Friday, January 30, 2009

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!


(Image by CycleJerk)

Firstly, with regard to The Great Fyxomatosis Photo Parody Contest (Presented by Boston Whaler Boats--The Unsinkable Legend) I plan to finally announce a winner next week. I'm sorry for the delay, but to be honest judging this contest has taught me a great deal about myself, and one of the things I've learned is that I can be indecisive when it comes to picking a winner from a vast pool of bike porn. Another thing I've learned is that, despite (or perhaps because of) having been raised by tuber farmers, I absolutely hate water chestnuts. Also, I had to wait for more smocks. In any case, feel free to browse the submissions, and again, if you don't find yours (and you submitted by December 31st, the official deadline) let me know. Announcement to follow next week.

Secondly, I would like to end the week with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll know it one way or another. If you're wrong, you'll see some guy working on a bike while doing a trackstand on a p-far.

Many thanks for reading, and for bearing with me as I looked deep within myself in order to choose the best obscene bike-related photo. Ride safe this weekend, and support your local tuber farm.


--BSNYC/RTMS








1) This photo is most remarkable because:

--The person on the left is wearing a t-shirt tucked into half shorts
--The p-far rider is running/rocking/rubbing a CamelBak
--The photo was taken in 1872
--The p-far's front rim says "All You Tuber Farmers Suck My Balls"




2) This bike is:

--For sale on Craigslist for $1,300
--On display in the official "Museum of BMX History," which is located in the laundry room of a split-level home in Floral Park
--Prolly's newest "whip"
--Running/rocking/rubbing the only remaining Z-Rim wheelset on the planet Earth





3) Which professional road team's 2009 kit sports a fine example of the time-honored "illustrated six-pack?"

--Rock Racing
--Caisse d'Epargne
--Columbia
--Katusha




4) What is this?

--The latest Primal Wear armwarmer
--The latest Fabric Horse utility belt
--A shot from a law enforcement officer-themed porno site
--The "tat jacket"




5) What does this contraption have in common with retired pro cyclist Johan Museeuw's line of bike?

--Dual disc brakes
--Relaxed geometry
--It floats over the cobbles
--It's made of flax




6) This rider, spotted by a reader in Seattle, WA, is carrying what brand of beer?

--Rainier
--Genesee Cream Ale
--Natural Light
--Duvel



7) This bike is a rare and valuable "collabo" between Mike Sinyard of Specialized and Grant Petersen of Rivendell.

--True
--False


8) "RBMBL" stands for:

--Rubber Band-Mounted Brake Lever
--Rear Bridge-Mounted Brake Lever
--Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
--Rubbing Brakes Makes Bikes Lame



9) What city is this folding polo bike from?

--New York
--Melbourne
--London
--Hong Kong

***Special "Words of Wisdom" Bonus Question!***

"...tricks are rad. personally hella stoked on all the crazy shit kids are coming up with on these bikes. just don't hate on those of us who still find the most exciting aspect of riding a fixed gear bicycle being the times when your ipod is blasting your favorite metal band at full volume while downhill through heavy traffic trying to catch all the green lights and passing up all the cars. and yes, there are peeps in sf with BMW gangsta tracks, and volume cutters, with DMR forks, etc. etc. - just like in skateboarding there's dudes that rock big fat wheels and only skate tranny and pools, and then theres dudes that skate smaller wheels on street. just two different styles of manipulating a fixed wheel, neither is better than the other - everyone needs to chill out about it! they are both awesome in their own ways. yahll needs to just smoke some joints and be happy. we are the building blocks of this shit. stay positive!"

Who said this?

--A Trackosaurusrex reader, commenting on Prolly's bike
--Prolly, commenting on a Trackosaurusrex reader's bike
--A Fixedgeargallery owner's comments on his submission, a completely stock Giant Bowery
--John Burke, CEO of The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company, at a recent public presentation in Omaha about the bicycle and its role in combatting global warming

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Trendcycles: Evolution or Reiteration?

