Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who Am I? In the Market

("Holy shit, the British are coming?!?")

"What bike should I get?" It's a question as old as the bicycle itself. Actually, that's not entirely true, since back in the "olden days" if you wanted to ride you got a pennyfarthing and that was that. Maybe--maybe--the LBS gave you the option to upgrade to one of those newfangled "saddles" instead of keeping the stock iron spike that people used to sit on before the bicycle seat was invented, but otherwise it was p-far or nothing.

Now, though, there is a bewildering array of bicycles out there, and as we saw from the comments on yesterday's post, which one you choose and why is one of the most contentious debates in all of cycling. In fact, it's right up there with the "helment debate," the "tubular vs. clincher debate," and of course the "saddle vs. iron spike debate." (I've been a saddle man ever since my surgery, but as they say on the Internet, "YMMV"--as will the diameter of the hole in your perineum and the time it takes it to heal.)

In any case, every so often "new bike time" rolls along. For some "new bike time" comes once a year, for others once a decade, and for still others once in a lifetime. Regardless of the interval though, "new bike time" is a lot like having a gaping hole in your perineum, since after a certain point you can't ignore it and the problem simply must be addressed. As it happens, it was recently "new bike time" for me, though unfortunately by the time I saw this "Tweet" from Bicycling magazine I already had my new bikes and it was too late for me to heed its expert advice:

Nevertheless, I clicked on the link anyway to see if I had made the right choice:

The article began with a simple exercise:

Sketch yourself. Grab a pencil, paper and some brutal honesty. Now make two lists. The first is an inventory of your current status as a cyclist or, for first-timers, your fitness level: how competitive you are, how much time you spend riding (or working out) each week, your highest achievements on a bike. The second is your ultimate vision of yourself as a cyclist: completing multiple charity rides each year, kicking butt on the local race circuit, riding to work every day, and so on.

Oooh, fun! I grabbed a pencil and I grabbed some paper, but I didn't have any brutal honesty so instead I grabbed my "pants yabbies." Then, with my free hand, I got to work. However, instead of simply making lists I thought a graphical representation might be more helpful, and here's what I came up with:

(Click to enlarge, unless horrible drawings make you nauseous.)

As you can see, the cyclist that I am is a fairly unfit rider who sucks. The cyclist I wish to be, however, is Philippe Gilbert with the head of Justin Bieber. This is because I think it would be fun to win a Classic and then get mobbed at the finish line by a bunch of screaming teenagers. However, if hybrids are off the fantasy cycling table, then I would of course opt to be the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing-retro-Fred from the planet Tridork Bret:

No Bieber head necessary--Bret is cycling perfection incarnate.

Once I had my picture in hand, I moved on to the next step:

Then, imagine a rider who fits between the two—the bike that's right for that middle-ground you is the minimum you should purchase.

Ah-ha! So I did get the wrong bike! According to this, my new "middle ground" bike should have been the rear end of my Scattante grafted onto the front end of my Ritte:

(Who I am, and who I wish to be.)

At least that's how I interpret it. Therefore, immediately following this post, I plan to get to work with a hacksaw and some S&S couplers. Once I'm done, I'll report back with a lengthy post on BikeForums.

Most importantly though, your bike should give you "room to grow:"

Buy below that level, and you won't have enough room to grow.

I'm not sure what this means, but I suspect it's warning you of that moment in every Fred's life when you look at your bike and say this:

"I'm really sorry. It's not you, it's me. I'm just in a different place right now, and that place requires that I ride crabon instead of aluminum."

At which point the poor spurned bicycle must make way for a gleaming new Cervélo with Zipp wheels and over 15 centimeters of headset spacers and a glamorous new life of "kicking butt" and completing "multiple charity rides each year."

Speaking of new bikes, this past weekend a panel of judges at the Oregon Manifest selected the "ultimate utility bicycle," and it was Tony Pereira's this thing:

(This thing. It has a box.)

Of course, if you ask a hundred Portlanders what the ideal utility bike is, you'll not only get a thousand answers, but you'll also get about a million unsolicited lists of all the stuff they carried by bike that day, since "portaging" is their primary means of self-expression. This is precisely why the comments section on the Bike Portland coverage of the event is so entertaining (as was brought to my attention to a reader):

Here's one reader who was not impressed by the box, or really by any of the contestants:

If I designed the field test criteria for the show based on the needs of my family then a bike would have to carry our every day needs which are:

1. 15 month old baby

2. 10 pound dog
3. 2 bags of groceries
4. Diaper bag
5. rain cover or rain clothes for rider/baby
6. tools, spares, pump
7. water, travel mug
8. lights, lock

Fortunately there were a few bikes there that met that test. As more of the Constructors find themselves parents I am sure that these capabilities will enter into their bike designs. It would be fun to see a year in which the bikes would have to carry all of the above. Obviously you would have to substitute weighted dummies for the baby/dog due to obvious reasons on the Saturday test day.

