Monday, September 26, 2011

Calling for Backup: Raising the Bar

There's much in my life for for which I am thankful for, not least of whom is my impeckable grammor and spealing ability. (Seriously, you can't peck it.) There's also my hundreds of dollars, my 17 children, my luxurious apartment-shaped home complete with separate kitchen and bathroom (most people in New York are forced to prepare their meals and "make" in the same room)--and, most recently, this, which I picked up this past weekend and around which I'm still trying to wrap my feeble mind:

(Engin builds nice bikes so you don't have to.)

I'm tempted take this bike and live out the rest of my days in the woods as a mountain bicycle cycling minimalist, except I have the outdoor survival skills of a Fabergé egg and would likely perish within a New York fortnight. (One (1) New York fortnight = three hundred (300) New York minutes, or roughly nineteen (19) Portland seconds.)

Still, as fortunate as I know I am, I can't help but get angry when "society" keeps stealing all that I hold sacred and then trying to sell it back to me. You know how it is--just when you find a lifestyle that you think makes you special, someone comes along and commercializes it, and next thing you know you look like everybody else at the mall. Honestly, they do it with everything, and since starting this blog I've witnessed the appropriation of all sorts of formerly-edgy "cultures," among them:


And of course my beloved Culture Club culture.

Yes, one day riding a track bike while covered in tattoos, sporting a genital piercing the size of a Cannondale downtube, and eating a tub of artisanal aioli makes you unique, and the next day you look just like every other dad in Park Slope. (And two days later you just like every fourth grader in Park Slope.) However, despite all this, I thought there was still one subcultural habitat that would remain free from commercial exploitation and unsullied by the filthy conformist hands of the mainstream, and that culture was "cockpit culture:"

Come what may, I once thought foolishly, "curating" your own wildly baroque bicycle cockpit with whatever random objects you had at your disposal would remain the the domain of the unreservedly creative, the borderline insane, and of course the "domestically challenged" (or what we used to call "homeless"). Well, I was wrong. Now even "cockpit culture" is for sale, thanks to a company in (where else?) Portland called "Back-Up Barz," to which I was alerted by a reader named Christie:



"Back in the day," if you wanted a cockpit that allowed you to sit upright, you got yourself some PVC piping, some duct tape, and a few hose clamps, and you unleashed your inner Rube Goldberg. Now, you just switch off your brain, open your wallet, and buy some "Back-Up Barz"--which, I might add, are simply vertically-mounted aero bars. It's worth noting, though, that of all the ways in which you can attain an upright position on a bicycle, almost nobody seems to do the logical thing, which is to ride a bicycle with an upright position in the first place. For example, there's a certain company with an ad in the right-hand margin of this very blog and with a name that rhymes with "Rivendell" (because their name is Rivendell) that will gladly help you attain an on-the-bike position similar to that of a begging dog. Instead, though, it would appear that people prefer to look to solutions such as this:


From an evolutionary perspective, it's fascinating what's happening to the drop handlebar. Once upon a time, riders would move back and forth between the drops and the tops as conditions warranted. Then came integrated shifting, which compelled them to spend more time on their brake hoods, and then they lowered their bars to compensate. Consequently, insofar as recreational cycling is concerned, it would appear that the drops have become essentially vestigial, and are either disappearing altogether:

Or else are allowed to remain, but only as sort of a ceremonial adornment, long-ago forsaken thanks to the application of cockpitular stepstools like "Back-Up Barz:"

Which I'll allow are sort of "retro-chic" in that they evoke those rideable fans from the 1980s:

By the way, even if you wanted to use the drops with your "Back-Up Barz," you'd be well advised not to, since in lowering yourself you're liable to get your head stuck between them and choke to death. You probably shouldn't try sprinting on them either, though presumably their spokesmodel is a professional and thus is able to pull it off:

In "Spinal Tap," Rob Reiner famously asked Nigel Tufnel why he didn't simply make "10" one louder. "Back-Up Barz," raises (pun fully intended) a similar question, this being: "Why not put the tops where the 'Back-Up Barz' are and the drops where the tops are?" Well, because "Back-Up Barz" also allow for the application of an unprecedented number of gadgets and gew-gaws:

I'm not sure why the faces of the gadgets are facing away from the rider, but presumably that's so you can read them while you're head is trapped between the "Back-Up Barz." In particular, the smartphone is crucial, since as you suffocate you may be able to dial "9-1-1" with your tongue.

