Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blows to the Hed: The Price is Blah

Yesterday, I suggested that many new bicycles are over-designed and overpriced. The same can also be said for road wheels. Once built by riders or mechanics from different components selected for different conditions and applications, road bike wheels are now often sold as complete "wheel systems." Despite the fact that these "wheel systems" come fully built in a box and are often difficult or impossible to service, they usually cost far more than their custom built, rebuildable counterparts. At one point, these "wheel systems" were considered high-end, but now they're the norm, and so successful has the transition from custom wheels to "wheel systems" been that most riders consider them an "upgrade." (Only in cycling is a prefabricated and disposable component considered an "upgrade.") Amazingly, yesterday's exotica are today's bare necessities, to the extent that the $650 Mavic Ksyrium Elite is now considered an entry-level "training" wheel.

However, not all wheel manufacturers are contributing to this wheel inflation. Take HED, for example. HED is the wheel company founded by aerodynamics guru Steve Hed. An aerodynamics guru is different from an aerodynamic guru, which is basically just a guy in a dhoti and a teardrop helmet. Hed has spent so much time in wind tunnels that he walks around looking like Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd in "Spies Like Us." Indeed, few people--save possibly for car commuters from New Jersey--know more about getting blown in tunnels than Steve Hed. In any case, the winds of change are clearly blowing at HED headquarters, because a number of people have informed me that they've just "dropped" a new wheel system with the low, low price of BLAH:

In case you're not familiar with current road wheels, here's where BLAH stands in the pricing hierarchy:





With the introduction of a BLAH wheelset, HED is mounting a serious challenge to other players in the "entry level" road wheel market, and between this and their new slogan their competitors had better take them very seriously:

It may be in poor taste, but it's certainly better than their old slogan:

Incidentally, the extra "p" in "Zipp" is there for the same reason.

Speaking of new trends in the cycling world, on Monday I shared a picture from Canadia of a bicycle that had been locked up with a belt. Well, the "beltlock" phenomenon is officially sweeping across North America faster than a Tour de France broom wagon sweeps up Frenchmen, because another reader has forwarded me a picture of a similarly secured bicycle in South Carolina:

At this rate you can expect to find designer "beltlocks" in track bike boutiques like Chari & Co. very soon, possibly hanging right next to the $45 26 TPI tires.

But while a belt might not be the ultimate in security, I suppose it's better than nothing at all, which is what too many riders choose to use when parking their bicycles. And even when they do lock their bicycles, they don't always lock the easily stolen parts of their bicycles as well, such as their wheels. For this reason, the streets of New York City echo with stolen wheel laments in the same way that a bowling alley resounds with the delightful sounds of falling pins or the monkey house at the zoo is filled with the delighted screeches of masturbating primates. Here's an example of such plaintive wailing in the night:

STOLEN - 3 track wheelsets - Grand +Union Brooklyn
Date: 2009-10-18, 9:44PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

Three track wheel sets stolen in front of Redd's bar, Grand between Union and Lorimer, around 7:30-7:45pm tonight (Sunday October 18th):

White H+Son laced to white Phils (front and back) -- single fixed w/ EAI track cog -- white rando on the rear, white gran compe on the front.

Silver Weinmann laced to silver Formula (front and back) -- fixed/free with white rando's.

Blue Weinmann laced to blue Formula (front and back) -- fixed/free with white rando's.


It would appear from this that there may be a direct relationship between one's "street smarts" and one's tire color. Granted, this is a small test group, but out of three riders with a total of six wheels not one of them thought to lock even a single wheel. There are those who say, "The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice." Perhaps then a corollary to this is "The blacker the tire, the smarter the rider," which would mean that three riders rolling on a grand total of six white tires are completely devoid of intelligence (at least in the context of securing their bikes). However, out of respect and a modicum of sympathy I will stop short of gloating--unlike this Craigslist poster who was not so tactful:

RE: "STOLEN - 3 track wheelsets - Grand +Union Brooklyn" (Hipsterburg)
Date: 2009-10-20, 9:49AM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

aw. did you hipsters drank way too much PBR's and forgot you had your color coordinated bikes locked up outside with your tiny kryptonite lock and perhaps a bandana wrapped in the frame? ?

i'd kill to see this momment happen again. i wanna be present. this is hilarious. i mean seriously.. 6 wheels!!! haha

While the poster may find this "hilarious," let's not forget the fact that just because it's hardly surprising their wheels got stolen doesn't make it right. As such, I'd argue the situation isn't "hilarious" so much as it's "tragicomic." At the same time, I'd also argue that the victims should consider themselves lucky. If they were too drunk to watch their bikes, then they were certainly too drunk to ride them home, and had their wheels not been stolen and they had attempted to do so they might not have survived--especially if their bikes were brakeless and some bitter hipster-hater like the above poster decided to pull the old "fixed/free flim-flam" by turning all their rear wheels around. Just imagine the horror they'd feel when their first red light skip-stop attempt resulted not in the reassuring sound of white tires resisting pavement but instead the horrific clatter of a ratcheting freewheel. Indeed, the last thing they'd hear as they rolled to their deaths would be the sound of pawls--the ultimate hipster indignity. Wheels can be replaced for BLAH, but life is priceless.

