Astute readers may recall that back in March I mentioned an operation called Republic Bike, which allows you to order a cheap singlespeed (or fixed-gear, depending on whether the flip-flop hub is flipped or flopped) complete with customizable "colo(u)rway" and high-tensile steel frame. Well, as you've probably read elsewhere by now (on fixed-gear freestyle impresario and beard enthusiast Prolly's blog, for example), Republic has "collabiated" with urban outfitter Urban Outfitters, which means you can now order a bicycle from the same people who will sell you such ironic essentials as a "Five Crown Afro Headphones Tee:"
While some are groaning, I couldn't be more pleased. (Though I suppose some of those groans may be groans of pleasure.) In a sense, the fixed-gear trend has sort of been like a drinking binge. First, everybody was going with it and having a great time. Pistas flew of the shelves. Alleycats reproduced like, well, alleycats. Cubicle-dwellers wasted hours "foffing off" to bike porn. And, worst of all, pompous, bombastic blogs were born.
But you can only drink so much before you either run out of money or you just can't walk anymore. It was in March when the world watched in amazement and terror as the fixed-gear scene announced it was closing itself to new members. This was an event as culturally significant as the building of the Great Wall of China, or the erection of the Berlin Wall, or George H.W. Bush's erection when the Berlin Wall finally fell.
Of course, once the drinking stops, the hangover sets in. At first, your instinct is to fight the hangover, and to try to get out of bed, and to quell the nausea with water and aspirin and greasy breakfast and dubious remedies. Similarly, many in the fixed-gear scene tried to pretend that the trend hadn't gone beyond their control, and that they hadn't overdone it, and that they still owned it, and that it was still cool and original and underground. But sometimes you've got to surrender, and let your body do what it wants and needs to do, which is to disgorge all the toxins and residual mixers and ill-considered street food (or Aerospokes, and Oury grips, and limited-edition anodized components) in a spectacular cacophony of retching and vomiting. Yes, it's unpleasant, and yes it hurts, but ultimately it's the best thing for you.
To me, this is what the Urban Outfitters fixie-as-accessory represents--it's a collective, cathartic round of vomiting after the "epic" night out that is the fixed-gear trend. Don't fight it, all you "OGs" who have been riding fixed-gears since waaay back in 2005. Don't fight it, all you fixed-gear freestylers. Don't fight it, messengers. Just let it out. If I could, I'd pat your back and stroke your hair and tell you it will all be OK. Because once we cyclists get through this Urban Outfitters thing hopefully we'll all feel purged, and maybe the intoxicated delusions of self-importance will be no more. You can certainly continue to enjoy something after it's received the Urban Outfitters treatment, though you can no longer tell yourself that the fact that you enjoy it makes you special.
In any case, if you still can't throw up, just scroll back up and look at the bike again. I think the model's called the Aristotle, but they should have named it the Ipecac. And if you're still leery about the fact that Urban Outfitters is now selling crappy bikes online, just consider the Nash Executioner from the '80s:
Skating survived that, and cycling will survive this.
Still, like any drinking binge, once you've gotten through the hangover you've got to survey the damage. The fixed-gear bender has left a trail of destruction in its wake. For example, the bike lanes are riddled with skid marks like a drunk's underpants are, well, riddled with skid marks:
People are "palping" front wheels that cost more than the rest of their bikes (which is like waking up and realizing you tipped the bartender $100 for a single can of PBR in a fit of drunken magnanimity):
Designer messenger bags worn high on the back have become the new Primal Jersey:
And people have become so out of touch with their emotions that they must use their rims to say what they themselves cannot:
But the true hallmark of the drinking binge is saying "never again" and then repeating the same behavior the next weekend. Similarly, fixed-gear absurdity will no doubt continue for some time to come. While the Urban Outfitter bike may be sobering in the short-term, I don't see any fixters headed to their local AA meeting any time soon. Firstly, it's still way too easy to feel good about yourself for not having things you probably don't have the money for anyway:
Secondly, the world of sneakers is still not done with either fixed-gears or "collabia," as you can see from this press release I recently received:
The FEIYUE fixed gear – a new collaboration by the Sino-French sneaker brand
This year, Feiyue launched in the UK with its collection of cool coloured plimsolls and sneakers; the brand’s heritage is all about an East-West fusion. Born in China in the 1920s the brand was bought and revived by a French team in 2006. Feiyue takes its inspiration from urban culture, nostalgic vintage classics and the travels of its owners, a bunch of sneaker freakers and bike addicts.
Feiyue has just announced its latest collaboration, this time with London based designer Carl Wellman; they have teamed up to create a limited edition Feiyue fixed gear bike. The brand is constantly evolving as the founding team is constantly on the look for new challenges, collaborations and inspirations. The Feiyue team members is passionate about the world urban cultures in general and by the cycling culture in particular and the idea of designing a bike came up naturally: the Feiyue bike embraces the philosophy of going off-road and experiment when the team feels that it can add to the brand. The bike has a single rear cog, no coasting or brakes and has been designed in line with the Feiyue aesthetic – simple and minimalist.
Currently not for sale, the Feiyue bike is the mascot of the brand and will be showcased at the various trade shows attended by the brand.
Yes, this yawn-inducing Feiyue x Who Cares? "collabo" fixie definitely "embraces the philosophy of going off-road." I'd sure love to "slay" some singletrack on that baby. Too bad it's not disc-brake compatible. It's just begging for a pair of meh-chanicals.
The very least Feiyue could have done was make the bike original and practical. For example, they could have installed some couplers so you could pack it in a suitcase. And speaking of suitcases, in yesterday's Tour de France stage a certain Thomas Voeckler opened up his own "Suitcase of Courage" and brushed his teeth with the Travel Toothbrush of Victory:
As you can see, Voeckler owes a debt of gratitude to his leadout train, the Satchel of Moxie and the Valise of Perspicacity. (The latter is clearly elated by his teammate's win.)
I'm sure there was much beat-boxing in the BBox team hotel last night:
Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong received yet another celebrity visitor today. This time, it was Jimmy Buffett:
Yes, that's Jimmy Buffett, from the song about all the margaritas:
At this early point in the Tour, it's anybody's guess who will arrive in Paris at the top of the General Classification. It could be Lance Armstrong. It could be Alberto Contador. Or it could be Cadel Evans. But regardless of what happens, with Buffett's visit Armstrong has already built an unassailable lead in the competition for the coveted Maillot Célébrité:
This jersey (which features a picture of the hosts of "The View") goes to the Tour rider who receives the most celebrity visits, and it's unlikely anybody will even get close to Armstrong here. However, should Armstrong find himself in the Maillot Jaune, the Maillot Célébrité will be worn by the rider who is second in that competion--and that is currently George Hincapie, thanks to the handful of points he gained when Ben Stiller came in his bus.
I wonder if Buffett will do the same.