Certainly though, if you're being strangled by your handlebars, it can be tremendously difficult to whistle the theme from "Chariots of Fire:"


Player Piano Player - w4m (Chelsea)
Date: 2011-09-25, 6:50PM EDT
Reply to:

The last time I saw you you were riding your bike hands-free, holding a Citarella bag, whistling "Chariots of Fire".

You were the best thing about the 5am, 5-course, all-dessert dinner. I thought you were hired to play the piano; turns out the piano played itself, and you are a lawyer at a firm where you're not allowed to wear sandals.

September 25th, 5am-7am, Le Grand Fooding Exquisite Corpse, W 21st St.

I was the curly-haired girl sitting at the end of the table who talked to you about women who don't know they're pregnant until they give birth.

Oh, right, that law firm. I know it well. It's right next to the medical office where they don't let the doctors smoke in the examination room.

It's a wonder then that, despite our abundance of whistling gourmands on bikes, New York is only the 29th mostest bike-friendliest city in the world--this according to Copenhagenzine, which is of course the Standard & Poor's of smugness:

If only we could put as much effort into our cycling infrastructure as we put into our mayonnaise shops, then maybe one day we'd rival Guadalajara.

115 comments:

Anonymous said...

first

Hans said...

Cavendish!

Hans said...

EH, make that Goss.

hillier99 said...

So close...

theEel said...

fifffff...


weed!

Sixthe! said...

Sixth!

Ed said...

Top Ten

mediumtriguy said...

Top ten? Can it be?

Marcel Da Chump said...

That Engin looks
like it could.

Kenny said...

AND THAT'S HOW A BILL BECOMES A LAW!!

Mason said...

Passed!

hamgray said...

No no no, NY is 20th, out of 20....

Or to put it another way, last....

NY got 29 points...

mikeweb said...

Cav should put a rainbow tooth cap on one of those choppers.

saywhat said...

NYC is actually the 20th most cycling-friendly city, if I'm reading this site right, 29 is the score it received (out of 60 possible points).

Blog Drafter said...

"except I have the outdoor survival skills of a Fabergé egg"

Everyone's wondering why I'm laughing.

That Engin looks quite BILFy indeed.

OBA said...

Can we call them "lawsuit barzz" instead?

Manimal Man said...

Snob, I LOVE my BUB (or "Back-Up Barz") - they are so minimal!

wp said...

18st!

Case said...

Though not my cup of tea I will say this, the ladies working the BUB booth (across from mine) at Interbike were nice and friendly. They even treated me to their hot tub infused exploits from the previous night. No mention of whether the Barz made a special appearance though.

mikeweb said...

Step 1: Slide saddle rails forward.

Step 2: Install shorter stem.

Step 3: Raise stem higher than saddle.

Voila! "Back-up drop barzzz" (reg. u.s. pat. off.)

Paul Bowen said...

That Engin looks lovely - is it single speed or do you have wirelessly shifting hub gears? If the former aren't you sort of in a steep climbing gear all the time and doesn't that get exhausting? (Apols if these are silly/naive questions, I know literally nothing about mountain biking.)

In other news, yay Cav!

Anonymous said...

I looked at the Copenhagenize thingy there and they've got Montreal at number 8. Which flabbergasted me. Flabbergasted! And then I looked at the criteria and they seemed to be missing the vital "whether drivers care if you live or die" metric, on which Montreal would be ranked extremely low. So all these ratings are a little skewed.

leroy said...

True fact:  On September 26, if a woodchuck emerges from his den and sees his shadow, he goes back inside and peruses back issues of Field and Stream for the naughty bits in the animal husbandry articles.

Okay, that may not be a fact, but it might be true.

And if true, cognoscenti would interpret this as a sign that Best Made will drop a curated anthology of libidinous woodland literature by Halloween.

It would be marketed as the perfect Festivus present for the person with minimalist outdoor survival skills who may need to barter with his woodland brethren for directions to the nearest Starbucks.

Belligero said...

Congrats on the new bike! That thing looks like fun.

Burt Columbus MXL said...

That's pretty normal gearing for a single speed 29er. Probably about a 49" gear or so. Those things are a blast. I got one early last year, then proceeded to update my fleet to 29ers. So easy to ride, it seems like I'm cheating somehow.

self-obsessed and sexee said...

Are you trying to get a rise

out of my cock(pit)?

Anonymous said...