Further to yesterday's post, in which I addressed the condom grip trend, an astute commenter by the name of "Fierce Panties" challenged me. "To say trend would imply that you have seen the [condom grips] more than once. Please clarify." Well, I admit that I was liberal in my use of the word "trend," and while I have seen a condom stuffed inside the hollow axle of a SRAM crank, I have not seen the condom grip apart from that one time. But rest assured, condom grips are a trend. In fact, it's an international trend. Another commenter from Barcelona (that's in Spain) points out that a company indeed markets handlebar condoms to protect riders who use their apparently filthy bike-sharing program:



Now, I don't understand Spanish (I took Creole in high school) so I ran the text through an online translator and learned the following:

That is Cyclean®? It is a disposable, sanitary, and protective case, that avoids the direct contact of our hands with the handles. Its use is recommended in bicycles or machines that are being utilized for many people. Why is necessary? One of the most important elements in our relation with the bicycle are the handles, where we support us, we catch, we touch, with our own hands. A so usual action, that is to be caught and to touch, itself should not become something that damage us. Cyclean® is an element that avoids the direct contact with the handle. That protects us? It avoids that the hands have direct contact with the possible filth. It avoids the contact with the humidity, sweat, etc. Barrier of prevention to possible contagions as: pinkeye, gastroenteritis, colds, etc. Cyclean® has been designed to provide hygiene and comfort.

I agree wholeheartedly that to be caught and to touch should not be something that damage us. I also eschew direct contact with the possible filth, and I live in constant fear of bicycle-borne pinkeye. Pinkeye is a dreaded affliction that breaks out wherever bicycles are shared. Cyclocross pits, velodromes, and the aptly-named "dirt demo" at Interbike are all hotbeds for pinkeye. The only reason you don't see it in the pro road peloton is that the mechanics change riders' bar tape on an almost daily basis. Otherwise pinkeye breakouts would be a common occurrence, and the uninformed observer would think the riders had been doing bong hits in the team bus.

Another international trend is fork-only locking and using filth to deter thieves (the third advantage of the condom grip). A reader in Gothenburg, Sweden has forwarded me this photo, which displays a bike that is not only locked by its fork, but also has a rear rack containing what appears to be used toilet paper and plastic bags:



Apparently, this bike has remained untouched for some time, despite the fact that it would be easy to steal. According to the photographer, it is also "right next to the city museum, where great Swedish inventions are on display." Coincidentally, we have a museum in Brooklyn where great Swedish inventions are on display, too. It's called "Ikea," and it's absolutely amazing. They even have tables that fold! I often park my Empire State Courier there, pile medical waste on it, and browse for hours. It's truly inspirational.

Meanwhile, back in the USA you'll find this bicycle, which was forwarded to me by a reader who offers a compelling analysis:



This cell-photo was taken in front of the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice and has been there for three days untouched. The bicycle owner must have lost whatever court case they had ridden to the court case for and must now be imprisoned. I'll bet his second biggest worry right now is the safety of his huffy (the first being how to get the soap off of the floor).

Or perhaps this bicycle securing job the work of a genius or just some human-spider spawn that casts a web over their beloved huffy but lacks the dexterity of fingers and opposable thumbs to tie knots?

I can't make a judgement as to the percentage of genius or arachnid of the owner as I haven't seen them. But it's worth it to note that the sort of sharp objects required to cut small diameter rope are not allowed in the courthouse so most people who pass by this bike won't be carrying them. This means that stealing this bike would require at least 35 seconds to unwrap all of the rope, make a small loop at one end and push the other end of the rope through that end before you could ride down Hedding street past the county jail on your stolen huffy with a lasso twirling above your head yelling "YEE-HAWWW!!!" loud enough to drown out the squealing drive train.


I agree that this bike's owner must be come kind of spider genius. In a sense, he's also using the "filth deterrent" method, since the word "Huffy" is nearly as repulsive as a used condom.

And speaking of international trends, the hottest one going at the moment is the pie plate. None other than Jack Thurston of London's The Bike Show informs me that Dawes is now offering a single speed/fixed gear that comes with a stock pie plate:

I'm guessing that the rear wheel has a flip-flop hub, though it's difficult to see whether the fixed side also has a pie plate. A flip-flop hub with dual pie plates would truly be an abomination. Meanwhile, also from England, comes this bike, which has a user-installed, fixed-gear pie plate:




Hi there Dennis Love the site. Thought it about time I sent in pictures of my cool whip. Started out as a £45 bargain Raleigh. Stripped off the gears, sprockets taken off by my LBS, and fitted a 14 toother. Like the breaks although back currently broken. Better learn to skip stop fast!! I'm rocking 42:16. This bike really is the cheese - fierce and fast. I've left the protector on - had my fair share of chain off moments and I want to look after those spokes. I'm around Birmingham, England. Hit me up if you see me. Cheers then.

