Monday, June 20, 2011

Simply Complicated: Give Me Inconvenience or Give Me Death

Despite the many scientific discoveries humankind has made over the centuries, certain aspects of life remain enshrouded in mystery. What is human consciousness? What is the universe made of? Is there life on other planets, and if so why does it seem so determined to probe us? We may never know.

The world of cycling also has its share of unsolved mysteries, and if you're high-end cycling clothing manufacturer Assos one of the most vexing is apparently the workings of the clipless road pedal. Some time ago I posted this ad:

In which the model's foot dangles flaccidly next to his pedal:

It's tempting to dismiss this sort of thing as an oversight. However, a reader recently forwarded me another Assos "Sponsor Yourself" ad from VeloNews:

In which the model does manage to place his feet upon the pedals:

Though he's using an entirely incompatible pair of cleats:

At this rate it could be years before the people at Assos not only discover a pedal/cleat combination that actually works together, but also figure out how to make the cleat thingy go into the pedal thingy. I'd imagine primitive man went through much the same process before he figured out how to make fire, and he probably rubbed all sorts of things together--mud, fish, rabbits--before he figured out which combination actually caused combustion.

Still, going through this lengthy trial-and-error process in public is not good for their image (not to mention expensive), and they'd probably be better off going with something like this in the meantime:

Say what you will about the time-traveling retro-Fred, but at least he's got his lace-up shoes planted firmly on his flat pedals. Clipless pedals would only hold him back, and the only cleat he needs is that little SPD-looking tuft of hair beneath his lower lip.

By the way, in case anybody from Assos is reading, the cleat the second model should be using looks like this:

The "genius" of the Speedplay pedal, besides offering more float than the Dead Sea, is that it tricks roadies into thinking they are buying a minimalist pedal when in fact they are bolting a piece of hardware to their shoes that looks like it belongs on an office swivel chair. Roadies have an uncanny ability to rationalize any excess so long as it's not actually on the bicycle. This is because, just as dogs like to sniff each each other's rear ends, Freds like to lift each other's bikes at coffee shops, and it's important that the bike feel as light as possible. This is also why so many Freds will spend thousands of dollars on crabon wheels, yet are content to carry midriffs that make them appear to be great with child. If the "coffee shop lift" were done with stomachs instead of bicycles then the high end component market would simply vanish overnight.

Speaking of upgrades, Shimano's electric shifting is now "trickling down" to Ultegra:

I'm very excited about this for two reasons. Firstly, I want to "curate" an appropriately ironic singlespeed for the next SSCXWC, and few singlespeed setups would be more ironic than an electric drivetrain with no battery. Sure, at over $700 the Di2 rear derailleur had great potential to be the world's most expensive chain tensioner, but now that it's available in an Ultegra version my dream singlespeed is that much closer to affordability.

Secondly, if electric shifting keeps trickling down all the way to the lower end bikes then all those people who ride in Central Park on the weekends will finally be able to not know how to shift their bikes electronically instead of mechanically. When electric shifting finally reaches the masses, it will be like buying your grandmother a "smartphone" to replace the ordinary cellphone that already confuses and frightens her. Plus, when everybody in the New York area has to charge their empty drivetrains the night before the Five Boro Bike Tour the strain on the power grid should cause a repeat of the Blackout of 2003.

Of course, it's just these sorts consumer excesses that result in "movements" like singlespeeding, and fixed-gear cycling, and minimalism, and artisanal everything. Unfortunately, most of these movements eventually become excessive themselves, and in their pursuit of simplicity they become absurdly complicated. Consider the following article, which was forwarded to me by a reader:


Apparently, some hipsters decided that dessert these days simply isn't artisanal enough, so they imported a bunch of cocoa on an old-timey ship:

Two years ago a pair of bearded brothers decided to try importing cocoa for their Williamsburg chocolate factory—which focuses on simple, ecologically friendly sweets—by sail. They hoped it would save energy, help lure environmentally conscious buyers, and, maybe eventually, cost less. Their ship finally came in from the Dominican Republic on Monday night.