That cockpit's one artificial vagina short of being real purdy.

Grumpa said...

Schwinn AirDyne is NOW!

Anonymous said...

Is it a little Engin?

hey nonny mouse

Anonymous said...

Ape hangers.

Thirsty Traveler said...

I think you could make a cup holder for a Super Big Gulp on those Back-Up Barz.
Those things are heavy.

Special Lover said...

Levi riding Specialized? Maybe..... Watch the news...

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Duder, nice 29er! You'll be slaying some sweet singletrack with that whip for sure.

JB said...

If I can attach a windshield to the back-up-bars, I'ma buy a set for my Schwinn Continental.

Anonymous said...

last

Anonymous said...

for radiohead tickets

JB said...

Why I need a windshield.

I Go Around and Around said...

Top 50. I was caught behind a Thor Hushovd crash.

Every custom frame I see these days seems to have a 55cm top tube and a 21cm head tube, and frame size begins with the word, "effective". I am all for everyone on bicycles, but the custom fit thing is getting a little ridiculous. BikeCad wackiness.

Do some pilates and pull out the Pinarello.

wishiwasmerckx said...

So the latest next great French hope, Gastric Lavage, showed poorly at the Worlds in Copenhagen last weekend.

Anonymous said...

Nice bike, WRM. First the Ritte, now this...

Paul Bowen said...

@Burt Columbus MXL, thanks, live and learn.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Are you suggesting that drops have become the foreskin of the bicycle? Useless smegma-collectors that, once removed, present a cleaner line and a more attractive cockpit?

mojito said...

Congratulations on the Engin. I have a mundane serious question (i.e. it's not an infantile joke.) How adjustable fore-and-aft is that rear wheel? Just curious about the rocker things. My voodoo's sliding drops let me vary by about two teeth on the cog without messing with altering the chain length. I was curious how much cog variation the rockers would give you.

Anonymous said...

Add those antlers to your bike and shift your weight off of your hands and on to your...


balls.

Mojo Nixon said...

Anon 2:05

I don't know (and don't really want to know) where you keep your balls, but mine are in front of my sit bones when I'm on a bike.

Cipo said...

Not a fan of 29ers. Except of course, twentyniner rhymes with vaginer.

Cipo's nephew, Beppo said...

twentynine-y vaginae

Ugly Stud said...

29er?
I'll figure it out.

CommieCanuck said...

wwm..you don't know what you're missing.

Two bikes in one year? Powerball winner?

Outdoor survival skills? Is that like checking into a Motel 6? I tried that once, after 3 hours I was huddled in a corner with a towel on my head soaked in my own urine.
I'll tell my kids the story of that room, and the cathode-ray TV that I think ran on some type of whale oil.

crash test dufus said...

love to take a spill

on those Back-up Barz

LK said...

That Engin looks like the perfect bike for the velodrome. Dorais

http://bit.ly/n8oTub

To paraphrase Frank Booth
BACKUPBARS? Fuck that shit. Wald Hi-Rise Cruiser Bars!

or

Starbucks? Fuck that shit. Dunkin Donuts!

mob accountant said...

Not just any two bikes in one year--
two custom bikes in one year!

Good pre-K's are very expensive.
College is less than two decades away.

bikesgonewild said...

...leroy...it's been called 'animal husbandry' for years but don't let that fool you...

...there is no legal matrimony involved & animals have blatantly been having sex, ostensibly for breeding purposes by arrangement of their human masters...

...it's just cheap slutty animal sex & after years of close observation, (for clinical reference) i'd suggest love is not even involved...

Anonymous said...

Exactly what am I receiving if I make a deposit on an Engin. Is it a guaranteed place in line? What if David Bryne decides that he wants the one city bike that will be made this year. Do I have to wait another year?

chad said...

JB 1:30

I frequently used to see that guy riding around Roseburg, OR when I lived there. He would often have a small battery-powered amp on the rear rack.

Anonymous said...

i go round and round at 1:33:
POTD
haha, pilates+pinarello
thanks!

BackUpBarUser said...

MY NECK

MY BACK

MY PUSSY

MY CRACK

They all feel great!

Back-up Bartender said...

You're stealing my thunder here....

domotion2011 said...

thanks for not going to my blog and checking out my patent pending bars that are really a modification on the bar end of chop and flop bars.

ou812 said...

Back-up Barz have been sold for years on Christopher St in the Village.

wishiwasmerckx said...

