Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Going One, Going Twice: The Parity Disparity


This past weekend, I was reading the following article in The New York Times about people buying motor vehicles at city auctions, often for extremely low prices:

While this article is clearly just a lighthearted glimpse at one of the ways both the city and its residents are making do ITTET, I could not ignore the undercurrent of menace. Sure, part of this menace involves the fact that hipsters are probably purchasing Cushmans at these auctions, but it also runs far deeper than that. Consider this excerpt, for example:

Meanwhile, a big white van crawls along a few paces back, with a sign in the window that says “cash only.” Slumped low in his seat, the driver, who is also the auctioneer, calls out each new lot on a scratchy, overamplified public-address system. “I got $300 in the front, three in the front, three in the front ... Sold! For $300.” The winner goes around to the side of the van and throws in his deposit. The mechanic’s truck rolls ahead a few feet. The crowd shuffles onward.

I suppose I might find this little vignette charming if it were about someone purchasing a croquet set at a stoop sale, but it's not. It's about someone buying "a big white van" for $300. Presumably, this van will soon be put into some kind of service, perhaps as an integral part of some Craigslist "Man with a Van" operation, or as a retail store delivery vehicle which will be driven by an employee, or even as a means of toting some crappy band's amplification along the Great Hipster Silk Route.

While it's entirely possible this van will be properly inspected and insured and operated in a responsible fashion, it's also possible it will join the ranks of the many other crappy white vans with graffiti tags on them which are registered out of state to save even more money and almost hit me on a regular basis as their drivers make u-turns while having cellphone conversations with their employers or search for addresses on invoices.

Also, these auctions are a wellspring for Crown Victorias:

This particular week was heavy on Crown Victorias, which several bidders hoped to turn into taxis.

If you have not had a life-threatening run-in with a Crown Victoria in either yellow or black taxi form then you have not been riding in New York City for very long. For this reason, the following sentence horrified me:

Mike Rodriguez got two Crown Victorias, for $600 and $700.

To put this in perspective, let's take a look at the PistaDex in New York City. Currently, there is only one complete Pista for sale on Craigslist in New York City, and the price is $700:



> NEW BIANCHI PISTA - $700 (SoHo)
Date: 2009-09-17, 12:52PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

Bianchi Pista for sale:

$700.00

It's a fixed gear.

Size: 61cm (you should be 6''00 minimum to ride it)

Front break furnished.

New bike (ride only once!)

Email me for further information.

Best,


While this ostensibly puts the New York City PistaDex at $700, ITTET it's especially important to also consider what the market will actually bear. Sure, people might not have hesitated to spend $700 on a used Pista two years ago, but what about now? Even though the "front break" is "furnished" (which I take to mean it comes with a sofa), it's possible people will still balk at the cost. However, it's pretty safe to say that the bike should fetch at least $400, since that's what at least one Craigslist shopper is willing to pay for one (albeit in a slightly smaller sizeway):



WANTED 56-58cm BIANCHI PISTA (Midtown West)
Date: 2009-09-22, 6:31PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

Hi All,

I am looking for a BIANCHI PISTA within the NY/NJ Metro area. I would do just the frame or the whole bike. I prefer CHROME but would consider any color really.

I am willing to spend up to $400.

Please send me a link or a pic with what you have.

Thank you....


Given this, I think it's reasonable to take the average of these two prices and state that the adjusted New York City PistaDex (or ANYCPD) is 550--which, I might add, is quite strong, considering the sheer volume of new mass-market fixed-gear bicycles that have been introduced in the two years since the PistaDex was introduced. Furthermore, the PistaDex represents the de facto cost of entry into the fixed-gear scene (or at least it did until the fixed-gear culture closed). So consider now that Mike Rodriquez was able to obtain two Crown Victorias at auction for $600 and $700--which puts the New York City CrownVictoriaDex (NYCCVD) at 650. Essentially, this means it only costs $100 more to start a car service business than it does to become a fixed-gear "hipster."

