Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Appealing Package: What's New Is Old Again

One of the most dangerous aspects of cycling (apart from the ever-present risk of death) is the tendency many of us have to think that we "know it all." While time and experience make all of us better cyclists, if unchecked they also can conspire to transform us into insufferable pedants--serial retrogrouches and über-curmudgeons who automatically dismiss the strange and unfamiliar as "myth and lore," or "fiddle faddle," or "balderdash," or any other crotchety term of derision to which the cantankerous and ornery are inclined. In an attempt to thwart the onset of this condition in myself (I recently caught myself using the word "poppycock"), I have admitted that there is indeed still much I don't know, and have also resolved to open my mind to new knowledge. For this reason, I was pleased to receive the following video from a reader:



Immediately after watching, I abandoned my resolution, for while old dogs may be able to learn new tricks, sometimes "classic" ones like licking themselves are all they need.

This is not to say that the miracle of video has nothing to teach us; in fact, when combined in a contrived fashion with "rap" or "hip hop" the results can be quite potent and rather edifying. Consider this new video from "Da Gryptions" (forwarded by another reader) which will tell you all you need to know about Montreal's bike-sharing program:



While knowledge can be difficult to imbibe by itself, it goes down much easier when it's dissolved in the delicious beverage of entertainment. Or, you can just funnel it down people's throats in the form of some Auto-Tuned swill, as is the case here. In any case, this is without a doubt the greatest Canadian bicycle-themed rap song since Toronto's Abdominal ( Andy Bernstein) "dropped" his genre-defining "Pedal Pusher" back in 2008:

Really, if you want to do any better, you need to look to Australia, home of Hugo & Treats, who astute readers will remember as the "curators" of the infamous "Keep Pedalling" video:

Rumor has it that Hugo was the first choice for the Bixi assignment, but due to the fetid state of his trademark blond dreadlocks he was held in quarantine at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport for a period of six months, after which the Public Health Agency of Canada deemed them a biological hazard and ultimately denied Hugo entry into the country:

Reportedly, Hugo was devastated by the decision, for not only was he desperate for the Bixi gig, but he was also looking forward to visiting the Athabasca oil sands and fortifying his coiffure with bitumen.

Of course, the greatest hip-hop-video-created-to-educate-the-public-about-municipal-bicycle-amenities of all time remains the "TARC Bike Rack Rap" by Mr. Theo and the TARCettes, which shows you how to but a bike on a bus in Louisville, KY:



Like a bike messenger pitted against an office worker with a PDF document and a decent Internet connection, Da Gryptions never stood a chance.

Speaking of attempts to appeal to the "youth," Scott Bikes has announced that it will produce an e-bike:

However, unlike other e-bikes, which are apparently marketed to "an older consumer," the Scott e-bike will "target a younger demographic" thanks to it's "white, green, and yellow" color(way):

Yes, nothing transforms an uncool object for old people into a must-have for young fans of "urban design" like the simple application of colors--a universal truth to which the Best Made Axe attests. Indeed, young people everywhere will certainly be clamoring for e-bikes once they see this key lime pie color scheme, and when paired with the matching Scott crabon fribé walker it will surely be the "hot set-up" on your local cyclocross circuit. You can also expect the Denny's early bird special to supplant happy hour at the faux dive bar as the cool place to be seen and mingle, and obviously the "bike pile" outside will be electrically-assisted instead of "fixed."

In the meantime, if you're not ready to make the leap to e-bikes (perhaps because you fear that in the process of leaping you might break your hip) you can always get a Bowery Lane Bicycle, as featured recently in the Wall Street Journal:

Bowery Lane Bicycles are simple cruisers inspired by the infatuation New York City's smug and fashion-conscious have with Amsterdam and the notion of "cycle chic:"

The idea for the company came about when Mr. Bernard traveled to Amsterdam with his wife and saw its cycling culture. "We wanted to replicate that here," says Mr. Bernard.

While the Bowery Lane Bicycle seems useful enough and is not as outlandishly priced as other Dutch-inspired bikes sold to Americans, I can't help thinking that if Mr. Bernard wants to "replicate" Amsterdam here he might be better off opening a Van Gogh museum and digging a series of canals. The truth is, New York City already has its own ubiquitous form of cheap, unremarkable, and functional bicycle--it's called the Crappy Mountain Bike, and that John Leguizamo video from awhile back shows the manner in which many New Yorkers successfully employ them every day. Of course, there's nothing "special" or "cycle chic" about riding around on a crappy mountain bike (just as I'm sure there's nothing "special" about riding a Dutch bike in Amsterdam) hence the need to market simplicity.

