Thursday, January 31, 2008

Apocalyptic Raids: The Fixed-Gear Hellhammer Loometh

In the last few days I've received a number of alarming emails. And while each one was disturbing in its own way, when considered in their totality the gestalt was downright chilling. In fact, I have to confess that earlier this morning I was dangerously close to announcing that The End was finally upon us. Fortunately, though, I've determined it's not. But I am upping the alert level from 85 to 90 gear-inches, so you can continue to seek refuge in your cognitive dissonance, at least for now.

I know that some of you are tired of living in fear and you'd rather read about something else. Fortunately, the internet is a vast litterbox of soiled sand in which you can bury your head, full of product reviews, ride reports, training tips, and perverse bicycle pornography. But I'd rather be hated for speaking the truth than live with the guilt I'd feel if I simply contributed to the lies. Others of you think you're safe. Like the mountain bikers. But don't delude yourselves, because you will not be spared. You sit around, arguing about frivolous things like wheel size. But no size can save you! Your diminutive 26-inch wheels will get hopelessly stuck in the ruts of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, and your bloated 29-inch wheels will accelerate too slowly to allow you to escape the flames. Even the 650B-ers are doomed, as they shall be punished for their waffly, bet-hedging ways, and the air will be ripe with the stench of burning leg hair, CamelBak, and tire slime.

I realize this all may sound a bit overzealous, but you'd be agitated too if one of the first things you heard this morning was this. I'd heard this before, but a reader was unkind enough to email it to me again. It appears to be a fixed-gear appropriation of the Chamillionaire song "Ridin' Dirty." (I'm not sure what a Chamillionaire is, but I'm guessing it's someone who's much richer than a regular millionaire.)

Bad? Yes. Apocalyptically bad? Also yes. Set your house on fire, grab a firearm, and run naked into the street bad? Not by itself. But then there's this, which has been making the rounds lately.

Here, the song and the tedious footage combine to form a world-class tour de dorkitude. If the Nada Surf video and the Robin Thicke video were first cousins this would be their mentally-challenged offspring. Watching someone riding around in overcast weather is marginally less interesting than watching someone tape a pair of handlebars, and if I wanted to watch someone delivering packages slowly I'd just follow a postal worker around. Worst of all, if you can bear to wait for the parts where he actually gets off the bike and goes into his bag, it's clear that the video has been speeded up. It looks like old Babe Ruth footage. So he hasn't just been riding slowly; he's actually been riding very slowly.

And if you're looking for the missing ingredient to crystallize this miserable melange of rap and riding, here it is, via BSNYC gadfly, fixed-gear freestylist, and street culture enthusiast Prolly:

By now I was ready to follow my three-step Fixed-Gear Apocalypse Survival Plan, which is as follows:

1) Dismantle any and all fixed-gear bicycles right down to the spoke nipples and hub bearing and bury all components as far apart from each-other as possible. (This decreases the likelihood that your fixed-gear bicycle will be resurrected after the Apocalypse and seek revenge.)

2) Assemble as many cogs as possible and use them as ninja throwing stars. (This may be the only way to defend yourself against the roving bandana-wearing, snug-trousered zombie hordes.)

3) Paint yourself white to deflect the Apocalyptic blast. (Like Neil in "The Young Ones.")

But first, I decided to check the NYC PistaDex. And to my horror, it was at 370, thanks mostly to this one:

2003 Bianchi Pista fixed gear - 56cm frame - $300 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/fct/bik/552166773.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-01-26, 9:07AM EST

Selling my 2003 Bianchi Pista fixie. I've used this bike for both training and commuting and loved riding it. I'm working on a new fixed-gear project so this one has to go.

All the components are stock except for the tires. I've put about 3000mi on the bike and have taken very good care of it. It also has Shimano 600 brake levers and Shimano 105 front calipers. I will sell with or without pedals (I have both a clip and clipless set I'd include if you want). Gearing is 48T front (on a Truvativ crank) and 16T fixed/17T freewheel on the rear flip-flop hub.

Let me know if you have any questions. I'm only looking for a good home for this bike.


The only thing that allowed me to keep my cool here was the fact that this bike is in Fairfield, Connecticut and is clearly owned by someone who is not using it for fixed-gear freestyling purposes. Surely some trendy young urban citydweller will Mapquest Fairfield, convince a friend to drive him up there in a hand-me-down Volvo with Vermont plates, and bring it back to Brooklyn. He'll then try to sell it shortly thereafter for something with more street cred, and the PistaDex will correct itself.

No sooner had I recovered from the shock of seeing the NYC PistaDex, though, than I read an email from a reader warning me that the Austin PistaDex had plummeted as well. Things haven't been going too well in Austin recently, and when I investigated I found that the PistaDex was languishing at 362.5.