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "There are lots of other costs associated with starting a car service. There's fuel, registration, insurance, licensing, inspection, and vehicle upkeep." Well, these are factors, though that of course assumes the driver is operating legally and meeting all the requirements for a livery vehicle, which many thousands are not. Also, keep in mind that fixed-gear hipsterdom too is not without its associated costs, which can be considerable. Besides necessary upgrades such as Phil Wood hubs and $100 H+Son rims, there are also $220 "collabo" backpacks, and $180 pants, and $90 sneakers, and $40 DVDs, not to mention general socializing costs such as beer. Trust me, it adds up--minimalism is expensive.

This means that it's just as easy to buy a Crown Victoria and drive people around for money as it is to become a fixed-gear hipster. The difference, though, is that while the fixed-gear hipster is mostly just a danger to himself when he removes his "furnished front break," the Crown Victoria driver is a danger to himself and to the fixed-gear hipster and to his passenger and really to just about everybody when he's been driving for 20 hours straight, passes out behind the wheel while in reverse, and speeds along for a full block until he finally crashes into a row of parked cars. Trust me--I've seen it.

Of course, fixed-gear hipsters are not without their own transgressions. These include the "Business Casual By Way Of Chippendale's" look, which consists of sockless loafers, snug short-shorts, and a button down shirt--topped off of course by the ubiquitous skater helmet:


The designer fanny pack:



Chopped bars that are actually shorter than the brake levers:


And of course the Hipster High-Lock, complete with top-tube pad:

(All You Brunchers Ogle My Croll)

But while all of these things annoy me, they are unlikely to kill me, which cannot be said of the "City's Castoffs." And while the fact that the ANYCPD and the NYCCVD are so close might mean that bicycles are too expensive, it might also mean that motor vehicles are too cheap. It's bad enough I'm already "sharing" the bike lane with the city's new vehicles--I don't want to have share it with the used ones too. As it is, I can't shake the nagging fear that the government is auctioning off my fate at the Brooklyn Navy Yards on a bi-weekly basis. And while I'd hate to sound arrogant, I'd like to think it's worth more than $300.

98 comments:

Anonymous said...

Woot! Woot!

Cogitoergosum said...

Firstest?

Astroluc said...

PODIUM

Astroluc said...

"glorious gold...
so so silver..."
... so I guess I got the "shameful bronze"

Anonymous said...

Top 10!?!?

Anonymous said...

Top 10 Chad- Where are you ?

hillbilly said...

good placing for me...I read that article too, and had a similar thought process...not charming, terrifying, and didn't the whole thing start out with some line about "here is something to do with your 7 year old son?"

Charles said...

Top Ten!!

frilly said...

Top ten! First time in two years--holy cow!

Asterisk said...

top 10

Mild T said...

AYMFHSMMFB!
Top 10

Bad Lawyer said...

Wow, hillbilly answered one of my questions, like do the Comment Sprinters even read the post? Amazing. Heart rate: red zone?!

BTW, Snob I copied and I'm sharing the first paragraph from yesterday's blog post with pals. Beautifully written, full of melancholy, first rate prose poetry.

rezado said...

Slacking on my pimpin'

Astroluc said...

and wow, snobby... the article wasn't the only thing that had an undercurrent of menace; this post contains feelings of dread!

Being an urban rider myself I certainly share your concerns with the taxi's, delivery van's, and other assorted crazies (why just the other day I had someone request that I fornicate with my deceased mother [though she is not deceased] because I expressed dissatisfaction that he committed an illegal U-turn into my path, effectively becoming a wall in front of me) but the undertones of todays post seemed to betray a deeper concern on your part...

...you doin' ok? Did *'s link get to you? I know it did me!

anyway; on a lighter note: Boston's Pistadex (BOSPSTDX) stands at $375

http://boston.craigslist.org/bmw/bik/1387834971.html

hillbilly said...

Yes, Bad Lawyer, but my reading comprehension should be questioned. Reread the NY times article, I got it now, nevermind (still think it's a dumb beginning).

