Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I like cheap bikes and I cannot lie.

"No two salads are alike."
--Pete Seeger

Like Pete Seeger, I live in a log cabin by the Hudson River.  Every morning, I wake up, split a bunch of logs with my Rivendell axe, and then I head down to the riverbank and practice my banjo or banjo-like thing:


My favorite part of that song is the gentle sound of falling rain.

I mean blood.  Because it's raining blood.

Scary.

Once I've completed my morning chores, I head upriver for some bicycle cycling.  Sometimes, if you stop and look at the city from the river's edge, you can imagine what it will look like in a thousand years when it's dead and empty--a crusty, brittle cold sore on the toxic mouth of the poisonous Hudson:


And yesterday was actually a "nice" day, with temperatures soaring way up into the mid-30s in American degrees:


Further upriver, I stopped to empty my bladder atop a steep slope, my back facing the icy waters below.  As I urinated, I imagined my Sidis losing their purchase upon the frozen soil, and I could clearly picture myself spraying urine wildly in all directions like a Willie Water Bug as I tumbled.

Then my eyes alighted upon my bicycling cycle, and as I voided myself I composed an epistle to it:


Dear Generic Blue Bicycle,

I bought your frame some years ago, used and very cheaply--cheaper in fact than your crabon fork, to which I "upgraded" for no good reason other than you're supposed to upgrade to a crabon fork and this one was on sale.

You have, in the time I've owned you, paid for yourself (including all your components) at least twice over, since I told an insurance company you were "totaled" after a woman drove into me from behind on Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn on the pretense that she "didn't see me," and I over-estimated your value by at least a factor of ten.

Every time I ride you, I think of the fact that you are the only bicycle I've ever owned that actually made me money.  Even when I actually rode a bicycle for money as a messenger my bicycle never actually made me money, because it got stolen, and I'm fairly certain it was worth more than I ever earned in that occupation.  

Also when I ride you, I think about what a ridiculous, bro-tacular, fap-fap-fapping, mutually circular wankfest bicycle marketing and reviewing is.  First of all, you're made of aluminum, which means you're supposed to be "harsh," and "not durable," and other stuff like that--yet you probably ride more "smoothly" than any other bicycle I own, and you remain in fine fettle even after having multiple owners and flying around the country in a soft case and getting hit by a car.

You're also supposed to have a "flattened top tube for easier portaging," though somehow in years of cyclocross racing you never managed to sever my arm from my body while I was carrying you.  You don't have disc brakes, yet somehow you still manage to stop effectively in all weather.  You're supposed to be made of crabon, yet somehow you're still more or less as light as my bicycle made from crabon.  And you're supposed to have a "beefy" BB30 bottom bracket shell and an integrated headset--though the threaded bottom bracket shell and standard 1 1/8" headtube is, as far as I'm concerned, the very pinnacle of sporting bicycle frame "standards."

I have ridden you on pavement, I have ridden you on dirt, and I bet I could even ride you on gravel, if only I were foolhardy enough to ride on gravel surfaces without first purchasing a dedicated $7,000 gravel bike with an extra set of bottle bosses and a plastic accessory for carrying the CO2 I don't use anyway because they're stupid.

Most of all, you remind me of what a weenie I am, because there are at least three bikes I could sell and not miss because I have you, yet I persist on keeping them anyway because I'm lazy.

Boom Shanka,

--Wildcat Rock Machine


Yes, I wrote all of that with pee-pee in the snow, and if you hurry northward you still may be able to read my yellow words before spring arrives and they melt into the thirsty soil.

Oh, I just remembered another thing my cheap aluminum bicycle does (or, more accurately, doesn't do), and that's the "high-speed shimmy:"


Maybe if I had a more expensive bicycle I'd get to enjoy riding a bicycle that starts oscillating wildly once it hits Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo" speed, and then I'd have an excuse to buy some wheels that have been built using a Japan Robotics wheel analyzer complete with 3-axis accelerometer:

We use a Japan Robotics wheel analyzer in our building process to determine the rotational balance of the wheel. It has a 3-axis accelerometer and provides a simple, digital graph output similar to an oscilloscope. The period of rotation may be changed as well as the scale of amplitude. Furthermore, the wheel position is noted in 0.1-degree increments, so we can ‘see’ where the periodic energy is affected (nulled, or maxed).

