Thursday, March 6, 2008

BSNYC Product Review: Hitting the Road

Ever since I started reviewing bicycles and components, companies just will not stop sending me products to review. I’m sure some of you think that being constantly sternum-deep in the latest high-end gear is a dream come true, but I’m here to tell you that it’s more of a nuisance than anything. In fact, the degree of clutter has reached the point that I’ve had to find household uses for all of these products. So far I’ve built a coat rack out of carbon fiber handlebars, a toilet seat out of a deep-dish carbon fiber rim, and an extremely comfortable bed that uses Marzocchi suspension forks for legs. (Thank goodness for remote lockout.)

Recently I figured it was about time that I reviewed another product. However, I didn’t want to simply review the same high-end, overpriced gimmickry that the rest of the cycling media is always drooling over. Furthermore, I couldn’t find any components that weren’t now providing some kind of essential domestic service. (If you think I’m giving up my SRAM Red shower controls, you are gravely mistaken.) So I decided to do more of a “real world” review for the budget-oriented cyclist. And there’s one place above all where budgets and cyclists collide with spectacular results—that’s right, Craigslist.

I recognize that not every aspiring cyclist can afford to walk into a bike shop and get fully outfitted, so I wanted to see how the Craigslist experience compared to the retail store experience. It wasn’t easy to find a bicycle that met my dual requirements of being both inexpensive yet made by a reputable manufacturer, though. Until I stumbled upon this:






Yes, that’s right, a vintage Bridgestone for $150. Leaning seductively against the refrigerator like a cat rubbing itself on a shin, this bicycle spoke to me through my monitor like few others ever have. Sometimes, when you look at a bicycle, you can see yourself with it in your mind, and at that moment what I saw was this:




I knew I had to have it.

I had three questions for the owner, which I emailed to him. They were as follows:

--“How many speeds does it have?”
--“Is this a Grant Petersen Bridgestone?”
--“Do you take Paypal?”

Shortly thereafter I received an email from someone named Jeff, who answered my questions thusly:

--“it goes how fast you peddle it.”
--“i got it off this guy frank. if grant sez its his i dont know nothing about it.”
--“whats paypal. im not a homo.”

Convinced of the bike’s pedigree and confident in Jeff’s knowledge and integrity, I arranged to purchase the bicycle that very evening.

Even though I arrived at Jeff’s house at exactly the agreed-upon time, I had apparently not only interrupted his dinner of Cocoa Puffs but also hadn’t given him sufficient time to put on pants. Gruffly, he took my money and presented me with the bike. (Actually, he didn’t so much present it as he did roll it in my general direction.) He also indicated a Magna mountain bike in a corner that was being used as a clothes drying rack, and while it was difficult to understand him through his mouthful of cereal and milk I interpreted his grunts to mean that he would throw it in for another $40. I respectfully declined.

As I strapped my new Bridgestone to the trunk rack of my Smart car, I reflected on the exchange. Certainly buying a bike from a shop would have been a more genteel experience, but at the same time I never would have gotten a bicycle for anything close to $150. So despite the fact that I had been treated curtly and had received a face full of Cocoa Puffs, I figured that so far I was ahead of the game.

I soon had an unforeseen problem though. The Bridgestone was so heavy and my Smart car was so light that the bicycle actually lifted the car’s front wheels off the ground. Consequently I was forced to purchase the Magna from Jeff after all. By bungee-cording it to the front of the car as ballast, I was finally able to drive home. So now I had spent $190. Plus, due to the fact that my car now looked like a giant Easter egg being double-teamed by two stray dogs, I received even more anti-Smart car taunts than usual. And it’s hard to put a dollar value on that kind of embarrassment.

The next day, I examined my new bike more closely. The first thing I noticed was that I could not raise or lower the saddle no matter how much I loosened the binder bolt. I figured that the bicycle must have one of those integrated seatposts I had heard about, so I simply angled the nose of the saddle way down in order to compensate. Secondly, when I turned the bars there was a grinding sound, and a red powder fell like dandruff from the headset. Since the powder was the color of clay I assumed that the bicycle must be equipped with ceramic bearings, which according to publications like VeloNews and Bicycling is a significant upgrade. Score! Thirdly, when I spun the wheels I noticed that they were very wobbly. I took this to be what people call “speed wobble,” and I figured that it would help me go faster. The unpleasant transaction now just a memory, I congratulated myself on having found such a bargain.

Having thoroughly examined the bicycle, it was now time to ride. I wanted very much to look like the guy in the ad I had fantasized about being, but it was too cold for shorts. So instead I donned my cold-weather gear: a pair of New Balance running shoes, grey sweatpants tucked into striped tube socks, a hooded sweatshirt, and one of those hard-shell skateboarding helmets. I completed the ensemble by slipping a short-sleeved “BSNYC Test Pilot” jersey over my hooded sweatshirt. Looking sufficiently pro, I hit the streets.