My hands shaking, I collected what was left of my wits and checked in with the other major markets:

Los Angeles: 450

Whew! I was particularly encouraged by this one:

2007 Bianchi Pista 53cm - $400 [original URL: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/bik/550937082.html]
Reply to:
[deleted]
Date: 2008-01-25, 2:18AM PST

I have a 2007 Chrome Bianchi Pista with a couple nice upgrades for sale. This bike is in great condition with low mileage. Can work with trades, but really i'm only looking to upgrade to an aluminum framed bike such as a Fuji Track Pro, Bianchi Pista Concept, or Felt TK2. Thanks for looking!

EDIT 1/25: This bike no longer comes with a wheelset, sorry! Reduced the price

Here are the specs:

-Headset: Cane Creek VP1
-Handlebar: Bontrager Select Drops (wrapped in celeste bartape)
-Stem: Bontrager Select 110mm Stem
-Crankset: Truvativ Touro 48T
-Chain: KMC
-Pedals: Wellgo Track Pedals w/ toe clips
-Saddle: Fizik Arione Wing Flex Limited Celeste ($100 for saddle alone!), Selle Marcos Pirelli Saddle looks and feels like a Turbo saddle,

Keywords: track, fixed, fixie, bianchi, pista, singlespeed,

$400 for a used Pista with no wheels is indeed a good sign. Surely this must have something to do with the newsworthy fact that the infamous Wolfpack just did a (cough) century. (That's a lot of cigarette breaks!)

San Francisco: 534

Here's a representative ad:

Bianchi Pista 2006-size 49 - $600 (san jose downtown) [original URL: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/553547458.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-01-27, 1:46PM PST

Bianchi pista in color gang green, the size is a 49 , im 5'2 so if your a small person too thant its a perfect fit the bike is in great condition except for 2 minor scraches but other than that great. I really hate to see this bike go but i dont have time to ride anymore and i need the money. so i will be accepting e-mails please include your name and phone number so that i can get back to you at my earliest convinience. Thank you.

Used Pista. $600. Bay Area spared.

Pacific Northwest: 540

There was one Pista for sale in Seattle for $500, and nothing available in Portland. In a tight Pista market where none are for sale just substitute the MSRP. Averaging Seattle and Portland then gives us the Pacific Northwest PistaDex. (Yes, I've heard there are other cities in the Pacific Northwest besides those, but I refuse to acknowledge any of them until I see actual proof that they exist.)

Chicago: Indeterminately Juicy

What does that mean? Well, take a look at the only Pista currently for sale in Chicago:

Tricked Out Track Bike Fixie do it do it [original URL: http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/550358303.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-01-24, 3:35PM CST

Size 57 bianchi pista. Custom paint is pearl blood red. Wheels are velocity. Riser is only modification. Everything is pretty much stock. Very small scratch on chainstay. Can't even really be seen. Option of 2 saddles. Also have soma double strap pedals for extra cash. Selling because I have a lot of bikes, and this one serves no purpose to me. Shipping is determined by bike shop so let me know where you live and I will ball park it. Less than 100 miles on bike total.

NO LOW BALL OFFERS!



So, overall, after looking at a cross-section of the United States, I'm not sounding the alarm yet. In fact, I think we've been spared by some kind of divine intervention. Why? Because the auction for the Tallest Bike in Los Angeles was cancelled:


After a few readers emailed me about this I was watching the auction carefully, as I knew the eventual winner would probably be a demon, horseman, or at least a harbinger of some kind. But someone--or some thing--has stopped it. And we probably owe that entity our lives.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More BSNYC Infrequently Asked Questions

Awhile back I posted answers to some infrequently asked questions. And because knowledge is power and we all want to register big wattage on the SRM of life, I've gone ahead and answered a few more below. So read and be misinformed. If you've still got any questions once you're done, check in with Fat Cyclist, since he may have some answers for you too:


What is a “century?”

A century is a word people who ride Serottas and Cervelos equipped with mountain bike pedals and compact cranks use to describe what the rest of us just call a long ride. There’s also something called a “metric century.” Riders use the same type of bicycles, but a metric century is shorter and probably involves more camelbaks and helmets with visors on them.

What is a “training ride?”

This is how roadies describe what the rest of us just call a ride. It can be long, short, fast, or slow. It can also be intermittently fast and slow, which is called “intervals.” Roadies call rides “training rides” so people know that they race. In fact, roadies only do two kinds of rides: training rides, and races. Any other type of riding is considered “garbage miles,” or “junk miles.” Garbage miles include any miles ridden offroad, any miles ridden for purposes of commuting or transportation, any miles not ridden in full team kit, and any miles during which the rider has any fun.