What they say is true, doping makes you fast but stupid.

mikeweb said...

Where's my free slice?

Ouch!!

Anonymous said...

Not quite top 10, but -- I don't think they were selling the "big white van." As I read the article, the auctioneer drove it, creeping along behind the mechanic's van and the guy with jumper cables. The winner throws his cash into the van and takes off with his car. It's like the ice cream truck of used cars.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Reed Enwright said...

So if I drive a big white van with a bullhorn past a row of city vehicles, will people throw money at me?

Hmmm ...

captain said...

stop wasting my bandwiffs with your first, podium, top 10 bs... kthx.

ant1 said...

nice work frilly. on an even brighter note, you're on the top step of the women's podium.

speaking of, congrats to kristin armstrong.

ant1 said...

"in either yellow or black taxi form"

do you mean taxiway?

G said...

So, does that mean that the bikesnobnycriptornsmugshot-a-dex (bsnycrtmsd) is hovering at 300? Or is there another means of deciding it?

Anonymous said...

Snob, a little nit to pick - the white van was not being sold for $300. That was the vehicle being driven by the auctioneer and used to jump-start the other vehicles in the parking lot.

Typenschild Delete said...

That almost makes me nostalgic for farm auctions, the auctioneer riding in teh back of a pickup with a PA, creeping along a line of tractors, implements, and beat up trucks. I almost bought the asbestos siding off of the old farmhouse by accident once, when what I really wanted was the manure spreader and an old blacksmith's vise.

Typenschild Delete said...

PS -this is fantastic:

"Trust me, it adds up--minimalism is expensive."

Anonymous said...

I would buy that dvd if it includes footage of the broken pista concept and busted up hispter after he keeps jumping it like a bmx bike . Buy a 20"er dude

Anonymous said...

I love it - BikeSnobNYC meets The Economist.

jolene said...

what they dont sell houses at no awskuns no more how you thinhk i got this here winnerbaygo fer 4 hunnert yeah red moved in and din pay me fer nothin boy howdy but he does let me keep the beer can money

hell i needs me a cigret whar my mistys go

Anonymous said...

to whom it may concern,

Don't worry about the glut of hipster-fixie-pixies. It will be winter soon, and the slush will dampen their spirits and capris/sleeveless Ts and such will be packed waiting until Spring.

I also look forward to these months because the deafening roar of moto-retards will not be heard.

Cavan said...

that chopped bar/ brake lever combo makes that bike look like an arthropod.

Anonymous said...

Bikesnob, do you have any comments on Ross Schnel's bike, winner of SS world champs. Somehow, I don't think the average cro-mo framed 29" rider approves of his wheel, drivetrain, frame, um everything choices.

Anonymous said...

I'm here for a free slice.

One of those twins on Antiques Roadshow said...

Maybe they meant a breakfront?

Thanks for the furnishing set-up, RTMS!

Anonymous said...

FREE CNDY

pizazz said...

You gotta have (pay for) a free slice in order to get a free slice.

no pizazz said...

You gotta have (pay for) a [deleted] slice in order to get a free slice.

grog said...

my sofa comes with breaks too.

FREE SLCE

Anonymous said...

See second definition below. Best read from your sofa in your furnished flat:

furnish |ˈfərni sh |
verb [ trans. ]
provide (a house or room) with furniture and fittings : the proprietor has furnished the bedrooms in a variety of styles.
• ( furnish someone with) supply someone with (something); give (something) to someone : she was able to furnish me with details of the incident.
• be a source of; provide : fish furnish an important source of protein.

Ed Stockwell said...

Top Fity

Anonymous said...

Fish furnished my flat. Flounder.

jflo said...

"Size: 61cm (you should be 6"00 minimum to ride it)"

Last I checked " = inches. Must be a strange market where people less than 6 inches tall are looking for fixies.

Chris said...

It seems like the feed for the blog is broken. This means I have to come here each morning and manually check for updates. You can see this is a massive inconvenience to my otherwise automated day. The feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/arls Stupid feedburner

Seanywonton said...

