Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Five Grounds for Immediate Equipment Reappropriation

Unlike drugs, motor vehicles, and firearms (well, in some states) anybody anywhere can walk into any bike shop and buy whatever they want—provided they’ve got the money. And while I’m all for shops making a profit, I just don’t think that’s right. Yes, I’ll come right out and say it—not everybody deserves to have whatever they want. I think there should be a strict set of criteria that a customer should meet before he or she is allowed to buy something. (Which is why no investors ever seem interested in my business plan for "Fascist Cycles.")

I also don’t think that this equipment regulation should stop at the retail level. I think it should also be enforced out in the world, well after the bikes and components have left the store. I envision a network of officers and informants who would report violations of these rules, upon which bicycles would be confiscated. Here are just a few circumstances in which you should be forced to forfeit your bike or components:

You Don't Glue Your Own Tubulars

The mind-numbingly boring tubular-versus-clincher debate continues to rage, as it undoubtedly will for all eternity. And as far as which one you prefer, I couldn’t care less. What I cannot stand, however, are riders who use tubulars but cannot glue them by themselves. Instead, they have a shop do it. (This may not be common everywhere, but it sure is here in NYC, where everyone seems to have more money than time.) And while I suppose I’d rather ride behind a guy whose tires were glued by a shop than by some idiot who stuck them on with some Elmer’s glue and a popsicle stick, I still think that if you don’t install your own tires you should have your wheels taken from you. Tubular gluing is an old, ritualistic cycling practice, and riding the tires without putting them on yourself is like sending someone else to your local house of worship to do your praying for you.

You Don't Tape Your Own Bars

Yes, it’s true, a lot of riders can’t and don’t tape their own bars. This is like being 40 and swinging by your parents’ house on the way to work to have them knot your tie for you. If you’ve owned a drop-bar bike for more than six months, either learn how to wrap ‘em or fork that sucker over.

You're Wealthy and You Don't Transport Your Bike Properly

I’m not a communist and I’m not Amish. Some people have money and they want nice cars. Fine. And sometimes you need to transport your bike someplace, like a race or a far-off group ride. Okay. But what I cannot stand is when I see a brand-new Mercedes or BMW pull up at the start, and the driver proceeds to wrestle his $7,000 Colnago out from the back seat. I mean come on! You’ve got the money, get a goddamn rack! The only explanation I can possibly come up with for this behavior is that there’s a spouse at home who does not want the statusmobile marred by unsightly load bars and fairings. Well, you know what? If you’ve reached a point in your life where you’re successful enough to afford all this stuff, yet you can’t put your foot down and give cycling the pride-of-place in your life that it deserves, then hand over that shiny piece of Euro-plastic. Or at least get one of those stupid removable trunk racks. Is a leather seat riddled with chainring holes somehow preferable to a Thule?

And don’t tell me you keep the bike in the car to save gas. If you cared you’d have bought a Civic.

You Don't Meet the "Dollar-a-Mile" Qualification

We’ve all seen the “too much bike” phenomenon in action. You know, the guy who buys the absurdly expensive team replica bike and rides it around the park a few times a summer in sneakers. Sorry, this is not acceptable. I think a very fair and accommodating rule is that you must meet the “Dollar-a-Mile” qualification in order to keep possession of your bike. Example: let’s say you paid $5,000 for your bike. You should then be able to prove that you ride at least 5,000 miles a year—which isn’t all that much given the fact that $5,000 buys a pretty serious bike. 5,000 miles a year is less than 100 miles a week. I think that gives plenty of latitude. And you can buy as many other bikes as you want, without additional mileage requirements. The only requirement is that you must ride annually at least the number of miles appropriate for your most expensive bicycle. Simple! And if you don’t? Repo time.

You Are a Serial Upgrader

Everybody wants nice stuff. Fine. But if you are not a professional bike racer and you own components made by companies such as AX Lightness, Lightweight, or Schmolke, or if you train on carbon wheels, or if your credit card starts vibrating when you hear words like “integrated,” “proprietary,” or “stiff yet compliant,” you have a problem. If this is you, your bicycle should be taken from you for no less than six months. At the end of that time you will then be permitted to buy a bicycle at a retail price of no more than $1,000, which you must then ride for no less than one full year without changing any components whatsoever. At the end of that year we’ll see where you are, and we’ll take it from there.


Radio Freddy said...

Man, you threw it down concisely and clearly. Here, here to the five. I love the $/mile rule.

Anonymous said...

well done. $/mile,nice. Unfortunately those rubes fund the R and D that ultimately provides the dura ace technology in the 105 I can afford.

I had a similar idea for females purchasing of short shorts and halter-tops. It included an in-store male judge and the potential for verbal ridicule. But it was shelved after several complaints and claims that everyone is 'beautiful' in their own way.

