Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Swelled Head: The Shock of the Pneumatic

It is human nature to strive, and to aspire, and to endeavor to create something new, and throughout history certain visionaries have used this impulse in order to change the way we live. Thomas Edison with his lightbulb; Steve Guttenberg with his printing press; and Al Gore with his Internet are just a few things of which we once could scarcely have conceived, but now we cannot conceive of living without. However, sometimes striving, aspiring, and endeavoring are a waste of time, and certain visions are simply illusions, mirages, and "pies in the sky." These impossibilities are our White Whales; our Siren seductresses; the windmills at which Donkey Hotey tilted. Examples of these are the alchemical process of turning lead to gold; perpetual motion machines; and of course the so-called "helmet hat."

Still, designer after designer continue to drive themselves to madness in pursuit of the untold riches that will follow should they manage to design a helmet that looks enough like a hat that everybody will want to wear one. Even "biking" advocate and patron saint of gentrification David Byrne has tried. His attempt was the so-called "NYC helmet," and here's a picture of it:

As you can see, Byrne was betting heavily on the "Saving Private Ryan"-chic look taking off, and as you can also see even he's too embarrassed to wear it.

The latest foolhardy attempt at the "helmet hat" takes a different approach, in that it really isn't modeled after a hat at all. (Still, I consider any form of "stealth helmet" to be a helmet hat.) Instead, it is modeled after an automobile's air bag, and it was brought to my attention recently by a reader. Here is the airbag helmet hiding in a scarf, which is totally inconspicuous apart from the fact it looks utterly ridiculous:

(Is there also one in his saggy crotch?)

And here is post-deployment:


Yes, this inflatable babushka looks just as fabulous filled with air as it does bunched beneath your chin like a foreskin around the penile glans. So how does it work? Comically well, as it turns out, which you can see in this crash test video:



I can't wait until the Beautiful Godzillas of the world's cosmopolitan cities adopt the pneumatic schmata and start riding around like a bunch of courting lizards. I also hope they do extend the concept to underpants as in the above picture, since that could go a long way towards eliminating accidental unwanted groinal contact in crowded subway cars.

I suppose an increase in "helmet hat" design in a natural consequence of the increase in cycling in many cities. Another natural consequence is bike lane bickering, and the new bike lane in Park Slope (home of the King of Park Slope and his concubines, presumably organic and on loan from the Park Slope Concubine Co-Op) continues to attract controversy like a Cat. 5's calf attracts chain lube:

I don't live in Park Slope, but I do pass through this corridor on a regular basis, and unlike the other protected bike lanes in Manhattan it seems to operate fairly smoothly. I also have yet to witness the increased motor vehicle traffic its opponents always seem to reference. Really, the main problem seems to be that people are simply unable to wrap their heads around the wild concept of a lane that is just for bikes:

"The bikes are a hazard because we can't cross. We forget that there are bike lanes. We go to cross to get over to the other side and we say, 'Oh my God.' You have look both ways," said one Park Slope resident.

Somebody's inability to remember something or to swivel his or her thick head in more than one direction should not be a factor in city planning. If you forget there are car lanes and walk right into them should we tear up the streets? If you forget you need a bridge to cross over water and walk right into the East River and drown should we then pave over the river? Where does tip-toeing around people's stupidity and obstinacy end? The entire length of the sidewalk is already full of signs and painted messages and flashing lights warning cyclists and pedestrians to look out for each other. Maybe Park Slopers--pedestrians and cyclists alike--just need shock collars like disobedient dogs.

Yes, for all their smugness the truth is that cyclists are just as clueless as pedestrians (all of us being both cyclists and pedestrians at one time or another). Sadly, though, we can't really afford to be, since we're now under more scrutiny than everybody else--as every grade student knows, once you get pegged as a "bad" kid you can do no right. I'm bracing myself for the day when the city gives up on "bike friendliness" and yanks all those bike lanes right out from under us. I suspect that when this happens the "bike culture" will be secretly pleased, since it will cement their "outlaw" status. Plus, riding in a bike lane without making a fashion or political statement is boring, whereas riding in Critical Mass is not only cool but also highly lucrative. As for me, I've already got one Sidi unclipped, and I'm one more steep run-up away from dismounting completely and "portaging" my Ironic Orange Julius Bike right out of this burg and leaving it to the investment bankers, the hipsters, and the footmen who serve them.

