Monday, October 25, 2010

The "H" Word: Reinventing the Hybrid

Ever since my book, the creatively-titled "Bike Snob," was published this past May, I've been asked a single question above all others: "Who cares?" Considerably less frequently, I've also been asked: "When will your book be available in the United Kingdom?" (By "less frequently," I mean, "exactly once.") Well, Nigel (actually, I don't remember the name of the person who asked, but since he's from the United Kingdom there's a 75% chance his name was Nigel, or 65% if he was a woman), I'm pleased to let you know that you'll finally be able to publish a British edition of my book in the United Kingdom as of November 1st, thanks to Hardie Grant Books. Moreover, this edition will also be available in Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of the so-called "British Commonwealth"--so good news for you, Republic of Seychelles.

In anticipation of this formehdable publishing event, this past weekend the Observer Magazine ran an excerpt, and you can see the online version here:
While the online version does not include the illustrations, it does include the incredibly dorky picture of me on a Williamsburg rooftop holding my Scattante up in the air:

I'd like to say that there was no photographic trickery involved here, but the fact is that I'm far too feeble to hoist the considerable straight-gauge heft of a commuterized Scattante above my head (total weight = 36 gallons of milk, or roughly 25 babies), and in reality I'm merely holding a very large sandwich:

Trembling with exertion, once the photographer got the shot I then hurled the sandwich over the railing and onto the street below, which caused a fixed-gear bicycle, Puch moped, and Lambretta scooter "hipster" traffic jam that backed up all the way to Bushwick until people finally figured out how to "portage" their various vehicles over the giant oily heap of meat and cheese.

Speaking of "hipsters" and disasters, on last Friday's quiz I incorporated the trailer for the upcoming "Murder of Couriers" documentary, which takes an unflinchingly ridiculous look at some messengers in Vancouver:



While the entire trailer is a comedy of Christopher Guestian proportions and a veritable giant sandwich of absurdity, if pressed like a panini I'd have to say my favorite voiceover line is this:

Sometimes you just clear out and you're just like, "Whoah," you know, "I almost got hit by four different buses and I punched a jaywalker and almost shit my pants."

For some reason, as he says this, we see a rider running right into traffic like an excited toddler into the Florida surf, first barely avoiding a black convertible going one way:

And then almost being hit by a brown "crossover vehicle" going another way:

Fortunately, though, he does make it across the street and onto the logjam, ultimately alighting onto one of the lily pads at the far end and scoring major "bonus points:"

But while the messengers in "A Murder of Couriers" are quite fleet of foot, they don't seem to be particularly adept when it comes to riding their bicycles. At one point in the video, one of the riders takes a turn too widely, almost hitting a pedestrian:

This puts him next to a taxi:

Which he somehow manages to hit, despite having plenty of road:

After which he gives chase on foot, presumably to chide the driver for compromising his "livelihood:"

Now, I certainly have nothing whatsoever against messengers, but I'm not sure I understand the point of making a movie about doing your job really badly. It's almost as though a bunch of people who work at Target decided to make a documentary about what they do for a living, and then just recorded themselves running at full speed straight into the underwear racks in the "intimates" section and getting hopelessly tangled up in the bras and panties. "Sometimes you're just working the floor and you're just like, 'Whoah,' you know, 'I almost smothered myself in like four pairs of maternity hosiery and I punched a six-year-old and almost shit my pants.'" At one point in the trailer one of the messengers even refers to herself as a "ninja," and if she thinks any of this is ninja-like I can only assume her knowledge of feudal Japan consists entirely of watching Chris Farley movies:

By the way, it is worth noting that these messengers are in Canada, so I'd be interested in seeing a study that explores whether messenger bike-handling skills are inversely proportionate to ready access to free healthcare.

It could also be due to documentaries like this that the new generation of "urban" cyclists are foregoing the traditional "fakenger" phase and instead choose to take up fixed-gear freestyling. Sure, doing tricks on fixed-gear bikes looks kind of silly, but not running-into-taxis-on-purpose silly. Indeed, ever since the early days of the fixed-gear trend, people have been asking: "What's next? What will be the next trendy bike?" Bloggers, cycling pundits, bike forum denizens and industry insiders everywhere have offered their opinions. Some predicted it would be the cyclocross bike; others said it would be the vintage road bike; still others floated the "porteur" bike; and some even posited that it would be the Dutch city bike. However, it looks like all of them were wrong, for I was checking in on fixed-gear freestyle impresario and streetwear enthusiast Prolly's blog, and it looks like all of us were wrong and that it's going to be the good old-fashioned hybrid:

Here's what Volume has to say about their take on the hybrid:

We've been working on this bad boy for awhile now. Some of you guys might have seen it at our booth at Interbike? Our first post or mention of it was about a year ago with random parts we had in our warehouse. The Generator is a combination of a commuter and BMX. The thing rides like a dream and can still jump off a curb and do a mean wheelie. Features include: Full heat treated CRMO frame, fork and bar, EBB, fixed dropout, Shimano 8-spd. Alfine hub, Tektro Auriga Pro hydraulic brakes, 700X45c Resist tires, and much more. We'll be offering it as a complete and should be due out around April/ May. What you see in the pic will be very close to what the production model will have. We'll have more pics and info on the site asap.

Oh yeah, that's a "bad boy" all right:

(Cannondale Bad Boy: It's the Pista for the "Lone Wolf" set.)

Really, it's come to this? Wheelies on hybrids? First the NJS craze, and then 650c front wheels and riser bars, and then axle pegs and BMX cranks, and now they're suddenly going to start riding bikes that look like they belong in the Giant Bicycles "Sport" collection?

It's a well-known fact that every suburban garage in America contains an average of 2.5 15-year-old, barely ridden, dust-covered Trek MultiTraks. Now it turns out that they may be sitting on a goldmine:

Perhaps "true hybrid geometry" will become the next NJS. I suppose none of this is surprising though, since "urban" cyclists have been following the oeuvre of Sky Yaeger for years. It took them awhile, but eventually they all wanted Pistas; now, she's already come and gone at Swobo, but suddenly they all want upright BMX-y bikes with internally-geared hubs and disc brakes:


And if this new breed of hybrid becomes the next trendy bicycle, "urban" outlaw cycling videos are going to start looking a whole lot different:



However, if you really want to ride like an outlaw, you should ride without pants, as in this news item that was forwarded to me by a reader:

I guess he comes from the Land Frumunda. At least he was wearing a helmet.

107 comments:

Anonymous said...

1st!!!!

the death of fuzzynutz said...

2?

the death of fuzzynutz said...

2th?

DogShot said...

Wooo, top 5?

mikeweb said...

Ultimate hybrid: the Liger, known for it's powers of magic.

Chunky Salsa said...

"I've been a single question..."

asked?

Nogocyclist said...

.

Guadzilla said...

Top 10

shoegazer said...

bonk

Slappy said...

there was a Liger TT bike at interbike in the italian section with a full on liger paint job

http://stomparillaz.blogspot.com/2010/09/interbiken.html

Lantern Rouge said...

Sat up and coasted in with the pack.

Fingerbang Assistant said...

No top ten for you.

samh said...

Halloween should provide ample pants-less riding opportunities.

Bad Lawyer said...

I had my dust-covered "bad boy"/hybrid out on hte mean streats yesterday! Wow, I feel almost simpatico.

Bad Lawyer said...

"hte" is the new-meh....the hybrid "teh"

Yossarian said...

Dear Bike Snob NYC,
you surely know in the deep of your heart how unjust you are in snobbing all european countries but for Old England. Your book has been translated in thousands of foreign mysterious languages including mine, flooding any available bookshop around. People actually fight to get a copy. And you never showed up for a BRA in Italy, for instance.

reuben said...

Samh, is that a clue toward your costume for the alleycat?

Anonymous said...

top 20

cycle

Anonymous said...

top20eel

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Isolation Helmet said...

I see a guy most mornings on my commute into San Francisco riding a custom Seven hybrid. Flat bars, and crabon wheels.

Yoav said...

Don't know about your other UK reader but I've already bought (and read) your book from amazon.co.uk

hillbilly said...

what did I miss?

OBA said...

CRIME!

ant1 said...

snobby - not sure if it's your mistake or the target employee's, but "and I punched a six-year-old and almost shit my pants." should be shat, no?

Anonymous said...

Crime Riders is about the best video you've ever posted. I could watch a new episode every week.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the Pista, Sky designed the San Jose, which is a pretty phenomenal bike. Also she seems like a pretty cool person (who got reamed by the jerks at Bianchi). Now at Spot, I wish her the best regards.

Anonymous said...

It's a well-known fact that every suburban garage in America contains an average of 2.5 15-year-old, barely ridden, dust-covered Trek MultiTraks.

No truer words have ever been spoken. I buy 'em cheap, clean the dust off them and sell 'em to college kids in need of a reliable, bomb-proof city bike.

cycle

exmessenger said...

