Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bikes: How Do They Work?

Americans: say what you will about us, but we're really good at using appliances. Sure, giving us credit is like giving an arsonist matches, we can't tell the difference between foreign languages and speaking in tongues, and we have an alarming propensity for shooting each-other, but there's not a feature-rich consumer good we can't master in short order. Home theaters? Talking refrigerators? Self-parking cars? We'll have it down pat before the bank even gets there to repossess it.

So then why do we have such a hard time riding bicycles? We now look at our pornography on computers more powerful than the ones that sent Apollo 11 to the moon, yet the typical adult is completely confounded by the humble bike. Give an American a supercomputer and he'll know exactly what to do (look at porn), but give him a bicycle and he'll either strap a couple of cameras to his head and try his best to die like Lucas Brunelle, or else he'll hide it in the garage like it's some kind of cursed monkey's paw.

Fortunately though, there are one or two people in America who know how to use a bicycle, and a reader tells me they've now made a helpful instructional video to share the secret of practical cycling with the rest of us:















This video is called "How To Bike In a Busy City," though presumably due to a limited budget they weren't able to film it in a busy city and instead opted for whatever sleepy town this is. Nevertheless, this doesn't make the advice contained therein any less useful. For example, obviously you should always ride on the sidewalk:

Also, you're going to need some stuff:

This is great advice, because every day thousands of cyclists leave home without remembering to take their hand signals with them. Yes, there's nothing more embarrassing than raising your arm to signal a turn or flip somebody off and then remembering you actually left your hands in your other pants. Also, it's vital that you always carry a map. Sure, you may know where you're going because, like most cyclists, you do most of your commuting in the town where you live, but with newspapers going the way of the rotary phone you never know when you're going to need a big piece of paper to wrap up that unexpected fish market find. And the lock goes without saying, since you don't want your bike getting stolen while you're browsing the local fish market.

Of course, there are also some optional items. Actually, there's only one, and it's the helmet:

Helmets? Optional!?! Egads! If you listen closely, you can hear the collective gasps of the "helment nazis" as they gulp for air like freshly-caught grouper. Interestingly though, the filmmakers left some important items off of both the mandatory and the optional list, such as:

--Patch kit
--Pump
--Lights
--A bicycle

No big deal though. As long as you have that map you'll be fine. The bike's only going to get you into trouble anyway, especially if you're American. Also, keep in mind that if you want to be accepted into the "bike culture," you're going to need a $350 backpack handmade in the Mission District, as well as at least 14 different combination 15mm wrench/bottle openers on your person at any given time. (Bonus points for having a lockring remover just in case you're suddenly inclined to remove the cog that's been on the bike since you bought it on eBay three years ago.)

The video also emphasizes the importance of proper bike maintenance. For example, you should always dust your saddle for fingerprints to make sure a saboteur has not booby-trapped your bicycle in the night:

You should also (as the person who forwarded me this video points out) smell your chain at regular intervals:

Contrary to popular belief, the first sign of chain failure is not skipping or squealing. Rather, it's the moment the chain suddenly and inexplicably begins to emit "the intoxicating smell of semen that the tubers emit--known to foodies as the truffle umami." Should this happen, remove the chain immediately, slather it with artisanal mayonnaise, and eat it lest you inadvertently install it on another bike. (Ideally you should pair the chain with a glass of fine vintage lube to avoid constipation.)

By the way, remember how the video said the helmet is optional? Well, now they want you to wear one all the time:

And make sure it's a good one--you know, the kind where the straps run down the middle of your face.

And with helmets now moving into the "mandatory" category, that leaves room for a new optional accessory:

As you no doubt noticed from the pictures above, the film's protagonist has enthusiastically opted "in."