BGW, where do I sign up for the cheap, slutty animal sex without even the suggestion of love?

Friendo said...

@ LK 3:01

"It's Daddy, shithead! Where's my bourbon?"

Keaton said...

Looking for Mr Back-Up Bar.

Wally said...

Dear Sir or Madam;

I was enjoying a delicious mid-afternoon snack of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies with a glass of cold Skim Plus milk when I began reading your most recent post "Calling for Backup: Raising the Bar." I was subsequently cruelly forced into spasms of laughter, causing distress and anguish to my person as a portion of cookies and milk were rendered unusable after their swift entrance and egress from my nasal passages.

I am willing to settle for a case of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies and a gallon of cold Skim Plus milk (or the equivalent). Otherwise please expect to hear from my attorney.

Thank you sir or madam and have a good day.

JB said...

As your attorney, I advise you to start drinking heavily.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, those engin frames are at least 4000 bucks for a stainless version. Ug, they're the new serottas.

your conscience said...

You've spent close to 10g's on bikes!

There people starvin'...




...in the USA!

Jasper said...

@mikeweb,
Come on, you know what happened last time Cav went to the dentist - he had an excuse for being on poor form for the first half of the season. We don't want that to happen to his rainbow year.

ashcroftchops said...

Back-up Barz!!!!!...... Fuck! I was gonna invent that. Ah well back to the drawing board...... Wait! Fuck it, I'm gonna invent a folding bike and call it "notpmorb!".... Hal hey fuckin lool ya!

Lone Wolf said...

I'll rip your lungs out, Jim!
Then I'll introduce you to me tailor.

Jennifer said...

@anonymous re: "And then I looked at the criteria and they seemed to be missing the vital 'whether drivers care if you live or die' metric..."

Yep, on that basis, San Francisco should definitely be ranked lower as well.

Anonymous said...

If I want to ride upright (which is nearly all the time when I'm riding my hybrid) then I simply ride "no hands" - this allows me to sit with a completely vertical spine (unlike with the BUBs) and also gives me exactly the same quick access to the brakes that the BUBs do. It has the additional advantage of making me look k3wl in front of the chicks, unlike the BUBs which make you look like a dick.

skink said...

Put fenders on that Engin
and that's the perfect snow bike.

Rock on, brother.

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

Where's the e at the end? There should be an e. Frame builders can't spell.

g-roc said...

Snobby, good thing you gave yourself an out with your claim of impeckable grammor or I'd mistake you for more than just a "pedalphile"

(And two days later you just like every fourth grader in Park Slope.)

ew.

Vittorio De Sica said...

I'm a master bike thief

intent on victimizing you.

Don't take your eyes off them,

fair warning.

Anonymous said...

Vittorio might think twice when he sees one of those bikes guarded by Vito, who we all know packs a tazer.

unemployed economist said...

Spend, consume, circulate that ad revenue.

Buy before your taxes go up.

your agent said...

At the rate you're spending money,

you'll need a talk show, eventually.

Burt Columbus MXL said...

*sniff*

*sniff*

Hmmm. I think I smell envy.

screaming skull said...

Schwartzman, eat your heart out!

Harold said...

The best thing about "Back-Up Barz" is that, after you cut up the old handlebar into 2 pieces, and add the 2 clamps, you feel perfectly justified in charging $120 a pop for a set.

Ain't America great?!

max said...

My girlfriend is the partial creator. Most of you haven't even tried them. If you want to complain about them, try them first, They have a money back guarantee!!! By the way thirstytraveler They weigh 14 oz so there not that heavy at all. Back-up bars are not meant to be a chopper handle bar set. They are made to alleviate pain and allow those that have back problems to continue doing what they love!

leroy said...

BGW --

My dog read your comment and strongly disagreed.

He claims love is always in his equation.

It's just that romance triggers his A.D.D.

I don't believe him though. Sometimes he's such a dog.

billy said...

Wow, nice bike. Frames start at $2K? Hard to listen to someone complain after beginning their post with, "oh btw... check out my super expensive bike I just took delivery of...fuck hipsters". No, Fuck you, dude.

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

...@wishiwasmerckx...re: "...where do I sign up for the cheap, slutty animal sex without even the suggestion of love?"...

...well, sir...i believe, as i search the recesses of my mind, that i found that info at a site called 'animalsgonewild.cum'...

...now, i know what yer thinkin' but hey, a coincidence is a coincidence...