Man, after yesterday's post and today's post, I'm feeling for you guys in New York right now. I used to get that same feeling of dread and disappointment when flying back to NYC (except for the time I came back from San Diego, when I was relieved to be back).

After having lived n PDX for just 3 weeks now, I have to say it is refreshing to see that most drivers treat cyclists with not only respect, but also courtesy. It's nice to not be so stressed out about getting killed by a taxi driver or any other jerk who needs to make the next yellow light. That's not why I moved to Portland, but it's things like these that just make life a little easier and enjoyable for me personally.

Sorry to sound preachy, I just wanted to remind anyone who is sick and tired of the NYC rat-race that you might actually be happier in a different location. Now that I'm gone, I don't know what the hell kept me there for so long.

Anonymous said...

9 uses of the word "hipster", bringing the hipsterdex way up for the week (it was at 0 before).

Rantwick said...

"All You Brunchers Ogle My Croll". That's priceless, as opposed t0 a $300 van.

mikeweb said...

I hear ya Seany. I wonder if there's any other places in the U.S. less hospitable to cyclists than NYC?

Something tells me that a fair amount of the rural southern parts of the U.S. might be... no offense meant to all denizens of those areas of course... (Red and Jolene, I'm looking at you)

wishiwasmerckx said...

A $300 white van? Isn't that the OC's rapemobile with the dead hooker in the back?

bikesgonewild said...

...avast, matey..." "Going One, Going Twice: The Parity Disparity"...havin' missed international speak like a pirate's day, i thought perhaps ya meant "the parrot-y disparrot-y"...arrrggghhh...

...just sayin', ya little hipster bung holes...

kale said...

wishiwasmerckx-

Hey, I thought the OC was in a fragile state right now. You just might end up in the trunk with all those dead hookers and dildos.

You're a brave man... I hear his rage strength can reach 10 DFUs.

The Opaque Marketer said...

After months of teasing and innuendo, my girlfriend finally shared with me the wondrous delights of her "Crotch of Eternal Mystery.” I gave her taint some lovin', then I gently whispered into her ear, “This one goes to eleven. . . . “ and slowly inserted my tool of "Continuous Variable Thickness" into her "Viscous Comfort Zone." Needless to say, she elicited from me a copious amount of “Ambiguous Goo.” It was Epic . . . then, I went home.

BUMP UGLY

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 12:58pm and 1:25pm,

Oops, thanks! Clearly I am not a good reader. It is Wednesday though.

--RTMS

CommieCanuck said...

yeesh..thanks for sharing. Barf.

CommieCanuck said...

The hidden costs of fixie riding mount up:

Knuckle tats ain't cheap.

Take a cheap velcro purse, $30, add an extra plastic buckle and waist strap, ca-ching! messenger bag, $300.

Knuckle tat laser removal.

Various piercings and antibiotics.

Custom AHYSMB wheel lettering.

Simplifying takes a lot of complex steps.

youaretheengine said...

CRWN VIC!

SMACK DOWN!

(that's hands and feet) Knuckle tats need more punctuation marks.

Brian said...

That Croll is completely hipster compliant (right down to the double U-locks). The headset stack height leads me to believe the rider might also own a Dutch bike.

LowBalls said...

I know Slice Wednesday. And believe me, we're all safer now that she's not running free.

Anonymous said...

Astroluc must have gotten a bulk discount on apostrophe's

Suzee said...

Agreeing with Anon @1.46...thoroughly enjoyed your analysis of the economic vicissitudes prevalent in your hinterland and relevant to your commuteway.
However my initial anticipation dwindled in direct ratio to the scroll key tappage as I realised that today's post was going to be a BSNYC graph-free item. (Sob)
In these darkening times I merely re-run the French cycling graphs for instant enlightenment of my being.

MIST OPS?

Anonymous said...

"Front break furnished."

Might that be both advert and warning to a new hipster wannabee purchaser that their purchase includes a front break, i.e. their face, i.e. planted, i.e. when they attempt their first avoidance of said taxis &/or limo, for no extra fee?