So now you've got your map and your helmet, you've checked any fingerprints on your bicycle against law enforcement agency databases, you've combed your optional moustache, and you're ready to ride. But did you remember your hand signals? Of course you did. Just make sure that when you use them you come to a complete stop first:

Also, the film says you should make eye contact with drivers at intersections:

On the surface, making eye contact with drivers seems like a good idea. However, some years back, I took a class in order to learn how to ride a motorcycle. (I was actually raised by feral outlaw Jewish motorcyclists and knew how to ride almost from birth, but my upbringing was so traumatic that I blanked it all out had to learn how to ride all over again as part of my self-actualization therapy. You can read all about it in my forthcoming memoir, "Kosher Hogs.") One of the useful things I learned in that class (besides which lever is the clutch thingy and which lever is the brake thingy) is that just because you're looking into a driver's eyes, you should never assume they can see you. I'm sure we've all had the experience of someone turning right into us even as they look right at us--I know I have. For this reason, eye contact as a way of gauging safety is mostly meaningless. Plus, if you lay the eye contact on too thick, people might think you're an "extreme eye-screwer:"

extreme missed connection - m4w - 30 (f train, okcupid, wherever)
Date: 2011-12-13, 2:59PM EST
Reply to:

I been eye-screwing ladies for years, just tryin to get a missed connection out of it. On the train sidewalk, checkout line, bus, bike, crosswalk, you get the idea.

Now I'm lurking the halls of the intanet, I'm hooking up with cool people, but still no missed connections, what gives?

Anyways, I'm just gonna start wearing a dick pic tshirt and handing out business cards.

Hi ladies

A



What all this means is that if you rely too heavily on eye contact while cycling, one of two things is going to happen:

1) You're going to wind up splayed on someone's hood;

or

2) You're going to wind up splayed on some swinger's water bed because you eye-screwed them too hard while wearing that optional moustache.

Still, you can't go wrong keeping an eye out for pedestrians wearing boots that look like they were made out of fur from their own dog's puppies:

Or by reminding yourself constantly of how much money and time you're saving:

Interestingly, these numbers are true for absolutely everybody, even if you work at home and didn't even own a car in the first place. Just ask David Byrne:

("Even though I don't own a car, cycling saves me $1,825 a year in auto-related costs, because otherwise I'd spend it on maintaining the imaginary car I don't have.")

Still, you do only wind up saving -$3,070 if your commuting bike is a Beloved:

Though you will amortize that if you can keep it from getting stolen for a few years, and it may be worth it to you for all the eye-screwing you'll get in the meantime (assuming you go in for that sort of thing).

Speaking of Portland, the article that contained the aforementioned video also contained a bunch of "infographics" like this one:

I haven't done a formal study, but I'd wager that bicycle commuting is the most-infographed subject in the world. Here's an infograph that shows how much people love infographics about bike commuting:

("All You Advocates Tweet My Infographic")

In fact, I'd say there are almost as many infographics about bike commuting as there are local news segments about bike messengers:



Though amazing cockpits like this ChannelLock-and-cane combo, as seen by a reader in Las Vegas, are truly one of a kind:


Hand tools are the new bar end.

110 comments:

Kenny Banya said...

scranus

Kenny Banya said...

...and nipples

OBA said...

Podium

le Correcteur said...

Top Ten; missed the podium!

Unknown said...

Trois!

television_writer said...

sweet top 10

Poppa Wheelie said...

refresh

pebes said...

mother fu....

Poppa Wheelie said...

Map comes before helmet?

OBA said...

Optional Moustache!

Anonymous said...

The town in the video is actually Boston, in particular, the hipster haven neighborhood of Allston.

Poppa Wheelie said...

....must remember to dust my saddle and smell my chain before riding

theEel said...

tWeed.

Anonymous said...

Hi!
Interesting post. I´m aalso writing a blog about bikes. Have a look! =)

http://seslabikes.blogspot.com/

streepo said...

Wow, that's the first I heard that David Byrne doesn't have a car. He must have taken a cab on the Road to Nowhere.

Buffalo Bill said...

Gaffer tape ftw

Gaffer Smythe said...

I laughed allot with this one. Take Friday off!

Anonymous said...