What, no kitchen sink? Must be a minimalist. Also, you might be tempted to suggest that it's no big deal to leave the dog at home for a few hours, but in Portland leaving your dog unattended for longer than five minutes can get you arrested for animal cruelty. (Feeding it non-organic food is merely a misdemeanor.) Therefore, in Portland, no dog-portaging ability = dealbreaker. By the way, by next year's Oregon Manifest you can be sure someone in Portland will have started a business making artisanal hand-crafted weighted dummies that look like babies and dogs, and by the Manifest after that there will be a spin-off weighted dummy show and Sacha White will have a 15-year wait list for his take on those clown-shaped punching bags:


Of course, some of the Manifest bikes are more practical than others, but practicality is also subjective, and it differs from city to city rider to rider. For example, pretty much all of these bikes are wildly impractical in New York City, where they'd be stolen in seconds. The important part is the ideas each builder implemented. Sure, some of these ideas were more interesting or useful than others, but as far as I can tell none of them were remotely as useless as this one, which was forwarded to me by another reader:



Yes, it's a sensor that tells you when you get too close to stuff on your bike. If you have 900 years to spare you can also watch the video, which features a stupid skit in which someone with a marshmallow on her head pretends she just got "doored:"

And then Stellan Skarsgård's cousin who works at Radio Shack makes her a device that lights up when something gets three feet from her:

That's just brilliant, because a tiny red light is a lot easier to see than a car door. Also, everybody knows that car doors open very slowly, which is why you've got plenty of time to monitor a device, then spot the car door, and then take evasive action. I'm not sure what his next project will be, but maybe he can come up with something that lights up when you're lying underneath a truck.

Not that it matters, mind you, since yet another reader tells me we should all stop riding because it's bad for our lungs:

Logically then we should all drive to work while eating Big Macs. The health benefits are debatable, but our lungs will be as pink as that Tony Pereira bike. It's time to get off the Black Lung Express.

120 comments:

pebes said...

one

pebes said...

two

pebes said...

three

pebes said...

four

pebes said...

five

Kenny Banya said...

Top ten or ima fuckin’ kill you

pebes said...

six

Ed said...

Top Ten

pebes said...

damn you kenny banya!!!

Anonymous said...

six

Anonymous said...

top ten!

Anonymous said...

Damn quick commentators today, now back to read.

Anonymous said...

13thhhhhhhhhhhh

cycle

Kenny said...

AND THAT'S HOW A BILL BECOMES A LAW!

Surly Bastard said...

Top twenty. Would have been higher but my tri-corner hat fell over my eyes.

GhostOfTyrone said...

I hope Kohler makes some Karbon bikes. Riding with a New. Life. Form. would be much more entertaining than riding with my usual, slightly less talented, imaginary friends.

Anonymous said...

Biking: I'd rather have blackened lungs from riding in the Big city than stuck in traffic watching smiling faces on two wheels go by!

Anonymous said...

Londoners still burn with coal, that's why the blackened lungs Silly!

le Correcteur said...

Top twenty; and read it too.

Doug said...

According to a study in Washington DC, runners and cyclists along the roadway had lots less smog in their lungs and bodies than the motorists on the highway. Maybe the smog in NYC has a component that seeks out cyclists.

Blog Drafter said...

"Cervélo with Zipp wheels and over 15 centimeters of headset spacers"


Nice dig, Mr. Snob, excellent. Priceless.


(Now I'm off to measure my stack.)

Unknown said...

Portland, originally inhabited by two of the Upper Chinook tribes which by some accounts called the place they lived "the place of carrying or portaging" in the local Chinook jargon. The name Portland was originally Port-land, derived from the translation of aforementioned Chinook jargon.
(Just a joke and no offense intended to the Chinook of the Columbia.)

Anonymous said...

I won't buy a utility bike until someone designs one with seatbelts, airbags, four wheels (for stability), and some sort of 'safety-cage' to protect against cars.

http://tinyurl.com/3l3v6x7

Blog Drafter said...

Damn! 16 cm. I'm taking one out. Comfort be damned, I will NOT be made fun of!

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure what his next project will be, but maybe he can come up with something that lights up when you're lying underneath a truck. "

High snark factor today, Dr. Snob. Chapeau!