Unfortunately, I'm having trouble believing that this is a naturally-occurring FGPP. My suspicion is that this particular "Cool Whip" is a plant. I agree that it's "the cheese" (which is what Cool Whip becomes if you leave it out in the sun), but the use of "breaks," "rocking," and "fierce" in the same submission just seems too unlikely to be sincere. Actually, it sounds almost exactly like Perscattante's catalog copy for their Courier Series. But maybe I'm just in denial. For years I dreamed of seeing an actual FGPP, and now when I do I refuse to believe in it. It's sad--I should be ecstatic, but instead I find myself experiencing a "chain off moment" of the soul. Perhaps I need some kind of spiritual pie plate.

And really, if the pie plate is a symbol of anything, it's a symbol of mainstream acceptance. For a bike to come stock with a pie plate means it was probably mass-produced either by or for a large company. Yet even though we're only now beginning to see pie plates appear on road-going singlespeed/fixed gear bikes, their metaphorical "pie plate moment" really came long ago.

But the fixed-gear trend has since begat the fixed-gear freestyle trend. Will that too see its "pie plate moment?" I don't know, but I do know that this is a watershed moment in the FGF world, since Milwaukee Bicycle Co. in conjunction with streetwear enthusiast and fixed-gear freestyle apologist Prolly is about to "drop" this:


In many ways, fixed-gear freestyling has been retracing the same steps BMX took 20 years ago, so it's hardly surprising to see the Potts Modification. Yet even for a staunch advocate of brakes like me, this bike raises a question: if fixed-gear freestyling is about being able to pull off tricks with a fixed drivetrain and no brakes, what happens when you add brakes to the equation? Doesn't the fixed drivetrain go from being the element that defines the bike to simply being a contrived handicap? If you want to do tricks and you've already got brakes, why not just go all the way and use a freewheel too? And doesn't that bike exist already anyway?


It seems to me that a fixed-gear optimized for tricks would look a lot different. Actually, that exists already too. It looks like this:


But those are both specialized bikes, and I know and appreciate that Prolly's motivation is a bicycle that one can use to participate in all the various facets of trendy urban cycling: fixed-gear freestyling; alleycats; bike polo; and even commuting. This would make it sort of a hipster Swiss Army Knife. But does that make it truly versatile, or just something with a small blade, a lousy scissor, and a magnifying glass you never use? Bikes seem to be at their best when they're somewhat specialized.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if the new Milwaukee becomes the basis for an entirely new bicycle segment or simply the flat brim fitted cap-wearer's equivalent of a hybrid. One thing, is for sure, though. With this bicycle the fixed-gear freestyler has finally divorced itself entirely from the track bike. Even the Brooklyn Machine Works Gangsta Track now looks quainly "tracky" in comparison. Will it be relegated to the bike rack of history, along with the hybrid and the mixte?



Whatever happens, things tend to work themselves out. Not too long ago, the forces of gentrification seized upon track bikes and started accessorizing them with candy colors and riding around on them while dressed like teenage girls. Finally, this fashion has actually found its way to the appropriate demographic, as you can see in this photo shoot from Teen Vogue, forwarded by a reader:


Now that makes sense.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hands On: The Latest In Grips

Not too long ago, I mentioned a bar/stem combo for sale on Craigslist that the seller had billed as "fierce." Well, if you were interested yet not quite ready to take the plunge, you will be pleased to know they are still available. Furthermore, the seller has also clarified the "fierce" descriptor:




3T/Cinelli - Track Drop/Stem - with grips *AS SEEN ON BIKESNOB* - $50 (Fort Greene)
Reply to: [deleted]

Date: 2009-01-22, 11:17PM EST


(Despite the many views these bars must have received from astute Bikesnob readers... all offers to buy them ultimately fell through. So I'm reposting.)


Built up a track drop setup to try it out but am going to back to pursuit bars because I like the position more.


- 3T "Pista" Track Drops - deep, classic drop shape - made from hardened 7075 aluminum alloy - approx. 42cm wide - in immaculate condition.

- Cinelli quill stem - approx 120mm long - in fairly good condition with a few cosmetic scratches.

- And some random grips I had that look pretty fierce.


(Note: If you are having any concerns that these are anything other than genuinely "fierce" grips, rest assured. They are both "fierce" in the sense that they are clear with a rad blue flame pattern underneath, as well as "fierce" in the sense that they were stolen from a knock-off brand razor scooter.
Meaning that YOU will most certainly be unique with your fiercely-blue/semi-ironic/'whoa-are-those-keirin' handlebar grips.)