I'm just about the world's shittiest wheelbuilder, and I use a crappy plastic stand that looks like part of a children's toy, yet whenever I've put these wheels on my cheap aluminum bicycle and approached Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo" speed I've never experienced shimmy.  In fact, the only time I've ever experienced it was when I was younger and stupider and way too caught up in bike racing, and I was using tubulars ostensibly for the performance benefits but really as an affectation.  Anyway, I did experience speed wobble with my tubular wheels once, but I'm pretty sure it's because the tires were lumpy and I mounted them all crooked like an idiot.

Speaking of the inverse relationship between cost and performance, I just saw this on Twitter:


I talked to [redacted] and [redacted] in regards to this Shiv.  The way our warranty policy is written a break resulting from trainer use would be considered an outside force.  With that said it is not explicitly written in the warranty policy and there are no trainer warnings on the bike.

We all know how horrible this news is to deliver to a customer.  [Redacted] will get you rolling with a goodwill frame replacement.  Can you let us know what trainer the customer was using so we can relay that to our Quality Control team?

Thanks,

So, to recap:

Specialized Shiv, "the ultimate Tri weapon," retails for up to $11,000:


Yet evidently you shouldn't use it on a trainer, because that's an "outside force."

My guess is soon we'll see a new proprietary $1,500 Shiv-specific trainer from Specialized that will be the only one that doesn't void your warranty.

However, in fairness to Specialized, it looks like they did replace the frame anyway.  I'm also amazed they offer any warranty at all on a bicycle that's ridden by triathletes, considering their renowned bike-handling skills, as evidenced by this video which I'm re-posting because I feel like it:



It looks as though the driver may not have signaled the turn, but either way, come on.

97 comments:

dancesonpedals said...

[podo)

ge© said...

top meh

Yeah Cleveland! said...

Podio

Anonymous said...

dropped

JB said...

funf?

mikeweb said...

Sorry for the crappy lead out Anonymous.

dancesonpedals said...

i like cheap bikes and I can not lie..when a bike with a little bitty frame shakes those two round spinning things in my face i want to plotz

mslepre lve

babble on said...

Ooooooh, an epistle! How very literary of you, snobber doodle. Maybe there's hope for me yet that Campagnolo will replace the spokes and derailleur which imploded on me last year.

the Jimboner said...

toop teen!

DB said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has his bike insured for a wee bit more than it's worth.
Replacement coverage. Oh, yeah!
That's why I don't lock up my bikes.

DB said...

Very nice Ode to a Bike today.
I had a lump in my throat reading it.

3G said...

All this snow. All this snow has to go go go!

JB said...

Babble, to be in the presence of Campagnolo components is a privilege. You were lucky for the time you were allowed to spend with that derailleur.

McFly said...

You do all that in Kilroy Font?

JB said...

I haven't gotten speed wobbles since I was 13 on a bmx. Also, skateboard speed wobbles suck.

One of the worst feelings is seeing the speed wobbles kick-in on your kid as he/she flies down the sidewalk - knowing they are about to go down.

Yeah Cleveland! said...

"Angle of dangle"!!!

babble on said...

JB Right?!?

The derailleur needs constant maintenance or it threatens to do it again.

And I saw my little guy's speed wobble fail coming. Ugh.

streepo said...

scranus

le Correcteur said...

top twenty; I'm a day behind; where is everyone?

Anonymous said...

Visited Berkeley last week. So many well used old steel road bikes!

wishiwasmerckx said...

Product liability law requires that a product be designed not just for intended use, but for foreseeable misuse as well.

"Outside force" would not be a recognized defense to a product liability claim, because unless the frame simply disintegrates whilst standing unattended and unmolested, ANT failure is due to an outside force.

Specialized is an awful company. and they can suck it.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, you have participated in a triathalon? I'm sorry, that voids the warranty"

Homemade Potato Vodka said...