Dude, you smell your chain because with everything made of bamboo, titanium and carbon fiber, it is the only thing left on your bike that is steel.
And as Dario Pegoretti taught us, steel has its own smell. Which is to be appreciated. If you're weird and creepy looking.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

"Give an American a supercomputer and he'll no exactly what to do (look at porn)"

gnow nothing said...

Give an American a supercomputer and he'll no exactly what to do (look at porn)

???

Anonymous said...

Never attempt to bike without the 10 essentials

leroy said...

Fortunately, my dog isn't buying that canine footwear canard.

On the other hand, he has some interesting theories about the neighbors' missing cat Mittens.

Just don't get him started on an alleged WADA and UCI conspiracy to corner the bodily fluids market.

He'll never shut up.

patents_as_weapons said...

Bitter Bike Snob,

Expect a DMCA takedown notice of the photo of my creepy cousin posing with his bike sometime in the early eighties. Civil suit to follow.

I was just issued a process patent on cobbling together random observations in an ironic and humorous way. Wait until you see the fictional plot patent (project name DeathStar) being granted to me in 2012.

I'm taking Rhodale to Federal court because of your complete failure as an Uh-mer'can to turn your bicycle-cycling focused bitterness and irony into handsome profits like I am.

crosspalms said...

I'd watch that "how to ride a bike" video, but first I have to finish watching the "how to watch a video" series. I'm learning a lot. For instance, did you know the videos load faster if you have a moustache?

sweatpants cyclist said...

One more omission from the video:

Mandatory:

Leave your dignity at home.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Patents as weapons, thanks for that clarification about your creepy cousin. When I first spied that photo, I believed that it was of a teenaged time-travelling Leonard Nimoy.

Anonymous said...

MONK YPAW
BIKE TOOL

Mcfly said...

Are those "Cane Creak" Bars?

Grump said...

???
What sort of epic bike video is that??
I did not see any skids or hill bombing.
Thanks for wasting my time, Snob.
.
.

Mcfly said...

Get it? I got jokes

Marcel Da Chump said...

Eye screwed up.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

David Byrne doesn't own a car? Wow! learn something new everyday. Wasn't he in that talking head band?

crosspalms said...

I had a talking headband once. Drove me nuts.

shu-sin said...

the video had everything backward, you're supposed to sniff your saddle and dust your chain...

but, i guess, since it's a-meh-rica, it's not really backward.

Anonymous said...

Hand tool panties!
(Don't ask.)

HalfStepandTheGranny said...

Oh Boston how do you fail me so.

FUCKEN' BRIGHTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You have anything to do with this Billy?????

Buy-cycle said...

Top 40? I was into fixies, before it was cool.

TheGranny said...

Allston I despise thee.

Anonymous said...

@ wishiweremerckx

As to yesterday's query: both. Although she was the best.

db said...

Nice infographic, but it's missing the x-axis. I guess that's like a fixie/single-speed with no brakes.

Elbows out said...

Back in the early hipster days I thought about cashing in by writing a sort of rules of the road book for this sudden rash of suburban ex-pats. It would be a humorous driver's manual type book for peds and bikers with things like taking your expedition sized back pack off on a crowded train, not to stand in stupid places and block things up, not putting your fellow biker in a bad spot with your stupid riding, etc. Then I thought, fuck it, I don't want their money. Let them learn the hard way.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

"Kosher Hogs" !! I thought you were just joking. Then I googled "Jewish motorcycle gangs". I really did learn something new today.
Thanks Snob of Bicycle.

skink said...

They want about 5 g's for that Beloved!

Eye screw it!

mikeweb said...

I've always wondered why David Byrne was wearing his short legged pajamas in that picture with his bicycle. Maybe it's because he likes to drive his car while wearing sleepwear?

Wait, what? He doesn't own a car??

mikeweb said...

Dear patents as weapons,

How does your creepy cousin ride with no back tire? Unless that was his ill fated 'rail bike' invention...

Also, he seems to really like his bike seat. I mean, a lot.

g said...

Like the "Star of Davidson" gang, but their site hasn't been updated since 2007.

Anonymous said...