And might a $700 Crown Vic be an excellent tool for harvesting fixies in the wild as a cowboy might lasso heifers or a fisherman might net fish? You would want a new Vic, just one that makes left turns from the parking lane or has a working driver's side door. Given the current DEX, you could undercut the price by a couple hundred and still only need three or four fixies to pay for the car on the first night. And that's a big trunk there, so why stop at four?

Think fishing boat. Fish-ing boat.

Salty Seattle said...

Congrats, Frilly! And all the top tens!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Chris,

Thanks for letting me know. I've received some emails as well. I think I've fixed the feed, maybe, but in case it wasn't already obvious I'm not very savvy when it comes to stuff like maintaining websites, operating cameras, and staying upright on urine-soaked leaves. Thanks for bearing with me.

--BSNYC

Salty Seattle said...

Reading comprehension and cellphone-conversation comprehension are not my strongsuits. (Many of my cell conversations end up looking like that scene from Superbad, but maybe there's something else too that.)

I thought, "Front break furnished," meant that the fork is bent. Perhaps, the one bike ride on record resulted in a disastrous crash.

Perhaps into a marauding Crown Vic collecting its bounty?

out of towner said...

front brake furnished means the bicycle has been furnished with a brake that slows the front wheel.

dave hinde said...

obama wants you in shiny new cars dudes and dudesses. dont forget to swap out that shitty old van for one that goes twice as fast! get in the bubble bobble.

Blade said...

Uh, does anyone realize that "break" is spelled wrong in the current context? Furthermore, Hipsterdom isn't by any means cheap.

Blade said...

Any Nor Cal hipsters in da house?

Shram said...

Heather Irmiger is hot

dr wednsday said...

spelt wrong!

bikesgonewild said...

...wow...folks, he/she's an out of towner but we got us an inte-fucking-llectual here...

...'course the phrase quoted was "front break furnished" rather than "front brake furnished" but why let truth n' reality get in the way of someone trying to share their version of, well truth n' reality ???...

...so, let's chalk it up to poor reading comprehension, which in it's own way fits right in w/ our usual ironic(ly) bad humor...???...

...out of towner...you do know how to make an entrance, after all...

dan richards said...

oh no! why doesn't the bike snob show the full article and pictures anymore in RSS or Google Reader? just the first 3 lines!

Anonymous said...

yep. the burritos are pretty good out here.

Lovejoy said...

bikesgonewild.

"Do we have to bring mistrust and suspicion into this."

bikesgonewild said...

...lovejoy ???...lovejoy ?!?!?!...

...i read all the jonathan gash novels & watched the bbc-tv show, "back in the day"...

...all the characters were a little seedier & sleazier in the novels...

...your quote looks familiar, btw...

cheeken said...

Hey BikeSnob! Where is your god now?

Street Wrapz for bikes. Armegeddon is upon is; flee your cities, heathens!

http://www.bikerumor.com/2009/09/23/interbike-2009-street-wrapz-bike-wrap/

J. Tull said...

Flag down --- uptown --- no sweat. For rush hour travel, it's the best bet yet.

Chris said...

The feed is back! I can continue my autonomous life with a minimum of clicks. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

When I see those fixies locked high up on iron fences, I'm tempted to go to the nearest bike shop, buy a couple of cheapo Master u-locks and add them to the bike's security -- keeping the keys for myself, of course.

anna said...

the croll's owner works at clinton street so i don't think he cares about the brunchers beholding his whip fyi.

sufferist said...

mikeweb: I live in what some consider the south (Tulsa, OK). I've ridden through many of the rural routes around town and have not really had too many problems. There are jerks, as there are in any place, but for the most part, it's been good experiences. With that said though, in the past couple of months, several cyclists have been killed recently on our local roads. Two by a drunk and one (74 year old lady) that was a hit-and-run, but these incidents were not a result of an anti-bike culture.