Selling for $50, open to trades.



Let it be known that I have no affiliation with the seller, nor do I stand to profit in any way from his sale (or trade!) of these bars. However, I do appreciate his actually mentioning me in his re-post, which is more than certain other sellers have done. I also sympathize with him, because, as he mentions, "all offers to buy them ultimately fell through." The simple truth is, if you think some Craigslist sellers are bad, the buyers are a thousand times worse. Really, how does a handlebar sale fall through? Does the bank not come through with a mortgage commitment? Does an engineer determine the bars are structurally unsound? Does the buyer not receive board approval? The potential Craigslist buyer is the worst sort of virtual tire-kicker, answering ads for people's cheap castoffs in order to experience the thrill of the purchase without actually purchasing anything. It's the online classifieds equivalent of rubbing up against people on the subway.

Speaking of rubbing and grips, I recently spotted a new trend on the streets of New York City. It seems that the hot setup among the retro-chic is to rub a rubber on your bars:



You'll note from this detail shot that the condom serves not only as a grip, but also as a sort of streamer. (For best results, use Lennard Zinn's saliva method of installation.):


Also, a third benefit is that the condom grip serves as a theft-deterrent. It takes a very strong stomach to get anywhere close to what might very well be a used prophylactic. Even the act of photographing it was nauseating, and I noticed a direct relationship between my proximity to the bicycle and my lunch's proximity to my mouth. It would take a bold thief indeed to kneel beside this bike and go to work with the bolt cutters while the condom's reservoir tip gently tickles the back of his neck.

The condom grip is without a doubt the most exciting thing to come to handlebars since Pearl Izumi's "Greptile" system. This was sort of a proto-collabo with 3M and it involved a pair of grippy gloves that were supposed to be paired with a roll of equally grippy handlebar tape. 3M's Greptile still seems to be in use for sports like golfing, but sadly Pearl Izumi no longer offers it in glove/tape form. One user on Roadbikereview noted that it had "a tendency to pick up fuzz and other stuff." It was last seen on closeout on the Secret Website, though as usual their copywriters missed the mark by not using the obvious marketing hook, "Love Me Like a Greptile."

Indeed, condoms and grips have a lot in common, especially the fact that not enough young people are using them. More and more cyclists these days are rubbing absolutely nothing on their bars (apart from their groins, of course) and the bicycle industry really needs to act. Not only is this dangerous, but entire product lines also hang in the balance. What they need is a spokesperson who can make grips sexy again. My vote is heavy metal homunculus Glenn Danzig:


I have no doubt that the sight of Danzig clutching an Ergon like a microphone while crooning the Samhain song "In My Grip" will have fixters everywhere rushing to cover their bars faster than an Amish woman covers an exposed ankle. Really, nothing is more "fierce" than a grip endorsed by Glenn Danzig.

Unfortunately, you're about as likely to see that as you are an integrated headtube with a threaded headset. Or are you? In the wacky world of Craigslist, anything is possible:





Leader Single Gear Free Wheel Track Bicycle (61 CM) - $320 (Sheepshead Bay Bklyn)
Reply to: [deleted]

Date: 2009-01-27, 10:12PM EST


Pleased to present a Leader Single Gear Free Wheel Track Bicycle (convert to fixed gear available). This bicycle is in perfect working condition. The frame is 24’’ inches (61 CM) & the rims are 700 x 25C. Deliver is available & Please email or call me (347) 733-[deleted] Peter; if you have any questions, or for directions (to view bicycles in stock), & Thank you for your inquire. Note: All of our bicycles are professionally tuned, reconditioned, and comes with a 30 day warranty.


We've met Peter before, and the man is clearly a magician. I'm not sure if this particular frame takes an integrated or a zero stack headset, but in either case whatever he did to get that threaded headset in there had to be even more horrifying than Danzig singing old Samhain songs into an Ergon grip:


I do like how Peter's stayed true to his aesthetic with his crappy parts choice while simultaneously updating his image with the aluminum frame. Also, the massive gear ratio along with the freewheel setup and the single front brake is a great setup for cruising around town. Just throw a couple of condoms onto those bars and you're in business.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Cruelty of Fate: Victimized Velos

In the comments to Friday's post an anonymous reader posted a link to this astounding ad from the San Francisco Craigslist:




Cervelo Fixie - $2000 (bernal heights)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-01-25, 9:24AM PST

