The first I saw in person yesterday morning on the Manhattan Bridge as I headed into its eponym. As I ascended the span, I passed by a rider going the other direction on what appeared to be a brakeless freewheel Brooklyn Machine Works Gangsta Track and accompanied by a large dog on a leash. Naturally, this was the one day I didn't have my camera on me. (I hadn't felt like lugging the tripod that morning, and the rider probably wouldn't have held still for the 15 or 20 minutes it would have taken me to make a proper daguerrotype anyway.) As if to taunt me, fate saw to it that I was passed by the same rider with the same dog again that very evening. (At least this time I was able to inspect the bike more closely to confirm that it was indeed freewheeled and as brakeless as I was cameraless.) Of course, it only dawned on me later that the dog probably serves as the brake--a revelation that almost knocked me right off my bike. Only Cesar Millan himself could actually use a dog to modulate his speed, and while I don't think the rider was him I can't swear that it wasn't, either. In any case, I'm sure you'd agree that a bike with a dog for a brake is extremely--almost sickeningly--ironic.
Later, I received an email from a reader about an article in the New York Post (home of Andrea Peyser, ironically).
the Post presents its six bike picks, one of which is mind-bendingly ironic:
I think I speak for all of us when I say that I'm sick and tired of these messengers and Williamsburg hipsters on their ironic track bikes with bar-end shifters, cantis, triple cranks, long-cage derailleurs, and 36-spoke wheels.
But without a doubt, the bike that takes the ironic cake (which is of course a big pan of lime green Jell-O) is this one, forwarded to me by an intrepid reader:
You've heard of the TTMBL. You've even heard of the SPMBL. However, it's highly unlikely you've ever encountered the FLMBL (Fork Leg-Mounted Brake Lever). I'm not sure what reason one could possibly have for setting up a bike in such a fashion--besides, of course, the pursuit of pure, unadulterated irony. I suppose it could be that the rider gets so aero that he or she actually grasps the fork legs, and as such likes to have a brake close at hand. Or, judging from the Oury on the downtube (how did that even get on there?!?), this rider could be doing some extremely complicated tricks that involve having one hand on the downtube and the other on the fork. (In the few years that fixed-gear freestyling has taken off, it hasn't really progressed beyond wheelies, barspins, and chainring grinds, but this could be a sign that things are finally changing just in time for it to go out of style.) Personally, I'm contemplating exploring the possible aero benefits by mounting integrated shifters on the fork legs of my road bike. I'm also hoping to one day meet the inventor of the FLMBL, just so I can shake his or her bloodied, spoke-butchered hand.
But let's say you've got an ironic bike--like a Guiseppe Saronni Colnago road frame that's been converted to a brakeless fixed-gear. Where do you put it when you're finished vigorously displaying its irony around the neighborhood at 7mph?
Well, if you're the sort of person who likes limited-edition sneakers and also rides your high-performance race bike in said sneakers, you mount it on a $275 bike rack designed by someone who feels that "the aesthetic of something is more important to me than how well it works."
Because remember: you spent a lot of money on your bike because of the way it looks, not because of the way it works. Why would you hang it on something cheap and functional?