Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Aristocrats: Stay Classy

In these crazy, wild, topsy-turvy times of wars, conflicts, battles, and excessive synonym usage, it can be important to have something that gives you a sense of security. This can be something as complex as a belief system, as simple as a talisman. This is why I worship a Lobster deity whose glowing Pincers of Justice light my way like Glo Stix in the horrific rave that is life in the modern world. I also cling to talismans, which is why I recently commissioned a large diamond-encrusted medallion of the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork:

Just as it is reassuring to look to the heavens and find a familiar constellation, or to open the refrigerator and find that same jar of relish that was there when you moved in, it is incredibly grounding to know that this flavor saver-sporting über-dork will always be among us. It's also tremendously soothing to know that he has a brother who rides mountain bikes, as you can see in this "vintage" ad from "Spy" magazine that was forwarded to me by a reader:

Now that I think about it though, it's equally possible that his brother is also a time traveler but that he's since been lost in time, trapped in some pan-dimensional netherworld, in which case this is all very troubling. Either way, maybe I will have him incorporated into the medallion--it should be no trouble for the artisanal jewelry curator I frequent down at Fulton Mall, since he did an impeccable job with my "Heroes of the Spring Classics" gold fronts.

Speaking of cycling legends, the Lennard Zinn Bicycle Technical Advice-Dispensing Robot has published an interesting article about Lance Armstrong's various contributions to the equipment aspect of the sport (of cycling, naturally--his tennis racket designs sucked):

However, even Watson the "Jeopardy"-playing computer made the occasional mistake, and likewise the Zinn-bot did make one glaring error:

The fact that Armstrong’s equipment was displayed on a huge world stage for a month in July, seven years in a row, gave it a more lasting effect. Also, the Olympic equipment programs tended to be aimed primarily at track racing (especially once the team time trial was eliminated from the Games) and the masses do not buy track bikes.

If the masses don't buy track bikes then I don't know how to account for all those Bianchi Pista sales, or all the Nü-Freds who are constantly shoaling me and salmoning at me at every turn. Then again, maybe I'm living in "The Truman Show," and it's just the same Nü-Fred over and over, and all he's doing is changing his designer bag. This notion is incredibly frightening to me, and I only wish my retro-Fred medallion were finished so I could rub it desperately and sob as I pray to the Lobster for mercy.

In fact, sometimes I find myself wishing that I actually had the power to time travel, perhaps by means of some kind of flux capacitor-assisted "bake feets." And if I could travel through time, I know exactly where I'd go: mid-1960s England, more commonly known as the Golden Age of the Aristocrat Bike:


This video was forwarded to me by Paul in London, and not only is it top-shelf vintage folding bike porn, but the pastoral vision of cycling it affords us makes a tweed ride in Portland look about as genteel as a cockfight in Tijuana. I mean, what could be more romantic than taking a folding bicycle on a boat date?

We know they're real aristocrats too, because the young gentleman averts his eyes as his date leaves the boat instead of taking advantage of the nascent short skirt trend and stealing a glimpse of her "lady place:"

Then again, she does ride away from him, so maybe he did do something impertinent, like ask her opinion of his dickie.

Similarly well-behaved are these young newlyweds:

If each manages not to break a hip while mounting the Aristocrat Bike, then they should be in for quite a rollicking honeymoon. Maybe they'll even let the tea steep for just a few more minutes so that the thrillingly illicit caffeine jolt will add some excitement to their evening of abstinence.

As Paul also points out, the video even features a Le Mans start:

See, back in those days, while the good aristocrats played polo, the bad ones engaged in outlaw bicycle-themed lawn games known as "crumpetcats."

Next, the narrator makes a very bold prediction:

"In 10 years' time, the cycling experts say, today's cross-bar models will be museum pieces like those old pennyfarthings before them."