Naturally, this was needlessly expensive and wildly inconvenient:

Mast Brothers' will turn its cocoa beans into chocolate over the next year. They'll sell it to big-name chefs like Thomas Keller and Dan Barber and in grocery stores like Dean & DeLuca. Mr. Mast estimates that the Black Seal's shipment of cocoa will end up costing 25% to 30% more than usual. But he hopes to repeat the trip again and expects costs to decline as the company make its shipping operation more efficient.

I have no doubt that wealthy people in New York will gladly pay a 30% premium for anything made from these beans. As the saying goes, "You are what you eat," and since wealthy New Yorkers are pretentious pains in the ass it stands to reason that they'd want this reflected in the manner in which their dessert was imported.

Of course, if the bearded hipster brothers wanted to save energy they simply could have had it shipped in the regular way and then gone and picked it up by cargo bicycle, but then I suppose they wouldn't have gotten to hang around in Red Hook talking about their schooner and pretending to be pirates.

Speaking of cargo bikes, it would appear that the SmugnessDex in New York City is currently at $600:

Xtracycle! I don't believe it either! - $600 (Battery Park)
Date: 2011-06-20, 7:48AM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

I hauled everything from two kids to $300.00 worth of groceries. I love this bike!! It's been my "truck" for 3 years. But alas, my kids now have their own bikes and we moved right next to a grocery store.
As much as I love this amazing bike it's time to share the joy with someone new.
Newly tuned up, 7 speeds, wheel and seat locking system (key included) front basket, water bottle holder.
Please see personal pix and gallery pix from the xtracycle website http://www.xtracyclegallery.com/2009_08_01_archive.html

As a proud smugness flotilla owner myself, needless to say I did the smug version of the "coffee shop lift" by checking out their hauling technique:


That is some "epic" paper towel portage.

81 comments:

I will not be deleted said...

Whoopdee doooo

Sam said...

uh...

Eric Mellow said...

Bringing home the win!

Anonymous said...

Leipheimer!

Farq said...

Levi rocks

Eric Mellow said...

Damn. I'll take the podium though. My training hasn't been going well this year.

Anonymous said...

First to read the article!

Farq said...

What r the chances of two Levi comments posted by two different folks at the same time? Check out gaz545 YouTube channel for London cycle commuting.

Bad Lawyer said...

Give me my lollipop!

Anonymous said...

Ladies!!!!!!!!
10

ant1 said...

ant1st!

hillbilly said...

boy howdy. I don't really think Speedplay is significantly better or worse than their competitors in that though. I love clipless and could never go back, but they are all somewhat goofy in that way.

Anonymous said...

odd

Anonymous said...

Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil...!

leroy said...

My dog requests more naked Beagle pictures.

But I can never tell when he's just kidding.

mikeweb said...

I'm always suspicious of people who need paper towels in mass quantities.

farq said...

wow low census in the comment section. must be anon 147 has started a successful revolt against snobby. btw that june 28, 2010 article u linked to ranks in the top ten of philosophical pondering i have ever witnessed. Though the new Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris is equally as good.

Etherhuffer said...

Mere paper towels, or....ACTION WIPES?

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

Secondly, if electric shifting keeps trickling down all the way to the lower end bikes then all those people who ride in Central Park on the weekends will finally be able to not know how to shift their bikes electronically instead of mechanically.

Pure snobby gold. BTW - having your own blog means writing what YOU want to write. If people want to hate lance, they can watch 60 Minutes or start their own blog which no one will read.

cycle

Anonymous said...

... and 21st place for the Breakaway Artist!
Oh well...

Stiveau said...

Another tour de force, Snob, on so many levels. Is it my imagination, or are the same people importing crap on pirate ships one day raving about "fresh and local" stuff the other? Let them eat hershey's!

Stiveau said...

Hey Hillbilly and Snob, I have massive float Speedplays. I need them because my f-d up knees would give out otherwise. I could not ride without them. They have extended my cycling life by decades. They rock. And they help me podium at coffee shop lifts!

Anonymous said...

I palp the speedplays myself and have always seen them as cleats on my bike with the pedals bolted to my shoes. But, I love them b/c I needed more float for my knees.

What I don't understand is why speedplay has a model that allows you to adjust the float to zero. Um, if you don't want float, why do you want these pedals?

Marcel Da Chump said...