Unfortunately, no pedestrian wants to hear that they should look both ways before crossing the street, and no cyclist wants to hear that they should look out for pedestrians--even the stupid ones who don't look both ways before crossing the street. Similarly, no fixed-gear freestyler wants to be told that they should "get a BMX." This is the most offensive thing you can say to a fixed-gear freestyler, and even though they're moving to smaller diameter wheels and using axle pegs now, when it comes to doing tricks on bikes they prefer to maintain the delusion that they're creating something from scratch. Consequently, in the fixed-gear world the whole BMX thing is sort of the "elephant in the room"--and quite an agile elephant it is too, for another reader recently forwarded me this impressive video:

Tim Knoll BMX from tim knoll on Vimeo.

Though I suppose somewhere, an olympic gymnast is muttering, "Get a pommel horse:"

Still, Tim Knoll does make doing tricks on a bike look easy--though not quite "Free and Easy." For that, you need to turn to Eric "Slohan" Clapton:

As many people know, Eric Clapton is a bicycle enthusiast (though, like most fixed-gear enthusiasts, he prefers collecting them to riding them) and yet another reader spotted this "lifestyle" magazine recently in Japan. Unfortunately, he did not send me a photo of the "Rugged Men's Outfit" also contained therein, though I suspect it looks something like this:

This fall is going to be all about the "Masked Night Rider"-chic.

Lastly, I have not forgotten about the First (And Last) Annual BSNYC/RTMS Cockpit of the Year Award, though I must confess that even now I am barely treading water in a vast sea of "Cockie." For example, here's a submission spotted in Stockholm that uses bar ends to great effect:

I call that the "Stockholm Syndrome."

Meanwhile, from Kentish Town, London (it's not Kent, it's only Kent-ish) comes this Hulk Hogan-piloted setup:

Notice the bar tape and plugs have been removed for maximum goring potential, which is often called "the Pamplona."

I was also fascinated by this more abstract submission. Says the sender:

I don't think this qualifies as a cockie submission, since it's more of an artist's conception, but I figured I would send it anyway. A mechanic at my LBS drew this up in front of a customer to make sure he had re-assembly directions correct. He turned the paper around to ask the customer if this is how they wanted it, and she looked at him oddly and nodded, confused. It took him a few minutes to figure out why he got the funny look.


Of course it qualifies. A "Cockie" contest that would disallow a submission wherein a person drew a phallus, showed it to a customer, and then asked, "Is this how you want it?" would be no kind of contest at all. Neither would one that didn't include a submission incorporating PVC and no fewer than three stems:

Very impressive indeed, though it would have been even better if the two auxiliary stems were adjustables.

81 comments:

samh said...

Vito made me do it.Vito made me do it.

Eclogite said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

first!

reuben said...

close

bobm said...

Snuffed

wishiwasmerkx said...

Top ten.

jj said...

hi

Anonymous said...

Top ten bitches!?

samh said...

No really, Vito made me do it... twice.

OBA said...

AIR BAG

le Correcteur said...

Missed top ten again! Top twenty!

Astroluc said...

shock and awe...

10,000 Aches said...

Just cannot get the final sprint timing down

OBA said...

HAIR BAGS

Anonymous said...

top20eel

wishiwasmerckx said...

Of all the ways I have feared that I might die, beheading by the untimely deployment of my stealth helmet scarf has never made the list until today.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Nice Samh!
otherwise no comment.

leroy said...

Every time I tried to post yesterday, my dog complained about high pitched kangaroo calls.

Don't know what that's about.

Best not to disturb him. He's working on an impression of Henry Kissenger doing a karaoke tribute to KC and the Sunshine Band.

(The part where he sings "I'm your boogie man, that's who I am, I'm here to do vhat-evah I can" is a hoot.)

Desert Rider said...

SAMH Leadout man

hillbilly said...

Marty on Ny1 this morning was ridiculous. "look, I'm on 5th ave, by Central Park, no bike lanes! So why experiment on us in Brooklyn?" I hate these morons for turning me into an "advocate."

wishiwasmerckx said...

I keep seeing that harem pants have apparently come back into style. Does M.C. Hammer get a royalty check every time someone in harem pants shows up in print or on tv?

mikeweb said...