I'm wondering, what's the thinking behind the positioning of the quick release levers on your urinating bike, Snobby?

Their orientation seems rather aggressive, leaning into and cutting through the wind. Personally I prefer the sleek, swept-back look where the levers are aerodynamically arranged horizontal to the ground, but if there's an advantage to tightening one's QR levers in the method displayed, one would be grateful if you could elucidate.

wishiwasmerckx said...

oops, "ANY" outside force.

trama said...

that tridork hurtling into the side of the truck reminds me of that famous picture I saw once, so famous I cannot find it again, of a bleak Sahara-like desert scene with one lonely tree occupying the stark lunar vastness, with a landcruiser smashed into it.

Beth said...

HPV, presumably it reduces or perhaps even eliminates speed wobble.

(Human Papilloma Virus?)

BikeSnobNYC said...

Homemade Potato Vodka,

Front points to Jesus, rear points to my scranus. Lets him know where he can kiss me.

Hail Satan,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Comment deleted said...

You are one prodigious pisser, Wildcat.

WTF in regards to aluminum not being durable? From whence emanateth this slander?

McFly said...

Your saddle post clamp is bass ackwards and is creating an enormous amount of dirty air. If this dirty air is still present and circulating wildly when you pee it could explain some of the erratic urine flow.

crosspalms said...

I think I've installed my tires upside down, but I've never been able to do a headstand, so I can't tell for sure. If I look at my bike in a mirror, then turn the mirror upside down, will this show me?

Anonyidiot corrector robot said...

I'm a total loser douchebag with no friends, so let me type this in and click send:

I'm wondering, what's the thinking behind the positioning of the quick release levers on your urinating bike, Snobby?

Their orientation seems rather aggressive, leaning into and cutting through the wind. Personally I prefer the sleek, swept-back look where the levers are aerodynamically arranged horizontal to the ground, but if there's an advantage to tightening one's QR levers in the method displayed, one would be grateful if you could elucidate.

(Since ACR is on vacay this week, I Bender completed this one. You're welcome losers.)

Roille Figners said...

DOOP-DE-DOOP

mikeweb said...

Any aluminium framed bicycle I've ever owned has been stolen. None of my non-aluminium bikecycles have been stolen. Do the math.

Comment deleted said...

mikeweb, that's a terrible durability record. I guess I understand now.

Anonymous said...

Aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines.

Enzo Ferrari

vsk

Freddy Murcks said...

I was thinking of buying a Shiv and becoming a triathlete, but the lobotomy procedure that was recommended before purchase was unsuccessful, which left me in possession of my mental faculties. As a result, I scored much too high on the pre-purchase intelligence test and they refused to sell me one. I do now have a really sweet scar on my head, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

takes wreada

JB said...

JB's Quick-Release Lever Position Specifications

1.0_ The front wheel quick-release lever shall be positioned approximately parallel to the fork blade.

2.0_ The rear wheel quick-release lever shall be positioned approximately parallel to either the chain stay or the seat stay.

3.0_ Alternate positioning indicates that the bikecycle belongs to a professional bikecycle racer or a Fred.


The blue Al bike meets or exceeds these specifications.

(argument over definition of "Fred" may ensue.)

Anonymous said...

Dirty air; that sound like sailor talk.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...at least the title of the video is accurate.

just sayin'

lilvudi massacred: yep... even robot knows it

CommentorBot9000 said...

Quick release levers should be placed so you can push your thumb against the fork blade/stay to help open the release.

Comment deleted said...

OK, I just searched "aluminum durability" on BikeForums, and now I'm depressed.

That'll teach me to ever, ever look at BikeForums.

My Marin is apparently in imminent danger of disintegrating. How it's lasted 20K miles, I'll never know.

Anonymous said...

Yes, CD; the next time you drope the hamer the power of your mighty guads will cause your frame to asplode.
I know this to be true; I read it on BF.

I [heart] Sports Ba[redacted] said...

JB at 1:36,

Yes, but should they be arrayed forward or backwards?