Still retro-grouching with Campy shifters and Simplex derailleur.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Mikeweb, spoken like a true Shamwow aficianado.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Egads, I hope that today's comment section does not devolve into a Speedplay/Look/SPD throwdown.

crosspalms said...

I'm with retro-Fred. Flat pedals. In city traffic when my panniers are fully loaded with cocoa beans (or mud, fish and rabbits), I want to be able to get my feet on the ground fast.

Anonymous said...

We just get by however we can
We all gotta duck
When the shit hits the fan

crosspalms said...

And here's a little something for Leroy's dog.

Anonymous said...

How I laughed.....at the Assos stuff, mostly. I have flat pedals and DMs.

hey nonny mouse

leroy said...

Crosspalms--

My dog says he loves a good Charles Darwin reference and laughed his Assos off.

I don't know what he's talking about sometimes.

I love a good fight engine said...

"Egads, I hope that today's comment section does not devolve into a Speedplay/Look/SPD throwdown."

I think we should begin the clincher versus sew-up beat-down instead.

mikeweb said...

I've been on Looks with 0 float since Bush the Elder was the supreme leader of Canada's ketchup stained clip-on tie. I tried the float cleats when they came out but didn't like the feel.

I want my cleats like I want my handlebar mounted machine guns: locked and loaded.

I'm sure I'll need to research ultra lightweight knee replacements in 20 years or so.

Doug said...

"Sponsor yourself" is perfect for Assos since their gear is so expensive you need a sponsor to buy it. Either that or be willing to throw enormous $$$ at your bike hobby.

xyxax said...

Paper towels?

I thought it was toilet paper for giant assholes.

bikesgonewild said...

...whoa !!!...crosspalms & leroy, together 'for the win'...

...major woofs...

ervgopwr said...

@IWNBD

Glad to see you kept the kid alive. I didn't get a chance to see you before the mass outcry of child abuse. I don't think it's that bad, but is definitly pretty funny.

Carry on.

crosspalms said...

Years ago I bought a pair of Assos gloves. Which means, of course, that I can find my Assos with both hands.

My parents would be so proud.

Anonymous said...

"This is also why so many Freds will spend thousands of dollars on crabon wheels, yet are content to carry midriffs that make them appear to be great with child."

You're on fire snob, burn it up.

Marcel Da Chump said...

I flash my Assos when I ride off the saddle.

Anonymous said...

The thing about Assos that always me isn't the lack of proper cleating,but that their models are so obviously models.

Nashbar and performance fer instance, have models that while nerdy, look like they can can ride a bike and might be rather quick.

Assos gets the models with really skinny legs. The girls hot aside from her skinny gams. The guy looks like one of those old's gym douches that can't pedal up a hill to save their lives.

Anonymous said...

@farq

Do you mean anon 1:37 about the kid's photo?
That was me, although you'd have to take my word for it. I kinda wish I'd started a profile for this site, because I've been posting since the beginning.
Anyway, I thanked him for reconsidering.

Yours-
anon 1:37

Anonymous said...

"If the 'coffee shop lift' were done with stomachs instead of bicycles then the high end component market would simply vanish overnight."

Although losing the excess avoirdupois (whatever the hell that is) is not always easy... I say "chapeau, Mr. Snob, you nailed it."

RMC said...

Five pound blocks of cheese.
Bags of groceries.

Heather Shearer said...

'You are what you eat...' LOL!

Anonymous said...

Cunego in the ITT.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

In the rare instance that I feel the need to clip in it's egg beaters for this old fred. Greatest pedal ever. Yep even on a titanium road bike. And I don't shave my legs either.

mvoisine said...

Yes that is alot of money for chocolate...but have you ever had Mast Brothers chocolate. It isworth the $9 a bar. And I am a cheapskate.

Anonymous said...

Mast Brothers' website uses the word "craft" 12 times in one small page. That is a load of craft...

grog said...

Missed Recumbabe today. Perhaps she was below deck with Cocoa.

Stupid Name said...

"Assos gets the models with really skinny legs. The girls hot aside from her skinny gams. The guy looks like one of those old's gym douches that can't pedal up a hill to save their lives."

Are you saying that is not Assos customer base. I suspect you are wrong.