I’ve read about bicycles handling “telepathically.” Now, I’d be lying if I said that this were the case here. In fact, to be completely honest the handling was more via USPS than telepathy. I’ve also heard about drivetrains shifting “crisply” and “cleanly.” In this case, though, shifting was more like listening to AM on an old radio with a dial, in that it was mostly about moving the lever up and down until I found a sound that was bearable. At this point I began to think that I had made a mistake, and this suspicion was confirmed shortly thereafter when the fork separated itself from the steer tube. Fortunately, I was wearing my hard-shell skateboarding helmet. Unfortunately, it did little to protect my chin, which is the body part I landed on.

In conclusion, as I sit here pensively stroking my scab goatee, I have to say that, while there are undoubtedly bargains to be found on Craigslist, there just might be something to the whole bike shop thing.

77 comments:

agentdetroit said...

first!

Commiecanuk said...

2nd!

Stevie said...

like a pencil down a hallway...

Mark said...

Podium?

O'Claire said...

Made the break.

Anonymous said...

Funny-- I just sold a Bridgestone of Craigslist. And of course I built up its 'cult' status as a Grant Peterson bike. Oh, and I eat cereal for dinner constantly. Damn you got me.

Anonymous said...

Waiting for someone to say "That was MY Bike". Who is this Jeff guy that stole it!

3ZKL said...

Do you think my idea for a Williamsburg bike shop called 'The Genteel Cycle' would go over well?

Perhaps we could open it up together. All I can see is dollar signs.

Bobbo said...

excellent story...again spot on dialing in the culture...

any inside scoop about the times square cyclist incident?

Slartibartfast said...

iant Easter egg being double-teamed by two stray dogs

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erik k said...

hey, at least you've still got that Magna mt bike!

Bella said...

One one comment about your whereabouts this morning? You're not even going to attempt to suggest you're not the NYC bike-bomber? Sure, just change the subject with one of the funniest posts you've made this year.

Thanks much BSNYC, my face hurts like Laura Waterbury in Better Off Dead just squeezed my face saying "Chriiistmaaaahs".

Anonymous said...

what a sec? did you just call first to comment? wow. do you people do this everyday?

Anonymous said...

p.s. is bobbo from chicago?

ka_jun said...

BSNYC Test Pilot...man, that come in a hoodie? Where do I send the paypal?

bother yam said...

my car now looked like a giant Easter egg being double-teamed by two stray dogs

Awesome.

erik k said...

bobbo.. I found this which posted an hour ago on craiglist and and this on MSNBC

Boz said...

Scab goat? Probably looks better than Dave Z's new soup strainer!

Anonymous said...

Snob, that thing got a hemi?

Marrock said...

“BSNYC Test Pilot” t-shirts and hoodies, you already have the market, you just need to cater to it..

I mean, what are we all paying you for anyway?

David Flynn said...

as fast as you peddle it

agentdetroit said...

ahh, the bridgestone kabuki. there've been a few donated to our community bike shop, back alley bikes.org. i'm always drawn to the gene simmons logo head badge and handlebar engraving, as well as the cast sockets disguised as long point lugs. i would have built one for me, except they weigh about 50 lbs...
as for the magna, my suggestion is to do as i did with my huffy mountain bike.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agentdetroit/2110513663/

snob, is there a tt today?

Anonymous said...

What a better way to show our anti establishment attitude than all dressing alike in tshirts and hoodies.

Anonymous said...

I myself have a stainless/aluminum 1983 Kabuki since new and love it! 29.5 lbs FYI. The older Steel ones are
even heavier!

Cameron said...

So am I wrong for having an entire page dedicated to bikes on craigslist?
I have had several experiences with bike shops that were not too much more genteel than Jeff and his cereal.

Anonymous said...

good but no Cinelli Neomorph with the power zone, thats for sure.

and thank you.

Anonymous said...

You probably saw this, but the Times Square bomb thing seems to be bike (and hooded sweatshirt) related.
Best,
DDS

Anonymous said...

It's a movement!

broomie said...

agentdetroit,

cool huffy! shiny and fun!
I'm feeling inspired.
I have a Univega of indertiminate pedigree begging for an overhaul, any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Hilarious.

broomie said...

Yeah, what cameron said!

Just about every LBS within 20 miles of me sucks! There are 2 I trust but one I can't afford because of the hardwood flooring and espresso costs built into the margins.

anon 1:25,
I've got your movement...

Anonymous said...

LOL! Hilarious story!

BTW Mr. Bike Snob, there was a typo last Monday and another today.

From Monday's post:
"organizer Mike Dee did thave this to say:" -- thave?

And today:
"not every aspiring cyclist can afford walk into a bike shop" -- needs the word "to" between "afford" and "walk"

As you yourself said earlier this week:
"The point is, cyclists can and do make mistakes." Judging from today's story, you've made quite a few!