I am selling this bike because it is too small for me. As you can see from the pics I tried to make it work with a tall stem and Cervelo's longest seat post. The frame has a 55cm ctr-ctr seat tube and a 60cm ctr-ctr top tube. The stand over height is 32 1/4". Parts include- Phil Wood hubs on Velocity DV rims, Paul E Lever, Dura Ace front brake, KMC gold chain, Surly cog and lock ring, Race Face Cadence cranks, Brooks saddle, Ritchey Pro stem, NS Components Habanero bar, Oury grips and Conti Gator Skin tires. The frameset, by itself, retails for $1800.00. I am selling the complete bike for $2000.00.
phone# 415-260-[deleted]


There is some component of the human spirit that compels people to create abominations such as this, and to force expensive bicycle frames to be something that they are not. It's sort of a White Industries Eccentric ENO hub of the soul. While quite different from The World's Greatest Madone in terms of setup, this particular bicycle shares its twisted DNA. The owner has made a bold attempt to transform this Cervelo into an urban fixed-gear freestyler (seduced no doubt by its rear-facing dropouts), but all the riser bars, oury grips, and retro saddles in the world cannot hide the mankini which lies beneath. Too small for its owner by many centimeters, the bicycle's bars and saddle stretch skyward, as if the whole sorry machine were imploring the heavens to spare it from its wretched existence. And while I ordinarily have no empathy for triathlon or TT bikes, I only hope some passing Ironperson takes mercy on this wretched contraption, purchases it, strips it of its fixter affectations, and returns it to its natural aero-barred state--which, it must be said, is a different sort of humiliation, but one for which the frame was at least designed.

But forced fixterization is not the only horrible fate to which bicycles can be consigned. They can also fall victim to vivisection at the hands of a young Dr. Moreau in south Florida, as I learned from the following Craigslist ad, forwarded by a reader:






my bamboo bike... ( NEED CRAP BIKES!) (plantation)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-01-09, 7:50PM EST

I posted something earlier on here regarding that I was making bikes for a high school project? well number one is finally done.

I want to make more, so I need bikes to cut up. I'm really digging the idea of a bamboo chopper style bike and I would LOVE a donor schwinn stingray or imitation just for the wide bottom bracket and rear tire. I could probably hook you up with a thank you letter with a schoolboard of broward county letterhead on it that you could probably use as a tax write-off...

so back to the bike though. it's basically a track-style frame with seat and chainstays about two inches too long because I'm a big dummy and don't measure things correctly. steel mountain bike fork which I hope to later cover in bamboo just for looks, joints originally tacked together with gorilla glue and bound with unwound sisal rope and elmer's fiberglass resin (then burned the edges because I was wayyy too lazy to cut that shit off), dropouts and headtube off a magna crapper mountain bike, and bottom bracket shell is off a wrecked schwinn world.

just for the record, no, I am not using freakin' yellow deep v's, but the guy who sold me a pair of pro II's on ebay must have got lazy or something because it's been three weeks and I'm definitely getting impatient to mount them on my other wheelset.

oh yeah, and I got the idea from this guy's Instructable, http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-a-Bamboo-Bicycle/
and he's been nothing but ridiculously helpful in all my pesterance.

so without further adieu...









"I want to make more, so I need bikes to cut up," he says. Yes, as Craig Calfee knows, once you taste from the forbidden stalk, your bamboo lust becomes unquenchable and you just start cutting and lashing like Tom Hanks in "Castaway." All that remains is for these bamboo freaks to band together and take to the streets, like those Tweed Run weirdos in London. It would be a grotesque, creaky processon of bamboo bicycles being ridden by people in panda suits, grass skirts, and coconut bras. They'd probably finish up at a tiki bar and get smashed on mai tais, which are the PBR of the bamboo bike scene.

In fact, I'm relatively certain that even now Craig Calfee is scouting the internet in search of young, up-and-coming bamboo builders. Just imagine the thrill of receiving a call from the Panda-In-Chief, Craig Calfee himself, and being summoned to his giant bamboo lair for flaming cocktails. Perhaps he'd even fly you to his private airstrip in his bamboo replica of the Spruce Goose. Hopefully, the people at Isaac bikes are also on the lookout for talent, since it sounds like they need it. I've recently learned from recall enthusiast Commiecanuk that Isaac has recalled, well, every bike they've made since 2004:

I was not nearly as disturbed by this recall as I was by the Clif Bar one, for the simple reason that I don't own or aspire to own an Isaac. I did, however, find their road bike line quite compelling:



ULTRASONIC--The rider who claims to have "the best of everything' certainly does not, until he has one of these.