Anonymous said...

more money than brains.... it's never a good thing in any aspect of life, beit cars, bikes, music equipment, or whatver ... looking the part never makes you.

silly people tsk tsk. lets just all feel a little bad for em.

brother yam said...

I propose another rule:

You can have no more gears than you have IQ points. If you are unable to at least shift twice without dropping the chain, you have to start over with a one-speed and a coaster brake and you will be forced to attend class to learn how to ride a bike.

Colin R said...

$/mile, so simple, yet so right

Chris H said...

"But what I cannot stand is when I see a brand-new Mercedes or BMW pull up at the start, and the driver proceeds to wrestle his $7,000 Colnago out from the back seat"

So true, I saw this at a race the other week where a guy was wrestling a pimped out Colnago C50 from the backseat an Audi. Worst part is they're all about to enter their first Cat 5 race where they'll proceed to crash said bike and never ride it again because their significant other owns the pink slip to their balls as well as the car.

Art said...

Every time I see someone struggling to get a bike out of their back seat, I wonder how many frames they've trashed driving into the garage.

Anonymous said...

2nd Amendment:

Number of NJS parts on your whip not to exceed number of minutes you can track stand.

Stuart K. said...

"Fascist Cycles" hahahahahaha

Anonymous said...

The # of NJS parts on your whip shall not exceed the # of years you have lived in japan as a professional kerin racer.

The $/mile rule puts a serious hurt to the big bike boys(TM pending). Does pushing your motorcycle sans engine back up hill count to your mileage total?

Anonymous said...

A more off-road related one:

The total millimeters of travel you have must not exceed the total number of off-road miles you put in each year, and the chairlift ride up doesn't count. Nothing looks funnier than a guy with a sideways hat pedaling a Stinky home from the grocery store.

CycloKitty said...

"But what I cannot stand is when I see a brand-new Mercedes or BMW pull up at the start, and the driver proceeds to wrestle his $7,000 Colnago out from the back seat"
How about a a Cannondale System 6 Si 1 ($7000) dangling from a rack barely strapped to the back of an SUV? (Their paint schemes matched, so it had to be outside the vehicle.) Poor thing bounced around and nearly fell off as the SUV went down a hill. The driver looked mad at the bike, I suppose it did something wrong.

Derek said...

Nailed it withe the $/mile.

Another Rule:

If you can't remove a water bottle from it's cage take a drink and return water bottle without swerving three bike widths sideways you lose any bike you own over $500 and have to go back to riding the hybrid and drinking from your camelback.

C said...

Only thing worse than people who don't glue their own tubs are people who do but then don't bother to use real tubular cement and instead use FastTack! A definite violation of the "use the right tool for the job" rule.

Anonymous said...

Bikesnob, I wish i could quit you.

Anonymous said...

Is it OK to drag home Craigslist bikes on the back seat of my 1990 Jetta? I keep an old military wool blanket on the seat. Too many bikes get stolen here from racks when Saturday morning warriors stop for their latte on the way to a group ride. I've lost two bikes to untrimmed trees. City of Seattle rules state that trees should be trimmed to 14-feet from curb to curb.....8-feet over sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

Ok...1st, love this blog.

2nd, to "P/T misogynist", let's add the men in "man bras" and the not so "hot bodies"... you know...those middle aged men out every weekend in full team kits who have such enormous guts, you have to wonder when they're due...and what they're having. Quads...bison? Usually they're not even moving on the bike. They're standing around chatting with each other.

3rd, If you live in the burbs, those trunk racks are a problem if you have to leave your bike and car anywhere between the ride and home.

Roof racks? Yikes...Everyone out here knows someone with a garage who has forgotten all about that bike and plowed right into the house.

In the burbs (in a land not too far from NYC) people fold their backseats down in their leased/owned, status mobiles and lay the bike down on the non-drive side. See it every day. Some of these bikes are true status bikes, some are not. Is it so wrong? :)

Although the $ for mile concept is amusing, the real cost of a bike is too relative to income/assets so I like the R&D funding logic. We need big spenders, even incompotent, barely committed ones, to keep innovation going.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 8:46pm,

I have no problem with what you're doing. It's the $7,000 bike in the back seat of the $70,000 car that drives me nuts.

Anonymous 9:11pm,

I see your point certainly but I maintain my position. There are garages in the city too. As cyclists it is our responsibility to remain vigilant.

Plus, as I mentioned, when this bothers me is when it's perpetrated by the wealthy. All it takes is an infrared sensor and a kill switch in the engine, or a 20-foot portico. Done and done.


Anonymous said...

I have a roof rack, but if I ride solo, I just fold the seat down, remove the front wheel, and toss the bike inside laying on the non-drive side. I don't keep the rack on the car all the time. I don't want to look like a poser when I'm not carrying a bike. Plus it lowers my mileage.