Of course, it is nice that the bicycles are made in New York City, though the Bowery Lane Bicycles website makes a bit more of this fact than I think is warranted:



We proudly offer Bowery Lane Bicycles to you. We conceive, build and finish these bikes for unsurpassed quality, sustainability and style. We use only American steel for our frames, which are forged in a factory that derives 30% of its power from solar panels. The facility is located within New York City limits, which means employees can commute via bicycle or public transport. In short, we produce these bikes conscious of our impact on the country, the environment and the local community.

Why does the fact that the facility is located in the New York City limits mean "employees can commute via bicycle or public transport?" What if some of the employees live outside the city limits? And even if they do, who's to say they're not taking public transportation or riding bikes too? The transportation infrastructure does not come to a dead halt at the city line. Conversely, what if some of the employees who live inside the city limits prefer to drive to work? To what extent are we, as smug consumers, supposed to micro-manage the behavior of the people making our goods? More importantly, is there any aspect of production left that cannot be incorporated into a sales pitch? Next year, will Bowery Lane Bicycles assure me that the people who build their bikes are washing their hands with Dr. Bronner's after relieving themselves in giant composting toilets? At a certain point, the truth is we really just don't need to know.

But when it comes to smugness, perhaps nobody can beat Mark Braun (or "Mr. B") of Ann Arbor, MI, who "portages" his piano by bicycle (as forwarded to me by yet another reader):


I'm sure that right now plenty of people in Portland are saying, "So what? I totally have a piano porteur bike," but their mock dismissal cannot mask their insecurity. Apparently, Mr. B is aided by the rest of his band, and as they travel they receive much approbation from their fellow cyclists--though the simian manner in which they express it was new to me:

Guitarist Brian Delaney says, "When bicyclists go by, they usually pump their chests or stick their fists up in the air in approval."

I wonder if every so often they fling their own feces as well.

75 comments:

Andy said...

Podium!

Cool The Kid said...

Make it reign!!!

Anonymous said...

close to first!

CHRIS said...

SILVER ??

CHRIS said...

CRAP!!!!!!

CHRIS said...

So close to the podium I could be the world road racing champion.

Chris said...

Does 4 in a row make me almost first?

Chris said...

five?

333 said...

top 10. beeotch

innerlighter said...

Evans!

Bad Lawyer said...

Top twenty-five!

innerlighter said...

gobbledygook!

Mark said...

Watch out for salmons. They're spawning in NYC.

innerlighter said...

fiddlesticks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Ladies!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Snobbie, why does the title of the jump page for your TdF musings over at universalsports read "Latest Olympic Sport Coverage"? Are we to expect Carlos Barredo and Alberto Rui Costa in the ring in London in 2012?

Anonymous said...

I was pretty interested to hear about a new bicycle making facility on the Bowery. Frame building is usually not a high-margin business. Then I figured out that Bowery Lane Bicycles is just buying its frames from Worksman.

Excuse me while I go buy a bunch of Magnas at Wal-Mart and strip off the paint...

Andy said...

Seeing Cycling Dave's double-fingerbang reminded me of the picture atop yesterday's post from the Universal blog, which looks to me like whichever random domestique that is is wearing a sort of stylized fingerbang pendant around his neck:

http://www.universalsports.com/mm/Photo/Sports/General/48/27/29/482729_M23.jpg

Crazy stuff. (Or maybe I'm just crazy. Or both.)

Anonymous said...

From The Journal:

"Bowery Lane Bicycles are not only made in New York: They are made for New York.

"There are no gears [...] And the bikes—and their parts—are not easy to steal."

I wonder how they pull that one off.

jimmynuetron said...

Fear of Salmon is irrational, let em work let em live. What are we Germans?

dcee604 said...

top 20?

streepo said...

Cadel, finishing from yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Green and white e-bike? Poppycock. Gotta get to Denny's now.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the bikecar movie? This is a classic and mostly un-smug.
http://www.bikecarmovie.com/

Anonymous said...

question: how do you propel a bike with no gears?

Anonymous said...

I could not help but notice that the piano-by-bike "portageur" system looks remarkably like Chuckwagon racing (complete with less able outriders). Perhaps Mr. Braun is coming to the Calgary Stampede with his piano.

http://cs.calgarystampede.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/chucks-1.jpg

Anonymous said...

