Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crappy Bikes: The Gift That Keeps on Taking

This evening, I will be heading into the big city to Sid's Bikes on the western portion of the 19th Street in Manhattan. Usually when I visit a bike shop, it's to test ride dozens of crabon fribé bicycles for the better part of a busy Saturday afternoon without actually buying any of them. (Bike shops love this, especially when you demand a free water bottle afterward.) This time though, I'll be a judge-slash-commentator (or "judgentator") at the "Bicycling Magazine Bike Repair Challenge, Sponsored by Park Tool," which takes place tonight at 6:30:

I won't go so far as to say I was forced to into jury duty by the merciless staff at Bicycling, but I will say that I have no intention of writing "laterally stiff yet vertically compliant" 100 times again, which is their standard punishment for insubordination. Plus, it does promise to be entertaining, and if you're in the area I would implore you to attend, if only to take advantage of the free drinks and opportunity to heckle the nine contestants who one can only hope are comically inept when it comes to bike repair. By the way, I only just noticed that among the prizes is a "premium membership to local advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives," which is certainly nothing to sneeze at, on, or near. If you're the sort of person who likes to go on and on about what's wrong with our city's streets and how they're not "livable" enough for you, premium membership in TA is nothing less than your "license to kvetch." Combine that with a membership in your local food co-op or community garden and your smugness factor will go through the roof (and it will be a green roof, naturally).

Speaking of smugness, I will of course be arriving to the affair via chauffeur-driven Big Dummy (the chauffeur of course being me, since my helper monkey Vito is highly susceptible to road rage and is one more Access-a-Ride driver face-chewing incident away from landing on death row at the local animal shelter). Here is my Dig Dummy carrying a lengthy package which may or may not be a Festivus pole:

Either that, or it could be a leg lamp.

If you've been contemplating Big Dummy ownership I invite you to examine mine and even ride it, provided of course you leave me with a valid driver's licence, credit card, or cash deposit at my discretion, depending on how shifty you look. (Your "tarck" bike is not an acceptable deposit, for should you abscond with the Dummy my only recourse will be to sell it on Craigslist for pennies on the dollar.)

Speaking of commuting, I was forced by circumstance to ride the subway yesterday, which reminded me of how out of touch you can become when you do not ride it on a daily basis. Not only do you miss all the latest dermatologist ads, but you also don't stay abreast of all the latest handheld electronics. For example, until yesterday I thought playing games on your iPhone was cutting-edge subway entertainment, but now people are actually watching Devo videos on personal TVs:

Yes, that is in fact the video for "Whip It," and I happened to take the shot right at the moment when he whips the bra off the mannequin:

If you had told me back in 1980 when the "Whip It" video "dropped" that one day I'd be watching it over somebody's shoulder on the Q train I probably would have abandoned society right then and there and gone Amish.

Speaking of farm life, a reader recently forwarded me the following image of possible 2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck "whipping it good" with a sheep or a lamb or a calf or something (I don't know my lifestock and would have totally failed Amish school), via this blog:

There's no telling what Alberto Contador would have come up positive for had he eaten that particular piece of mutton.

Of course, with the holidays rolling around, you're probably already shopping for presents. As such, you might want to give the gift of a leg lamp, or a personal TV so your loved one doesn't have to go without Devo videos for 40 minutes, or even a farm animal, which I understand is the trendy gift of choice among the urban "Americana backwoods revival" set. Or, if you're a big company like Ikea, you might want to give all of your employees bikes:

I must admit I was impressed by this--until I saw the bicycle:

(Somewhere, a hipster with cognitive dissonance is saying, "At least it'll make a good polo bike.")

It's incredibly depressing to me that, in an attempt to encourage "a healthy lifestyle and everyday sustainable transport," Ikea chose the very embodiment of America's complete failure to understand the bicycle: the department store mountain bike. Sluggish and impractical on the street and virtually useless on the trails, bikes like this fail both as transportation and as recreation. Granted, this is the sort of bicycle you tend to see being ridden on the sidewalks in the sorts of areas in which most Ikeas are located, but that doesn't mean they need to promulgate that theme. It seems to me Ikea could have at least saved themselves the shipping costs and just given each of its employees a $60 Walmart gift card so they could buy their own crappy bikes, or else just encouraged them to ride to work on a Verksam swivel chair, which probably handles about as well as the Ikea bike while being twice as practical:

(Note fenders on casters and armrests for easy "portaging.")