And what is the procedure for accommodating fender and rack fixings?

Furthermore, is it acceptable to fit a front wheel with the QR lever positioned on the drive side of the bike!?

GranFondo Fred said...

I just pay my bikecycle shop to position and close my quick-releases.

David said...

I like them to point backwards like they're little pennants flying in the wind.

JB said...

It should be obvious (Q1), but specs are specs. Q2 and Q3 require no revisions.

JB's Quick-Release Lever Position Specifications
Version 1.1

1.0_ The front wheel quick-release lever shall be positioned approximately parallel and adjacent to the fork blade.

2.0_ The rear wheel quick-release lever shall be positioned approximately parallel and adjacent to either the chain stay or the seat stay.

3.0_ Alternate positioning indicates that the bikecycle belongs to a professional bikecycle racer or a Fred.

dancesonpedals said...

even after i learned that one must align tire label w/ valve, i could never remember if the label should be on the drive side....fortunately, tires now have bicoastal labia & i can remain a fred in good standing

mephistopheles said...

My quick levers just point whatever direction they happen to end up in after turning clockwise and tightening to approximately 66.6 N-m.

commentatorbot_209734 said...

Proper quick release positioning has a fetish-ized velominati-fantasy ideal.

Front: Parallel to and in front of the fork blade, non-drive side.

Rear: Parallel to and in front of the seat stay.

In both cases, this minimizes, (wait for it, because here is the ridiculous part) the possibility the lever is opened by another rider's wheel/bike crashing into you.

The real rule: be sure it's closed, tight!

Roille Figners said...

JB - Is section 1.0 of the QR Lever Position Spec intended to cover raked forks? And if so, should the QR lever be set parallel to the raked portion of the fork, or to the upper portion/steerer tube/headtube? My instinct leads me to reference the portion of the fork closest to the quick-release itself, but you know how ASSUME puts U between ME and some ASS!

Same question for section 2.0 and curved stays.

Help!

commentatorbot_927 said...

Oh yes, those aluminium bikes asplode all the time. Just like those crabon Shivs after touching a trainer.

The answer, of course, is to buy a new shiv. It will asplode if you put it on a trainer and probably asplode on gravel leading to certain death.(TM)

So, be sure you have one of each kind because they might asplode and lead to death like so many bicycle cycling does.

Fortunately, Death has not found me yet from riding on the not perfectly paved by-ways of Canada's underpants.

Dooth said...

Wildcat, that's Johnny's bike!

Roille Figners said...

Today instead of being annoying it's sort of fascinating to me, all the fretting and worrying about strength & weight ratios, various asplosions, so-called power transfer, cutting-edge materials, crabon etc. What are you, the Burj Khalifa? The Space Shuttle? No, you're a couple-hundred-pound human on a bicycle, not going very fast. But -- and this is key -- where's the self-deluded grandeur in that?

Lesson: If you want to make a bunch of money selling stuff people don't need (that is, if you don't happen to be in the rice business or something), appeal to their douchey, infantile grandiosity.

Holy shit, I have cracked the world open. CLOSE IT UP! CLOSE IT UP!

Tom Araya said...

There's only one way to upgrade - Piece By Piece!

RoadQueen said...

I'm too late to matter today!

WOO-HOO!

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

re: the piss bike

Your blue anodized cable saddles don't match the blue paint of the frame. That's like wearing pants and a shirt of the same color but differing shades.

Oh yeah you don't wear pants.

Nevermind.

Roille Figners said...

dadla jn jn jn jn jn jn dadla, dadla, dadla dadla jn jn bo buh bun bee beh bo buh bee bo bu bee ba

Sing along!

Anonymous said...

My 2000 cannondale Jekyll with lefty and big knobbly tyres (the queens spelling!) is known to wobble - like a soggy noodle. It just does. A knee on the top tube stops it every time. Only wobbles on road going down hill mo hands. Has happened once on my steel road bike and that scared the brown stuff out of me as I was going rather quickly. Hit by a side wind. Fuck 3 axis wheel robots. It just happens.