Snob,
"The facility is located within New York City limits, which means employees can commute via bicycle or public transport"

Any word on the possibility of commuting by bike or public transport making it to other areas of the country?

Buffalo Bill said...

We used to use that bitumen from the tarsands when we ran out of chamois creme. It's pretty comfy but hard to wash out. I think I might switch to sour cream.

3G said...

In my country there is problem
And that problem is transport

Throw the transport down the well
So my country can be free

leroy said...

On an old tour to Paris that began near the Rhine,
Contador rode without a straight line.
He left Morzine to start Stage Nine …
And met a col named Madeleine.

Where's that Bemelmans guy when you need him?

grog said...

when did we stop using creamed corn? poppycock.

Perry said...

"I wonder if every so often they fling their own feces as well." - yes, but we sniff them first. Lavender and Roses, with a trace of smugness...

BML said...

Here in Saint Louis we have a free bike share program, but the "gangsters" who promote it would not be caught dead wearing a cardigan. Oh and you can't choose a fixie; you basically take what you can get.

Paul Bowen said...

Poor Dave. Poor, poor Dave.

And if white folks absolutely must rap, couldn't they at least be discouraged from doing that thing with their arms? Puts me teeth on edge it does.

zach said...

While we're on the topic of ridiculous bicycle-themed hip-hop music, we mustn't forget "Sexxy Bicycle," by ironic Seattle hip-hop group Mad Rad:

http://mysp.ac/dkB7pf

I appreciate the ecumenical nature of their bike-themed rap ("bmx, road bike / fixed gear, mountain bike / 10-speed, that's right, we like all types").

I also like their attention to proper helmet use ("helmet strap click [...] or you gonna get sick") and the apparent regard for approrpiate chain tension ("if the chain ain't tight then that sh-t ain't right.")

Here's an ironic youtube video someone threw together with their song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JyOBV8YzO0

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Rick in Louisville said...

Just curious. Was your pun regarding a "pile" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaic_pile)of electric bicycles intentional or unintentional?

And by the way TARC (Transit Authority of River City) has produced at least two equally compelling videos for their bikes-on-board program, although I am still unnerved about willingly putting my bike directly in front of a bus!

PawnShop said...

"We use only American steel for our frames, which are forged in a factory that derives 30% of its power from solar panels."

Yup, it's the Worksman factory alright.

AYHRMV - All You Haters Resist My Voltage

Cadel said...

Man my friggin elbow hurts.

bikesgonewild said...

...chopper sez "harden the fuck up, cadel !!!"...

Tex said...

Poor Cycling Dave, barely eking out a living. I remember back in the day when the Opinionated Cyclist was just raking in the dough.

Dason said...

I want an eBike!!!! YEAH!!!!111!

Those things look ridiculous.

Andy Reimer said...

What makes Abdominal's Pedal Pusher such a landmark piece is the cover art. Is that a DERAILLEUR on his bike?

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that the "30% of its power from solar panels" goes towards the power to run the expresso machine. 30% solar power to melt steel is only a bit warmer than the hood of my car when its been sitting in the sun in a Walmart parking lot for a few hours.

Morgan said...

bike piano:
"finishes more than 300 bicycle miles later in Detroit"

Are bicycle miles to regular ones like dog years to human ones? 300 bicycle miles is 30 car miles is 3000 walking miles?

and it isn't even a bike, though it isn't a normal trike with a piano length basket-way, but "a sturdy tricycle of sorts".

Rick said...

re: Anon, 3:22
it is no doubt 30% of the electrical power. I doubt they are actually melting steel and if they are they probably burning coke and although this is an energy source, it is not a "power" source as most people see it. Most likely, they are buying steel tubing from somewhere that was refined somewhere else. No one is talking about where either of these somewhere elses are, but it would not surprise me if they are NOT in the US. That said, in addition to their espresso machines and building lights, they are powering their welders and spray booth exhaust fans with the PV cells.

JTK said...

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam.
-TMBG

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Cycling Dave Rocks!

He's right about the mustache.

I think I'll leave the sour cream for my burrito though.

db said...

...goes towards the power to run the expresso machine...

"Expresso"? Is that the newer, faster espresso?

g said...

Espresso 2.0.

FAST CAFE

Fred said...

Using sour cream as chamois cream is ridiculous. I produce the finest chamois cream from a combination of wheat germ oil, beard trimmings, schmaltz, banana smoothie and grain alcohol. Of course for a chammy, I use only the best: free-range squirrel fur.

