Yesterday morning I sat atop a ridge in silent contemplation:
As I contemplated, a Zen kōan came to mind:
The Enlightened Man
Shogen asked: `Why does the enlightened man not stand on his feet and explain himself?' And he also said: `It is not necessary for speech to come from the tongue.'
I then passed wind loudly, proving this to be true.
If I'm that wise on a regular bike, just imagine how insightful I'd be if I had a fat bike! Fortunately, Walmart--a.k.a. "America's Junk Drawer"--has expanded its fat bike offerings to include this seven-speed model for $230.99:
(Walmart: Fat Bikes for Fat People)
I am strongly contemplating purchasing one of these fat bikes so that I can review it on this bicycle blog, just as I did in my seminal 2010 write-up on the Mongoose Cachet:
(The Mongoose Cachet on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.)
Two things I don't miss: living in Brooklyn, and that piece of shit bike.
Not only that, but Walmart is also selling a kids' fat bike for $190:
The potential for this bike to suck is extremely high, yet still not as high as the price for Specialized's iteration of this niche within a niche within a niche:
Hey, with the money you save buying the Walmart version you could buy a solid gold single-speed conversion kit from the Nashbar Gold catalog:
By the way, if you're shocked by the idea of a $1,000 bike that your child will outgrow both physically and mentally after six months, you really shouldn't be. See, the truth is that the bicycle industry has reached "peak upgrade," and there's really nothing left to sell you now. Just a few years ago the idea of a $2,100 cyclocross wheelset would have been laughable--and while it is still arguably laughable, it's also become perfectly commonplace. Furthermore, it's virtually impossible for them to sub-divide these marketing categories further in order to sell you yet another bicycle. Extracting the gravel bike from the cyclocross bike was already a stretch, and there are only so many times they can change a head tube angle by half a degree and declare it to be a new type of bicycle before even the dumbest Freds realize they're being had.
Therefore, the bike companies realize that in order to get you to spend even more money, they've got to move on to your kids:
So basically, prices for kids' bikes now are what they were for adult bikes maybe ten years ago:
But it’ll cost you. Trailcraft’s Pineridge is $1,700 (there’s even a titanium version at $2,700). Specialized’s Hotrock XC Pro is a little cheaper at $1,550, but the full-suspension Camber Grom trail bike is $2,200 and the gravity-oriented Status Grom is $2,600. Trek’s top kids mountain bike, the Superfly 24 Disc, is just $660, but the company hinted that it’s revising the line and plans to unveil new models in the coming years.
"Hmmm, only $1,700 for a kids' bike? That's less than I paid for my cyclocross wheels!," reasons the modern-day Fred.
Also--and this is quintessentially American--if you don't buy your kid the very best of something right away he or she will just quit:
Kids are astute about what their peers are riding, says Travis Ott, marketing manager for Trek. That can lead to pressure to go up-market. But, he adds, there’s a good reason to prize quality: “If kids have a bad experience on a cheap bike, that ruins it for them. We’ve seen it happen and kids get turned off to the sport.”
Wait a minute: if I don't buy my kid an expensive bike he'll quit the sport?!? Good! I don't want my kid anywhere near this sport! My worst nightmare is that one day my child decides to become a bike racer. I'm much rather him be a rock musician. Sure, the employment prospects for each are similarly dismal, but at least aspiring musicians have lives.
Even the the bass player for a bar mitzvah band can score, but nobody wants to be with a bike racer.
Most importantly, you can't give a kid too much bike too early. Suspension? Gears? Tubeless tires? Are you kidding me?!? Talk about coddled! Kids should spend their entire childhoods on rigid bikes with one gear, otherwise they learn nothing about bike-handling. How are they going to figure out how bikes work if they never launch one off a set of stairs and land on the top tube crotch first? If your kid doesn't build a strong foundation of skills he or she could grow up to be a triathlete--you know, the kind of people who need remedial bottle holders because they can't rehydrate without falling down:
That is one Fred-tastic cockpit:
This bottle system utilizes a familiar motion to make the rider comfortable, and that motion is "wanking:"
(Fred doing the old five-knuckle shuffle.)
Check out this sweet ride:
The only problem is it's not very aero:
I imagine a Kickstarter for a pointy bottle will be next.
Lastly, speaking of triathletes, last Friday I posted this video:
A number of commenters wondered how the triathlete managed to crash, and while the word "triathlete" itself should be a sufficient explanation, one reader pointed out that the triathlete in question has posted a six-minute video describing what happened.
If you can't be bothered to watch (and I don't recommend that you do), basically what happened is that he attempted to look behind him while riding.
Sounds about right.