Motorcyclist have the problem too. They use steering dampers. Your welcome.

Buffalo Bill said...

Well, I just got a new cyclocrossing type bike to replace the touring type bike that was stolen while I was using it as a commuting type bicycle cycle.

Then my insurance co doubled the deductible. I guess I'll start using two locks.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...first bike i ever built (frame and all) has a scary wobbly thing at fred woo hoo speed.

...a famous fred says that changing your headset to a needle bearing one should fix it. i'm too lazy to do that because after building the bike and piecing it together i lost all interest in upgrades.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...re. QR levers. i point mine to a direction based on my mood before every ride.

...e.g. when horny, they point upward; when ride occurs after epic sexy time, downward; when not sure where i'm going, one points forward, the other backwards... etc.

Comment deleted said...

Roille, I'm a 200 lb. hunk of thinking meat that becomes fond of things that work well.

I'd be sad if my Marin asploded. I don't think that constitutes delusions of grandeur, but I appreciate the reality check.

Monsieur Belette Fran├žais said...

"Hopf burification" is a local bifurcation in which a fixed point of a dynamical system loses stability as a pair of complex conjugate eigenvalues of the linearization around the fixed point cross the imaginary axis of the complex plane, [that] Under reasonably generic assumptions about the dynamical system, we can expect to see a small-amplitude limit cycle branching from the fixed point."

Did I say that? I'm sorry, I meant the frightening and dreaded phenomenon of High-Speed Shimmy. Now let's get these wheels wrapped up for you.

InsuranceFraudInvestgator9000 said...

since I told an insurance company you were "totaled" after a woman drove into me from behind on Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn on the pretense that she "didn't see me," and I over-estimated your value by at least a factor of ten.


A FACTOR OF TEN YOU SAY?
And you conveniently provided a link (to the books you wrote) with your real name and employer.

Anonymous said...

Is wheel shimmy caused by wheels? Hubs? Headsets? What Monsieur Belette said? An 18 spoke wheel was pictured. I'm not sure I want to go Fred woo-hoo with an 18 spoke wheel. Although, maybe I can't get to woo-hoo without it?!

Lumpen Fredetariat said...

Anon @ 4:05 - my story (and I was expecting more of these today and less crap about QR angles, though I should know better from the commentariat): had severe frame wobble on a long descent in the Eastern Sierras, probably at woo-hoo speed, though I don't palp a computer these days, which I survived by pointing off the road and rolling over in the dirt a few times. Bike survived - it is an old steel frame that I have taken that fast on plenty of other descents. The difference was that my old Mavic Open Pros had died a death and I was on LBS-recommended Aksiums. I tend to blame them for that, and another wobble that luckily I managed to control. Scary shit. Now I go down hills slowly.

McFly said...

I still remember when I replaced my nuts with quick release levers for the first time.

I kept pointing them the wrong way and they would get hung in my zipper.

ken e. said...

open 4 cds rule!

Fredder said...

In 1971 my brand new Raleigh Super Course developed front wheel wobble and nearly killed me the first time I got it to fredly woo hoo hoo speed. A fred friendly ditch saved me from my doom. Back in those days headsets had loose bearings and mine had been assembled one bearing short.

dancesonpedals said...

so lumpy fred, is it aksiumatic that pride goes before a fall?

sTONEdEADLAND said...

RIP Pete Seeger

Test Tickle said...

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Panther.

Panther who?

Panther on, panther off, I'm going for a swim.

JLRB said...

Shiv + Trainer - V = Shit Rainer

Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

"Maybe if I had a more expensive bicycle..." I didn't realize you sold your Ritte, or S-works, or all of your other expensive bikes.

Anonymous said...

Aksiums...smh. Pure garbage

Synonymous said...

What happened? Must have fallen asleep. Did I podium? It was 12:30 and I had just read something about harmonic amplitude.....ZZZZZZZ

Blog Drafter said...

When I experience a bit of wobble in the front end I cure it intuitively and nearly instantaneously by slowing down a little.

What's the fucking hurry, anyway?