This is common practice amongst Freds of a certain age.

Guadzilla said...

Those Bowery fellows make bikes without ANY gears? Not even a single gear? Wow - that must be some design.

Salty and Sore said...

Hmm... forbidden sour cream.

I wonder if Cycling Dave misspoke, and is actually offering a home ready for over-blooming yeast.

wishiwasmerckx said...

I wonder if Cadel Evans would have ridden better today if he had not had his arm swaddled in electrical tape in Astana's team colors. With every labored breath on the Madaleine, he had a constant reminder of Alberto pulling farther and farther away.

Salty and Sore said...

Bike with no gears--

Yes, it's the latest in Green Technology! It's a belt-drive system made from the recycled cellophane of old cassette tapes.

It's carbon fiber 2.0.

Anonymous said...

BELT DRIV

PVFA CTRY

Marc said...

Dangnabbit! Not even close to the pack today…

Has anyone seen the watches that Contador gave out to the ’09 team? I hope they had they had fingerbang hands.

BIXI BOYZ

Socio Osteopathic said...

Turns out Cadel had a broken elbow.

All that carbon fiber and they can't build a good elbow these days?

smugseattle said...

I'd be happy to weld up a fine "local" bike frame powered by salmon eating "clean" hydropower.Maybe I can sell them to the unsuspecting smug.

Nothing is clean. Nothing is green. Reduce your carbon dioxide footprint -- stop breathing!

Anonymous said...

Forging bike frames...what a dumbass!

hoot79er said...

AYHSMSCSC

(All you haters suck my sour cream schmeered chamios)

Anonymous said...

Possibly the first time I've heard a consumer complaining that manufacturers are advertising where their stuff is made.

Sure it may be more than we need to know sometimes, but what's the harm in it? I mean, it has to be more useful information than 90% of the marketing spin we usually see in advertisements.

Tim said...

Snob,

I have video of the "piano portageur" when he and his band stopped here in Grand Rapids, MI. Should I send it your way?

Anonymous said...

Mr Snob, if you keep throwing in these Australian references and keep building your overseas readership I'm sure you will eventually get the holiday, I mean international BRAs, that you are working at. Just rename yourself Bike Snob Earth. You could even talk to your new friends at Popular Search Engine Earth about using your personal database of unusual bike sightings to kick off a global geographically referenced catalogue. A bit like Street View, but perhaps named Freak View. Patterns would be revealed that could help us better understand ourselves and maybe even assist the authorities in locating G20 troublemakers.

By the way, Cadel is an Aussie battler. I doubt Contador could have ridden so well if he had a broken barrel finger. Although, having said that Schleck (A) has an obviously badly broken nose and he is still going strong - so, maybe Cadel is just a woouziey.

Finally, the cover over the piano on the "Big F'kn Idiot" (Surly's newest supersized bike) has Joybox written on it. Perhaps this is the English translation of Kunstbox?

ce

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Kokorozashi said...

Since nobody else has done so yet, I would like to accept the award for "greatest hip-hop-video-created-to-educate-the-public-about-municipal-bicycle-amenities" on behalf of the city of Louisville.

While I'm not an official representative of TARC or of Louisville, but I do live here and have been known to put my bike (even my road bike, with great trepidation) on those bus-front bike racks, so clearly I am an appropriate choice of proxy recipient.

You may send the trophy and accompanying check to my office. Of course, I fully expect it to arrive via bicycle courier, preferably one of those new pom-pom adorned ones. All our bike couriers here wear boring old t-shirts that proclaim them to be ... well, bike couriers.

I am the critical engine said...

anon 11:30
The problem is that the advertising you reference is not honest, it is the same old shit in a different package.

American made is great, it should be the norm for bikes.
The ad agency, or owners, or IT dope is doing his company a disservice by "forging" frames, and pushing "30% solar" and "no gears".

That is why it is mockable. It is as genuine as courier Fred on a 5,000.00 crabon bike.

Anonymous said...

Neither Worksman, or Bowery Bikes, have gears. The article is correct. If you knew anything at all about metal thingys, you would know they use sprockets.

Cyclin' Missy said...

I saw Mr. B and the Joybox Express play at the Ann Arbor Triathlon. It's quite a site!

shadrach said...

I really hope you've already seen this "bendy-bike", but just in case:

http://gizmodo.com/5582565/this-bendable-bike-can-tie-itself-to-a-lamp-post

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fixie bikes said...

that's a corny movie.