Monday, March 8, 2010

Jumping Through Hoops: What Does Everyone Have Against Hubs?

This past weekend, the weather in New York City turned suddenly from craptacular to spring-tastic, and while there's ample time for throwable forms of precipitation such as snow to fall one can be forgiven for feeling as though the worst may be behind us. Still, winter weather is liable to pounce again at any moment, and while some look unto the groundhog for confirmation of spring, I prefer to seek surer signs. In New York City, these seasonal indicators include the annual running of the bike salmon:

Calls of "On your right!" emanating from pacelines in the park (I was already on the right side of the road when the calls began):

And of course the First Pallid Calfs of Spring:


But while the seasons are cyclical, other things are eternal, and among these immutable constants are concept bikes. As I've mentioned before, aspiring designers are compelled by the bicycle as crappy musicians are lured by the guitar, and their swoopy, useless design concepts hover perpetually and intangibly in the future like some swoopy, misshapen carrot dangling from the end of a stick, or like a Tour de France victory for Cadel Evans. Furthermore, if you look at pretty much any designer concept bike you'll notice they all have two things in common: Firstly, they're idiotic; and secondly, they never have hubs.

The latest fictional hubless creation I've come across is this BMX, which one design magazine called "rock-solid:"

This is indeed a brilliant concept, since the designer has eliminated not only the hubs, but also any place to install pegs and thus like 75% of the BMX trick repertoire:



Sure, you could always just do a grind on your chainring instead, but this bike doesn't have one of those either. BMX riders are like strippers in that both love grinding on poles, so removing all the metal parts from a BMX bike is like replacing the pole in a strip club with a gigantic Hacky Sack. Also, while the designer has succeeded in eliminating pesky hubs from BMX bikes in his mind, he has no idea how to actually do it in real life, and so his equally brilliant peers are asking for help:
So why is the hub the one thing all futuristic bicycle designers want to eliminate? Well, on one level, I suspect that this is because the traditional bicycle wheel is probably the most functionally elegant part of the functional and elegant machine known as the traditional bicycle. Naturally, then, if you're bent on destroying the functional elegance of that machine simply for cheap thrills you should hone in on its best part, in the same way the true subway pervert knows to go right for the crotch. On another level though, it may be that these designers have an irrational fear of the hub-and-spoke design, fueled at least in part by horrific images such as this:

Instead, they dream of happy animals safely jumping through their futuristic wheelsets. Here's a dog:

And here's a hairless sea dog:

I too hate to see cute furry creatures meeting their demise at the hands (or, more accurately, wheels) of the "Fred." However, I also think it is unwise to tamper with nature. Really, animals only jump through hoops because we train them to do it, and it is probably only the aberrant squirrels that try it when they see a bicycle rolling down a country road. If these creatures are not killed in the process and instead live to reproduce, it will not be long before the planet is overrun by squirrels who are driven to leap through any round thing they see. Futuristic bike wheels; manholes; hula hoops; bagels; nothing will be safe from their bizarre compulsion. Soon flying squirrels will be bringing down passengers jets. Forget saving the track bike; we need a campaign to save the bicycle hub!

Scoff if you will, but this horrid hubless future is already becoming reality:


Speaking of squirrels and saving the track bike, this past weekend saw the running of the 11th annual "Monster Track" in New York City. If you're unfamiliar with Monster Track, it's not only the most monstrous of tracks, but it's also "the biggest, badest, most controversial alley-cat around:"

I was actually surprised to learn that people still participate in "alleycats," since the whole "Save The Track Bike!" campaign had led me to believe the alleycat was extinct and had been replaced by the fixed-gear freestyle "sesh"--which itself only exists in order to provide raw footage for the proliferation of awkward stunting videos known as "edits." However, not only is the alleycat seemingly alive and well, but you can also see from this video that the "Monster Track" was quite well attended by slow-moving Nü-Freds on their brakeless bicycles:

Monster Track 11 from Michael Green on Vimeo.

Here's a rider on a (presumably) geared bike filming the other riders, and when you consider that he himself is being filmed this very well could be the most well-documented "Monster Track" in the history of monstrous tracks:
But it wasn't all videography--there was still photography as well. However, pausing even momentarily to take a picture meant you might sacrifice your position. See how this rider uses a moment of inattention to launch a devastating attack up the left side of the "Nü-Fredoton:"

His hands are almost off the bar tops, so you know he means business.

