBS and experience what you have mentioned. I am surprised that someone has not had the incentive to produce a DVD about the show and preserve all of it, not just the drool and hype. Or maybe I am just out of the loop, and something like that already exists.

At any rate, thank you for taking the time out of your holiday weekend to correspond in this public forum in such a personal way.

Regards,

Bikelawya

My P.s. If I am ever fortunate enough to go to this bike Valhalla AKA Portland, I will drop by Vanilla and say hello.

msgr33 said...

One of the things I find most interesting about the NAHBS is that it's got yearly trends just like that bike show in Vegas. This year it was city bikes, a couple years ago you couldn't fling a chain whip without hitting a road frame with Newvex lugs and a Joe Bell paint job. The bikes are nice, but I think the most interesting part is talking to those builders with the suspect facial hair choices and odd nervous twitches.

As far as Sacha's bikes go, here's mine, for folks who doubt they get ridden.

crankypants said...

"trying to perfect my craft" -Sacha White

Would that include figuring out how long to make a track fork so that the tire doesn't hit the crown? Not much show and definitely no go with that one.

Sacha said...

Dear Detective Crankypants,

I won't deny that I make mistakes. They happen all the time. My biggest mistakes have been my most valuable learning experiences. I expect this is true with most everyone.

As for forks being built to the right length, some bikes (like track racing bikes) are built for 21mm tubulars, and some bikes are built for 23mm clinchers. A bike built for 21mm tubulars won't always fit a larger road racing tire and that's ok.

OK?

Signed,

I thought it was group hug time, already

Anonymous said...

I know this is less than articulate, but generally speaking custom-made bikes are for bourgeois fags who care more about commodities than cycling.

Sacha White said...

Bikelawya,

I appreciate our exchange and I think it is really cool that you are open to another's perspective.

This has been a good learning experience, and for that, I thank you.

-Sacha

bikelawya said...

Sacha:

Hey: My pleasure.

I have started to consider a custom build! My Colnago Master would not know what to do with something like that hanging from the rafter.

Here's to a good year for both of us in 2008.

Regards,

Bikelawya

Jamie said...

I live in that moist paradise of which you speak. This article was really hilarious and spot on. I loved the part about "flashy" and "precious" bicycles. So true! I don't know that I would agree about it being a bicycle wonderland here (though it is better than most places), but as far as the ego and sentimentality people have surrounding bike culture and their bicycles, you're totally right. It's kind of fucked up and very tiring.

Zosh said...

Portland is not as magical as you think: those U-locks with the yellow and orange bars are as popular here as I'm sure they are out there.

ZigaK said...

and eventually you’re throwing your bike down the steps for missing shifts and being ugly like you’re David Millar or some other english pro.

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