I guess the more that I think about it, there are stories about harassment on what is our big weekly ride, the Wed. Night Ride. Although, I don't think that any party is entirely innocent in that matter.

What would you consider inhospitable?

Anonymous said...

you tried to play my man's croll! don't worry about it k-tel...let those brunchers see the whip! jz

Anonymous said...

i own the croll. i saw you take the picture. you looked so mischievous while taking it. hilarious! i keep it up high so i can see it while i work.

MildT said...

I'm not sure if the bike with the seriously chopped bars is a true hipstermobile, seeing as it appears to have gears.
Some kind of new breed maybe...

mikeweb said...

sufferist, sorry to hear about the recent number of cyclist fatalities out there. I guess by inhospitality I mean being honked at, yelled at or pretty much harassed up to and including being deliberately run into. This includes drivers and/or police.

My biking experience is limited to the roads of western and southern connecticut and those of NYC and the surrounding areas. I guess when i was younger, I got less harassment, honking, etc. simply because there were less bikes on the road, so i was seen as an oddity and I'm guessing would evoke a slight chuckle from the average driver instead of a muttered obscenity.

These days, there are many more cyclists on the road, so we're not an oddity anymore. More drivers would probably classify us as an annoyance.

I think if I could speak personally to each inhospitable driver, I would of course explain the traffic statutes to them that state that bicycles have the same right to the road as cars do. Also I would tell them "listen, I actually drive too! I get it, OK?"

Especially on the streets of NYC, drivers have to get used to the fact that, you know what, that cyclist is going to be able to get where they're going faster than me when the traffic is heavy on side streets. That's just the way it is. Because as we all know, the ultimate goal of driving anywhere is to get ahead of the car that's in front of you, ad infinitum. So when when a driver sees a cyclist blithely go by them in a bike lane (or not) and then go through a red light (after checking for traffic first), I'm sure their blood boils a little.

I don't know if this is enlightening at all, but whether it's New York City or Tulsa Oklahoma, cyclists face much more danger from irresponsible or impaired drivers than they do from inhospitable or harassing ones.

sufferist said...

mikeweb:Agreed. When people are seriously injured, many times it's the result of a drunk, lack of driver attention, etc... Stuff that we as cyclists have little to no control over. It's always a crap-shoot, usually the odds are in our favor, but sometimes you get picked to be an object lesson.

Disgruntl Ed. said...

Going One? Once?

86!

Bill G said...

Fabulous about the Taxi. I read this yesterday and on my Fixie Commute to work I saw a cab and the first thing that popped into my mind was I wonder if they got for $700.00. Thanks for the mind games while on my Fixie Commute.

I typed Fixie Commute twice (now 3 times) just to see if you would notice.

Mesothelioma said...

Constantly amazed by the shortness of bars, Shortest handlebar contest?

Anonymous said...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellyblue/3949465524/

Even kryptonite does not know how to lock a bike.

Bpllbh, expensive useless shit.

Interbike is bike porn, but the kind you have to look away from, it is so disgusting.

Salty Seattle said...

"cyclocross curious"

Aha! In my quest to understand the sport known as 'cross', you've given me yet another clue.

I must be afraid to explore this curiosity, like a noob at a nudist camp.

Basically, I'd end up standing around holding my bike in my fist, with a big, muddy grin on my face, wondering when all the fun starts... after everyone else is already across the finish.

Metaphor Mixmaster (Mashaphor?) says that I'm better at taking a licking than giving one, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I used to own that Croll. The headset stack was my attempt to offset the top-tube slope. Do I dare ask what happened to the Sansin/Ambrosio wheelset?

Jarrett said...

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/1387581734.html

Anonymous said...

www.carbondrivesystems.com
What's next? Crabon messenger bags?

Anonymous said...

Former Croll owner: yeah, faggot, I blew out that sansin hub skidding on the 59th street bridge b/c the lockring was loose. NJS my ass!

John said...

Thanks for the post

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M.O. said...

No one parks them higher in Minneapolis :-)

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5730350&l=a62321ba62&id=565061993

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