Respectfully however, I need to add that although I found these typos, I could never write as well as you. Keep up the great work.

Bobby said...

You don't know how much fun it is to tell people who come into the shop with bikes fresh off the craigslist boat that their new ride is

a) too big or too small by at least three sizes.

b) in need of at least $300 worth of work.

or

c) both

Anonymous said...

I am surprised no one has picked up on this:

Bicyclist sought in Times Square bombing

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/06/times.square/index.html

Surly Snobby should have some commentary. Another sign of the Appocalypse? What ever it is, it just gave cycling in Nu Yawk City a bad name.

Commiecanuk said...

You have to love the Japanese ziabatsus. Bridgestone makes F1 racing tires, feminine napkins, bikes and cardiac medication.

Of course, they name the bike Kabuki, because when one sees a Grant Petersen bike, one immediately thinks, ...japanese theatre.

Sorry about the Smart car taunts, but Mercedes had to figure out how to make the car 50% less fuel efficient than the European version before they could sell it in the US. No way Dick Cheney was going to tolerate that 60mpg shit, he threatened to invite the Mercedes USA CEO on a hunting trip.

Anonymous said...

Hey Upper Class, are you going to tell us what your plans are for the weekend? We're all dying to know!

agentdetroit said...

broomie,

i'd love to tell you what to do with your univega. however, due to my recent podium appearances and today's first place, my consultation fees have increased significantly. if you're still interested, show me a pic...

Anonymous said...

"I could never write as well as you"

Yeah, no shit.

Fritz said...

A dude on a bike in a hooded sweatshirt is *surely* a terrorist bad guy. I mean look at you! You're clearly a menace to society.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:36 - we were already talking about it on yesterday's message board before today's was posted. Also, Bella mentioned it at 12:36, Erik K at 12:45, Anon 1:24...

Snobby's not talking about it. He's also not saying where he was this morning (and I'm not buying that he was playing Bike Polo with homeless messengers while wearing a Cinelli painter's cap).

timesSquarebomber said...

anonymous 1:33...

WTF...are you so devoid of any insight or understanding to his writing that you have to resort to stenography? What a putz.

There's forest through those trees.

leroy said...

I just put a used electrocardiogram machine and some Barry White CDs on Craigslist.

Please, serious inquiries only.

John said...

I can assure that POS wasn't a Grant Petersen design, so let's get back to ragging on Michael Ball.

Anonymous said...

went looking for that Kabuki ad - no link snob? - and ended up picking through old bridgestone catalogs where G.P. explains "whats right with wool"

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/1993/pages/22.htm

Anonymous said...

Posting comments on this stupid blog is gay.

agentdetroit said...

anon 3:40

are you looking for a date?

alex said...

so you joined in 3:40? you're bright.


craigslist is like a pound for bikes - you get one and hope it doesn't bite you. i rescued a colnago that was allegedly 'running smoothly' only to discover it was missing some very essential bolts. explains the price. your LBS might suck, but if you dealt with hipsters looking for 'a sweet fixie', you'd be bitter too.

Anonymous said...

two summers ago i bought a rocky mountain slayer frame off ebay - said it was never built up. it had no rear shock so i go to my trusted LBS and order a fox shock and the spacers. I assemble said bike and take it for its first-ever ride. it performs nicely but the bolt holding the shock cam in place is bent, after one ride! i take it back to my LBS (which by the way is a rocky dealer), this time the owner is there and he takes one look at the bike and says, "dude, that's not a rocky mountain frame". long story longer, we end up shipping the frame to rocky so they can try and find out who is making bootleg frames and I get 3/4 off a new rocky frame....

Ivan bassohole said...

anon 3:40..what are you wearing?

mr.complaint said...

Snobeler,

You may want to get one of these to truly protect your chin:

http://tinyurl.com/2x4xc5

Deep Throat said...

Anonymous said...

... we end up shipping the frame to rocky so they can try and find out who is making bootleg frames and I get 3/4 off a new rocky frame....


HINT: CCM cycle factory in Toronto. There were a lot of "Pinnarello" MTBs sold in the 90s from a sleazy dealer in Toronto who was just rebadging cheap CCMs built down the street.

his name rhymes with "Antonio Pavan"

agentdetroit said...

deep throat

that explains the colnago mountain bike we have at the shop...

OpenYourEyes said...

Shit! I just bought a never been used DeRosa mountain bike frame off CL. The owner said it was 'very rare' and I fell for it! Damn it!

Anonymous said...

Be happy you don't live in CA and have to deal with this:

http://slo.craigslist.org/bik/597428608.html

Anonymous said...

After reading the craigslist posting about the 'bike bomber' I have to admit I'm a bit confused.

