Firstly, here's today's Happy Wednesday Fun Fact, brought to you by the Wicking Pedia:
According to the Thai solar calendar, the color associated with Wednesday is green.
Interpret that as you will.
Secondly, yesterday I took the bus, and it wasn't even raining! Here's what the cockpit looked like:
(Sun-drenched bus cockpit.)
I almost never take the bus, and when life conspires to force me out of my home I generally look to the bicycle--unless the distance I need to travel from my home is shorter than the length of an actual bicycle, in which case I walk because riding there would just be silly. (For example, I don't ride to my next-door neighbors' apartment when I need to borrow some maple syrup for my bath. When your rear wheel's at your departure point and your front wheel is at your destination you're only being stupid.) Or, if the weather is especially foul, I might take the subway instead, since at this point in my life I simply have nothing to prove by riding in foul weather. (If I did I'd actually put on pants once in awhile.)
Generally speaking, however, the bus simply does not enter into my consideration.
But it did yesterday, because yesterday I was picking up a Budnitz. I did not have the Budnitz dropped off at my home for the simple reason that I don't want anyone seeing my home. (My next-door neighbor Martin Amis resents the intrusions, and he's mad enough as it is since I keep "popping 'round" for maple syrup wearing only a bath towel.) Instead, I had it delivered a short distance from my home, but not short enough to walk, and I wasn't going to ride there because I had to ride the Budnitz home, and the subway was out of my way, and then I realized our meeting point was right on the bus line, and next thing you know I was on a fucking bus.
I took the bus.
Also, there was a certain elegance in the juxtaposition of the bus trip and the ride home on this lavishly expensive designer douche chariot:
(Budnitz No. 1, as photographed by Martin Amis)
Now that you're up to speed, I hope you'll indulge me and allow me to get serious for just a moment:
Sorry, sometimes you have to be heavy-handed in order to set a serious tone.
Also, while we're being serious, I'd like to point out that I've been writing this blog for something like five years. Sure, I'm a hack; yes, my blog looks like crap; absolutely, I wrote my best post sometime during week two and it's been on a downhill slide ever since. Nevertheless, you'd think my sheer longevity would afford me just a tiny bit of respect.
But you'd be wrong.
More specifically, let's say you're giving a bike blogger a $5,600 titanium bicycle to review. And let's say that bike blogger's entire raison d'être is making fun of expensive stuff and pointing out embarrassing errors and oversights on the part of marketing people. And let's also say for the sake of argument that you hope your exquisitely-crafted $5,600 titanium dream bike will win him over and melt his icy heart, if not force him to eat his words. Well, certainly you'd give the bicycle at least a cursory examination before handing it over to make sure, for example, that the wheels are properly installed in the frame.
Here you'd be wrong as well.
No, when the Budnitz marketing guy handed over the Budnitz the first thing I noticed was that the rear wheel bolt-on skewer was not tightened. I don't mean it was a little loose, either; I mean it was open to the extent that you could fully rock it back and forth in the dropouts. Surprised, I pointed this out to the marketing guy, figuring he must have transported the bicycle by car or by subway and simply didn't notice. Instead, I was shocked to learn, he had ridden it all the way to Brooklyn from Manhattan that way and said he hadn't noticed. I'm amazed that the wheel didn't pop out when he was going over the bridge, but I guess that's why the Almighty Lobster On High invented the vertical dropout.
Now I should say at this point that I don't want to get this guy in trouble with Old Man Budnitz or anything like that. He's a very nice guy. He was punctual. He was accommodating. He went way out of his way to lend me a bike. At the same time, it seems to me that handing a nitpicky blogger a bike in this state is like a fashion designer lending Vogue a suit with pecker tracks in the crotch, and as such I feel it's my obligation to report it.
Anyway, we went to tighten the bolt-on quick release, but for some reason it wouldn't turn. I figured it must be bottoming out somehow, or that maybe there was some theft-proofing mechanism that wasn't immediately apparent to me in my hurried squatting-on-the-sidewalk state. So finally, figuring he had made it this far and that I would probably survive too, I just rode it home as it was and refrained from using the rear brake. The bike creaked as I pedaled, almost certainly due to the loose skewer, which further led me to wonder how he hadn't noticed it. (Though it did distract me from the clunking of the headset, which was also rather loose.) Finally I got home and removed the skewer, at which point I learned that the reason it wouldn't turn was that the little spring was hopelessly mangled and caught in the nut:
So I replaced it with one of those cheesy plastic ones that would doubtless make Old Man Budnitz plotz:
(Eeew! It's not titanium!)