FLXY GNME
SMLY SEAT
EYE SCRW U
THTS NEET

Anonymous said...

can't we give the david bryne joke a rest already? sheesh

Anonymous said...

What Banya said...

Anonymous said...

So, two of David Byrne's bikes walk into a bar arguing over the cab fare...

Anonymous said...

Self-riding bicycle panties!

Kenny Banya said...

It could be worse...

Thieves use trip wire...

leroy said...

mikeweb--

Mr. Byrne doesn't need a car in order to drive.

If you walk around in your short legged PJs, you can hop into any available vehicle, motor away and blame Ambien for your sleep driving.

As long as you're wearing your PJs, there's no limit to what you can blame on sleep meds.

(Altho' technically optional, the short legged PJs lend credibility. Folks assume no one would consciously leave the house dressed like that.)

Cortelyou Anqeutil said...

I love Bike Stastistic Lies Lies Lies almost as much as the Lies Lies Lies ** WHITE ** Portland assholes tell themselves everyday.

Injuries sustained by those I know while bike riding & racing--

* Concussion
* Broken arm
* Broken elbow
* Broken ribs
* "Road Rash" (various flavors)
* Concussed pedestrian
* Bleeding pedestrian
* Mangled by Bobbed Wire fence
* Broken wrist
* Broken Crabon

etc etc

So ALL of that is savings to the health care system?

It's like the douchebags lying about smoking-- like it makes a ton of difference croaking from the lung cancer at 55 or having your saggy ass fall apart bit by bit at 85.

Fuck Portland and fuck Brooklyn Portland wannabes: just ** LEAVE ** already, schmuck.

leroy said...

Anon 2:16 --

I didn't realize I was posting about Mr. Byrne.

All I remember is taking an Ambien and getting in bed.

Sorry.

(And this is odd. I don't recognize these short legged PJs I'm wearing.)

David Byrne joke said...

I'm taking a rest, but I'll be back soon.

mikeweb said...

@leroy,

Thank you for the clarification.

I think that probably also explains the quality of most of his post-TH solo work.

Helment Nazzi said...

Wear your panties!
And your helmet!
David Byrne wears his panties!
Can't you tell from his grin!!
Panties are optional!
Brains are optional!
Crashing is inevitable!
Panties! (Get it?)

g-roc said...

You have to give him credit. He simultaneously demonstrated stopping before signalling, while simulating the sheer terror and instability of taking one hand off the handlebar while in motion and how you should get your hand back down to the bar ASAP. The only improvement would be if he signalled that he was stopping after he stopped and then signalled right. Now that would be informative.

frilly said...

hands in pockets=no fun

I always wear my panties whilst commuting by bicycle. Although there's no room for tools.

The Eye Screwed said...

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight...

I've got my clipboard, textbooks
lead me to the station
yeah, I'm off to the civil war
I've got my kit bag, my heavy boots
I'm running in the rain
gonna run 'til my feet are raw

split kid, split kid I'm a soldier at thirteen
split split, split kid realization
there's no easy way to be free
no easy way to be free

screaming skull said...

David Byrne goes commando!

Eeewwwwww!

Billy said...

@HalfStepandTheGranny:

If I had anything to do with that video, I would have been in it since I actually know how to ride, unlike mustache-man. Plus huge red mutton chops are better anyway.

I can't smell my chain over my sandal funk. Could you sniff it for me?

alex said...

oh David Byrne. and oh missed connections.

22 Bikes said...

A LucASS Brunelle invasion of Portland's would ruin that nice infograph's upward slope.

lube said...

Aaahhhh! Stop. And smell the bike chains.

producer said...

Lucass Brunelle in Portland would make a funny-ass Farrelly brothers movie.

CommieCanuck said...

Always wear a helmet when biking in the city, as it is well known that country roads are 2-3X softer.

Also, instead of eye contact, I prefer eye-breast contact.

CHAN SMEL

yogisurf said...

I bike commuted today and used LOTS 'O hand signals. Anything to keep off the trolley that has the Eye Screw guy on it.

yogisurf said...

Kenny on top of the Podium...you're GOLD, Kenny, GOLD.