"Unfortunately, no pedestrian wants to hear that they should look both ways before crossing the street, and no cyclist wants to hear that they should look out for pedestrians--even the stupid ones who don't look both ways before crossing the street."

Just simply, thank you.

This should be printed onto T-shirts, post haste.

Anonymous said...

"Somebody's inability to remember something or to swivel his or her thick head in more than one direction should not be a factor in city planning."

While true, there are actually more absurd things that are factored in to city planning.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

ringcycles said...

is that a Hovding in your pants pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Anonymous said...

The bikes are a hazard because we can't cross. We forget that there are bike lanes. We go to cross to get over to the other side and we say, 'Oh my God.' You have look both ways," said one Park Slope resident.

My God, woman. Just look at your feet, if your head isn't too far up your ass. The damn bike lanes are painted green. That SHOULD help you remember that they are there and that you need to pivot your noggin.

Matt said...

As silly as the airbag helmet looks, it doesn't seem to do much good in that crash. Wouldn't it have to completely envelop the face to help? And does it instantly deflate like auto airbags or stay inflated so you stagger around with this huge pillow inflated around your head, perhaps into traffic where you get killed? Maybe they should make airbag jerseys and bib shorts and ankle socks too, so in the event of a crash you look like Michelin Man.

Anyway, in a real crash like that most people's impact would be lessened by breaking both their wrists trying to break the fall before knocking out their teeth on the pavement.

Anonymous said...

"Is this how you want it?"????
PRICELESS

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting the impression from these "cockie" submissions that people don't really like, or get, drop bars.

hayduke said...

Speaking of Japanese style...nothing like a fixie with a banana seat, sissy bar, and a BMX cockpit.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_6gYt2lAfrk8/TL5lt8RgZoI/AAAAAAAAEBI/be47Ten2Hj8/nfkffnfk10-10-10%20339%E3%81%AE%E3%82%B3%E3%83%94%E3%83%BC.jpg

Anonymous said...

After the Cockies have been awarded, can we move to something else? Like alternative brake lever mounting points (ABLMP)? or the more subtle infusion (like saffron) of bettering ones own saddle(BOOS)? I really enjoy these things.

3G said...

FACE PLNT
CRU JNES

Critical Mess said...

what a bunch douche bags.

Anonymous said...

That BMX guy leaves me conflicted. On the one hand, he's better than I ever was. On the other, it sucks to see the lineage of Kevin Jones getting soiled by that of Robert Peterson's.

tuff wheel IIz!

Anonymous said...

pneumatic schmata

That was the name of my college rock band.

H

Anonymous said...

LO fucking L at Steve Guttenberg and his printin' press.

Anonymous said...

yeah the fixqueers like to ignore the fact that flatlanders have been doing tricks on bikes for 30 years. and they fucking kill it!

Anonymous said...

Surprised snobby didn't notice that the airbag helmet post-deployment turned the man into a woman. And a fine woman at that -- the after was much better..

Anonymous said...

Lemonde bars And three stems

Fop Charioteer said...

BIBE NDUM

Anonymous said...

So the mechanic didn't ask if she wanted an oversized stem? He could have showed her his if she didn't understand. Maybe she was are taking that new over-oversized Deda.

Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!!! said...

Shut down the cockie contest, we have a winner. The LBS receipt ought to be the outright winner. It is the very embodiment of the magical combination of cock and cycling, short of doing an endo resulting in one's crotch striking one's stem.

GOOD COCK

Anonymous said...

HULK MNIA

LAME CMMT

bikesgonewild said...

...an inflatable 'douche bag' for cyclist's that may someday save your life...

...i see mankind has not been wasting it's time...

Thomas said...

Sci-fi is coming true. From Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash: "At the same time, she jerks the manual release on her cervical collar and goes into full Michelin Man mode as tiny gas cartridges detonate in several strategic locations around her bod. The biggest one goes off like an M-80 at the nape of her neck, unfurling the coverall's collar into a cylindrical gasbag that shoots straight up and encases her entire head. Other airbags go off around her torso and her pelvis, paying lots of attention to that spinal column. Her joints are already protected by the armorgel. Which is not to say that it doesn't hurt when she lands. She can't see anything because of the airbag around her head, of course. But she feels herself bouncing at least ten times. She skids for a quarter of a mile and apparently caroms off several cars along the way; she can hear their tires squealing. Finally, she goes butt first through someone's windshield and ends up sprawled across their front seat; they veer into a Jersey barrier. The airbag deflates as soon as everything stops moving, and she claws it away from her face. Her ears are ringing or something. She can't hear anything. Maybe she busted her eardrums when the airbags went off."