While watching this video, I contemplated the "alleycat" phenomenon. Ostensibly, alleycats are designed to replicate the daily working conditions of a messenger. However, now all sorts of people participate in alleycats--many of whom have never delivered a package on a bicycle in their lives--and so they're now basically big fixed-gear scavenger hunts. In a sense, messengers have a lot in common with lumberjacks, since in both cases their livelihoods have become the basis for competitions, and one might go so far as to say that the alleycat is the "lumberjack competition" of the cycling world. Some messengers still resent the influx of so-called "fakengers" into their scene, and I wonder if timber workers in the Pacific Northwest sit around in bars complaining about "fakerjacks."

Furthermore, I wonder if there's a "fakerjack" equivalent of the now-ubiquitous u-lock holster:

I'm sure somewhere there's somebody walking around Portland wearing a bespoke hatchet holder.

Speaking of u-lock holsters, a reader recently forwarded me a picture of something called a "FeltBelt," which can be used in this capacity:

For a second upon viewing the flesh-colored FeltBelt I thought that the rider had somehow placed the lock through her skin. Perhaps one day, when the bicycle hub has been successfully eliminated, u-lock muffin top piercings will become knuckle tattoos 2.0.

100 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fingerbang!

Anonymous said...

prologue winner

Hans said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

podium?

Anonymous said...

My doppleganger is 3rd.

Astroluc said...

top 5~

Astroluc said...

maybe not :/

Anonymous said...

Spang!

Fingerbang Assistant said...

Top ten?

landis in 06 said...

nu fred

xyxax said...

2nd named finisher

Paul Bowen said...

Top 20. Pfft

Anonymous said...

Wow, I read it, and there's only 11 comments? Sacre bleu! I could have been a contender!

YATE said...

Let's not forget that with the increasing popularity of fashion plaid, fakengers have a lock on the fakenjack phenomenon.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

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ken e. said...

no reading in an illiterate society!

OBA said...

I weep at the beauty of your prose:

"...u-lock muffin top piercings will become knuckle tattoos 2.0."

Hans said...

Fakerjack hatchet holder:

http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/images/cc074-3Rear,%20Closeup%202.jpg

Paul Bowen said...

This past weekend, the weather in New York City turned suddenly from craptacular to spring-tastic

London too! Had a lovely ride around the hills of South London yesterday, finished off by messing about in Crystal Palace Park. Blue sky, bright sun, air as cold as champagne, just lovely.

Anonymous said...

FUCK HUBS

FAKR JACK

hillbilly said...

i love monster trucks

Billy Reid said...

ahhh, skin colored accessories!

ConArtist said...

Perhaps now you can grind upside down on the rims of the new hubless BMX. That's inventive.

Anonymous said...

I know someone else who crashed because of a squirrel -- jumped into front wheel and locked it up. Broken collarbone, concussion, broken nose, four cracked ribs, four cracked vertebrae, road rash, and chipped teeth. The squirrel didn't make it. The rider, thankfully, did.

Ralphy said...

Hubless is the next illogical step after brakeless. If you want to work on your trackstands, if you want that Zen connection to your bike, it's a lot easier sans hubs (and the spinny-bits connected to them). In fact, my friends, I have gazed into the proper end of the Dachsund of time and seen through to the light. Here is the Nü-Fred bicycle of the future: http://bit.ly/RM4EW

Anonymous said...

monster-yawn

porntern said...

The designer axe is a vital accessory to the fakerjack's ensemble. Be sure to curate a variety of axes to most effectively coördinate with your crumpled plaid shirt colorway.

Jefe said...

Until the Earth is flattened to mine for "clean coal," most bikes will need gears, and ergo, hubs to propel them.

jereemy sycip said...

29th!!

jeremy sycip said...

29th!!!

George Not Hincapie said...

Hubless is one thing. I wish they spoke less...

rezado said...

hi-rez

Dave said...

The death of the squirrel points out another downside of the Crabon fiber fork. I bet steel or aluminum would not have snappped like that.

Anonymous said...

And here I thought that the shaft drive was the next big thing

CommieCanuck said...

Hubless, why not? They do it with those stupid choppers.

They should do a reality TV show with hubless bike builders in a huge house with a hot tub, add Grant Petersen and Richard Sachs to spice it up, also: Prolly, Gerhard Vroomen, the OSO bike guy and Frilly.

The challenge is to build the most stylish, useless bike possible, start with pointless head angles and huge rakes. No breaks, lots of crabon.

We should convince NBC, they are desperate right now. It should be hosted by Sandra Bullock, because she won an Academy Award, which means she's good.

CommieCanuck said...

The death of the squirrel points out another downside of the Crabon fiber fork. I bet steel or aluminum would not have snappped like that.

This must be Bikeforums.

We just need to run sharper forks, perhaps the SlapChop guys could get onto this.

g said...

