Bye bye Budnitz:
($5,600 for a singlespeed conversion?)
Alas, this morning I returned the Budnitz No. 1 to the Budnitz marketing guy, and thus my Budnitz adventure ended the same way it began, which is with me riding the bus:
I have to admit that riding the bus has grown on me, for if nothing else it keeps me in touch with the criminal underworld. Usually I don't pay much attention to "Wanted" posters, but this one was different, because if you'll look closely you'll see the fugitive is "armed with a silver syringe:"
If that syringe is titanium it could very well be Old Man Budnitz himself, who is no doubt looking to drug me and stuff me in a trunk for not treating his bicycles with the proper reverence.
To the credit of Budnitz Bicycles, the marketing guy who arranged the test (much to his regret, I'm sure) did offer to take the bike back, have it serviced, and return it to me free from those annoying ticks and creaks. However, I declined, since rather than keep riding the bus up and down Brooklyn I decided I'd rather spend my free time riding my own bicycles and be done with it. Sure, the Budnitz rides very nicely (as you'd expect from a Lynskey frame with high-end racing components on it), but then again so does my Scattante--with the added benefit that if it should disappear from a bike rack one day I can replace it for the cost of the Budnitz's headset alone.
Of course, when you're testing a bike like this you're not really testing the bike itself; rather, you're testing the experience. Here's the Budnitz experience, as articulated by Old Man Budnitz himself way back in January:
"I'm basically saying, 'You're going to spend $5,600 on a bike and potentially that frame's going to last you forever'," he said. "Or you can spend less than that on something that's going to be creaky after a while and it's going to get rundown or it's going to chip – the whole replacement mentality."
As I said back then, pretty much any decent frame is going to last "forever" (or at least longer than you). And my Scattante has been creak-free since I first pulled it out of the box in 2009, no thanks to me. Since then I've dropped it, crashed it, left it sitting out in the rain, and refused to perform any sort of maintenance other than that which keeps the bicycle rideable. Meanwhile, the Budnitz was creaky the second I put my ass on it.
This isn't to say there's anything inherently wrong with the Budnitz because it creaks. Any bike can creak, regardless of price. I'm also sure the creak is just a matter of simple adjustment, though anybody who's experienced a creaking bike knows it could take you minutes to figure it out, or it could take months--and despite my general ineptitude I actually do possess the mechanical know-how to eventually solve the problem. The point though is that I shouldn't have to, at least according to Old Man Budnitz:
"We’re offering very few things on purpose," he said. "This bike is dialed for what it is. Things were chosen for a specific reason. From a marketing side of things, it's my belief that things have gotten really complicated. It's not clutter, it doesn't cause anxiety, everything works really well together. We're just keeping it simple. A lot of it is modeled after the way Apple sell computers – just choose a few options and you're done and you don't have to be technically oriented to buy an Apple. Do you know what goes inside your car?"
Budnitz led me to believe that I could be utterly clueless about bicycles yet have a completely trouble-free riding experience just as long as I was prepared to spend a whole lot of money, but in the end the opposite was true. Certainly this is possible, but only if the people who are selling the bikes know a whole lot more than their customers. In this case, however, it seems the Budnitz people actually know less than their customers, which is pretty scary if you really think about it. So, if you're willing to spare no expense for an absurdly expensive titanium city bike for some reason, just buy yourself a Seven or a Firefly and be done with it.
But by all means, if you're looking for a "designer toy," go see Budnitz.
Moving on, this past Friday someone else lent me a fancy schmancy bike, but unlike the Budnitz this one was creak-free perfect from the words "Go, eh?"
That's because it was made by a Canadian who knew what he was doing:
(Another Canadian who knows what she is doing, censored by BKJimmy.)
Indeed, this past Thursday and Friday I visited Hamilton, Ontario, and an intimate group of lovely people were kind enough to take me for an extremely enjoyable mountain bicycling ride. Here's the view from atop the Niagara Escarpment, which involved a climb that very nearly made me puke:
But which was well worth it for the waterfall porn alone:
As well as the panoramic views of hoserdom:
That last photo strikes me as being perfect for one of those inspirational greeting cards, so feel free to print this out and place it in your workspace:
I was in town at the invitation of professor Michael Egan of McMaster University, and my visit was part of the "rolling seminar" series he has organized. I was also a guest of Café Domestique:
Who hosted a little soirée (pronounced "SWAR-ee") on Thursday evening:
It's not just the excellent coffee, food, and beer that make Café Domestique a great place to visit. Nor is it the extensive collection of laminated passes, which some say is the largest in North America:
Nor is it the Canadian cycling memorabilia:
Nor even the abundance vintage bike porn:
No, what really sets Café Domestique apart is that there's a portrait of Mario Cipollini in the ladies' room:
(Never you mind what I was doing in the ladies' room.)
By the way, on the other side of that wall is Cipo himself wielding a hand drill, and any moment one of those eyes is going to start following you mysteriously, like one of those paintings in "Scooby Doo."
Best of all, when you return to the restroom nine months later, you'll be able to use the changing table:
And as your child who bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain flamboyant Italian sprinter continues to grow, he or she will even be able to enjoy a snack at the 650c childrens' table, or draw on the big blackboard in the backyard while you drink coffee or beer:
If you've never been to Café Domestique I highly recommend a visit, and if I lived in Hamilton (or, more specifically, Dundas) I'd glom onto their Internet every day to write this blog and let my seventeen children run wild all over the establishment.
Anyway, after the mountain bike ride I packed up my essentials:
And headed to McMaster for the talk:
Always just a few
(Ah, the sexual assault alarms of academia...)
Soon, people assembled in a hall that would have been perfect for a sermon on the Almighty Lobster's Greatness:
However, this being a university, we stuck to more worldly topics, which mostly involved professor Egan asking me intelligent questions to which I responded with stupid answers. Then a helment debate threatened to emerge, at which point people began pelting me with poutine, and we finally adjourned over to Bryan Prince Bookseller:
(Domestique's owner in the foreground, looking nonplussed.)
Ostensibly I was there to sign books, but the real draw turned out to be the Microsoft marketing team in the background, who are busy giving away free pita. (I refused, since I don't take "blood pita." There's no such thing as a free lunch.)
And finally, on my way out of town, I had a run-in with a Canadian salmon:
A sincere thank you to Michael Egan, Café Domestique, Bryan Prince Bookseller, and all who took the time to stop by.
Lastly, speaking of helments, this past weekend the New York Times published this:
Wow! A thoughtful, non-hysterical take on bicycle helments? I can't believe it was published in an American newspaper.