Is there a remote sensor for uncooked beef brisket? I need one for tonight...

Chewbacca said...

But did wildcat boss machine pay for his new bike? I bet it was a freebie... Which still makes all the Portland posters here jealous

Chewbacca said...

But did wildcat boss machine pay for his new bike? I bet it was a freebie... Which still makes all the Portland posters here jealous

Amy said...

Actually I do worry about how much air pollution I'm sucking down while a panel truck idles in front of me at a stoplight.

O'Bama said...

tax those greedy winners. split the prizes up so we all get our fair share.

Bucky said...

I need a bike that will portage my hamster wheel i take to work every day.

grog said...

Recumbabe! has healthy lungs, and will blissfully portage anything you got.

Marcel Da Chump said...

Black lung from cycling?
Studies have shown otherwise.
The NYC anti-bike crowd have turned fascist in their propaganda tactics.

Paul Bowen said...

"I'm really sorry. It's not you, it's me. I'm just in a different place right now, and that place requires that I ride crabon instead of aluminum."

Spooky. You got in this Fred's head alright.

mikeweb said...

My lungs are nice and pink. It's my heart that's black.

Happy new year folks!

ant1 said...

ant1st!

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

no comment.

crosspalms said...

Wow, you weren't kidding about the Bike Portland comments. Thermodynamics? Melting point of steel? Some nice bikes though.

wishiwasmerckx said...

I suspect that it is wearing white after labor day that has blackened the beautiful godzilla's lungs, not ambient pollution.

wishiwasmerckx said...

L'shana tova to BSNYC and all the mot's (members of our tribe) who are regular readers, and to our goyisha friends as well.

Disgruntl Ed. said...

Could it have something to do with diesel spewing double decker buses? Why don't they keep those things in London to blacken Londoners' lungs instead of sending them to my otherwise fair city to schlep around tourists and blacken my lungs?

Disgruntl Ed. said...

I meant to say diesel-spewing, of course.

Hungry Panda said...

Why not put the scat seat and fenders on the ritte, and call it a day and a job well done. Stop the internal angst, and accept who you are.

I drew myself, tried to figure out how to be me (with some assistance from Bicycling magazine) Figured I needed a new Bamboo bike, because that says so much about me.

But it says more about me, when I take two.

Buffalo Bill said...

I always seem to laugh at the wednesday posts a little bit more for some reason. Not sure why.

Hapless said...

Bushwicking ninjas, perhaps?

Grump said...

Will this Distance Warning System warn me when some clown decides to chop me on the bell lap??
(not everybody can be in the top three through the final turn)

skink said...

Buffalo Bill,
thanks for passing that around.

Anonymous said...

Will the Distance Warning System let me know when some freeloading wheel sucker is hitchin a ride on my freight train? Can we discuss whether it's cool or not to ride on the wheel of someone you don't know?

I Go Around and Around said...

Doug @ 12:18 -

The smog in NY that seeks out cyclists is called the Daily News.

Snob - does that mean one can earn a living portaging 15 month old babies in Portland?

Happy holy days! Everyone, repeat after me:

chchchchchchchchchchchchchch.....

hillbilly said...

POOR TAGE

Anon to Anon said...

Anon @ 1:52

No. We already did that, and it wasn't very interesting.

Matt said...

Hmm, the babe in the photo may have black lungs but she has a nice set of legs and rear profile. Sounds like a decent tradeoff to me. That must be why women who smoke or mine coal always look so hot.

Anonymous said...

Anon to Anon @ 2:04 I was being ironic in a non-hipster kinda way.

Anonymous said...

":city to city rider to rider"

Now I'm a grammar retard, but does anyone else take issue with the punctuation in this sentence?

Anonymous said...

I keep telling myself if I ride more I can rationalize myself new bike. But, life gets in the way and I spend more time reading about bikes at work than I spend riding an actual bike.

Too bad my job isn't writing about bikes and riding them. Then I could buy a new bike and nobody would give me shit about it.



balls.

w said...

I go around and around:

Everyone repeat after me:

Avinu Malkenu

wp said...

hey, when did tony p shave? whatta slickmug

ohyeah

SLIK MUGG

PRTY PINK

80's said...

pebes, like, you totally killed it, like the amerricans at that race in CO, killed it.

congrats--totally.

Anonymous said...

Anan 2:14, could benefit by a well-placed comma, no?

david not byrne said...

yes i do have a car, but it runs on rubberbands and hamsters fueled entirely by five-hour-energies and bread crumbs.

self-obsessed and sexee said...

