As you may know, this past weekend Indianapolis, IN hosted the 5th annual NAHBS (which of course stands for National Association of Ham Butchers' Soiree). For the fifth consecutive year, I failed to attend, since I don't really feel the need to spend time and money in order to slobber all over lugs. Honestly, I'm not much of a lug-slobberer anyway, and I don't really understand why people get so excited about them. Lug-slobberers are the same kinds of people who get excited about things like wine and furniture design and who spend $200 on architecture books.
But I'm sure if I did like to stand next to bikes, nod appreciatively, and make remarks such as, "My, what exquisite lugwork!" I'd have had a smashing time. I'm also sure my saliva glands would have been working overtime in the presence of something like this, which includes not only "exquisite lugwork," but also chrome, wood, leather, and rivets, which is enough to cause even the most finicky lug-slobberer to drown to death in his own drool:
Yes, it's the bike porn equivalent of PVC fetish clothing. But it wasn't all lugs at the NAHBS. There were also TIG welded bikes, and crabon bikes, and titanium bikes, and so forth. And of course no NAHBS would be complete without impossibly lavish "townie" bikes that cost more than your town:
I'm not sure who in 2009 has both money to buy such a bicycle and a job to ride it to, though I suppose it really doesn't matter since Sacha White's wait list is something like five years long. Who knows? Perhaps by 2014 we'll be living in a new age of prosperity. So if you're prone to the sort of optimism that borders on complete delusion, go ahead, queue up for a Vanilla. Don't worry about it getting stolen--crime will be a thing of the past in 2014. Also, the fenders will help keep you dry during all those pesky money storms, and the wide tires will offer a smooth ride and sure grip on roads of gold bullion.
But you don't have to wait until 2014 for a really expensive bicycle. Serotta, the company that makes dentists drool so heavily they need to fire up their saliva aspirators, also showed its dental dream bike, the MeiVici AE:
Ironically, by outdoing themselves once again, Serotta may have sown the seeds of their own undoing. At just a hair (or a strip of dental floss) below $8,500 for the frame, fork, and seatpost, even a dentist might think twice before buying one. Actually, a reader informs me that at least one dentist has gone so far as to take up the welding torch himself:
Chuck Sadilah's can-do attitude is an inspiration to dentists everywhere. By seizing the means of production, this one man may have taken the first crucial step in breaking Serotta's stranglehold on the dental industry. Perhaps we are on the verge of a new age of empowerment in which frame building is taught in dental schools. I only hope that Serotta's secret strike force doesn't reach him first. Their strongarm tactics are well-known in the world of cycling, and Sadilah wouldn't be the first dentist to leave for a "weekend for two...at one of the CTS training centers," never to be heard from again.
However, I'll admit I'd be less cynical about the NAHBS if I were actually in the market for a handmade bicycle. As it is, I must make do with my Ironic Orange Julius Bike, and my Perscattante, and various other pedestrian bicycles completely free of "exquisite lugwork." Yes, in these trying times, the only wait list many of us deal with when purchasing a frame is waiting for an auction to end on eBay. If you're one of these cyclists, take solace in the fact that things could be worse. You could actually be riding a bicycle that's been fished out of a canal in Amsterdam:
This picture was forwarded to me by a reader in Holland, and I suspect that many of these bicycles will wind up being sold for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist as "vintage Dutch commuter bikes." Even that bag would probably fetch a tidy sum, as it's fashionably pre-distressed, and nothing says "street cred" like the stench of canal water.
Really, when you think about it, buying a bike on Craigslist isn't much different from fishing it out of a canal anyway. Both endeavors are distasteful and unpleasant and leave you feeling slimy afterwards. However, there's a key difference between selling a bike on Craigslist and simply throwing it into a canal. The difference is that, due to the present popular obsession with fixed-gears and singlespeeds, you must specify whether the item you're selling is fixed-gear or singlespeed compatible, no matter how ill-suited to either use it may be:
1992 Bridgestone RB-2 Frame + Fork 62CM - $200 (Brooklyn Heights)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-02-23, 3:02PM EST
Up for sale is a 62CM 1992 Bridgestone RB-2 Frame + Fork. Great condition with minor scratches and wear. For more info on the bike and frame geometry, please see http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/1992/1992.pdf.