Of course, as we all know now, he turned out to be right about the demise of the "cross-bar"--though not quite in the way that he imagined. While the folding bike is certainly widely used today, it's far from the norm, and indeed most cyclists these days prefer something like this, as forwarded to me by a reader:

Top tubes are for retrogrouches--everybody knows that crabon diving boards are far more practical.

Nevertheless, as the narrator also points out, back then the Aristocrat Bike was also poised to become "the big businessman's time-saving friend," and here's one removing an Aristocrat Bike from the trunk (or, as I believe they say in Britain, the "butt") of his car:

You'd think an aristocrat would have some sort of apron-clad Jeeves to extricate his Aristocrat Bike from the butt of his car (ideally he's wear latex gloves while doing so) and unfurl it for him. Then again, I suppose as a businessman he is engaged in business, and thus "works," which is not the sort of distasteful behavior in which an aristocrat would engage. I guess he must be one of those tacky nouveau riche types. Still, I guess handling your own bike is more aristocratic than, say, this:

Anyway, if the Aristocrat Bike isn't truly aristocratic yet, it soon will be, for as the narrator explains, it's quite the social climber:

"The makers believe they are unfolding the story of the push bike that is going up in the social world."

I'm not so sure about that. Really, it's almost impossible to teach these nouveau riche types anything about taste. Just look at his garish yacht!

He's even got some scantily-clad 1960s "ho" waiting for him on deck:

They are so totally going to have a mid-1960s nouveau riche yacht party. In fact, what they're doing in the Aristocrat Bike video is exactly the equivalent of this:

Though something tells me those guys didn't bother hire a bicycle valet:

Speaking of how it was "back in the day," a few posts back a commenter mentioned the following article about some guy with an old-timey car:

In it, the car's owner proves that he's obviously been spending a lot of time reading people rationalize brakelessness on fixed-gear websites and forums:

Because the Model A’s brakes need a longer distance to stop the car, the trick, he said, is to avoid tailgating. “The car is actually safer because it forces you to be more aware of conditions, of what’s going on around you,” Mr. Klinger said.

Not only is it a Zen thing, but it's also a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang thing. I'd like to see him pull an Aristocrat Bike out of that Model A's butt--now that would be a trick. I'd also like to travel forward in time and see if in 40 years the YikeBike video seems as quaint and charming as the Aristocrat Bike newsreel did:

My best guess is that it won't. Like styrofoam, true idiocy does not degrade over time.

Lastly, yet another reader informs me that disembodied hands are not just for presenting bikes, and that they're also used to great effect in dog shows:

In particular, the hand on the left is doing a wonderful job of moving the tail out of the way and providing a clean line of sight--in fact, as I understand it, this dog's testicles actually won Best in Show.


Anonymous said...

not first

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

poh-dee-yum! Hah!

Me said...

djamalidine got the lucky?

Anonymous said...

vintage MTB dork!

Nogocyclist said...

First on a folder.

Marcel Da Chump said...


Kenny Banya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Paul Bowen said...

Top twennee!

Kenny Banya said...

"...the pastoral vision of cycling it affords us makes a tweed ride in Portland look about as genteel as a cockfight in Tijuana."

Gold Snobby, GOLD!

Kenny Banya said...

"I park where I damn well Yike"?

That's the worst Snobby, THE WORST!

Surly Bastard said...

Dog, top twenty.

Anonymous said...

"... thrillingly elicit caffeine jolt ... "?? 'Elicit'? Are you sure, Snobbers?

Bob Saget said...

"So a family go into a talent agent's office. It's a father, mother, and four kids. The father says to the talent agent, "We have a really amazing act. You should represent us."

crosspalms said...

I was sorry there were no sightings of the naked recumbambina today. I believe she's riding a vintage Berlusconi.

Johann Rissik said...

The dog's bollocks, Snobby, the bloody dog's bollocks indeed!
@anonymous 12.45-
Yes , "elicit", it's what the caffeine gets out of you, or what gets out of you as a result of the caffeine jolt.

Jay said...