...btw, i, ummm, i mean 'they', offer the first month free if you sign up for the three month introductory package...

...just sayin'...

bikesgonewild said...

...leroy, re: "...He claims love is always in his equation..."...

...ya, so did i.........in my 20's...

bikesgonewild said...

...& 'billy' & 'your conscience' ????...

...you two guys need to lighten up...might i suggest some "...cheap, slutty animal sex without even the suggestion of love..."...

leroy said...

Billy --

When a Surly Big Dummy and a Ritte love each other very much, they ask the Stork to bring them an Engin.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

nice bike snobby.

that 70's singer said...

Billy don't be a hipster

don't be a douche

with your life

ce said...

My wife saw the picture at the start of the post and exclaimed: "Ooh, that's a nice garage door". FACE PALM.

Don't let the naysayers (and shed enthusiasts) get you down, it is only fitting that The Bike Snob own a stable of flashy bikes, and a bathtub full of Knog merchandise. The jealous taunters just want to see you cry. "Ha!" you should say to them, "Do you not know that this stainless tubing cannot be marred by my girly, salty tears? Fools!".

In future though, if you would prefer to avoid such judgement regarding your consumptive habits, you may prefer to just dump an extra 10 grand into a motor vehicle purchase, no one will notice or care.

the collector said...

Add a vintage bike to your fleet.

wp said...

FSTR BKWD

ce said...

Regarding the demise of the drop bar, I think it is a branding issue. I propose an exciting and catchy new name: Crack-Up Barz. This new name expresses laughter, relaxedness (like the relaxed spelling in Barz) and most importantly, elevation of the ass crack relative to said barz.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the increasing height of top tubes and bars has more to do with the approach of much of the cycling population to geezerdom, with its neck and back issues. The alternative is a recumbent, but hey, we have our dignity.

Now get off my lawn!

wp said...

Drew does good stuff.

WTF crybabies who can't handle when someone-whousesthebicyclefordailytransportandmakesatleastpartofhislivingwithsuchvehicles
saves up enough scrappage to get a bespoken.
WTF?

Hardest thing about such a purchase is choosing from the great guys who make great bikes.

Yes, many who are pals, and i can't afford one, but rock it on there WRM.

BTW the best ATB bars in the world are fabricated in Ohio, by my pal Rody. Luv Handles--it's the only way to improve the Engin.

wtf said...

99 here we go

Anonymous said...

who is next?

Sponsor said...

DFL?
Hell yeah, Ladies!!!

Burt Columbus MXL said...

Like those crybabies wouldn't buy great bikes if they could afford them!

I'm with wp: Rock on WRM!

raging physician said...

MISTER SENOBB,,,MISTER SENOBB

IS STARTING TO BUY MORE BAYKES, EXPENSIVE ONES....

U USED TO B MY SENSE HERO..

OR TELL ME YOU GOT THOSE CUSTOMS FREE...

MORTY said...

I'm loving your bike collection.
Get the best you can.
A true bike snob.

Anonymous said...

Back-Up Barz...

All that made me think of was the way we used to ride our BMX bikes sitting backwards on the handlebars. I guess that's a fixed-freestyle trick by now?



balls.

goof ball said...

@creators of Back-Up Barz,
we're just having fun. Hope you sell millions of 'em.

crosspalms said...

Nice bike! But now you have two stainless bikes and nothing in avocado or harvest gold. How will you appease the '70s appliance gods?

Anonymous said...

Stimulate that economy.

Bob said...

"Back in the day," if you want an ss 29er, you buy a karate monkey frame then bolt parts that lay around your garage to it.Now, you just switch off your brain, open your wallet, and buy some "Engin"--which, I might add, are simply black painted "custom made" karate monkey.

Anonymous said...

@your conscience - you spent over 40k on your Benz/Audi/Beemer/4x4 grocery getter - there are people riding bikes - in the USA!

provo said...

Back-up-bars?
Away with the wrist, back and neck problems and welcome to crotch problems!

Anonymous said...

I just bought a 29er from bikes direct. It was 1099$ on sale.... the most expensive bicycle I have ever purchased. By far. After seeing the price tag on the Engin, I feel much better. Sorry snob but I agree with the few dissenters, you were waaaaaay cooler when you were telling us to not buy the super expensive crap. You made us all feel good about ourselves. Now...now I just dont know

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Fixie Bikes said...

What the hell is in that second picture?