Anonymous said...

Tim Knoll...now performing on the mainstage!

Anonymous said...

way off-topic, but was Stephenson in sixth grade when he wrote that crap?

frilly said...

Crud. Its gonna take more than a head butt today.

Nice receipt.

Anonymous said...

Steve Guttenberg the dude from the police movies invented the printing press?

cycle

Anonymous said...

HAMR TIME

mikeweb said...

Click here to complete a survey about the the PP west bike lane

Weimarpoo said...

That reverse drop bar set-up should put the pilot's nose right up Hulk's asshole. We need a view from the cockpit.

leroy said...

Mikeweb --

Thanks for the link!

BSNYC --

Leave Brooklyn? Really????? (What next, give up show business?)

Judi said...

RAD tim knoll vid.

Anonymous said...

snob are you going to portage to Portland? dunno if BSPDX has quite the same ring but its kinda catchy..

ant1 said...

hey Judi. nice seeing you around these parts of the interweb.

Anonymous said...

I was riding the bike lane down columbus between 96th street and 77th on my way to work this morning. On nearly every block the lane was blocked by a delivery truck or double parked car, which sort of defeats the purpose of a bike lane. Unfortunately the city does not appear to be as judicious at protecting the sanctity and safety of the bike lanes that it spent millions developing as it does at say handing out parking tickets. Hey Mike, WTF?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we do have a winner...

"Is this how you want it?"

I'm still chuckling to myself 30 minutes after reading.

CAMPIONE CYCLES CALGARY said...

Ahhhhh! The hand drawn cockpit proposal explains how you, snob, know what a foreskin looks like.

Anonymous said...

Tim Knoll was a gymnast many moons ago, so i'm sure the 'get a pommel horse' comment wouldn't phase him one bit.

jdlvtrn said...

Some horse people have been wearing inflatable vests for a while now. Why not the whole Michelin Man outfit for those who need a brain bucket for their open casket?

Buffalo Bill said...

Oh man, this might be the best snob post since the 2008 dream bike shoot-out. Oh wait, it's Wednesday...

RLOsbourne said...

Get a BMX bike already you fixter fags!

Anonymous said...

yo stevie!

thegock said...

GETA BMX!

urchin said...

Classic work, snob.

I would happily spend a day strolling through an art museum looking at the Cockie submissions. Compelling.

Have to give my vote to the receipt sketch, though. As a previous contest winner, does my vote count?

Prolly not.

NPJ

Anonymous said...

I love BMX. Here's another lil BMX edit for viewing pleasure. http://vimeo.com/15701010

Anonymous said...

doodche bahgs

Anonymous said...

On that last cockpit entry, the bar tape is worn on the drops because he's using the Scott Drop-In extensions as foot pegs.

Jim said...

Big ups to the Snow Crash reference - great book imo. Now that I'm into cycling again, I'm going to have to re-read Gibson's "Virtual Light"...Chevette Washington, spunky bike messenger FTW!!!

Anonymous said...

Helmet airbag scarf misfunction:

What happens when you sneeze?

Doug said...

Thanks for the SF references, guys. Could our masked night rider one day become virtual like the Idoru? And...I ask myself why anyone would bother to film bike tricks after watching Danny MacAskill's video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z19zFlPah-o

Anonymous said...

Schmata & accidental unwanted groinal contact in same graph = podium

Anonymous said...

The best part about that inflatable helmet demonstration is that in that scenario it wouldn't work at all. That guy's face would clearly be smashed and trying to tuck and roll would mean pulling your head out of the "helmet" and exposing your skull. It's so awesome because it's such a bad idea, so unrealistic and unworkable, and yet holy shit they rented fucking Volvo's testing grounds for a day to put it through the paces when if one was ever sold with the very first crash the helmet would only serve to perhaps contains most of the shattered face and skull bits in a cozy container.

Steve Barner said...

Eric's tires are flat.

Cosmopoof said...

those inflat airbags sucks.
Even if bike is more and more "fashion" it just can't start being ridiculous

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Fixie Bikes said...

That helmet is horrific. Imagine someone in sweats and a tanktop having one of those inflate on their heads.