I had an uncle -- well, he wasn't really an uncle but one of my mom's special sleep-over friends -- who introduced me at a young age to something he called "the big businessman's time-saving friend," and brother, it wasn't a folding bicycle.

wishiwasmerckx said...

My eyes were not drawn to the awkward softride beam. They were not drawn to the inelegant welds. They were not drawn to the BMX pedals or the bizarre stem.

Instead, my eyes were instantly drawn to the colorful "Marbles" coffee cup holding the whole rig erect.

Does anybody know where I can get one like it?

ringcycles said...

"Like styrofoam, true idiocy does not degrade over time."

Yes, it is good that somethings in society are eternal.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Yep, I knew it would come to this. A couple commentors could not leave well enough alone concerning the recumbent lady even if she is a little Yoko Ono-ish. Now look what we have to see for the next two weeks.

Anonymous said...

Disembodied Smarties on the Softtail

Chris said...

Just imagine the GoPro footage that recumbent tricyclist captured during that world naked bike ride!

I don't think Larry King will be up to the job...

Anonymous said...

i was heartened to see the bonny young lass escape on her folding bicycle contraption, post-haste, from that dreary chap in the boat.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

in this video there is a great deal of portaging bikes on boats. no need for a rack, even. boats are the new porteur.

Twistyface said...

Buying a Yikebike appears to be the cycling equivalent of wearing a t-shirt saying 'Please Hot Karl Me!'

Anonymous said...

just think, if you could pedal the yikebike like a pfar, they could market it as a hybrid. then it would be totally worth $3600.

Kenny Chesney Tickets said...

Hey Snobby, I am really hoping you will share your thoughts about the "ElliptiGo" sometime soon:

Astroluc (Find me on Tumblr and Instagram @Astroluc) said...

screw the COTFSM... it's Lob time!

Lob be with you
"and also with you"

Chazu said...

Recumbent Lady?

I was concerned that someone would mention facials as an acceptable way to end a first date. Again.

Anonymous said...

Uh, hey SNOB, you do realize that is the dog's penis, not his testicles, right? This might explain a few things about you anyway.

Anonymous said...

@ Johann Rissik @ 12:52,

At least BSNYC took my point; I'll simply refer you to his emendation of his text.

CommieCanuck said...

Uh, hey SNOB, you do realize that is the dog's penis, not his testicles, right? This might explain a few things about you anyway.

I don't think the view you see from behind is of the penis. Good luck at that weekend veterinary degree at the Learning Annex.

Matt Boulanger said...

Nothing like a little U2 when I'm out busting wheelies on my ATB, man.

ENB said...

Be careful wearing your new medallion, especially in NYC, home of most stock photography houses, probably including the one that owns the rights to your favored "T-T-T-s-W-r-F-t-p-t-D" image. There is legal precedent for copying a copyrighted image, even for parody! Stay classy and out of the courthouse...

Anonymous said...

rick ross and his boys sure know how to roll - matching turquoise shirts and gold medallions, some 1800 and plenty of fine hos. arisocratin' big style.

Wrench Monkey said...

Is it possible that the time traveling retro-Fred is in fact Lennard "Nimoy" Zinn?

streepo said...

You have lost me as a reader!!! The photo of the naked recumbentist made me stab my eyes out.

If you are wondering, I am a touch typist.

Are you sure women don't like semen on their faces at the end of the first date?

Anonymous said...

Steve Tilford understands cadence and appreciates the way tall women walk.

PawnShop said...

It isn't really a yacht party until one of the strippers catches on fire.

g-roc said...

wishiwasmerckx - That's a Smarties mug. Smarties are like M&Ms except you'll probably have to head up to America's carcake to find them and the mug.

Slam said...

I am absoloutely clenbuterolled and folded.

g-roc said...

A few days late, but directions are available from "USA" to "Japan" including kayaking across the Pacific, so I'm sure the Brooklyn to Baffin Island route is in the works. I mean, didn't they invent the freakin' kayak up there?