Marcel Da Chump said...

You know you're riding in serious company when you see a lot of Assos on the road.

cornhole said...

aw fuck

Steve said...

From these pics of electronic Ultegra, it appears that Shimano can legitimately claim to have revolutionized the bicycle with this newest iteration of electronic shifting. They have altogether eliminated a heavy and high-maintenance portion of any drivetrain: the chain. I suppose with out a chain, it probably can't be called a "drivetrain." Nevertheless, it's definitely lighter.
http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/photos/shimano-ultegra-di2-first-look/178734

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

I just caught my pet Shi Tzue humping a roll of Husky paper towels (the quicker picker upper). I'd hit it.

Anonymous said...

I like my chocolate like I like my women...dark and creamy

Anonymous said...

I never had a bad piece of chocolate.

Anonymous said...

ASSW HOLE

LOTA ASSO

Fred said...

Ass-o's are the worst breakfast cereal ever. I'm going back to my home-made, Gu-based granola.

Nebraska bike commuter (non-DWI edition) said...

Everyone's distracted enough by the dangling foot in the first photo that no one has yet noticed the major cross-chain... 'till now.

luciferyellow said...

Buzzbomb from Pasadena!

yogisurf said...

Ha..sail boats, Mast brothers...bilge rats and cabin boys.

TTTSWRFFTPT-Quincy Chapter said...

Grant Petersen convinced me to chuck my clipless and go for platform. Oh, I almost forgot. FUCK 1:47.

JDH said...

"I sing the body electric" Di2, you have fixed my gear,and tensioned my chain.

bikesgonewild said...

...@fred..."Ass-o's are the worst breakfast cereal ever."...

...i kinda like the little farty noises when you pour on the milk...sorta like 'snap, crackle, pop !!!' but different...

Anonymous said...

Panties!

Cameron said...

Would any self-respecting smuggy even think about buying a preowned extracycle with a documented history of hauling petrolium derived shopping bags and gross quantities of paper towels? And you KNOW those groceries not purchased from Whole Foods or even Trader Joes!

3G said...

Coffee Shop Lift!!! Excellent. Kinda like those people you see in the ski shops that grab a pair of skis and flex them for no reason.

Regardless, love the phrase. CLASSIC!!!

Chazu said...

I grew weary of the constant fine-tuning required of the Speedplay cleats, even with Loctite blue.

So I'm palping Time ATACs on my ti road bike with the Belgian name on the downtube. (some small operation in TN 'crafted' the frame for Eddie; I'd lynskey to them but I forgot how)

Combine all that with the fact that my components are Shimano, my shoes are Mega Dominators, and my legs are Hella Hairy; and you can imagine what the blokes who "sponsor themselves" think of me out on the road. Who cares ?!

Yoda{of Portlandia} said...

Ahhhh. Now if Mast Bros. could curate artisanal bacon. The one thing truly better than chocolat'.

Anonymous said...

"I grew weary of the constant fine-tuning required of the Speedplay cleats, even with Loctite blue. "

No idea what you're on about there.. I've ridden the past 12 years and many thousands of miles on speedplays and no "fine tuning" of the cleats necessary. you just don't want to step in any dirt, that sucks.

Marcel Da Chump said...

The rallying cry of the Assos self-sponsored cycling team:
Let's haul Assos!
Let's haul Assos!
Let's haul Assos!

ce said...

Yeah, I really hope the contents of that Xtracycle were hastily acquired to support a wildlife cleaning crew at a major oil spill.

ce said...

edit glasses

Jonah Gibson said...

I wonder if the Mast Brothers schooner delivery included cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, source of most of the worlds chocolate, much of which is picked by child slave labor. Seems like slavery would undermine 'green' and perhaps even pull the rug out from under the smugness. Just sayin'.

PortLoren said...

Great post!! I'm not good with the words like you, but I LOL'd many many times.

Anonymous said...

"avoirdupois (whatever the hell that is)"

A distinction from Troy weight, I believe.

hey nonny mouse

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Anonymous said...

I dunno, sponsor yourself doesn't seem like such a terrible idea to me.

Fixie Bikes said...

Sponsoring yourself is alright, maybe you could put your own decals there and look cool and such.