Remember that everything old is always new eventually. I see this as the inevitable future of the Designer Fixie:
Here

sufferist said...

just checking in....

sufferist said...

The thought of trail fresh squirrel sushi is tempting though....sharpen dem blades mon...

Fingerbang Assistant said...

Nikolay, that is one skyward-pointing saddle there on your fancy hubless BMX. Have you ever ridden a bike? Maybe it's the perfect bike for the crotchless rider.

Anonymous said...

Here's something on those designer axes:

"Best Made is crucially dependent on other people: not just their desire for our products, but their enthusiasm for nature, hard work, design, and tools."

Yes, buy an ax to express your love of nature.

Anonymous said...

Forever more, my vocabulary will be stricken of "dolphin" and amended with "hairless sea dog."

Thank you Bike Snob NYC, thank you...whomsoever you are...

Anonymous said...

"Frilly," "hot tub," and "Sandra Bullock" all in the same CC comment...just sayin'...

Culling the herd said...

Tis also the season when fresh minted fixie riders venture forth brakeless for the first time on city streets.

jon said...

"Calfs"?

"Calves"!

hillbilly said...

the only wrench the bike shop had for sale, other than the 40 buck campy version, was a bottle opener as well. can we stop this silliness?

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

I had a squirrel attempt to jump thru my front wheel, couldn't believe what i was seeing, he didn't make it thru just hit the wheel maybe the fork and bounced off then ran under a car, like nothing happened, i think these brooklyn squirrels play sick games, and it wasn't even wednesday.

edom bin necker said...

i was thinking about special religious clothing

catholics gots them vestaments

jewish folk gots yamahas

mooslims gots burkas and shit

sicks gots them weird turbines

i figure you lobster worshippers gots them big white bibs with the little red lobsters on the front

thats all i gots to say rite now

Boom Bos Dam said...

What that monster video doesn't show are all the blowouts caused by riding over the expansion joints and then the steel grating on the main span.

What it does show is perhaps the greatest concentration of white people in NY to date this year.

Brian said...

'Naturally, then, if you're bent on destroying the functional elegance of that machine simply for cheap thrills you should hone in on its best part, in the same way the true subway pervert knows to go right for the crotch.'

Do we 'hone' in, or home in?
How about zero in, or focus on?

ant1 said...

CC - "We just need to run sharper forks, perhaps the SlapChop guys could get onto this."

somebody had their wheaties this morning, or whatever the canadian equivalent is (moose flakes?).

CommieCanuck said...

The thought of trail fresh squirrel sushi is tempting though....sharpen dem blades mon...

You could have adjustable forks for "slice", "Chop", and "Julienne".

Ron Popeil would be all over this like a fat kid on a Smartie.

Not $399, not $299, not even $199, just three easy payments of $59. Act now, get the meat dehydrator for free! Mmm.. delicious squirrel jerky, at a fraction of the cost!

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

honkybucket said...

Man, I love lumberjack contests. I totally thought the guy on the right was gonna win, but the dude on the left made one hell of a comeback. Then I thought dude on the left's third plank-stand-on thingy wasn't gonna hold and he'd come crashing to the ground.

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edom bin necker said...

aint nothing wrong with squirel meat you fuckers

tastes kind of like chiken

ant1 said...

""Frilly," "hot tub," and "Sandra Bullock" all in the same CC comment...just sayin'..."

better than a marmot, bath tub, and jeff bridges.
not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

Anonymous Coward said...

BMX GRIND

DUDE ABDS

ANO3 said...

It is not the hate toward the hub, but more the fear of the dark matter contained within. All who have wrenched know of the dark art of wheelbuilding and the heinous evil contained in every hub!

Anonymous said...

Dearest BSNYC,

Why no comment of the musical group named, I assume in homage, to Alberto Contador? I speak of the Eric Cartman fronted Fingerbang!

gravitymachine said...

as a designer frustrated with useless concepts and gratuitus styling, i applaud your critique.

definite podium

Travis said...

Forget those Yale kids. A trio of Penn State kids did a hubless trike and actually did all three wheels.

And one of them jumped through much like a dog.

Anonymous said...

indeed salmon season is upon us. saw my first roady casualty of the season in central park yesterday. he was being loaded into an ambulance on a gurney. "on your right, I mean my right, oh shit!"

Anonymous said...

I "palped" monster track 10 last year and considering they've been running it for (presumably) 10 years, there was mass confusion of doing simple things like "getting out manifests" and "starting the race."

---

Also no update on how Trackstar is now closed? A sign of the apocalypse to come?

frilly said...