How do they KNOW the cyclist was a Critical Mass cyclist and not some douche bag on a bike....


...oh wait...now I get it.

-Kicks

Anonymous said...

what do you expect from SLO.
Frickin beach bums...

scott said...

Short-sleeved “BSNYC Test Pilot” jersey

Do want. Will paypal, but no homo. Unless it's for anon 3:40.

Bluenoser said...

'interrupted his dinner of Cocoa Puffs'.

Aaaahahahahahahahahaha.

That was the lamest commercial on TV as I was growing up. Next to 'Lucky Stars'.

Thanks Snob.

-B

Bluenoser said...

Holy Fuck. Now that I've read the comments have you folks got nothing better to do than pick out one word mistakes??

The weather is picking up. Go out and take your frustrations out on the road and yourself.

-B

bike recycle comox valley said...

No bike shop or CL for me guv - I found my Kabuki dumped in a ditch last year, the service I got there was just fine...

It's been my number one bike ever since....

http://www.oldskaters.com/bikes/kabuki800x600.jpg

http://www.oldskaters.com/bikes/kabuki_headbadge.jpg

mojito said...

Bikesnob: Have you no respect for the review genre? Excellently done old chap. Your embrace and rediscovery of the traditional and pre-loved is most refreshing.

I look forward to your next review, which I hear will be of some pre-owned 1997 Performance brand shorts and new-to-you Genius 2 shoes. Don't forget to use the fungus powder and vaseline liberally and post again soon.

rambn said...

dude, are really fucking complaining about getting free bike shit? save your breath and my time.

Anonymous said...

rambn: new reader, eh?

Anonymous said...

The Times Square guy on a bike w/a hoodie? Was that a fixed gear?

redvic said...

so you're the guy that spams CL with the "overpriced vintage bikes are crap" (read: hoping you'll come to my bike shop instead and buy a pos china deathtrap) posts?

christopher cummings said...

that is great

Anonymous said...

whaaaaaahahaha

david said...

I have this Bike. It was my sisters when I was a little one. Now I have it and it runs awesome, but one idea...... why didn't you bring it in for a full tune up at a good bike shop??? Before taking it for a spin .... sorry about the chin.

nike jordan shoes said...

we prefer to buy a pair of cheap nike Shoes if they'r the same of brand.we can feel it comfortable what brought
by Air Jordan Shoes,but also relaxing from Jordan Kicks.once u wear Jordan Shoes,even u think u'r the NO.1,
you'r be more confident than before .i like Jordan Shoes.

Tom Reingold said...

Maybe you can find a use for that seatpost with the internal expander. I remember those from my bike mechanic days, which went from 1978 through 1984.

Anonymous said...

коттедж
восстановление зрения
зеленый лазер
электрошокер

dinoibo said...

Sesli sohbet Sesli chat
Seslisohbet Seslichat
Sesli sohbet siteleri Sesli chat siteleri
Sesli Chat
Sohbet Sesli siteler
Sohbet siteleri Chat siteleri
Sohbet merkezi chat merkezi
Sesli merkezi sesli Sohbet merkezi
Sesli chat merkezi Sohbetmerkezi
Sesli Sohbet Sesli Chat
SesliSohbet Sesli chat siteleri
Sesli sohbet siteleri SesliChat
Sesli Sesli siteler
Seslimuhabbet sesli muhabbet
sesli sohbet sesli chat siteleri
sesli sohbet siteleri sesli chat
seslisohbet seslichat
seslikent sesli kent
sesli sohbet sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli chat sesli chat siteleri
seslisohbet seslichat

Anonymous said...

I will be your frequent visitor, that's for sure. pain relief Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol

ekle paylas said...

nice blog Thanks for sharing. voicesohbet was really very nice.
sesli chat siteleri sesli sohbet
sesli sohbet siteleri sesli chat
seslichat seslisohbet
sesli siteleri chat siteleri
sohbet siteleri sesli siteler
voice sohbet sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli sohbet seslisohbet
sohbet siteleri sesli chat siteleri
seslichat sesli chat
herkesburda herkes burda
sohbetmerkezi sohbetmerkezi

Anonymous said...

I really liked your article. cardiovascular Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol

Anonymous said...

hey now, I have the 74 kabuki special touring version. double butted tubing, top of the (then) line suntour V luxe front and rear deraileurs with bar end shifters and those FABULOUS ??? brakes whose mechanical structure will reappear in the 9000 dura ace brakes. Sunshine hubs not as high end but the high flange makes up for a mirror shine cold forging bling. Other than the initial fear of riding on NO HOOK rims (you'll be fine, just use STEEL beads with max. 60x70psi 27x1 3/8 or 1 1/2). How they ever named it a "touring" with its 42x23 low gear I have no clue, but it is a fabulous bike! I have struggled up but blissfully bombed down my local mtn. ride (Tantalus) many times on this thing.