What is a “session?”

A session is a word fixed-gear freestylers, freeriders, and BMXers use to describe riding around in circles doing tricks. The term “session” is also used in relation to the Senate, therapy, and band recording. All of these sessions share in common the fact that they are generally self-indulgent, boring to watch, and in the end go nowhere.

How do I know if it’s time to replace my frame?

Inspect your frame closely for URLs. If your frame has any URLs on it, it means it is too new to be considered “vintage,” yet too old to be considered up-to-date. URLs on bikes went out in the late 90s and early Oughts, when manufacturers finally realized that even the dumbest person can figure out how to find a website without seeing a “www” and “.com” around the name.

Which is better, threaded or threadless steering setups?

Threadless.

As a cyclist, should I obey all traffic signals?

Absolutely not. The surest way to disaster is mindless adherence to rules, routine, and procedure, because they do not account for the unexpected—or, as I prefer to call it, the stupidity factor. Take pedestrians, for example. When you have the green, pedestrians will not think twice about crossing against the light, right in front of you. They will also usually look near you but not at you, as though they’re following Jerry Seinfeld’s procedure for admiring a woman’s breasts without being caught. Conversely, when they do have the light and you have a red, they’ll generally stop dead and look at you as though you’re about to run them down. When you’re dealing with this sort of stupidity, all bets are off. If you don’t believe me, go outside right now and stand at a busy corner. Wait until a large vehicle is approaching, and then run across the street. I guarantee at least five people will follow you to almost certain death. These bovine are simply too stupid to live, and if you blindly follow traffic rules they will take you right down with them.

More aggressively stupid are drivers. If you wait at a red light and then proceed when it turns green, you’re virtually assured death by yellow-miscalculating idiot.

Rules are not designed to protect you. They are designed to trap and kill you. Rely only on your wits, because that’s the only thing that will keep you alive.

Can I purchase a fixed-gear-specific hooded sweatshirt that is inspired by a Huey Lewis and the News Song?

You absolutely can! A reader just forwarded me the "Dissizit" hoodie. (Just wait for the chorus to find the Huey inspiration—if you can bear it.)



(Huey meets Hoodie.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Worst of NYC Craigslist Bike Ads #42-#45

Further to yesterday's post, Cameron, proprietor of the nascent Oldtenspeedgallery, donned his welding glasses and created this retina-scalding image:


Erik K also offered this variation, complete with frilly cravat for the cold days:


And should our track bike-liking protagonist wish to add another festively-hued cannon to his arsenal, he'll be pleased to know the perfect one awaits him on Craigslist:


Track bike, Dura Ace, Cinelli, Campagnolo, Concor, Velocity, Razesa 52 - $1200 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/552911728.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-01-26, 10:00PM EST

On hundred percent custom 52cm track bike. Too nice to lock up out of site, I can't ride this bike anymore. I can negotiate parts for people who aren't in the market for a twelve hundred dollar track bike. Dura Ace High Flange hubs laced to pink NMSW (non-machined sidewall) Velocity Deep-v's. The Cog is a hand-beveled 20 tooth EAI track cog. Nickle Plated Uniglyde Chain (THE best chain you can use with a 3/32nd drive train on a track set up) Dura Ace square Taper cranks, with a Rare and beautiful stronglight 54 tooth chain ring. The gear ratio is such that only every other tooth ever uses the chain, so when the chain wears out, you can machine off every other tooth and run a custom skip tooth, pretty neat, huh? The spokes are staight guage, and are threaded into purple anodized nipples. The top of the head tube has been lowered with a tube facer. The headset is Duron needle bearing bye FSA, and looks great. The Cinelli, stem has, I believe 68deg. of drop, making it the Pista Model. The handlebars are Cinelli Pista as well. The Bars are wrapped with brown leather and finished with special Superman colors twine. The Saddle is a white perferated Concor. It has some blue on it from riding in jeans, wich I think looks really beautiful, but will wipe off with a damp sponge. The seatpost is a Campagnolo Aero, maybe Super Record 26.8. It does not come with pedals, but I have some pedals if you don't have your own system and are looking for one. This bike is in excellent mechanical condition, there is some where and a couple of scrapes, the saddle is nearly new, but has a small tear on the rear edge. More photo's with serious inquiry. The first photo's are for reference and my have a different set up, the four hosted here are current taken right now. But since they are not the best pics, I'm giving you some better ones for reference. <


Pink rims, purple nipples, leather, and jean stains? Is this a bike or a porn starlet? It's even had a bad nose job in the form of a head-tube shortening. Somewhere under all this crap is the innocent Midwestern girl who stepped off that Greyhound bus in the Valley all those years ago, but I fear she may be too far gone to bring her back. I admit I'm confused by the part about how he's not able to ride the bike anymore because it's too nice to lock outside. You know, it is possible to enjoy a bicycle without leaving it out. Then again, thanks to messenger chic even locking your bike up has become trendy, and bringing your bike inside with you can cost you precious street cred these days. I also admit that I'm completely baffled by the part about the custom skip-tooth. Is it somehow desirable now to make your bike look like it's suffering from scurvy?