Then again, it could be that Ikea's plan is to passively discourage their employees from riding to work--kind of like when you "accidentally" give someone the wrong number at a bar. I certainly wouldn't put that past the Brooklyn Ikea, which at one point opposed a bike lane in front of their store:

The bike lane since went in anyway, but at the time it was certainly confusing. Situated in Red Hook at the terminus of the Great Hipster Silk Route, you'd think encouraging more people to ride there would be what is colloquially called a "nobe rayner," inasmuch as they furnish the homes of roughly 90% of Brooklyn's "hipster" community. Apparently though, the guy who manages the store for the company that believes in "a healthy lifestyle and everyday sustainable transport" thought that riding bikes in front of that store was too dangerous:

“It seems dangerous to officially encourage bikes to the front of Ikea,” Baker told Community Board 6 on Thursday night.

It must be incredibly confusing to work at the Brooklyn Ikea, where one day your manager's saying it's too dangerous to ride a bike to work, and the next you're getting a crappy mountain bike for Christmas. It's also confusing to get emails from casual designer cycling clothing manufacturer Outlier, who inform me that among their winter offerings is a "six foot scarf:"


I really can't imagine many cycling garments less practical than a scarf that's longer than you (or at least me). I hope Outlier have a good legal team, because some unfortunate hipster's going to get this thing stuck in his Aerospoke and choke himself to death. Fixed-gear riding: if the "hill bombing" doesn't kill you, your wardrobe will.

Meanwhile, another reader spotted the following sign in Brooklyn recently, which indicates that Outlier's arch-nemesis in the race to create the world's most expensive cycling-themed pants, Rapha, may actually be "dropping" a "collabo" with Jehovah:


Apparently Rapha have transcended "epic" and are moving on to "apocalyptic." Clearly the "Rapha-ture" is upon us.

110 comments:

Anonymous said...

peace and love

Freddy Washington said...

Boom Boom!

thomas said...

oh well

Anonymous said...

podium?

Anonymous said...

bah

Nogocyclist said...

Top 100.

streepo said...

Yarr!!!

Anonymous said...

topteneel!

JahKnow said...

jahknow

samh said...

"laterally stiff yet vertically compliant"

Doctor Who said...

Six foot scarfs are the best!

Slappy said...

how about a smooth surf on the big dummy? you figured out how to look nonplussed standing on the deck while vito drives?

streepo said...

I went to grade school with a kid named Nobe Rayner.

PawnShop said...

Meh.

Anonymous said...

well i arrived with the peloton

Anonymous said...

drat, my scarf got caught in my crank

Anonymous said...

PODIUM!!!! ah wait. Fuck.

crosspalms said...

Whap it. Whap it good.

mikeweb said...

LOVE the Big ring Riding site.

In the defense of the Ikea dude half the length of Beard St. where the store is, is comprised of a cobbled portion that might even have John Tomac quaking in his SPD-soled shoes. Seriously, parts of it would turn the average 'deep-V' into a 'shallow underscore' or at least a 'waxing gibbous'. So putting a bike lane on that street in it's current condition doesn't make a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Devo, they are selling this lovely Hot Dog Fresh Cycling Jersey on their website

Anonymous said...

that Ikea bike is a piece to end all pieces. It's flat out apocalyptical.

mikeweb said...

Hmm, though on further review it seems to the booth official that the condition of the west part of the street didn't enter into the store mmanager's decision. Yep, he's a doosh.

resopmok said...

snob this isn't your first encounter with a really cheap bike.. whatever happened to that mongoose you so foolishly assembled? does it still roll, or has it been banished to garage purgatory?

Anonymous said...

That Ikea bike is made up of bizarre cuves...and what's up with the cut seat tube on a hardtail bike? It is the last thing I'd expect from a Scandinavian design company.