David Byrne's Car said...

I'm so lonely.

Anonymous said...

"These are not my short-legged PJs!"

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

My town used to have a trolley. Back in 1909 before the Henry Ford-Big Oil conspiracy.

I was going to bike commute today but it was still raining. If my town had a trolley I would have been on it.

Anonymous said...

Turning left is a simple, three-step process:

1) Ignore the minivan behind you.
2) Pull directly into the middle of the lane.
3) Come to a full and complete stop.
4) Turn around and notice there's a car there.
5) Gesticulate vaguely in the general direction you're intending to ride.
6) Remount.
7) Proceed through the turn.

Oh. I guess that's seven steps! Still, it's pretty simple, and I intend to implement these practices immediately.

g-roc said...

David Byrne's car: you have to exist first, then you can be lonely.

Waxmouth said...

That How to Ride a Bike video made me deliriously happy.

Anonymous said...

Nice denim skirt shirly

Anonymous said...

Frilly, those of us who have been around here for a while remember when your avatar consisted of those exquisite lace "commuter panties."

Ahh, good times...

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

My eyes; they are so screwed.



...and...


More Chanellock or Ima fuckin' killya!

Anonymous said...

SERIOUS IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: WHEN STOPPED AT A LIGHT WITH ONE FOOT ON GROUND, DO NOT STAND CENTERED IN FRONT OF SADDLE. IF YOU GET REAR ENDED, YOU WILL GET GORED BY YOUR SADDLE HORN. BETTER TO BE GORED THROUGH ONE OF YOUR SPARE BUTTOCKS THAN STRAIGHT INTO YOUR COCCYX [DON'T ASK ME HOW TO PRONOUNCE THAT] OR SPINE, AND COURT PARALYSIS. The city (but not the map - so what's the point of having the wrong map if you are buying the right fish?)is BAHSTON. It's filmed on Commonwealth Ave. at Alston - rode through it yesterday w/out map.

Lonely map said...

If anybody wants me, I'll be in the walnut glovebox of David Byrne's car.

patents_as_a_weapon said...

Duders,

No, this isn't the rail bike designed for use on abandoned railways. THAT bike had regular wheels with a stabilizer hanging off the side that fit onto the rail such that the tires stayed right on the rail. Smoooth ride! Critical design flaw was the passing problem...

My creepy cousin was a chamois sniffer, not a seat sniffer.

He grabbed my bike part way between changing the tire. (racks were expensive then)

There were very few cycling enthusiasts at the time and we could not to be trusted because we were still 'playing with toys.' He was making fun of me and the rest of us bike-riding weirdos at the time. Looks like that has back fired a bit on him.

Looks like publishing that picture has inflicted emotional damage that only a civil suit can fix. Adding it to my lawsuit list now...

g said...

I dunno Frilly, when my hands are in my pockets and I have quite a bit of fun. Maybe you're doing it wrong.

ce said...

Kenny Banya, nice podium, it's about time someone got scranus and nipples up there.

Thanks also for the link regarding the soldier who was ambushed for his Madone. It's good to get some intel on what types of booby traps to look out for. The Main Gentrification Force has not yet passed through my Area of Bicycle Operation. I operate behind working class lines as a Gentrification Pioneer or Pathfinder, preparing the way for invasion. I carry my rucksack, axe and 3 day artisanal mayonnaise ration with me on my olive drab Surly Big Dummy. Gentrification Pioneers are distinguishable by the traditional wearing of beards and crossed felling axe badge.

frilly said...

Anon 4:34--I still have the pic & the panties. Guess I need to commute more, huh?

g--Sadly, my fingers are not that long!

Okay, back to the matter at hand, ha ha. How 'bout those elfin ears & what's up with the daisy dukes?

Anonymous said...

Have you given up on the good fight against calling people who ride bicycles "bikers"? Bikers wear leather, ride motorcycles, and go to Sturgis. We are cyclists.

Quilled and Lugged said...

@ Anon 4:58

COCK-SIX

My pleasure

Anonymous said...