I also tightened the headset and made various other adjustments, at which point it suddenly occurred to me that they probably weren't lending me the bike to review, since the typical Budnitz customer would never read this blog. Instead, they probably pawned their tester off on me for the free maintenance!
It was a chilling and humbling revelation.
By the way, at this point you may have noticed I've spent more time futzing with the bike than I have riding it, which is exactly why all these bike reviews you read in all these magazines and websites are so ridiculous. What most of them call a "long-term test" is, in the real world, barely enough time for a bicycle to be broken in. You can't properly evaluate a bicycle until you've worn through at least one set of tires, brake pads, cogs, and grips.
Nevertheless, I do intend to use the bike in the manner in which its marketed, by which I mean as a "city bike," and that will involve locking it up outside if need be, here in my hometown of New York City, bike theft capital of the USA. Shrewdly, Budnitz have equipped this city bike with fancyschmancy everything: Fizik Aliante saddle, White Industries hubs, Paul brake levers, and even a titanium Chris King headset (about three times more expensive than a "regular" aluminum one) to make it sting that much more when the bike eventually gets stolen. Therefore, last night I set about "uglifying" the bike like they're always telling you to do in those stupid Internet theft-proofing instructionals. Here's what I did.
First, I found the ugliest picture I could:
Then I made with the scissors:
(Ikea scissors, non-titanium version.)
And showed that, while I'm helpless when it comes to digital imaging, my old-school artz and craftz skillz are positively top-notch:
Next I fired up the frugal man's laminator (clear insulating tape):
And stuck the whole mess right on the downtube:
It was touch to apply since the bike is so damn swoopy. Even so I doubt anyone will touch it in this condition, and I'm sure Old Man Budnitz is beside himself by now.
Moving on, while Budnitz spared no expense in "speccing" the No. 1, I may still upgrade to the "bong trigger rims," as forwarded by a reader:
vintage specialized carbon fiber road bike - $700 (mission district)
Date: 2012-09-25, 7:34PM PDT
vintage specialized road bikes super light 16 full carbon fiber frame and forks richie crank bong trigger rims and tires all the components on this bike Shimano 600 except for the derailer it's dur 1 sweet ride interested Rick (650)630 [deleted]
Though I'm not sure if they're "dick brake" compatible (via the Tweeter):
full suspension PacificYX8500 - $125 (Gresham.OR`)
Date: 2012-09-24, 8:29PM PDT
selling a 24 speed Full suspension mt PacificYX 8500
has a front dick brake
Easy of front tire
125 or best offer
Call or text
The bicycle above forwarded to me by a reader who saw it on the Cincinnati Craigslist. ("Cincinnati Craigslist" sounds like a euphemism for a particularly filthy sex act.) Sadly the ad has since been deleted, but happily the image survives.
Lastly, you can still submit an entry to the Second Biennial Cock-Off contest, but not for long. Here's a refreshingly subtle entry:
I call this style "The Weightlifter:"
Then there's this one, for which the entrant was kind enough to supply a completed checklist:
- the eye-hook mounted through the toptube.
- the plastic bags
- the bungee corded lock
- the upsidedown bars
- the two mirrors
- the electrical tape bar-tape
- one bell
- one light mount (no light)
- one computer
- one electrical taped Canada flag, with spear tip
- two cell phone holders
- one bar mounted bag (ziptied)
Here's that eye-hook:
And the plastic bags:
Which leads me to believe it's a dedicated dog-walking bike--or even a dog-assisted bike, since the handlebar placement is ideal for controlling a bicycle towed by a canine:
The seat also keeps the rider (or, Carl) warm in the Canadian tundra:
Here's the entire bike, photographed at the North Pole:
Finally, there's this astounding canopy bike:
Though due to the non-conforming subject line of the entrant's email I may have to disqualify it.