Anonymous said...

Snob, I like your "musing on universal themes" approach. Also, I appreciate that your humor works on many levels. Thank you for writing.

Anonymous said...

Really, testing positive for clenbuterol is the best thing that can happen in the world. It will make it a better place. Maybe solve world peace!

Anonymous said...

"Like styrofoam, true idiocy does not degrade over time."

The nail has been hit, Snobber. Bravo my friend, bravo.

grog said...

All fear the desembodied glowing pincer of justice especially as it relates to your dogs man place.

Dunkin Douche'Bags said...

As CEO of Dunkin Douche'Bags I proudly announce the introduction of the 'Coolatta Karl'.

Initial release is scheduled to begin on May 15, 2011.

Like a cool breeze with the merest hint of self satisfied smugness and the exhilarating sensual rush that the aroma of chilled human fecal matter and the realization that you are in severe pain brings Coolatta Karl will rule the summer of 2011!

Ric said...

How many retro-Fred medallions can you wear?

Next time, try five of them!

Jasper from Pangbourne said...

I'm just gutted that the Pathe footage stopped just when the convertible E-Type rolled into view.
Maybe one of the more creative commentators could mash up the Le Mans-style start with some Upper Class Twit of the Year footage - it would be hard to see the join.
Still, as my grandmother was scornfully reminded by here sister-in-law when she said hello to the man who ran the neighbouring garage "My dear, one doesn't address trade".

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

It could be possible that is not the brother of, but actually is the TTTSWRFFTPT back in his younger wilder days when he rocked the mtb. Whatever the case I'm sure it's Pearl Jam playing on that gigantic Phillips console.

A Boy Named Lob said...

My daddy left home when I was in planktonic phase
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old clawtar and an empty bottle of cod liver oil.
Now, I don't blame him cause he quit his job
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me "Lob."

Anonymous said...

A very sleek hour recordish wheel chair

Nebraska bike commuter (non d.w.i. edition) ) said...

Diving board? I thought it was a moose tongue.

Marcel Da Chump said...

' a chitty chitty bang bang thing'sounds like a Lady Gaga song. Nude Gaga recumbent?

Test Tickle said...



Anonymous said...


g said...

When I asked to have the Yoko 'bento removed from the site, maybe I should have just asked to have her Larry Kinged. I never knew that it could have been worse. And so very, very wrong....

ce said...

I don't know much about bikes, but I do have a g-clamp, staple gun and oven mitt in my tool box so maybe there is hope.

Every day I upload data measuring a huge variety of general life performance parameters from my Garmin Self Computer for my Life Coach to analyse. Looking back over reams of graphs I can confirm that the period spent watching the "I don't know much about bikes" video yesterday was the funniest 4 minutes and 37 seconds I have ever experienced. Snob's work wins out over slightly longer durations.

Oddly the graphs show that in terms of Perceived Tightness Snob's posts were a bit below average these last two days, though the "gentrified part of Iqaluit" was a notable spike. The good news is that Perceived Crispness was topping out for the whole week and a half prior to that.

ce said...

Yoko Bento! Good one G. Perceived Sharpness spike just registered.

ce said...

Hey, you'd know a thing or two about g-clamps too I'll bet. I'm thinking you might work in a bike shop, eh?

PK said...
Check it out snob, a true minimalists approach to bike storage.

Bill Smith said...

Right! I definitely need to try cycling while smoking a pipe. I wonder if they gave him the pipe when he became an aristocrat. Or maybe he was smoking the ancestral pipe.

LK said...

All hail Fred Conrad!

Flash said...

I would ride with the Tri-dork as you call him. He seems cool. He seems serene. He rides a cool retro rig. He doesn't judge others as you do.
Get a helmet mirror snob.

Kent Johnson said...

"or to open the refrigerator and find that same jar of relish that was there when you moved in.."

Snobby if you live with a woman who understands this you are indeed a very lucky man!