Vittoria Zaffiro II All White Tires Non NJS / Track - $85 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/552032717.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-01-26, 2:43AM EST

Vittoria Zaffiro II All White Tires - $85 Shipped 700x23 Clincher Only available in Japan!!!



Just because something's only available in Japan doesn't mean you should want it. You know what else is only available in Japan? Whale meat. I have a feeling I know who's behind this particular tire-smuggling operation, and I only hope he's not flying in a bunch of awkwardly-walking, extremely uncomfortable mules from Tokyo in order to get them.


RE: Vittoria Zaffiro II All White Tires Non NJS / Track - $85 - $13 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/553111461.html]
Reply to: [deleted] Date: 2008-01-27, 3:40AM EST

don't buy these just cause they are white and compliment your white kashimax saddle/aerospokes/mesengerbag/anodized parts. They are the cheapest tires that vittoria makes.
http://aebike.com/page.cfm?action=details&PageID=30&SKU=TR3444 SCHWINN

While I appreciate the poster's attempt to inject some common sense into Craigslist, it's kind of like trying to purify the Gowanus with a chlorine tablet. Plus, if you're considering these tires, everything the poster points out above is a selling point. And $85 is still cheaper and more comfortable than flying to Tokyo and secreting a bike's worth of cheap silica back to New York in a body cavity.

PARAMONT FIXTY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - $550 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/lgi/bik/549028843.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-01-23, 2:12PM EST

This is a schwinn paramont road bike frame with 105 shimano cranks, sealed bottom bracket, weinman lp18 double walled rims, sealed bearing high flange hubs, dt stainless spokes, hutchinson flash tires, nitto bars, 105 front brake only with vintage shimano lever, tioga prestige cromo tbone stem. I built this bike last summer rode it for less than 300 miles and have decided it would probably be better for my bad knees to get somthing with gears. The bike is sick though. I find that road frames converted to fixed gear track bikes have such great personality. They also seam to feel a bit smoother over bumps compared to true the track frames I have owned. Any questions call Rick at [deleted] or during the day [deleted]. I am firm on this price so please don't send me some low ball offer. I know this bikes worth. This is a hand made steel frame after all. The frame is a 62cm from center to top.

He knows the bike's worth but he doesn't know the bike's name. "Paramont Fixty" sounds like a character in "The Pickwick Papers." The bike is indeed "sick," and it needs some derailleurs and shifters to make it better again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fixedgeargallery...of unbridled exuberance.

(Of course you do.)



They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. This couldn't be further from the truth. I hadn't checked out Fixedgeargallery in awhile, and when I finally did again it was like running into an ex on the street. And I'm not talking about the kind of run-in where she looks great and you're digging in a public trash can because you accidentally threw your keys in there. I mean the kind of encounter where her first shrill utterance reminds you of just how large a caliber bullet you dodged. More than anything though, as I clicked through the gallery I was once again amazed by the amount of effort people make to look ridiculous. Here are some examples:


This tribute bike puts the "Devo" back in "devoid of sense," largely due to the fang-tastic, intelligence-defying handlebar setup. What reason could one possibly have for cutting the drops off in this manner? It's like taking the shifter knob off your sports car, or cutting your computer mouse in half. The only explanation I can come up with is that the owner took Weird Al's Devo tribute, "Dare To Be Stupid," even more seriously than he takes Devo. Because he did, and it is.



Here's a frame that was apparently hanging safely in a shop window for the last eighteen years, only to meet the unfortunate fate of death by gold anodized componentry at the zenith of the fixed-gear trend. I certainly hope the owner coordinates his riding attire with the color scheme of his bicycle. If he doesn't, I suggest the following:



This paisley top, full-zip, moisture-wicking and fabulous;




These cycling shorts, which marry high fashion and high performance;


And these high-heeled Chucks, perfect both on and off the bike.