No, I'd expect something more like the Puma bike with a cable downtube (eliminate that frivolous tube). Or maybe just a single speed with a rear rack - clean lines and utility.

Anonymous said...

a six foot scarf would indeed make a nice accidental noose. Now I know what to get those hard to shop for people on my Lobmas list.

Such a good gift in fact that I have thought of a catchy celebrity endorsement:

It’s exactly “What you Need”
- Michael Hutchence

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Festivus Pole: Aluminum, Extruded Alloy 6063- T6 Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant.

g-roc said...

The Ikea bike is an abomination that would only appeal to their "co-workers" (or whatever name they give them) if they employ child labour. "Look at me, I'm on a bike that looks FS if you squint real hard"

At least the British Ikea workers got folding Raleighs last year.

xyxax said...

I find the weight penalty of steel-framed office chairs a real impediment to capturing vital Manhattan Bridge KOM points during the Cat 6 season. I get much better results with carbon fiber.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, snob, re. the scarf you missed the obligatory reference to Isadora Duncan.

Anonymous said...

"Screw EWE, Andy"
Love,
Bert

crosspalms said...

x,
that carbon fiber seat model shows impressive command of office attire

Anonymous said...

That bike looks like something a cabinet maker would put together after finding two 26's in with his pegs & screw baggie - and strangely heavy for something made by Ikea.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate some rubes don't recognize the "post-fixie" IKEA bikes' styling as an expansion on this:

http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/2006/june/Fixedrider.htm


Even a humble taxidermist, such as myself, can recognize the lineage.

Dan O said...

Are we not men? D-E-V-O.

xyxax said...

xpalms,

you would think for $25K...

ervgopwr said...

Why do corporations say one thing and then do another?

Or I guess for Ikea, they did one thing and said another.

I thought they were here to help us...?

Anonymous said...

Weird choice of bike - especially for a swedish company. they make the most practical bikes...

hillbilly said...

i think he just gave out bikes as a logical extension of all the allen keys they have on hand

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking there are more places to use a crescent wrench on that tank than places to stick an allen key.

Anonymous said...

IKEA BIKE

Baptismal Drowning said...

Typo alert: lifestock

i FEEL SO DIRTY ENGINE said...

I think as part of your judging, read the following from a review of the Look ZED and see who gets hot and bothered. Step back from those people.

"Look ZED Sold only as part of 596 Bike. What it does: The ZED provides massive stiffness thanks to a giant 65 mm bottom bracket design. The oversized, one-piece hollow carbon design is very light and - thanks to the unusual double hole design - compatible with standard or compact chainrings."

PORN - PURE PORN.

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

"Here I am in Tijuana
Eating barbecued iguana..."

Man, I love Devo.

Anonymous said...

Mexican Radio was Wall of Voodoo, not Devo, no?

Anonymous said...

"There's no telling what Alberto Contador would have come up positive for had he eaten that particular piece of mutton."


24 carat Snobby, 24 carat

Anonymous said...

Schleck isn't "pulling the wool" over anyones eyes.

Baaaaaaad

Test Tickle said...

HELLO WOOL

balls.

Anonymous said...

Just came across an interesting article at
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/12/08/joe-oconnor-lighten-up-you-left-wing-kooks/#ixzz17YJ7r0qq

Former hockey manager and current hockey commentator at the CBC has this to say about cyclists in Toronto:

'"I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything,” Cherry said.'

Just loverly....

Anonymous said...

Ikea bike more gates of aluminium than gates of steel. At least there's no "suspension".

What's a Dig Dummy?

Currently forced to ride a mountain bike 'cos the fixed and the snow don't get on. Hardly any cars about because UK + snow = disaster area.

hey nonny mouse

thegock said...

WALL VUDU

Anonymous said...

What kind of dumbfuck would pay $25,000 for an office chair made out of an old car seat? A drunk lottery winner?

g said...

I wonder how much more it costs with the white bikini seat warmer.

Drunk lottery winner said...

Make mine a double

Molson Hockey Night said...

Love Don Cherry.

Toodeloo

crosspalms said...