UK reader here too;)

For anyone else in gloomy England who came here via the Observer article, Amazon is £1.50 cheaper than the Guardian bookshop linked there!

And I have been riding the (awfully-named) Cannondale "Bad Boy" around London for over a year now...does this mean I'm about to become accidentally 'trendy', and not just weird?

Avant-garde Hipster said...

It's good to know that with my Giant Seek 1 (yes, disk brakes & shimano Alfine), I am now "avant-garde" hipster.

CAMPIONE CYCLES CALGARY said...

Commonwealth bookstores will make room on its shelves by taking down the once popular "Netball Snob" book.

CAMPIONE CYCLES CALGARY said...

Commonwealth bookstores will make room on its shelves by taking down the once popular "Netball Snob" book.

d. fofonov said...

Are you liking to seeing my Bad Boy, Duke?

wishiwasmerckx said...

One of my top life goals is to become hopelessly tangled up in the bras and panties.

Almost shitting my pants, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Sr. Snob,

Couldn't help but notice your use of regional vernacular in the Observer article. Did you have some writing assistance or do your literary skills know no bounds?

Anonymous said...

I live in Vancouver and I see these "ninjas" all the time. They're sitting on the steps drinking out of a paper bag every time I ride by. Also, they never, ever use rain gear (or fenders half the time) because it's not "ninja"-like. Considering it rains roughly every single freakin' day in Vancouver, it's hilarious to watch them get soaked.

Disgruntl Ed. said...

Mr. Snob, please help yourself to the panini. If you are not that hungry, have just one panino. But please do not speak of a panini, for it (they) is (are) an abomination.

g said...

Ninjas, panties, maternity hosiery, pants shatting, pantsless Aussies!?!
Why would you read any other blog?

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

Yet another mildly disappointing finish. Good enough for Pilate, though.

-P.P.

dux said...

the next big thing will be little bikes. one for each foot
like skates but with tenny wenny little disc brakes.

bikesgonewild said...

...'crime riders'...absolutely douchetastic...

Anonymous said...

Sky Yaeger..
I'd hit that.
Maybe even Chuck too..

PawnShop said...

Translation of your tyred, gilded tome into vernacular Britishway is an achievement of extraordinary meh-gnitude.

bikesgonewild said...

...wishiwasmerckx...

...re: your comment - "One of my top life goals is to become hopelessly tangled up in the bras and panties."...

...careful what you wish for, bud...ask commiecanuk about a certain 'colonel russel williams' who was just sentenced for that same basic goal...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/pictures-of-obsession-colonel-russell-williams-in-stolen-lingerie/article1763741/page1/

...you might say the colonel became a little obsessed...

g-roc said...

Fortunately for us Canadians, we got a jump on the rest of the Commonwealth and received copies of your book carefully concealed in a shipment of illicit drugs. Good ol' world's longest unprotected border.

ken (loves tofino) said...

Word to your rain-soaked moms!

Anonymous Coward said...

"Christopher Guestian" FTW!!!

bikebloke said...

When riding your hybrid, don't forget to sport the latest in Italian bike-wear - the oh so amusingly named 'Pistard'

I jest you not - check it out: http://www.pistard.cc/

Pistard was born from the wish to create a high-quality collection of technical cyclewear, but comfortable and fashionable. The appeal of name “pistard” evokes elegance and at the same time the fastness of old fearless bikers, competing in velodromes where ramps got even 42° of slope, riding in competitions lasting more than one hour, where one lap was even 400 meters long.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lone wolf and ride a hybrid. I jump curbs sometimes. Yet I didn't realize I was ahead of the curve. Time to cash in on my greatness with a lame video, I guess.

bikesgonewild said...

...bikebloke = shill...

Anonymous said...

Everyone loves a squeaky hybrid.

Flat Bar Fred said...

So my hybrid is now cool and edgy?

DOUBLE CRIME!!

CRAZY!!

The King of Park Slope said...

No 'Commuter' tribe?!?!?!?

Nick Cecchi said...

"fixed-gear freestyle impresario and streetwear enthusiast Prolly's blog"

have you programmed your keyboard-way to automatically enter this sentence fragment everytime you press control+alt+p or something? The stunning consistency with which you word it is damn near as good as a fossil record of the fixed-gear craze.

VRNA CULR said...

A "three-bird roast" means what?

Ostrich, Goose, Magpie?

bikesgonewild said...

...the uncouth statement that "I almost got hit by four different buses and I punched a jaywalker and almost shit my pants."...is mired in such a propound lack of elegance...

