Further to yesterday's post, part of the reason the TRAkTION video was rejected by the "fixed-gear community" was that this guy had the audacity to talk about what kind of equipment he's rubbing. Certainly, nobody wants to hear some "newbie" prattling on about his equipment--there are already Cat 4 roadie blogs for that. No, fixed-gear riders must learn to reside in a vacuum of coolness and inscrutability. However, if you try really hard, eventually you can attain "Fixed-Gear Gnosis," at which point you can wear a scarf and make profound statements about bicycles:
"I feel totally different when I ride an aluminum bike...I feel like a robot...There's always like a jagged edge, or like a sharp edge and stuff.
"If you can imagine like a trick being like a circle or a square...you know, riding an aluminum track bike is more like doing tricks and producing a square feel or something like that and then the steel one would draw a circle. Steel is real. "
I agree that steel is real, though foolishly I thought aluminum was also real until I heard this. I rub an aluminum bike sometimes, so I was interested to learn that it not only is imaginary but also produces "a square feel," since it always seemed to be as circular as any other bike I rub. I wonder what shapes the other materials make. My guess is carbon fiber (also known as "crabon fribé") produces a triquetra, and titanium makes a rhombus. Anyway, at least his analysis would explain why every time I get off my aluminum bike I do this.
Speaking of steel's intrinsically circular reality, I was very fortunate to receive a book from Rizzoli publishers recently called "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles":
While this book has been previously available, it appears that Rizzoli are bringing out a new edition. Also, as it happens, not too long ago I was also extremely lucky to receive a copy of the "COG Magazine Photo Annual":
While I generally feel conflicted about reviewing products, I don't feel conflicted about reviewing books. There's just something so earnest about them, especially now that you can read stuff and look at pictures in so many other ways that don't require paper (or even money). In a way, books have become little shivering chihuahuas caught in a blizzard of new media, and that makes me feel sorry for them. So I figured the least I could do was pit these two books books against each-other in a no-holds-barred product shootout. Here they are, side by side:
Both books feature similar construction. They have a spine and covers between which are pages, and they both pass on modern materials like carbon fiber in favor of the more traditional paper. However, there are two crucial differences. Firstly, TGAOHB has a removable "dust jacket," which is kind of like a top tube pad for books, whereas TCMPA uses an "integrated" cover which is non-removable and non-serviceable. Secondly, TGAOHB is taller than it is wide, and TCMPA is wider than it is tall. However, paradoxically, both of them are nearly the same size, as you can see from this photo of TCMPA humping TGAOHB:
If you're wondering how big these books actually are, the Rizzoli site does include geometry, but unless you're a trained book technician those numbers aren't going to make any sense to you. (They certainly don't to me). And until humankind agrees on some sort of universal standard for measurement, the best I can do is tell you that they are slightly larger than a "Mega Brows" disguise kit:
As I mentioned, there are many other ways to read words and look at pictures nowadays. However, there's one place the book still rules supreme, and that's in the restroom. It's hard to drop a book in the toilet, but even the most dedicated member of "iPhone culture" (or "urine culture") knows that his or her limited edition Fragment Design Hiroshi Fujiwara x Incase Slider Case is not going to protect a handheld device from an unexpected plunge. So I performed a "restroom test."
I'm not going to go into a lot of unnecessary detail regarding this test, but I will say that both books performed admirably and sat comfortably on the lap. However, TCMPA did nip TGAOHB at the line. This was due to TCMPA's wider layout, which was decidedly more lap-friendly, as well as its lighter weight. At first, I was puzzled as to why TGAOHB was so much heavier, but once the "restroom test" was over I inspected both books more closely:
As you can see, TGAOHB is considerably thicker than TCMPA. In fact, it's almost as thick as TCMPA plus a DVD of "Strange Brew." However, this alone should not sway you towards TCMPA. Keep in mind that, when it comes to books, added weight also comes with more content. And more content is sometimes a good thing. Simply put, it all comes down to what's more important to you. If you want a lightweight book that's highly "flickable" and can handle the most technical bathroom course, the edge goes to TCMPA. However, if you want something that's slightly overbuilt and you value longer, slower reads over more competitive ones, you'll almost certainly be happier with TGAOHB.
So what of that content? Well, both books consist of a very different "content layup":
Note that TCMPA (top) has pictures that cover the entire page, and almost no words, which makes for a fast read and complements its race-oriented bathroom geometry. On the other hand, TGAOHB uses pictures in conjunction with words, and also includes white space that makes for a smoother read and all-day comfort. Really, TGAOHB is more at home on the couch than in the bathroom. (Please disregard the citrus fruit--I had to stop juggling in order to take the photo.)
Also, the bicycles that are pictured in the books are quite different as well. TCMPA features mainly (but not exclusively) fixed-gear bicycles, though it shows them being used in a variety of ways, such as in alleycats, in keirin races, for freestyle, for polo, and so forth. TGAOHB on the other hand depicts geared bicycles. Incidentally, many of the "words" contained in TGAOHB are very interesting, as is the technology that many of these old bikes employ. The old gear-changing systems are particularly fascinating. Basically, TCMPA illustrates the absurd length riders go through not to shift, whereas TGAOHB illustrates the absurd lengths people once went through in order to be able to shift.
Of course, when it comes to books with pictures one of the most important factors is coffee table appeal. Well, either will look great on yours. It all comes down to who your guests are and what kind of table you have. If your guests wear Vans and tattoos and show up on fixed-gears, and your coffee table generally has canned beer, stale Fritos, and a bong on it (or you use an upside-down box in lieu of a coffee table) you'll probably prefer TCMPA. However, if you not only own a coffee table, but it also has a story behind it, and if your friends show up on lugged bikes that also have stories behind them, and they bring wine, cheese, and grapes in their handlebar bags and tell even more boring stories, you should probably go with the TGAOHB.
But both made me feel like I was drawing a circle, and neither made me feel like a robot. Paper is real.