My grandmother used to say "toodeloo." She was great. No hockey skills that I know of.

Anonymous said...

How much you wanna bet that those Ikea bikes were delivered to employees with at least one part missing?

I guess they can be thankful they aren't made of particle board.

Cosmopoof said...

ikea fail

Anonymous said...

from yeasterday,

ayhsmb plate: cool as a p-plate can be.

bmw: douchetastic

combo: still douchey

in other words said...

AYHSMBMW

wishiwasmerckx said...

It is easy to mock the Ikea bike, but I fear that we have collectively failed basic economics.

There are 12,400 Ikea employees set to receive bikes. If we assume a per-unit cost of $60.00 on a bulk-order discount, Ikea spends $744,000.00, plus shipping and delivery.

If they went for the proper $8,000.00 carbon fiber Campy-equipped steed, they would be in this a cool $105,400.00, plus shipping and delivery.

As many a disappointed kid has learned the hard way on Christmas morning after receiving some hideous clothing in lieu of the cool toy he requested of Santa Claus, it is indeed the thought that counts.

Podium Princess #8 said...

From: Confessions of a TdF Podium Princess ...

"A few hours after the completion of the podium ceremonies we arrived at Alberto's suite of rooms at the Ritz. Albero made me get down on all fours and bleat like a ewe in heat. I can tell you that having been raised in the city it took me several minutes to master this sound effect.

I had no idea that Alberto was part Scottish! maaaaaaaahhhh! maaaaaaahhhh!!!!"

Guy (Gee) LaPuckk said...

I have it on good authority that Toronto is in line for an NHL franchise.

Anonymous said...

What is the average Bikesnob abandonment point? Wish I could see how many people make it over the finish line. Are the last three hundred words ever any good?

Test Tickle said...

anon 5:06 - a little late to the party aren't you? how many make it past the 5:06 troll abandonment point? from the looks of it most, except me. don't like, don't read.

balls.

stream of nothing said...

ikea crap

Bobby said...

Ah, IKEA. I can smell the pallets of Chinese melamine from here. Of course, it's tactfully named Plasticbork.

Smorgasplastik?

wishiwasmerckx said...

Oops...I meant a cool $105,400,000.00...

Anonymous said...

If you look up "Onion Ikea 10000 Lifestyles" using a popular search engine, you will find an amusing article satirizing this enterprise.

I had posted a real nice link with html and everything, but it seems to have ... disappeared! (Cue Twilight Zone music.)

PawnShop said...

I'm having trouble getting indignant over IKEA spending around a million bucks to provide a "cheap, unremarkable, and functional bicycle" to every U.S. employee. The worst that can happen is that scads of people actually use them to commute, and get confused trying to figure out which identical bike is theirs at the end of the day.

Checked Craigslist in NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, Philly, Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, etc. - and it seems that nobody is trying to unload the piece of shit that their employer insulted them with. Well, except for one place, where one wants to sell, one wants to buy, one wants to set them up for $25, and an organization is pimping for donations of unwanted IKEA bikes.

Maybe next year Bicycling magazine can rename the award, "Best City for Cycling Not Named Portland".

dpcowboy said...

re: IKEA bikes...for sure they came in boxes, which means that your LBS
now has lots of assembly fees to charge during a cold and usually slllooowwww business month! $25 sounds too good to be true...I think the going rate is about $50.

I am the not so lengthy package engine said...

Don't let the other kids make fun of your lengthy package - DAD

Anonymous said...

At the ikea store here in the midwest, the weight challenged are in majority. Don't bad mouth giving free bikes to those who have no health insurance.

crosspalms said...

pawnshop,
that's where the stickers in the Bike Snob book come in handy -- how many Snobbed Ikea bikes are there likely to be? Anyway, you're right, another 12K+ bikes in circulation is a good thing, ugly or not. Plus LBS action, as cowboy points out.

PawnShop said...

Very passable custom work can be done with a Sharpie marker guided by a twisted mind. Book Snob stickies work, too. The options just grow from there.

Anonymous said...

Eusocial insect 1st? How is that possible? Has Ant1 taken ill?

I've dreamt of this day, and now that it's arrived I just feel hollow and confused.