If interested, I also have a Soulcraft Convert Single Speed Chain Tensioner, if you are interested in converting it to a single speed. It sells on JensonUSA.com for 91.00. I will include it for an extra $50. Please email me with any questions. Thanks!
It's a sad day indeed when you can't sell a perfectly serviceable road frame with vertical dropouts without making some kind of provision for singlespeed use. But you can't really blame the sellers. You can't hope to sell a frame anymore without potential buyers asking you if it's singlespeed or fixed-gear compatible, so you might as well just save everyone the trouble.
And as bad as the obligatory singlespeed/fixed-gear provision may be, it's nowhere near as bad as out-and-out racism and sexism:
White Male Bike - $300 (Mamaroneck)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-02-27, 1:22PM EST
Have a beautiful PEUGEOT white male bike for sale -
Ride well. Good for road and bike races. 34" high.
Have curved handlebars and locking piece for holding things in back.
Must arrange for pick-up. CASH ONLY!! NO Phone Calls.
Why should a crappy Peugeot with "curved handlebars" and a "locking piece for holding things in back" be reserved only for white males? Talk about being "excluded by the patriarchy of bike culture"! Every person should have an equal chance to purchase this exquisitely-lugged piece of French history, whether you're a white male or a Black Helmut:
You pedestrian, me biker, corner of 15th St. and 1st Ave Friday - w4m - 28 (Union Square)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-02-28, 8:41PM EST
Friday evening around 5:30PM I was riding my bike the wrong way (bad, yes, I know!) on East 15th street and stopped for you at the corner of 1st Avenue. You were with a friend walking up 1st Ave. You had a cute smile and I smiled back and said hi. I was on a folding bike, wearing a black trench coat and black helmut.
We've met Black Rob's older brother Black Phil on Craigslist before, so it's good to make the acquaintance of their transatlantic cousin, German hip-hop sensation Black Helmut, as well. Black Helmut is of course known for wearing a black trench coat. He also has gold teeth and a way with the ladies:
Messenger with the teeth of Gold - w4m - 26 (Midtown)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-02-27, 3:58PM EST
I was crossing the street when you nearly bumped into me with your 2 wheel wonder. It was at that point that you flashed your pearly... umm “golds?” and called me luscious. I cant stop thinking about that wonderful moment in time and keep on ordering bike messengers in the hope that you will be the one to deliver my bundle of joy... YOU!
If this is you, describe what I was wearing (hint: PETA hates me!) and lets make this work.
Only Black Helmut is possessed of the suave insouciance to turn a near-collision into a seduction by calling his victim "luscious." (Incidentally, the second-most oft-heard phrase at the NAHBS, after "exquisite lugwork," was "luscious welds.") I don't know Helmut personally, nor did I witness the collision, but if PETA hates her she was probably wearing something like this:
Sadly, things didn't go so well for this fellow, who attempted to seduce his quarry by not being able to afford to buy beer at a show:
ninja sonic concert last saterday... - m4w - 26
Reply to: email@example.com [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-03-01, 10:15PM EST
you were at the concert at the shank last sat, lost in the crowd, I was tall dark and handsome in a black tee shirt,, drinking pbrs out of my bag. I rode there on a yellow track bike. We never spoke, I wish I could have you on my arm at cheap hipster shows every weekend, to bad it's hard to talk when the music is so loud, were you looking for me too? Your pick gets mine...
Right--black t-shirt, drinking PBR, riding a track bike, at a show in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I'm sure he stood out like a lugged steel frame at the NAHBS. If he really wanted to reel in the ladies, he would have ridden this proud beast (forwarded by a reader):
There's nothing terribly original about track bikes, lugged or otherwise. So when it comes to getting noticed, Y-Foil around?