This entry isn't about the bike; it's about the backdrop. We've seen the bike-in-front-of-the-record-collection plenty of times, but it's incredibly rare to see a bike posed in front of a video collection. I sincerely hope this is a video store and not the owner's personal library, though, because a close-up reveals some distressing choices:



This video collection is worse than Redman's in his "MTV Cribs" episode. Note in particular the treacly trifecta to the immediate left of the stem, with "The Breakup," Brokeback Mountain," and "Bruce Almighty" all cheek-by-jowl. Notice also that the leather-clad bullhorns appear to be forklifting a payload of refuse that includes "Clerks II," "Con Air," and "Cruel Intentions." Harrowing. I haven't seen something this trendy in front of a wall this full of crap since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie posed in front of a Masai dung hut on one of their Africa visits.


This bike is remarkable because it has a built-in theft prevention device. Just put it in a basement and it disappears into the scenery like a stick insect in a tree. Just look at this photo--the bike's in there. Can you find it? Bet you can't!




Always fascinating is the extent to which people will go to tape their bars incorrectly. In browsing Fixedgeargallery and checking out bar taping jobs I've seen almost every conceivable variation on the theme of stupid. Here's a new one, where the middle of the drop is left bare for some reason, like a bare midriff in the snow:







This one's tall, dark and lanky, and somewhere between intimidating and ridiculous:





This one, on the other hand, is genuinely terrifying. In particular, note the ferret, which looks unnervingly like the one the nihilists threw in Jeff Bridges' bathtub in "The Big Lebowski." Certainly one man's pet is another man's infestation. Then notice the poor lighting and the perfectly-circled pentagram formed by the crank spider and chainring guard.



But most terrifying is the head-actuated brake lever. It looks like the gnarled, beckoning finger of a demon, gesturing for you to come closer and closer, until it throttles you like the disembodied hand in "Evil Dead 2."







Decidedly more upbeat is this entry. This thing's got more aging bells and whistles than an antique music shop. It looks like one of those old-timey fire engines:


It's the Little Engine That Could Not.


Friday, January 25, 2008

And finally...

To mercifully conclude a week replete with bicycles in the service of marketing, I'd like to share one more example by which I've been assaulted lately. Frequent commenter, ellipses enthusiast, and occasional comment section identity theft victim bikesgonewild recently mentioned a Bank of America TV ad in which some putz is followed around by a red road bike. I too have seen these commercials--often, in fact, as I watch TV often. Recently, though, Bank of America figured out my internet browsing habits, and so they've been stalking me online as well. Here's the bike from the internet version of the ad:





Notice how the youngish guy with the middle part is gazing longingly at the red bike in a shop window. The red bike is clearly a symbol of freedom and happiness. However, the red bike is obscured. This means neither the youngish guy nor his middle part can know true freedom and happines without Bank of America's credit card.



Here's the next image. The bike is now in clear focus. Presumably the youngish guy has applied for and received a Bank of America credit card, most likely with an inordinately high credit limit and a correspondingly high APR. Now that he has this card, he may swipe it wantonly through his middle part, and he may purchase freedom and happiness. The ad just repeats itself shortly after this, but presumably if it continued we would see our protagonist riding away contentedly, his bisected hair flopping around Hugh Grantily in the breeze as he heads towards his next purchase.

To me, though, the most interesting thing about the ad is the bike itself. It has been focus-grouped. It's modern, but it has some retro touches. It's geared, but it's spare (note the absence of bottle cages). Basically, it's been designed to appeal to as many cyclists as possible--kind of a cross between Tom Hanks and soylent green.

And it kind of freaks me out.

From the BSNYC Culture Desk: Music, Bikes, and Marketing


As a cyclist, it's hard not to feel marginalized sometimes--especially when a giant SUV is running you off the road because its 5'3" driver can't see your head over the top of the passenger door. And when you then see an ad that uses bicycles to sell that very same SUV, chances are you then go from feeling marginalized to feeling just plain insulted. Such is the plight of the cyclist; we're simultaneously marginal and marketable.

Of course, not all marketing ploys involving cycling are quite so contradictory and offensive. Some are simply harmless attempts to appear in step with a current style or trend. Like this video from the band Nada Surf, which was forwarded to me by a reader.

Nada Surf are generally considered an "indie band," which is an apt moniker for a group whose first album was produced by Rik Ocasek of the Cars, released by Elektra Records, and contained the hit single "Popular." So as an idie band, it makes sense that they'd want to do a video which features a messenger on a fixed-gear (played by a professional actor), since many members of their target audience are probably fans of urban fixed-gear riding, and the associated imagery is in line with their own aesthetic. But hey, at least the guy knows how to ride a bike, and at least he's not being made to look like a total idiot, unlike cyclists in most movies. And at least the video's original, right?