Leroy
Weed
Peanut Butter
Roofies
Dog Goggles
Bodily Fluids

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

Isn't an iscrew Apple's device for viewing internet porn?

JB said...

In the "make eye contact" still, they guy appears to be headed the wrong way on a one-way street. Brilliant.

blood shot eyes said...

Cortelyou Anquetil, if you're implying that New York is over because of the hipster doucherie of the travelling skinny pants, you're right. It is what it is, however.

wishiwasmerckx said...

CE,some might say that he got what he had coming to him. He "had just passed Mangotsfield station and was approaching a bridge in the Siston Common area when things went black."

What kind of idiot rides between Mangotsfield station and the Siston Commons bridge without at least an artisinal axe for protection?

I heard that it all ended up o.k. in the end, because once the thieves discovered that they had pinched a Trek Madone, they promptly gave it back.

Anonymous said...

Chinooks (big warm winds) in the hi line of Montana.
Could it be that Lucas Brunelle has a possee?
Something to be considered as yesterday the FBI officially considered Juggalos a gang.

ce said...

WIMW, I have absolutely no idea where Maggotsfield is, but it does sounds grim.

I kind of oversimplified the situation here. While this town is a long way from any inner urban trendmire, the "working class" here are generally well off because of the all the high paid mining work. There is pretty much no chance I'm ever going to be mugged for my bike. It also helps that I look exactly like one of these Assault Pioneers .

ce said...

By the way, I just invented the word "trendmire" (do a search for it) and have already filed for a patent, so don't even bother Mr/Mrs patents_as_a_weapon.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Are the golden stickers in your golden book qualified for sticking them on bikes? And what can I do if I´ve more than 4 bikes, besides buying a 2nd book?
your´s, Bosphore

Spence said...

That was a good video especially since it wasn't boring, thanks.

Anonymous said...

In england there is a fight against mandatory helmet use for all. Those against the helmet law have stated something to the effect that ...mandatory helmet law has a negative health effect on society smilar to advertiseing tobbaco to children... due to the societiel decrease in health becuase helmets make people not want to ride bicycles... They also agruee the point that the free bike in OZ has had little success due to the mandatory helmet law down under whereas it has been very successfull in a short time in london due to the fact that helemets are not required...

Mr. pissta looking for a cockpit mounted walker ..it will make texting easier if I can let go of the bike once in a while as I walk doen the street..

christian louboutin said...

I loved every part of this post .christian louboutin shoes I will continue to focus on.

Anonymous said...

i try to make eye contact but everybody is too busy texting,,,then when I do get some contact, it's always "stink" eye. and that remind me, i always do my sniffing after the ride so i can tell how far i've gone.

Anonymous said...

Fight those helmet laws! Look at the exmaple of motorcyclists! Those guys have fought helmet laws successfully in several states leading to a nice supply of organs for smarter people. Thanks motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are usually young when they buy it so their organs are nice and fresh.

cycle

Joanne Seale said...

This robot can ride a fixie! Without brakes! http://www.dailyicon.net/2011/11/primer-v2-by-masahiko-yamaguchi/

Kenny said...

I'm not bright or anything, and late to the party because it's Monday, and too lazy to see if anyone's pointed this out, but that inforgraphic was a scam:


http://www.tbd.com/blogs/tbd-on-foot/2011/12/an-internet-spambot-duped-america-s-bike-lovers-with-a-fancy-infographic-13966.html

at least that's what the headline told me.

jachmilli said...

Now a bike shop is no longer the only place to find a great bike, you can find one online and have it shipped to your door and assembled in under ten minutes.

bike seat

Rex H said...

I like how the "make eye contact with drivers at intersections" picture shows the cyclist obviously salmoning, which makes it so much easier when directly opposite of oncoming traffic.

Rex H said...

I like how the "make eye contact with drivers at intersections" picture shows the cyclist obviously salmoning, which makes it so much easier when directly opposite of oncoming traffic.

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Fixie Bikes said...

i;m waiting for the howcast on how to breathe.