The gammy, bootylicious, black lung babe
is at Prince St & Broadway, in Soho--where you'll find a peleton's worth of beautiful Godzillas on a daily basis.

bikesgonewild said...

...i'm wondering if the 'tri-corner' hat was devised as an early aerodynamic advantage whilst riding an equine steed "back in the day" ???...

Shirtless In Seattle said...

"My lungs are nice and pink. It's my heart that's black."

very nice....

It reminds me of a line from Cormac McCarthy which reads, "...the fire's black heart."

I Go Around and Around said...

W @ 2:26

Stephen Malkmus!

יהי רצון מלפניך, ה׳ א‑לוהינו וא‑לוהי אבותינו, שתחדש עלינו שנה טובה ומתוקה.‏

wp said...

@BGW

the tri-corn hat is for musket clearance--cue three stooges tape.

so they don't keep knocking the fool thing offa them heads whilst preforming those silly parade maneuvers--swapping shoulders and such. it's an infantry thing.

bikesgonewild said...

...mikeweb sez "My lungs are nice and pink. It's my heart that's black."...

...nice...that, sir, is my chosen 'comment of the day'...

...just sayin'...

bikesgonewild said...

...@wp...

...muskrat clearance ???...what kinda stooge would believe that ???...

mikeweb said...

SiS & BGW,

Thank you kind sirs!

crosspalms said...

bgw,
And there were heated discussions about whether the chinstrap went over or under the powdered wig. Some say that's what Hamilton and Burr were really arguing about.

mikeweb said...

@SiS,

That reminds me that I keep forgetting to pick up Blood Meridian.

g-roc said...

Is that a bar-b-que on the front of that Pereira? If that's a bar-b-que, I am so buying one.

@Unknown 12:27 - everyone knows Portland is a contraction of Portage-land. No doubt the francophone lobbyists pushed through this change because Americans are incapable of pronouncing French words and the original name was unbearable for them to hear.

Joan Jettt said...

& The Blacklungs

Larry Flintstoned said...

Recumbabe, who is capable of experiencing multiple orgasms, should henceforth be known as Rerecumbabe.

wp said...

g-roc, good point.

also but _bbq_ is slow-indirect-cooked. that my friend could be a _grill_. not to be confused with hipster toothwear.

next year's show winner:

panniers of organic hand made charcoal from renewable forestry waste on the rear. with a weber on the fork!

grill sized utensils (park tool) fitted up to pump pegs.

mind the ashes/drippings and your dinotte!

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

i carried my dog on a bike once...


...and that is how I got that scar on my face.

Bill Smith said...

A few years ago, I surveyed about a dozen public health papers researching the impact of air pollution on urban cyclists. The results were mixed; in some cases, the cyclists seemed more susceptible to air pollution than drivers or bus riders, and in other cases, it was exactly the reverse.

In any case, no one should ever accept the results of a single public health study as truth. The actual research paper probably lists a number of factors that may have biased the conclusions one way or another. And if the conclusions are correct, other researchers will be able to replicate them.

LK said...

All that black stuff on my lungs is pastrami.

bikesgonewild said...

...crosspalms...i was under the impression that the real reason for the duel had to do with hamilton's revelation about "use" by the continental army at the insistence of george 'lance' washington...

...apparently certain guys got their gunpowder & musket balls in buckskin pouches while the others received theirs in plain ol' cloth sacks...

...the phrase "...keep your powder dry, boys..." followed by a hearty laugh when the quartermaster handed out the goods had a very different meaning in those days...

Fred said...

I left my dog outside a burrito joint in Portland on a day when it was briefly "sunny". When I came out, Fred Armisen in a a wig, Birkenstocks and white tent dress scolded me for leaving my dog out of the shade.

I thought it was pretty funny, though Fred acted all pissed when I tried to pull his wig off.

Mistress Debby said...

Forget smog and black lungs -- here in Washington DC you can intentionally hit a cyclist with your truck and not face any criminal charges, even though the cyclist's helment cam catches the whole thing on video:

http://bit.ly/rrO99N

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

Nearly 100% of the portaged weight in front of the steering axis? With fairly laid back headtube angle? I'd rather tow. (which reminds me; I really need to get to work on remaking my old Winchester child portaging trailer into a gin-u-wine cargo hauler)

Anonymous said...

Black lungs: Wednesday weed > biking.

Too late now

bikesgonewild said...

...re: tony 'the pear's' oregon manifest practical bike winner thingy...

......bbq goes in the back, ya ???...

...i mean, come on, charcoal fumes are noxious...& grease spattering into the wind ???...

