The fender debate is currently gaining momentum faster than a new brakeless Pista owner on a steep descent, and I fear that it is hurtling uncontrollably towards the four-way intersection that is all-out war. Even though I am a believer in fenders, I am more importantly a believer in peace. As such, I'd like to share with you something that the pro-fender cabal (of which I am admittedly a part) does not want you to know: fenders can be deadly.
This has been my greatest winter bike ever. I loved the setup with risers so much its sucks to see it go. I was riding to work in the morning with a strong spring wind at my back. The front fender was rubbing on the tire just enough to bother me, so I tapped it over a bit with my foot. This is something I have had to do before so I thought nothing of it, until I was in mid flight. So of coarse the fender had somehow caught the smooth tire and wrap up into my fork. Instantly locking up the wheel and well throwing my ass off into the air only to land some number of feet in front of the bike. The distance I flew is what save me from major injury. I flipped almost completely around with all that hang time and rolled down onto my heals. It's hard to explain, I was shooken up a lot but came out just fine a day or two later. After I walked it off a bit I had to flip the bars around to let the wheel clear the D-tube. I rode it like that with a flat a few more miles in a daze until help came for me. This sucked (Sorry Joe)
Yes, while fenders may go a long way towards keeping your posterior dry, they can also stop your front wheel and send you soaring though the air like your messenger bag suddenly became a jet pack--which can lead to pants-wetting of a different sort. Of course, there are fenders that are designed with breakaway clips to prevent this sort of thing from happening. And perhaps more importantly, not trying to adjust your fenders with your feet while you're riding can also go a long way towards preventing accidents. This holds true for any bicycle component or accessory. Things you should not do with your feet while riding include:
--Take a drink from your water bottle;
--Attempt to true your wheel;
--Administer a pedicure;
--Send a text message.
Certainly, if you have monkey-like prehensile toes and your pedial dexterity is greater than your manual dexterity, you should feel free to perform bike maintenance (or operate your mobile phone) with your feet, provided that you do so off the bike. However, upright bicycles are simply not designed with simian people in mind--despite what you might think from looking at freeriders--so while you're in motion you should either use your hands or, better yet, stop completely and make any necessary adjustments. Otherwise, you could always ride a recumbent, on which your laid-back position is much more conducive to doing things like adjusting your cleats or smoothing your callouses with a pumice stone.
That said, there's something that disturbed me about this particular case even more than the fate-tempting foot nudge, and that is the fact that this rider appears to have a brakeless bike with fenders. I've been seeing more and more of this sort of thing lately. Not only are people increasingly riding brakeless bikes with fenders, but they're also riding brakeless bikes with racks. This is because they're discovering the functionality and convenience of these accessories, yet they are still committed to their brakeless ways.
For the most part, I believe that people should do whatever they want, and they should demand that any naysayers perform testilingus on them. If you want to ride brakeless, ride brakeless. If you want to palp a TTMBL, palp a TTMBL. If you want to perform an unsafe-for-work breast exam on yourself while you slay some singletrack, perform an unsafe-for-work breast exam on yourself while you slay some singletrack. However, at the same time I believe you should at least be consistent in your palpage. Should a vegan who wears a sausage necklace be allowed to call himself a vegan? No he should not. Then why should a brakeless cyclist who espouses the "zen simplicity" of brakelessness be allowed to use fenders and racks? That's like some cave-dwelling ascetic having a plasma TV and a full satellite package.
Moreover, stopping a brakeless track bike that weighs 17 pounds is one thing. Stopping a brakeless bike with loaded racks is something else entirely. When I'm on my way home from the fruit stand on my Ironic Orange Julius Bike laden with 30 pounds of bananas for my helper monkey, Vito, there's no way I'm stopping that thing without brakes fast enough to stay out of trouble. I guess that's why I see so many brakeless bikes with CETMAracks, but I've almost never seen anything actually on them. And if nothing else, brakeless bikes with fenders and racks look silly--it's the bicycle equivalent of the suit-with-shorts look.