...were the lamester to have articulated that he had "...almost got hit by four different buses and I punched a jaywalker and almost 'shat my drawers'.", he might have broached a certain literary eloquence with a delightful flair...

...just, you know, sayin'...

Indy Falconheads said...

Did you see this in Aussie paper? What a way to go?!
http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/crocodile-on-a-plane-kills-19/story-e6frfq80-1225942045322

Minh said...

I wish I could afford to buy your book. I'm just a poor student with just 15 bucks in the bank :(

streepo said...

I almost shitted myself. perhaps?

RatherBeBiking said...

A tip on sentence structure coming from someone who substitutes every period with elipses should not be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

A haughty comment on sentence structure from one who doesn't know how to spell "ellipsis" should not be taken seriously.

"Ellipses", by the way, are conic sections with eccentricity less than 1. (But Math is Hard!)

Meh.

bikesgonewild said...

...so, if you'd rather sit about & criticize me on-line perhaps you might consider changing your avatar to 'ratherthanbiking'...

...just suggesting...but then again, anyone who'd be offended by my recalcitrant use of the 'ellipti' rather than actually perusing my content isn't particularly flexible anyway, right ???...

jimmynuetron said...

Is the definition of a hybrid, -lightweight mountain frame with 700cc tires? Hasn't it been the most commonly sold bicycle in the US for the past 15 years or so. Whats fuss about? Who is fronting like it's something new? Where? Snob come out of your ivory tower! This is America damn it. We ride hybrids and we been doing it.

Shu-Sin said...

sir snob,

at the bottom of your article in the observer, there's a link to a treasure-trove of images (including mario fingering a 10k pound (money, not weight) bike and cardboard helmet)...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2010/oct/08/cycle-show-london

RatherBeBiking said...

I'll buy your book as soon as it's published.

RatherBeBiking said...

But good luck getting an editor to read that book and not implode.

Multi Crack said...

Hybrids back? Is that the click of ancient Gripshifts I hear or just my middle-aged knees?

wp said...

wait for it

wp said...

now!

the funny number!

headsup/headsdown

/hartley231. said...

I've got a Stop Cycles Proletariat. Internal hub, disc brakes AND a belt drive. Love it.

http://www.stopcycles.com/Our_Rides/Entries/2009/11/15_Jane_%26_Jennys_Birthday_Trip.html

damn said...

seventy

crosspalms said...

@ratherbebiking
As an editor who has read the book and failed to implode, I am reading it again just in case. Guinness material if I implode, right?

RatherBeBiking said...

bikesgonewild has a published book? Link please!

Serotta hybrid said...

Hey, how was the Serotta BRA this weekend???

crosspalms said...

"bikesgonewild has a published book? Link please!"
Ditto! I'll read it.
I thought you were talking about BSNYC. My mistake. But I'll keep re-reading anyway.

ttv said...

nice photos. I like that ninja :-)

Anonymous said...

I can't wait till the Hybrids discover trials riding...: http://thesensus.com/trials-edit-that-is-pretty-damn-good/

leroy said...

RatherBeBiking --

If you think about it, BGW's use of ellipses is like Jimmy Joyce's use of the long dash to intro sentences in Ulysses.

And I can't be the only one who's noticed that both BGW and the last chapter of Ulysses demonstrate that periods are overrated.

... I'd read BGW's book ... Just sayin'.....

f.mo said...

TORONTO's new MAYOR
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nySs1cEq5rs&feature=related

RatherBeBiking said...

I DEMAND CONFORMITY.

Anonymous said...

I followed the link to Pistard.cc and it seemed more like someone was doing an elaborate pisstake of Rapha than anything else. I forwarded it to my Italian ex-girlfriend to see if the Italian version of the site was any less of a joke.

leroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bikesgonewild said...

...sheesh...i just realized i made a huge spelling mistake with no excuse whatsoever..."propound" ought to read "profound" & 'p' & 'f' are nowhere near each other, at least on my keyboard...

...double order of 'sheesh' with a big side of 'awesome & thanks guys !!!' to 'ratherbebiking' (see...i knew better all along) & 'crosspalms' but now the pressure to produce is so great, i hope i don't fold...

...after having met bsnyc/rtms @ the sf bra & seeing those bleary sunken eyes in that haggard grizzled face & sensing the worn beaten disposition coming through a gravelly voice so rent by cheap whiskey & bummed cigarettes that tom waits sounded as a songbird by comparison, it was then i became aware that...holy shit, hey, wait...i'm remembering a charles bukowski book signing, not bsnyc/rtms's...