Anonymous said...

i've never commented on here before but being from iowa and this being bikesnob i feel like this is okay to do.

it's livestock not lifestock.

btw. really enjoy your blog. keep up the good work. here's a craigslist post for you. in des moines iowa of all places. i had to laugh when you said sell the fixie for "pennies on the dollar" and this guy's trying to get $850 for something that no one has any idea what bike it is or what the hell epona bikes is.

http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/2089918708.html

Anonymous said...

Bent frame tubing is degenerate, diagnostic of cultural dementia.

DE DUX DELETED said...

IKEA IS A COOKBOOK.....

nostinkin'brooklyn said...

why do farmers bang sheep by a cliff?

to get them to push back....

ridethewomble said...

Isn't that Isadora Duncan's scarf?

cyclotourist said...

I K E A

Crsbryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flash said...

The Ikea bike is actually making me a little queasy. Could they not at the very least have put a proper Swedish flag on the downtube? But no, they had to stick on some loose representation. Utterly lacking in taste and class. Like getting a bag of oregano for Xmas.

Crsbryan said...

There's already one on ebay, http://cgi.ebay.com/390270392951

Lanterne Rouge said...

Thanks to your column I was tempted to check out the Outlier website on which they feature pants with ""self-cleaning" NanoSphere®" technology. It does nothing for a guy's ego to wear pants that feature tiny balls.

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Anonymous said...

I am eating a big slice of humble pie today, which as we know is filled with mutton to provide adequate sheepishness content. When I'm done I will affix the empty pie plate to my Rohloff hub as a permanent reminder to never again let unfounded suspicion get the better of me. As a bonus I will never again have to worry about shifting my chain into my spokes. Yes, I have managed to kludge a cassette onto my IGH, which combined with a triple chainring and Schlumf cranks up front is an effective deterrent against gearing phobic hipsters, even when they are swarming after sundown.

Before I go, I think that we should all take just a moment to appreciate Bloggers spam filtering algorithms, quietly going about tidying up this comments section just so that we can continue to easily find the Chinese debt collection consultant details we all come here for. ce

Anonymous said...

http://www.feniture.com/antique-bike-furniture-from-recycled-bike-parts/

D. Hawerchuk said...

Top Century....
While we're linking other blogs, check this one:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/a-bicycle-lane-built-for-few/?hp

Joseph Berger is a dchbg. I wish the kids at Anonymous would attack him.

Comment #21
Ayh Smbls

Anonymous said...

I just got around to watching the hand model video. Eeewwwwwwwwwww! That's just creepy.

db said...

Jehovah!

Anonymous said...

I really like that department store bike you so wantonly disparaged. It has a simplicity and grace to it that belies its humble origins. Besides, there are no mountains near Ikeas hereabout, only curbs and potholes to negotiate. Plus, if it gets destroyed by a garbage truck or stolen, you won't even feel badly about that!

wishiwasmerckx said...

100th!

Stranded said...

Just looked on ebay. The Ikea bike is bid up to 202.50, with five days to go. I'm betting it will turn out to be like the Corvair, the car whose very crappiness turned it into a classic (and helped to make Ralph Nader (in-)famous)).

Anonymous said...

Apparently Jehovah-Rapha is a commonly used religious term:

"Meaning and Derivation: Jehovah is translated as 'The Existing One' or 'Lord.' The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning 'to be' or 'to exist.' It also suggests 'to become' or specifically 'to become known' - this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Rapha (râpâ') means 'to restore', 'to heal' or 'to make healthful' in Hebrew. When the two words are combined — Jehovah Rapha — it can be translated as 'Jehovah Who Heals.' (cf. Jer 30:17; Jer 3:22; Isa 30:26; Isa 61:1; Psa 103:3). Jehovah is the Great Physician who heals the physical and emotional needs of His people."

http://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm#link7

Tim Little said...

Bike shops tend to over charge for the basics like tuning and tightening a few bolts full suspension mountain bike with disc brakes can be purchased at a fraction of bike shop costs

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Fixie Bikes said...

I really like going to that Ikea regardless of bike lanes.

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