Still, could this indicate that urban cyclists are moving away from carrying all their knickknacks and tchotchkes in messenger bags and holsters and fanny packs and are instead carrying them on their bikes? At least one person thinks they are, and he's hoping to profit from it:
Vintage Cannondale All-Terrain ATB Cruising Bike Bicycle Turquoise - $250 (Upper East Side)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-04-28, 6:52PM EDT
Bike for sale is a Vintage Cannondale SM400 in beautiful Turquoise Color. It falls in the category of ATB (All-Terrain Bicycle) or Cruising Bike. The current owner (female) is about 5' 5" tall. I believe the bike is 18" based on information a reader furnished me with. He was basing it on the information the serial number indicates.
Serial Number: 18072187078. Serial number indicates information about the size as well as the fact that it was manufactured on July 21, 1987. Bike was purchased on March 30, 1988.
The information above came from the 1987 Cannondale Catalog. My understanding is that people collect this bike as a vintage item and we were advised not to sell it yet and that as time goes on it will hit a very high value. We are currently selling a lot of our possessions because we just do not have room in our apartment to keep it.
If you would like to see a few of our other items we are selling, you can go to: http://Poconos4Sale.com Some of the prices on the items we have on the site are a little negotiable.
Thank you for looking.
Please email if you have questions about this item or other items we have listed on our other website or on Craig's List.
All the best for a happy and healthy year.
I found the bit about how they were "advised not to sell it yet" particularly compelling. Has Charles Schwab moved into bike speculation? Has the word gone out that "hipsters" are moving away from brakeless track bikes to bikes with racks, and that people should prepare to get out of Pistas and expect their vintage mountain bikes to skyrocket in value? It's possible. But is this a smart economic move? Not necessarily. First of all, this bike appears to have a clip-on rack, which is the cargo equivalent of a "filth prophylactic." Secondly, the PistaDex in New York City is still quite high, and is currently at 600:
Bianchi Pista - Fixed Gear - $600 (Chelsea)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-04-23, 9:30AM EDT
Bianchi Pista in 'gang green' color, 57 cm frame (I'm 6 ft tall), very low milage. I got her about a year ago but she hasn't seen much action. I've done all kinds of things to this bike. Brand new Brooks 'Swift' leather seat (not yet broken in) and Brooks leather bar tape (about 200$ new) included. I also respoked the front wheel radially and put on new Maxxis Detonator tires. The fork is drilled for a brake but you gotta provide your own. This is a wonderful bike in both performance and aesthetics, it breaks my heart to let her go but I need the space. E-mail me and we can set up a time to come check it out.
Then again, there are discouraging signs. Firstly, it appears from the photos that Pista owners are now embarrassed of their bicycles. Secondly, while the PistaDex is high, this doesn't tell the whole story. When I introduced the PistaDex in 2007, the NYC PistaDex was at 475 relative to a Pista MSRP of $579.99 However, a 2009 Pista now retails for a whopping $819! So in 2007 the gap between PistaDex and MSRP was only $104.99. Now, it's $219, which is more than double what it was less than two years ago. In other words, your Hipster Bike Dollar (or HBD) is plummeting in value. It very well may be that Schwab is right and that the time to get out of Pistas is on the horizon.
But I'm not convinced that vintage mountain bikes are the answer. ITTET, it's probably a better idea to stick with more conservative investments, like Chris King headsets--though you should be sure to check the Chris King Headset Composite Index (CKHCI) first, because even this is not immune to market fluctuations nor to the variations in the PistaDex. (When large numbers of hipsters sell their Pistas the headset market can also become flooded with their 1-inch Chris King headset "upgrades.") And of course another possibility is to just put everything into Bridgestone XO-1s:
I was stunned to see the above XO-1 recently in an area where I had previously seen mostly fixed-gears, and the implications are profound--this relic from the past could very well portend a more self-consciously practical future. In any case, the XO-1 is a sound financial investment, principally because it is rare, and also because it allows the seller to invoke the name of Grant Petersen. And in the often unpredictable world of cycling economics, there are two certainties:
1) All cyclists age;
2) Aging cyclists love Grant Petersen.
Best of all, if you're a "hipster" and you ditch your Pista to get one, you get to keep your beard. Just don't try to comb it with your feet while you ride.