Wrong. Actually, this was already done last year by Robin Thicke*, R&B singer and son of Alan Thicke (the Canadian star of "Growing Pains" and host of the unfortunately-titled and extremely short-lived talk show, "Thicke of the Night"). Except unlike the Nada Surf video, the bike is a mountain bike, and Robin Thicke himself is riding it. (At least some of the time.)
*OK, it was actually done in 2002. Thanks for the correction.

Come on, Nada Surf should have realized this video had been done already. A reader forwarded this to me ages ago. Even bikecommuters.com featured it!

Perhaps that's why another "indie" musician, Brooklyn-dwelling Sufjan Stevens (pictured below on what appears to be a fixed-gear bicycle with half a bowling ball on his head) has taken an entirely different tack.




Instead of clamoring for his slice of the bike trend-marketing pie, he's been presenting a "symphonic and cinematic exploration" of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (For all you out-of-towners, the BQE is strictly cars only.)

Perhaps Nada Surf's next video will feature them stuck in traffic by the Metropolitan Avenue exit, watching the hip and the Hassidim walking to and fro on the overpass.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

From the BSNYC Department of Consumer Affairs: Total Recall

Every so often, when a product malfunctions, breaks, or just plain sucks hard enough, its manufacturer will issue a voluntary recall. However, companies can’t always be trusted to do this on their own, and sometimes they won’t acknowledge that their products are crappy at any speed. That’s when somebody needs to step in and do it for them. Here are three products that deserve an involuntary recall:

Trackstar Champion Scarf

One of the first things you learn when you start riding, just after how to fix a flat and not to wear underwear with your cycling shorts, is that it’s extremely dorky to wear pro team kit, grand tour leader’s jerseys, or World Champion stripes while you’re riding. (Unless of course you’re on a pro team, are leading a grand tour, or are a World Champion, in which case it’s only mildly dorky.) It would follow then that wearing a scarf in the World Champion colors is completely unacceptable, unless you’re an actual World Champion with questionable Euro tastes who’s susceptible to chest colds. (Or maybe some kind of drunken Belgian superfan.) Apart from that, all the scenarios in which this scarf might be worn are almost too awful to contemplate. If you’re wearing it on the bike, you’re committing a double crime: wearing the World Champion stripes; and wearing a scarf of any kind while cycling. If you’re wearing it off the bike, you’re just a peacock of dorkitude. In any case, I’m issuing a recall on the Trackstar Champion Scarf, as wearers are at risk of strangulation by me.

Primal Wear bRide 2B Women’s Jersey


A reader recently forwarded me this item, and so I’m issuing a recall on it effective immediately, as any woman who dons this jersey is at severe risk of sudden and complete loss of dignity. I imagine this jersey being worn aboard a recumbent that’s got a “Just Married” sign on the back and is dragging a bunch of soup cans. I have to hand it to Primal, though, for only they could reach this deeply into the cauldron of bad taste and withdraw something even worse than the tuxedo t-shirt. As a company, they’ve also managed to successfully show what the world would be like if terrorists detonated a bomb that somehow destroyed all irony while leaving humor intact. And perhaps most amazingly, this may be the world’s only jersey with an integrated tramp-stamp.


Power Cranks


If cycling were an orange, roadies would take that orange, put it on a juicer, squeeze all the pulpy, delicious goodness out of it, and then eat the rind. And this is most apparent in their use of Power Cranks. When I see somebody out there on a bike with Power Cranks doing his idiotic prostrations, both his pedals in the 6:00 position as his lycra-clad taint bears the full brunt of his weight, I don’t know whether to laugh or just run him off the road. Users of Power Cranks cite performance gains, but it’s pretty obvious to me that once you’re determined enough to use something this stupid you’re going to somehow milk performance gains out of anything. As such, I’m issuing a recall, since these cranks are obviously broken. Duh. Not only that, but they cost like $1,000. If you’re considering these malfunctioning pieces of garbage do something smart and buy a mountain bike instead. Not only will you learn how to pedal, but you’ll also learn how to handle your bike. (And you might even have some fun.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SUVs and Bike Polo: Together Forever! (At least this week.)

Further to yesterday's post, a commenter mentioned a Toyota ad on the back cover of the current issue of Newsweek which employs seductive images of people enjoying bike polo. I also received email about it. I was curious to see it, and I thought some of you might be interested as well, so I did a little detective work. This mostly involved going to a newsstand and purchasing a copy of Newsweek. For me the revelation wasn't so much the ad as it was that people still pay for news that's printed on paper and doled out on a weekly basis. In any event, though, here it is:


The copy on the bottom explains that the Toyota Sequoia has "enough room for all your gear" and that it allows you to "focus on more important things, like having the time of your life." Apparently, somebody at Toyota's ad agency feels that enough people consider playing bike polo "having the time of your life" to warrant using it in an ad for a $35,000 automobile.