Actually all wobble went away when I switched to 24 spoke wheels. Damn scary though, when it did happen.

I am a hekingp hume all right.

MotorBeerCan said...

I've only had one bike with a speed wobble problem (conjugating eigenvalues?), a 1984-ish Motebecane. Probably had something to do with a headset so badly brinelled the bars felt like they had click stops at certain angles, which in retrospect I suppose they did.

What a piece of crap. Loved that bike.

Lumpen Fredetariat said...

Blog drafter, mine wasn't a front end wobble, but the whole damned frame. Anon @ 5:18, I tend to agree, but couldn't afford much else at the time....
dancesonpedals, wish I could think of a witty retort, but started early on the Weds weeds

One Sick Puppy said...

I cut my cracked Specialized Rockhopper frame in half with a hacksaw so that it would better fit into a black garbage bag along with some kittens, I think that would constitute "outside force".

wishiwasmerckx said...

Sick puppy, next time, don't let the kittens help. They are not good with the hacksaw.

Oh, wait. You sick bastard...

ge© said...

this.


atmo







Boom!

BamaPhred said...

Dedicated Urinating Bicycle

It's the next big thing

I think that I shall never see
A fredly cycle built for pee.

Whose cold framed bliss is prest
Close upon the poisonous Hudson's breast.






Dave said...

My bikes always make me a ton of money, one way or another; I estimate at least $1000/year, just in commuting and local travel costs, longevity, etc. The biggest winner was my cheesy made-in-Mexico Benotto, given to me gratis by a friend whose wife demanded he get it out of the basement. I put many thousands of good miles on it before graduating to the 'bent. Only once did it try to kill me, and it was my fault for presuming to attempt the Fredly woo-hoo-hoo, riding down the last four miles at the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The shimmy suddenly started building up, and got worse as I braked in panic and fear of death. Finally I bulldogged it down to a speed where falling over was not fatal. But the trust between us was lost forever.

Unknown said...

I really hate 'musicians' that spend more time tending their hair than learning how to play. However, the headbands are faultless.

McFly said...

My Raleigh Competition has a steep rake and will only do a tank slapper if I sit up and take my hands off the bars to do a snot rocket or whatever. Bad thing is I never remember that until I sit up to do a snot rocket or whatever.

Anonymous said...

It's not a banjo...It's a Manjo. Actually they were quite popular back around the early 1900's.

Dylan Robertson said...

You forgot to mention that your Chinese made bike has absolutely no soul, (they are largely buddhists over there) therefore is joyless to ride.

And what? No artisanally curated gumwall tires? How do you survive in the snow, on any road frankly.

Yeah Cleveland! said...

I found this amusing. Although it may be too mainstream for the commentariat.
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TEhySzO14ik&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DTEhySzO14ik

Dooth said...

Specialized is developing a dedicated pee bike, the Piss Hopper.

JLRB said...

Yea Cleveage 8:18 - I like the video - it's all been said before but they did a good job with putting it all in one video

Dave @ 9:40 - I use the IRS mileage rate and figure out how much I "make" by commuting - one of the many lies I like to tell myself

JLRB said...

“No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough,” he said. “I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

Comment deleted said...

Cleveland @ 8:18, my favorite moment: "Oh, I'm going to K.O.M.!"

Anonymous said...

Who knew that Man vs. Trainer/Roller vids would be so amusing? Kinda sad in a way though.

babble on said...

I've had a couple of speed wobbles while travelling at woo hoo speeds... I always stabilize it with my knees on the frame. Also, I use my upper thighs to grip the saddle when I'm in a tuck, and purposely shift my weight back a bit while driving my force downward via the pedals. Prolly just lucky, but it seems to work...

McFly said...

Dayyyyyum gurrrllll......tell us more of the bikey sexy talk.......

Mr Pants said...

If you'd like to make that image your desktop, simply hit CTRL-Open Apple-Alt-Option-Command with the shift lock turned on, and with any luck your computer won't explode or randomly open browser windows full of live pornography videos playing at top volume, resulting in your immediate ejection from the public library