FORCE--With all the Isaac innovations--and it's totally hand made. The force is a monocoque masterpiece.

SONIC--If brutal efficiency with all-day comfort is not enough, let's also throw in stunning good looks.

PASCAL--The Pascal satisfies many desires, but leaves one obvious question: How can they do it for the price?

Yes, these exotic handmade bicycles each shares one thing in common--the fact that each and every one of them has now been recalled. So if you thought you had "the best of everything," realized you didn't because you didn't own an Isaac Ultrasonic, then purchased an Ultrasonic, please keep in mind that you still don't have "the best of everything" until you get that new expander plug.

Speaking of having "the best of everything," Isaac really stands by their frames. I was heartened to read this in the FAQ:


Q: Do carbon frames last?

A: Yes, Isaac frames are guaranteed for five years of racing and training use. When the primary consideration is performance, carbon is the only choice. If you really need your frame to last for fifty years, buy a steel one--which may be twice the weight, and also less efficient!

So, really, an Ultrasonic is "the best of everything"--except durability. Basically, you can expect your Isaac frame to last slightly longer than your cleats. Perhaps Isaac should investigate adding some other materials to their range. I hear people are doing interesting things with bamboo.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Innovation or Catastrophe? Scratching, Cradling, Sanding, and Beating Your Way to a "Better" Bike

The world, as we all know, is filled with idiots. This is particularly apparent if you travel by bicycle. The bicycle allows you to cover great distances, thus exposing you to a wide cross-section of idiocy. Also, because you are exposed and at street level, there is no barrier protecting you from that idiocy. While you can see idiocy from the window of a car, bus, or train, you don't also get to feel, touch, taste and smell idiocy like you can while on a bicycle. (If you're wondering, idiocy tastes metallic, with a hint of fruit.)

One of my favorite types of idiot is the "amateur traffic director." Occasionally, this idiot springs to action in the event of an emergency, such as a traffic accident or a power outage, and attempts to keep traffic moving until a "professional traffic director" (traffic cop) arrives. More often, though, the amateur traffic director simply takes it upon himself to halt traffic and route it around his idiot friend or co-worker who feels the need to perform an illegal operation with his vehicle.

I encountered one of these idiots just this morning. He was attempting to stop traffic on a busy downtown Brooklyn street during rush hour so his friend could make a u-turn in his Ford Explorer. As it happened, I was the first vehicle this amateur traffic director selected for stopping. He looked me dead in the eye, put one hand up in the universal "Halt!" gesture, and started waving his friend on with the other.

I could only laugh. I mean, come on. I don't even follow most traffic laws. What makes me think I'm going to stop for you? Maybe--maybe--you'd at least impart some authority if you were wearing a day-glo safety vest. Then I might be momentarily fooled into thinking you were stopping traffic for something important, like a giant hole into which I might fall if I kept going. But the only thing your outerwear conveyed was that you like the Giants, and I don't think "Stop! Giants fan!" has ever worked on anybody. It was kind of cute, though, and I've got to give you credit for trying.

But there are plenty of idiots on bikes, too. And when those idiots get angry at other idiots, things can get ugly. Over the weekend many readers forwarded me these controversial bar end plugs, which are apparently intended for keying cars:













I don't think these are really for sale, mostly because I couldn't find any indication anywhere of how to actually buy them (though I am, admittedly, an idiot). Maybe the weaponry experts at Competitive Cyclist can sell them along with the pepper spray. But if someone is attempting to actually market these, they're completely stupid for the following reasons:

--The people who go around scratching cars are the ones for whom everything is a subliminal act of revenge towards their parents, and for whom the phrase "One Less Car" excludes the Volkswagen Jetta they received as a present for graduating from Sarah Lawrence. And, as we all know, those sorts of people ride fixed-gears. And Sara Lawrence graduates who ride fixed-gears carry their keys on carabiners which hang from the waists of their snug jeans or capris, thus making them easily accessible for anti-bourgeois car-scratching adventures. There's simply no need for additional keys on the handlebars.

--Narrow bars are all the rage. Why would anybody add unsightly millimeters with these things?

--If you're running, rocking, or rubbing any other type of bar on your anti-bourgeois, car-scratching, "Screw you Mom and Dad!" bike these bar end plugs will be utterly useless. What good are they sticking out from the front of a pair of bullhorns, or from the ends of a pair of drop bars where they might stab you in the knees?