I for one find this whimsical picture of a rider on a dual-suspension, disc brake-equipped mountain bike side-by-side with another on a brakeless fixed-gear together in mallet-swinging harmony to be extremely irritating. Then again, I also find both bike polo and SUVs irritating. I will say, though, that if I had to guess which one of those riders showed up to the game in the Sequoia, I'd definitely go with the guy on the squishy bike with the Casio G-Shock.

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Dead Celebrity Media Scrums

When cycling through New York City, I'm often reminded of my own mortality. Sometimes, a reminder comes in the form of a Nissan Armada whose idiotic leaseholder is under the impression that there's a five-second grace period after a traffic light turns red during which it's still acceptable to proceed. Other times, it's in the shape of a memorial, like this one which I pass every day:




There's an undeniable poignancy to the ghost bikes that are scattered throughout the city, and I have a lot of respect for the sentiment behind them. However, I have to say that I personally don't like them. In fact, I don't like any memorials. I don't like tombstones, or mausoleums, or urns filled with ashes, or graffiti murals in peoples' memory, or tinted rear SUV windshields etched with murdered victims' names in gothic letters. Certain memorials are like submissions to the fixedgeargallery, in that they're more a testatment to the maker's vanity than they are to the thing they're supposed to represent. I don't think I'm the only one who's seen somebody with an elaborate crying Jesus tattoo in memory of a dead relative and thought, "Wow, you were just waiting for someone to die so you could have an excuse to get that."


Still, though, as memorials go, the ghost bikes do have a certain dignity--unlike the clustercoitus on Broome Street this morning:




Commuting by bicycle in a city like New York has an added dimension in that you're often interacting with the very machinery that drives our popular culture. Film shoots, Presidential visits, parades, protests, and world-altering terrorist attacks are just a few of the things that you're liable to encounter on your commute here. And today it was a bunch of idiots pointing their cameras at a dead actor's building.



Certainly this is a juicy story, and while there are certainly more important things going on in the world (like the fact that people who are rich and dumb enough to eat sushi every day are apparently risking mercury poisoning), it would be naive not to expect the media and the public to be obsessed with it. Still, though, I'm not sure why people have to stand there filming the actual building, or just what it is they expect to happen. Are they hoping to score an interview with his ghost? Do they think his corpse might come back for that massage? Are they expecting Jake Gyllenhaal to ride up on a horse in full cowboy regalia, bawling and bellowing, "Oh, Heath, I cain't quit you!"?


In the hope that seeing things from their perspective might help me understand, I stepped in amongst the cameramen, set aside my dignity, and took a photo myself. For an instant, I was one of them, and I suddenly knew what it was like to join a fraternity, watch the ball drop in Times Square, or take part in any other mass act of stupidity far greater than yourself. Becoming part of that group temporarily diffused all sense of shame and personal accountability I might have had. I then looked at the photo I had taken:



I was wrong. They hadn't been shooting the building. They had been filming the flowers. If you look closely you'll even see a camera on the sidewalk, getting a rat's-eye view.

I was now even more confused.

But there was one thing of which I was now certain. On a commute bookended by memorials, I had been forced to contemplate my own mortality, and I was surer than ever that should my demise "drop" prematurely and I join that great "collabo" in the sky, I don't want anybody to make a ghost bike for me. Fortunately, though, I think I've engendered enough ill-will in the cycling community that it's pretty unlikely anybody will.

But if you must do something, you can ghost ride a Trek Madone 6.9 straight off the Manhattan Bridge. In fact, you're more than welcome to do it even while I'm still alive.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bike Collabos: It Takes Two (to rip you off)

As a blogger and aggregator of all that is irritating, reprehensible, and fatuous in cycling, I often receive pictures of and links to offensive bicycles from readers. I always enjoy receiving these. I regard them as vile tokens of appreciation, in much the same way as the singer of a band might appreciate having underwear thrown at him onstage, even if they've been worn for upwards of 36 hours, have frayed elastic, and are badly in need of laundering.


Occasionally a bicycle is remarkable enough that a number of people forward it to me, and in the last few months one of the most forwarded bicycles has been the Fuji Obey. Despite the fact that it is indeed a noteworthy bicycle for a number of reasons, I have not mentioned it until now. This has been kicking around (the internet at least) for a long time. But if you haven't seen it yet, here it is:



This is perhaps the most contrived collision between a cheap bike and street art since some guy in Williamsburg intentionally ghost-rode his Schwinn Varsity conversion into a Biggie Smalls mural. If you’re unfamiliar with “Obey,” it started as a “street art campaign” and an “experiment in phenomenology” (according to paradigm of accuracy Wikipedia). And if you’re unfamiliar with street art, it’s basically just pretentious litter.