Could be interesting. I would probably scare Shane. Gerhard Vroomen might be fun. And I'll admit it, I used to have a little crush on Prolly.

AYHcan'tSMB

mikeweb said...

I have to say, during my weekend bicycling sojourns, the salmon were running strong.

As I passed each of them, I had the urge to calmly say "you're going the wrong way", but didn't. After all, is it my job to tell everyone else what to do? Oh, and they probably would think that I was trying to tell them they're lost anyway.

Doug said...

Calls of "On your right!" emanating from pacelines in the park.......

I've always found it fun to ride by and yell "on your mom" ....

Anonymous said...

"Metal" does not break consistently. Steel and aluminum are vastly different. The Trek 1000's aluminum fork breakage is consistent with its material properties.

However, the cyclist probably flipped over from the sudden stop rather than from fork failure.

Anonymous said...

failureway

Nogocyclist said...

Sufferist:
Do not give into temptation! Do not eat squirrel even if sushi.
When I was a teenager, a friend of mine got me to eat some squirrel. Warning do not let anyone talk you into eating squirrel.

He made squirrels and dumplings. The dumplings being a light red should have caused me to realize something was wrong. I ate the squirrel I was given, even though my lips burned and when I touched my eyes they burned also.

Note, I was a teenager. Being a tough teen guy I just toughed it out drinking plenty of liquid, whatever was available (don't remember what exactly.)

No problem, I recovered just fine, until the next day. I took my position on the porcelain throne, and experienced one of the worse pains in my life. Burning hemorrhoids is the result of eating squirrel. Don't say I did not warn you! I'll never forget...

horriblescreenname said...

hubless bmx bike's bottom bracket is way too high.

Sam Sprocket said...

"We keep to the right, and go WITH traffic! WITH traffic!
If you ride against the traffic, the cars get uptight / so ride WITH the traffic, and keep to the right!

I Love it! I love these kids!"

Mo's Bike Shop said...

Forget those Yale kids. A trio of Penn State kids did a hubless trike and actually did all three wheels.

Wow, you could bolt two brayers to the front end and get the same suspension profile.

I think they pass the Engineer test.

Anonymous said...

But hubs are so dumb - they allow an incredibly low coefficient of friction to be encased (and isolated from grime) in a small and lightweight casing far from the road surface and the wheel. Hubless designs in contrast allow that zenlike feeling of having difficult to seal precision machined bits in close proximity to the rim/tire, while at the same time increasing weight.

Anonymous said...

The engineering flaw in these hubless wheels is that they must be completely, perfectly circular to function. So, if you are riding down the street on one of these contraption and a squirrel dives through the wheel, you might miss the acorn he was going after. You hit an acorn, get a slight bend in the wheel which continues to rotate only to the point it which it meets the frame mounting. Then, the wheel stops moving. Needless to say, this is not good for the rider.

Hubless wheels. Good for squirrels. Bad for cyclists

Anonymous said...

I've broken the back of many squirrels and a few cotton tail bunnies but have yet to have one actually go into the wheel

Anonymous said...

would have killed a chihuahua if I hadn't been on the ball and unclipped in time to kick the cretin away

Mike said...

Snobby, I'm a bit surprised you have a bottle opener thingy on your pushbike? Seems like the kind of unnecessary accessory you'd love to ridicule? I'm a bit shaken, I think I need a lie down.

Dave said...

The "squirrel death by bike" looks all too familiar and I have three dental implants as souvenirs. I'd go for ginsu-knife bladed spokes over hubless wheels,

kerry said...

I could use that slanted bike. When I fall off, my face will already be close to pavement, thus hopefully less bruising.
'u-lock muffin top piercings'... owie.

kerry said...

maybe mount those blades on a BMX and ride thru some farmers fields. Have a nice salad, after.

Thumpity thump said...

I admit, I did have a little crush on Sam Sprocket.

I've now met three people who claim to like squirrel meat.
I hope to encourage them to switch to Canada Goose.

Anonymous said...

Now you have a good excuse to "upgrade" to a $950 Pake:
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James Lucius Gray said...

Slow, I agree, but that was the rally to the starting line. The race hadn't started yet.

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Anonymous said...

spokes are a pain to draw so concept bikes never have em

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I was reading other articles about Jumping Through Hoops: What Does Everyone Have Against Hubs?, and yours is the one with the most interesting information. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day.


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i ride bmx nig said...

who ever made this design has a cool idea but thats no wheres near strong enough for bmx... so what are u coin calling it a bmx bike, if it can't have pegs and doesn't look like it can hold up against any jumps its just a cruiser, so make it a 24 inch and call it a cruiser.

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