But perhaps the biggest problem with these keyed bar end plugs is the comic hijinx that would ensue if someone were to try and actually use them. I would love to see an enraged cyclist ride up to a car and attempt to run his handlebars along the side of it. As soon as the key snagged on a door handle or a gap between the panels the bike would immediately steer into the car and probably leave the rider splayed across the hood or roof. And even if the cyclist were able to scratch the car and remain upright, the kinds of people who scratch cars (see above) are not the kinds of people who fare well in physical altercations with enraged motorists whose cars they have just damaged. People in the throes of road rage generally don't stand there and wait for you to rummage around in your messenger bag for your can of pepper spray.

Speaking of messenger bags, if you're a diminutive urban cyclist prone to petty and juvenile acts of vandalism, VAGX is the bag for you:


I'd always thought VAGX was an over-the-counter topical cream used to treat labial swelling (similar to Univaga), but thanks to Prolly's blog I now know it's a brand of bag. VAGX bags come in lots of "colorways," which is what people who wear flat-brim caps call "colors," and they're very spacious, so rest assured that you can cram plenty of crap into your VAGX. Best of all, VAGX offers lots of "collabo" products. My deepest hope is that someone will resurrect the Dick Power marque and we'll one days see a "Dick Power X VAGX" bag. That would beat the hell out of plastic bar end plugs with key blanks stuck through them.

But until I can buy a Dick Power X VAGX bag, I guess I'm going to have to make do with a Shimano XTR hub. A reader forwarded me this link, and I was delighted to read that the XTR hub will actually "cradle the balls":



If you've been looking for an excuse to upgrade, here it is. The XTR hub is a huge step up from the XT model, which merely cups the balls, and a significant upgrade from the LX hub, which kind of mushes them. I don't even want to say what a Deore hub does to the balls, but suffice to say unless you want to replace your balls on a regular basis you're better off walking. Actually, you might as well put the balls in a vise. On the other hand, if you want to experience pure bliss, try adding the Shimano's Yumeya aftermarket kit. Suki desu ka? Hai, suki desu! The balls will say domo arigato gozaimasu.

But what do you do if you can't upgrade your hub to one that cradles the balls because you use an Aerospoke? Well, you can always get that magical tubular ride by grinding your rim down:







Front Aerospoke 700c non clincher, gloss black, MINT fixed gear/fixie - $245 (Union Square)
Reply to: [deleted]

Date: 2009-01-22, 12:02PM EST


Im selling my new Front aerospoke. it is in MINT condition.


its a 700C that was originally a clincher, but i sanded it down, and had it professionally resprayed all black and then clear coated. there ones super tiny chip in the paint but its literally like brand new. super light wheel, hate to get rid of it but i need the money and its been to cold to enjoy my bike.


my cell is 973 [deleted] call / text me.


thanks, Mark


(pic is from when i had it mounted to my bike for a very short time, the sticker is no removed)

If you're unfamiliar with the technical magic behind the Aerospoke, it basically involves gluing a Velocity Aerohead rim to a composite wheel body. So to then take that Aerohead rim and sand it down in order to accept a tubular tire is an exceedingly stupid thing to do. (A process, I might add, which he reveals after asserting that the wheel is in MINT condition. I guess in Craigslist speak, "mint" means "severely compromised.") This might very well be the most dangerous front wheel in all of New York City, and the "Molotov" sticker on it is expecially fitting since it's liable to blow up at any time. Interestingly though, he doesn't say it's actually a "tubular" wheel now. He just says it's a "non clincher." Perhaps he's simply rubbing a wheelchair tire, like this guy:


(photo by Lilia of Velo Vogue)

I've come across the wheelchair wheel bike before, and I'm pleased to see it's still in service. In any case, whoever buys the sanded Aerospoke should have plenty of opportunity to experiment with wheelchair setup after that rim falls apart on the Williamsburg Bridge.

But when it comes to true mechanical innovation, you've got to go to Columbus, from whence a reader has forwarded me this:




parts off my 10 speed im converting to a fixxie - $1 (clintonville)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-01-25, 9:31AM EST

these parts came with a schwinn world sport that im using for a fixxie. i dont need the chain, deraleurs (shimano but im not sure what series),shifters, shifter cables, brakes( previous owner took them apart), one brake lever (i beat the other one off with a hammer), some loose berrings and a skewer or two.
i would like to get $1.99 out of the whole bag of junk...err..parts but i'm open to offers. i'm open to trades.. maybe a set of pedals, a couple boxes of mac and cheese,etc. really want these items and cant afford them? feel free to dig them out of my trash in the morning cause thats where they'll be if they dont sell today

I was particularly impressed by the fact that he "beat the other [brake lever] off with a hammer." That's a subtle technique. Coincidentally, "beating off with a hammer" is what it feels like to run/rock/rub a low-end hub. Yet another reason to step up to XTR.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Indignity of the Internet: Twitterjacked!