...maybe i'll give it a shot...

Anonymous said...

BGW, who is Charles Bukkake?

bikesgonewild said...

...& leroy...

...perhaps my first book could be titled "...ulyptsses..."...

...hmmm...then again, maybe not so much...

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 12:05am...

...a gentleman who swallowed a lot of life & spit it all back up with a certain downtrodden eloquence...

TrstnLUVZbikeSNOB said...

Aww Bike Snob I luv dat u such a jerrk! OMMFFFG im like so in luv wit u. Ur so fkin cool

Pleez cum to MTL and show me how muchhhh I suck on my byke!

PS I USED UR BBOK TO DEGREEEZZE MY CHAIN IZZ DAT COOL?!?!?!?! yey

luv u

Anonymous said...

Ha! forever immortalized by getting savagely burnt by no less than the Bike Snob him self. I also love how they used that quote for the opening of the trailer. The film should be out march 2011, thanks for the publicity.

Benji, Vancouver (ex)bike courier

frilly said...

Riding pantsless?

How original.

wiwm--I might be able to help you with that bra/panties thing.

7sp said...

I was idly (as an act of therapy mechanics more than anything else; god knows I don't need another bike) assembling something out of the overflow from my parts bin: Aluminium road frame and fork, 36 spoke wheels, risers and 1x7 thumbshifted gearing. Only now do I realise: I was building a hybrid! The ignomy!

Murph said...

Snob

I don't want to publish a version of your book. Seems like Hardie Grant has that covered.

I may purchase a copy, but.

Yours in pedantry.

Murph

Author deleted said...

This post has been deleted by the comment...Again

Anonymous said...

Rest of the British commonwealth eh? I'll have you know that your "book" is also distributed in parts of Scandinavia through stores on the Internets.

This keen reader was disappointed by the lack of Black Metal references. Also, we do not have cyclocross here. Thank God for that.

Anonymous said...

Finally watched the Crime Riders video -- DOUBLE CRAZY!

Does anyone know what language they're speaking?

Anonymous said...

Seen this yet? Hipsters make a mini "velo" and ride poorly:
http://vimeo.com/16194328

Anonymous said...

Snob, please don't be ashamed of the awesome photo of you and your bike after your successful Williamsburg rooftop ascent. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was: "Early 1990's Epic Motivational Poster With Mountain Bike As Prop!" Admittedly, you are not holding a mountain bike, but your bike looks like it would be almost as good on the trails as a typical mountain bike from that era. In fact, I think the only thing letting your photo down is the blindingly obvious lack of extra long purple anodised bar ends. If you could sort that out in Photoshop you could make up a poster that would be truly mehtivational. Especially with some wise and memorable advise, such as... "Extreme to the Max: When even fenders won't keep you dry". At worst you could sell your photo as a stock image for use in laxative commercials and the like. Here's a little inspiration to start you off:
http://www.jupiterimages.com/Image/royaltyFree/SP002916
http://www.corbisimages.com/Enlargement/SP-019-0273.html
http://www.corbisimages.com/Enlargement/BIK-09TP040-007.html
http://www.corbisimages.com/Enlargement/AABU001086.html
http://www.punchstock.com/com/USA/gb/asset_images/SP002927
ce

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it gets better. You can elaborate on the '90s mountain bike prop theme to really max out the extreme:
http://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/885350-001/Stone?language=en-US&location=AUS
http://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/AB38716/Taxi?language=en-US&location=AUS
http://vwpics.photoshelter.com/image/I0000phc_L_2T_7o
http://fotosa.ru/ru/stock/search.asp?ID=2480513&anchor=15
http://www.stockphotopro.com/photo_of/the/2384863YVD/Crossing_the_waterfall_with

Or even do away with the bike altogether:
http://fotosa.ru/ru/stock/search.asp?ID=2792456&anchor=1
ce

Anonymous said...

No one is mentioning the Doucheclamation in the Observer article.......

Lantern Rouge said...

Zzzz...

BikeBloke said...

bikesgonewild - Ain't a shill buddy - Pistard just happens to rate as one of the most unfortunate/amusingly-named companies I've come across in a while.

Can't see it taking off in the English-speaking world somehow, but good luck to them...

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Bobby Danger said...

Really upsetting to see them screwing around with polo mallets in that video.
I know we polo players are stupid and irresponsible, but I like to think we do it in a much more dignified manner than that.

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