Err, but I should learn how to tape my bar. I'll do it next time. Save myself the $20 the shop charged me to swap my bent bar and shredded tape from a crash.

Kevin said...

If you are serious about cycling, and need to transport your bike to and from, hold off on the Zipp wheels for a month or two and buy a goddamn rack. It saves wear and tear on your car and the bike. There are several mitigitating actions one can take to prevent garaging your rack. One guy takes a picture of his bikes on the rack and sticks it on the dashboard when he has them on top. 90% of the time the rack pops off the car and everything is moderately undamaged (except for the rack). Or spring for a hitch and a rear mount rack. I work at a store that does nothing but racks and we see garaged racks weekly. I carry my bikes on the back for many of these reasons.

Tim Jackson said...

Love the list! Very accurate too... maybe too accurate.

I've been riding clinchers for so long now, I hate to admit I had to "think" about how to glue the new race wheels. Sad, but true. Taping on the other hand... I love to change tape- prolly too often actually- so I retape bars all the time. Plus, with all the damned sample bikes I have to build... I get even more practice.

$1/mile ratio; is there any kind of sliding scale for us wankers who work in the industry and have to ride lots of different bikes? I mean, there's no way in hell I'll ever ride as much as the value of the bikes I have in the current stable. (I am SO damned spoiled... I know.)

I used to sell Litespeeds through a shop here, in my retail days, and we called them the "Masters Bike", since only the "old guys" with real jobs could afford them back then. I can't count the number of high-end bikes we sold to those guys (which I am now one of), and they were ridden on weekends and the occasional crit only. At the time, I woulda sold my left nut and maybe the right one too, just to have one of those bikes.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Don't worry, under the $/mile rule, you only need to ride as many miles as your most expensive bike costs.


meh-wee-uhn said...

BikeSnob: Wholesale or retail $?

BikeSnobNYC said...


Good question--if you got your bike through some kind of shop affiliation or sponsorship deal, it's the mean of the two numbers. Example: if you got a $5,000 bike for $3,000, your mileage requirement would then be 4,000 miles.

In the case of a used bicycle it is simply based on your purchase price.

Other scenarios may need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


StevenCX said...

You Don't Meet the "Dollar-a-Mile" Qualification
This doesn't make sense. The bike industry loves those guys that buy $5000 bikes and never ride them. It subsidizes the rest of us. And how can you have a problem with the poor college student on a $1000 bike who kicks everyone's asses because they ride it more than everyone else? And if you do, you best be donating to buy the kid a new bike!

Anonymous said...

God, dude. I live for your posts. I'm on a trip and couldn't check for a whole I get to gorge myself.

Probably no one is still reading this string but I'll add another rule, triathlon specific:

In sprint triathlons, anyone who finishes the bike section on a hybrid with flats ahead of a decked out tri bike automatically gets to switch bikes. I don't care that the swim might give people a head start... If you are that damned slow in the water, skip the carbon and buy some water wings!

bikesnobnyc: 2 questions....
1. What do you "do" for a job? I hope you are getting paid for your kick-ass writing in some way.
2. When will you turn this blog into a book? I've read some great books (check out "The Poo Bomb") that were spawned from blogs. You definitely have the chops.

Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Mostly good points but I disagree slightly about the rack one. My car (old Honda Accord) has enough trunk space to fit the bike fine in the back with both wheels off. I prefer this to setting up the Saris rack that I have when I'm by myself. It only takes about 2 minutes to get the bike in and out of the car, has no effect on the car interior and keeps the bike out of the way of exterior mishaps.

Anonymous said...

pt misognyist: so sadly true. Who do these girls think they are fooling? It sure isn't gravity.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 7/14 6:42pm,

Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you're enjoying it. Don't know if people will buy a book when they're getting the milk for free (sorry for the mixed metaphor), but I fully expect to cash in when I unveil my line of BSNYC top-tube pads.


Anonymous said...

I'm coming to this late, but just another compliment for an amusing post.

I'm not sure I should admit this, but I have never heard of AX Lightness, Lightweight, or Schmolke, nor will I endeavor to type these words into Google to find out more. I'd have added "receives the 'Preem' catalog" to that list, but then remembered I once got sent that glossy, unsolicited.

FWIW, I think automatic [i]preventive[/i] reappropriations (pre-appropriations?) are due for the eejit cat-5's who go on web forums asking, which bike to buy - the Colnago Extreme or the Seven Whoha, without acknowledging that there's a good chance they'll wreck their new toy in the next two years during some dinky 40 rider crit.


Anonymous said...

what about us europeans €/km ;) would be a bit unfair

ZigaK said...

Regarding the first one, gluing your own tubulars. I know serious cyclists who go to the local shop to have their tires inflated, because they don't own a pump. Seriously.

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