The Fuji Obey is especially noteworthy because it points to a trend of stylistic “collabos” in the cycling world. There are all types of collabos, but one popular type is when a tired old company attempts to breathe new life into itself by paying someone they’re told is cool to create brilliant new products like this. Or this. Sometimes the collabo is even between two tired old companies, like this. But no matter how they occur, collabos, (or “corporate lame brand offerings”) are tremendously exciting. First of all, they don’t “come out” or “become available.” That’s reserved for boring things like sandwiches, commemorative coins, and heart medicines. Instead, they “drop.” Secondly, collabos allow you to advertise two stupid brands on one product for the price of three.

Collabos are particularly popular in the world of hip-hop, where selling out is not only acceptable but required. Pioneering hip-hop branding collabos over the years include The Wu-Tang Clan and General Foods (Wu-Tang Tang), Ice-T and Folger’s (Ice-T Iced Coffee), and NWA and Kellogg’s (Fuck Tha Police Cereal). And beyond that, collabos have existed as long as people have. Some examples of historical collabos are the Jews and Jesus (Christianity), serfs and rats (the Bubonic Plague), and World War II.

So as fixed-gears become popular with “street culture” enthusiasts, you can expect more and more collabos. Like this one, which is only $6,000, and which I'm surprised Eric Clapton hasn't bought yet:



In fact, even I’m jumping onto the tail end of the collabo pack. After considering numerous offers, I decided to go with discount online retailer bikesdirect.com, for a special limited edition of their Windsor “The Hour.” Here’s the original bike:






And here’s the BSNYC collabo:







Notice the collabo doesn’t have valve caps. I hate valve caps! It will also come with a BSNYC sticker (which you can put on yourself) and will retail for $2,500. (Or about 20 Euros.)

Dropping soon on an internet near you!

This Just In: Apoca-Watch Update


(London calling.)

This very morning, not even an hour ago, I spotted a Specialized London city edition Langster in front of the Apple store in SoHo.

I'm not sure what to make of this confluence of contemporary trends. Seeing a city edition Langster in front of the Apple store is almost like seeing Kenny Rogers eating in a Kenny Rogers Roasters. Does this mean that all is right with the world and the Apocalypse is too busy bar spinning on high to worry about us, or could this be the steed of one of the snug-trousered horsemen who's just stepped inside to purchase an iPhone with which to summon his Apocalyptic riding buddies?

Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure: the rider is confident enough not to have secured either one of his wheels from theft, and the fact that they're still there implies some sort of divine intervention.

Friday, January 18, 2008

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Ah yes--what better way to spoil the Friday before a holiday weekend than with a pop quiz? As always, study the pictures as carefully as you can without gagging, read the choices, and click on your answer. If you're right, you'll be transported via the relevant link. If you're wrong, you'll find out what it's like to be eternally pursued by Michael J. Fox.

Good luck, and ride safe this weekend. See you Tuesday.






This picture depicts:

--Angelo Moore of Fishbone circa “Truth and Soul” and Phoebe Cates circa “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”

--The proprietors of LA's newest track bike boutique, "Fixatude," in Silverlake

--The "alleycats" look according to an online "one-stop lifestyle boutique"

--The "hipster bike" look according to an upscale department store


(Thanks to Joey of Venice, CA for the link)





The owner of this fixed-gear freestyler is selling his Hed 3s because:


--He's having financial problems


--He keeps rolling tubulars while skidding


--He's upgrading to Zipp discs


--He thinks purple Deep Vs would look "more tighter"






BMC has dropped its Team Elite 01 carbon hardtail from its range. What reason did they give?

--"Unfortunately BMC failed to convert exactly the claimed quality level of the prototypes into the serial production."

--"Despite our best efforts the Team Elite 01 hardtail did not deliver the performance and durability that customers should reasonably expect from a top-notch performance bicycle."

--"Our Taiwanese contrators were unable to realize the designs of our Swiss engineers in a manner that was cost-effective."

--"They kept breaking."




The good people at Fyxomatosis claim (incorrectly) that the rider on the right:

--Is attempting to convince the rider on the left to adopt brakes, bar tape, and a beard

--Is one of the fastest guys on two wheels in NYC

--Is discussing the finer points of jean-cuffing with the rider on the left

--Is in fact reclusive blogger Bike Snob NYC



What is the most likely inspiration for this bicycle?

--Craig Calfee's famous bamboo bikes

--Pandas

--Mr. Garrison's personal transport device

--A homemade bong project gone horribly awry

(Thanks to Jimmy of Brooklyn for the link)