...just sayin'...

g-roc said...

bgw - I dunno, winter's approaching, and I kinda like the idea of all that heat in front of me.

bikesgonewild said...

...g-roc...hmmm, nothing quite like a different perspective to complete the picture, ya ???...

...now, here in california.........

screaming skull said...

shopping bags hangin'

from the handle bars

that's how I portage!!!

Dan Kaufman said...

Shameless self promotion. If you have another 1200 hours and if you want to see Pereira's bike in action during the OM field test (+ one with a side car for a dog and much, much, more!!) watch this video: http://www.crankmychain.com/crankmychain-cycletv/ride-along-the-oregon-manifest-design-challenge-video_8ccf07bea.html

wishiwasmerckx said...

Handlebar-mounted grill? Cold weather a-comin'? Reminds me of an old classic:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...Jack Frost nipping at your nose...too long scarf lighting on fire...and hipsters lit up like mistletoe...

Anonymous said...

A set of them Back Up Bars would make a nice place to hang the spatuler and the tongs.

wp said...

anon 7:03, now we're talkin'

no need to leave the grill unattended with an emergency

b-double-e-
double-r-
u-n!

neither nohow.

Anonymous said...

The roof...the roof...the roof is on fire...

RCMC467 said...

Oy Meh...you just can't win in that town.

Marcel Da Chump said...

Anon 7:15,

I'll do the lead-out:


we don't need no fire

let the muthafucka burn,,,

RCMC467 said...

I have a feeling the black on my lungs has nothing to do with riding every day...

...I think it's the three packs of Winstons a day.

Maybe???

leroy said...

In Times Square now.

leroy said...

Got my Manischewitz.

leroy said...

Where is everybody?

leroy said...

No Dick Clark.

leroy said...

No crowds waiting for the matzo ball to drop.

leroy said...

This is a shandeh fur de goyim.

leroy said...

Oh well...

99...

leroy said...

L'Shana Tova!!!

(100)

Ride happy. Ride healthy all!

studio 54 said...

...burn muthafucka,

...burn

thewiz78 said...

Picking a bike is difficult as it is and adding in an entire quest for self on top of it is a bit ridiculous. I savor the choice- in fact I will sit and screen shop every day and as life drags on and the money still fails to grow from that stupid stunted tree I wait- my needs evolve and still I shop... I mean someday I'll find a $2,000+ bike for a few hundred- Right?

ConArtist said...

Wouldn't it be awkward if dude in crazy hat read your blog...

JDH said...

It would appear the winning commuter /portaging bike has a motor. Electric it seems.whatever.

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 7:03pm...good stuff...i was quick enough to turn my head when i snorted the pineapple/coconut juice out my nostrils...

...managed to save the keyboard...

cooksappe said...

*_*

Anonymous said...

Shoot!, Those bush whacking ninjas ambushed me this evening while i was riding my voyage home. They cut off all my pubic hair. I guess I should make a gadget tonight if they decide to attack me again. I want to save the hair on my legs for winter.

bikesgonewild said...

...okay...we haven't discussed the woman in the title foto...

...i'm thinkin' independent french journalist with strong socialist leanings...

...doesn't shave her armpits or that precious little piece of real estate we all worship...

...does shave her legs because it empowers her to wear dark stockings, heels & that black bra when she gives as much as she takes...

...may offer to fuck the guy in the tricorner hat, not because he's in any way attractive but because he believes in his cause & she finds it sexy that he's willing to 'man the barricades'...

...if she doesn't scare him, he'll find it's called an assignation, not 'a one night stand'...

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

BGW: I think you're probably correct. What other type... oh.. let's just leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

cute blonde in a white dress on a bike? must be shilling maxipads. yay black lungs and blue panties.

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Anonymous said...

Hilarious! Again.

Nashbar rules said...

Unfortunately I am not quick with my camera like you snob, or I would have a great picture to share with you of a Fred I passed on the Queensboro bridge a few weeks ago. He wore a cartridge type respirator mask, full team kit, backpack and rode a mountain bike. I laughed out laud, but I suppose when my smog filled black lungs put me under he will have the last laugh.
p.s. How do you pull off all those great snapshots while speeding along at your grand 6mph?

RAB said...

So best portage bike is a bakfeits, or box bike? it can hold a baby and another kid, which can be substituted for a dog i imagine. and what looks like a picnic, or just a loaf of bed.
http://www.ohdeedoh.com/ohdeedoh/green-ideas/bakfiets-box-bike-in-action-062488

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Fixie Bikes said...

My bike purchasing advise? Go to Walmart and buy what ever is on sale.

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