BTW I have never seen my friend Brian riding his recumbent & now I think I have a little too much info! Hello from Sydney.

Anonymous said...


leroy said...

My dog says he doesn't need both testicles to be best in show.

He says Lance proved that.

I pointed out that Lance probably doesn't lick himself in public either, but my dog says that proves nothing.

There's just no reasoning with him.

Wang Chung said...


It's OK, nobody will notice in NYC, the image is from Canada (America's muffin-top)

MrIndieDay said...


Obligatory blog post:

Portlandpeopleeater said...

So when do we see the disembodied hand view of the soft ride beams' balls?

Andrew Haydon said...

"Just look at his garish yacht!"

Funny kind of snob who can't recognise a barge when he/she sees one...

Anonymous said...

I made a little montage of archive footage with bikes from old times:

ce said...

I was just having another look at Snob's photographic example of sub-aristocracy (though not so lowly as bar serving "baristocracy"), because it is a deep and layered image and I am finding its interpretation to be an ongoing journey... or to put it another way, it is a train wreak and I can't help but stare. While caught up in this morbid curiosity the comment about "Yoko Bento" just kept coming back to me, until suddenly I was struck... John Lennon isn't dead!! His death was faked and he now gets around in the nuddy on a recumbent with his love Yoko, reliving their public nudity of "back in the day". Annie Leibovitz might have even been invited back in secret for this particular shot of Lennon, who now goes by some cryptically nondescript alias such as "John Benton" or "John Lent-on".

Anyway, since this revelation I have had a little time to calm down and think rationally, and I will admit that I am probably getting carried away. The Sun Lounge Captain is probably just some old hippy listening to this on the iPod hiding behind his hair.

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Marcel Da Chump said...

Wow! Groovy, man. Thanks, CE. Haven't heard that song since first or second grade. '70, '71 or there abouts. And I never knew who the singer was until now. Keep on keepin' on.

gsport george said...

You do realise that the Aristocrat bike was a response to the Moulton which was putting a serious dent in big wheel bicycle sales?
Which WAS/IS a good bike, and MIGHT have spelt the end for traditional looking safety bikes if the UCI hadnt gone and banned it as it was starting to break records and win races...

Anonymous said...

Panties! Especially for naked recumbent guy)

Pontius Pilate said...


Too many turds up top there for my liking...far too many turds.


John said...

I can't believe that neither Bike Snob nor his esteemed commentators mentioned The Aristocrats!


Unknown said...

OK, I am as pumped as anyone to hear that Alexi Grewal is planning a comeback into the pro ranks, but you gotta love this;

yewenyi said...

Kent, your sexism and bigotry are sad and are unfortunate. I'll have to discuss this with you next time we meet.

And for the rest of you. John Lennon rocks and I am proud of the comparison, and I ask, does this describe you?

Day after day,
Alone on a hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning 'round.

Maybe one day, the ones of you who need to, will grow up. May we live in hope.

ce said...

Yewengi, I am somewhat surprised to learn that the photo is not of "John Lent-on" and I am very surprised to learn that in this big world the Sun Lounge Captain is a fellow New South Walien. Don't we have laws in this State against that kind of lowly behaviour?... by which I mean recumbent riding.

I don't know if you are a regular reader or not, but just to clarify, many consider it a privilege to be featured in BikeSnobNYC.

Not me though.

If it is any consolation, I actually disagree with Snob. I think that nude benting is exactly the kind of zany behaviour that pointless, novelty seeking aristocrats will eventually turn to.

As an aside, back when I lived in Melbourne I visited Ian Sims's Greenspeed production in his backyard shed with a friend who was building a trike for a Year 12 project. I've since cut all ties with that crowd.

db said...

Our judges for today's competition are...

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Anonymous said...

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very nice

free stock photo

Fixie Bikes said...

She looks like that girl from crystal castles.

Anonymous said...

Boot, not butt!

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