Just days after I discovered that a certain online retailer is using this blog to market yet another inexpensive singlespeed road bike, I've now learned that somebody has taken the liberty of creating a Twitter account in my name:


I'd like to take this opportunity to say, "Hey there! I am not using Twitter." If you're reading this blog you know I'm wordy, and there's absolutely no way I could restrict myself to 140 characters per post. And naturally, since it's not my Twitter account, I can't access it. So, sadly, I must resort to graphical trickery in order to broadcast a message to the perpetrator(s):


Fortunately, though, things aren't all bad. First of all, as of right now my fake Twitter has no updates. So, if Twitter is sort of a modern-day manifestation of what Buddhists call the "monkey mind," then my own mind rests in Zen-like tranquility. Second of all, of the two people following my fake Twitter, one of them is none other than that guy from all the bike riding, Lance Armstrong*:

*Oops, I guess my fake Twitter is following him and not the other way around.



This is a tremendous honor. As you probably know by now, Lance Armstrong is a prodigious Twitterer. In fact, he's sort of the Lance Armstrong of Twitterers. I'm reasonably certain that when he reaches the top of Mont Ventoux in this year's Tour he will be clutching a Blackberry, and that he'll post an update that says, "Listening to Sufjan Stevens, thinking about bread." He even conducted an online poll via Twitter so that readers could vote on wheter his custom LiveStrong Madone would sport black or yellow brake hoods. (In a rare nod to subtlety, black won.) Frankly, I think he should let people vote on every aspect of his equipment choice. Really, who out there wouldn't like to see him ride a Giro d'Italia time trial stage on a Nashbar singlespeed 29er? Still, you've got to give him credit for staying in touch with his fans. Does Jonathan Vaughters let you vote on whether or not he shaves his sideburns? I didn't think so.

Speaking of Armstrong's LiveStrong Madone, I'm sure he finds it somewhat irksome that it falls so far short of the World's Greatest Madone. This becomes abundandly clear when you juxtapose the two:



I mean, Armstrong's bike has a bunch of numbers painted on it and stuff, but it doesn't come anywhere close to reaching the Madone chassis's full potential. How's he supposed to carry small parcels, or see what's behind him? Also, Armstrong himself might take a few cues from the owner of the World's Greatest Madone when it comes to looking "pro:"

Clearly, all that time off the bike has taken its toll. Maybe if he'd spent a little more time riding and a little less time socializing he'd look more like the guy on the right. Oh, and he just got tested again:

I've lost count of how many tests it's been for Armstrong at this point, but rest assured that by the time you finish reading this sentence he's probably been tested another three or four times. I strongly suspect some of these "tests" aren't even legitimate; they're probably obsessive fans who figure out where he's staying and then pretend to be testers just so they can experience the thrill of handling his urine. I also think at some point people may need to come to terms with the fact that he's not doping. Anyone who's seen enough M. Night Shyamalan movies (and managed to stay awake) knows that things are rarely that obvious anyway. If someone's doping in the Armstrong camp, my money's on Chris Carmichael. Now that's a twist.

But even though I had no intention of Twittering, now that my Twitter identity has been stolen from me I kind of wish I could start. It's like how those old shifters can sit in a drawer for years, and then as soon as you sell them you wish you had them. Also, I do a lot of boring things and have a lot of mundane thoughts during the day, and I'd like to broadcast them to the world. So I'd like to announce I'm launching a Twitter rival that will be based entirely on knuckle tattoos. If you think it's tough to compose a 140-character update, then try limiting yourself to eight.

My new social networking tool will be called "Knuckle Twatter:"

KNKLTWTR Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.


Yes, when it comes to Knuckle Twatter, the gloves are truly off. This is two-fisted, bare-knuckle social networking. You'll thrill to updates like these:

ATELUNCH Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.


FEELSICK Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.


JUSTPUKD Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.


FEELBETR Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.

I really think this is going to be hot--until everyone defects to Stevil's bloody arm thing.