Above all, though, it's important to remember that we're all cyclists, and we're all human beings (unless you're that dog who can ride a bike), so we should try to help one another. I'm doing my part. In fact, I've already conducted a thorough inspection of the crime scene--though admittedly I did so in the comfort of the massage chair in which I blog thanks to a popular Internet mapping application. Using this application, I was able to obtain a "street view" of the establishment, and what I saw was quite revealing:

Right now, the person who was inadvertently captured in this shot is my primary suspect, and I advise you to be on the lookout for him. He is white, wears black clothing, and has a beard, which reduces the pool of potential suspects to the entire male population of Williamsburg as well as a good portion of the female population (specifically the ones who attended Sarah Lawrence). If you see anybody fitting this description riding a bicycle shod ("shod" is bicycle review speak for "palping" with regard to wheels) with white tires, call the authorities immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt to apprehend him yourself. This is not because he's physically dangerous; rather, it's because hipsters' parents generally have excellent lawyers, and physical altercations with them can turn out to be quite costly.

But when it comes to theft, even the smartest among us can fall victim. Furthermore there's a certain point at which anti-theft measures become unreasonable, and the effort involved in taking them outweighs the practicality of cycling. Sure, you should lock your frame, and your wheels, and perhaps even your saddle. Beyond that, though, you take your chances. For example, most reasonable people wouldn't take the time to somehow lock their forks, though apparently people do steal them:

STOLEN - FACT Carbon Fiber Fork (Union Square)
Date: 2009-10-16, 3:40PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

If anyone out there tries to sell you a red, Specialized carbon fiber fork, it's likely mine. It was stolen off my road bike on Wednesday afternoon. If you see this and know anything, be cool and let me know.

I guess some thief who wanted to smooth out his ride with the magical vibration-damping qualities of crabon took advantage of the convenience of a threadless system to help himself to a free "upgrade." This is a disturbing sign that we may need to start taking our forks inside with us now. And just as the hipster-hater gloated over the wheel theft, I'm sure retrogrouches are gloating over this one as they fondle their threaded headsets.

Even in light of this theft, bringing your fork inside with you may be excessive. However, bringing your folding bike inside with you should be a matter of course, as underscored in these ironically juxtaposed Craigslist ads:

Leaving your folding bike outside is like using your quick release skewer as a wingnut, or like putting $900 electronic Dura Ace shifters on a singlespeed cyclocross bike:

Then again, if your folding bike were this ridiculous, you might be hesitant to be seen with it at work:
Here's the designer, who looks like he just got shot in the back of the head with this dog:

Maybe he just got back from some wind tunnel testing.


Anonymous said...

Anon First?

Unknown said...


Asterisk said...

slow today.

Pontius Pilate said...



Anonymous said...

top ten!

Anonymous said...

top 10 blow your load

honkybucket said...

I got nothing.

innerlighter said...

Geez, go out do put yer clothes in the dryer and look what happes...

innerlighter said...


ant1 said...


"With the introduction of a BLEH wheelset"

you mean BLAH?

g said...

F5F5F5F5F5 Nah, not gonna post for a while, get some soda.

Paul said...

Aren't the Hed C2 rims a little wider? I believe they're 23 mm vs. 19 mm. As someone who as seen the wide tire/rim evolution on mtb side of things, I see this as being a large improvement.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That folding bike designer was shot at and missed and shit at and hit

rezado said...

mas wind tunnel testing

mikeweb said...

The period maintains its integrity.

woohoo!! way to go anonymous!

ant1 said...

is that last picture Slash? didn't know he got into bike design.

grog said...

I fold my jersey, not my bike.

hillbilly said...

"current road whees"...does that refer to H1N1?

Anonymous said...

They actually make locking skewers to replace the top bolt on a threadless steerer.

Of course, someone can still steal your brakes, handlebar, pedals...

But if I had a carbon fork, I'd have other concerns leavingit on the street where it can get bumped, rubbed, twisted, etc.


Me said...


g said...

"Here's the designer, who looks like he just got shot in the back of the head with this dog:"

Soda all over the screen.

kale said...

There should be custom Pistas and Langsters that come with this a sticker on the top tube instead of the "No Brakes" thing:

"If this bike is locked within a 1 mile radius of the Lorimer L train it is considered public property"

I'm upset by that hipster hater post, He should be thanking them for baiting thieves with such easy prey. It keeps the rest of us with black tires safe. Like Jesus, or something.

Dan said...


erikv said...

Have you stumbled upon a new exotic material used to make high-end road forks? What's crabon, exactly, and where can I get some?!?!

innerlighter said...

Interesting that they took the trouble to use two pictures of the designer folding bike, neither of which shows a rider actually on the bike. Hidden meaning? Or maybe just CGI, which would also be telling.


Astroluc (Find me on Tumblr and Instagram @Astroluc) said...

top 30... man, I am suckin' wind lately.

ant1 said...

innerlighter - most of these concept bikes you see on the internet are CGI.

ant1 said...

luc - if you can't suck the wind, get out of the wind tunnel.

Anonymous said...

$452 6TPI

CommieCanuck said...

I really like that article on the eco7, describing how it folds up in abstract detail.Wouldn't it be great if one could take an actual image of the folded bike and post it on the internets? all I could find was this computer rendered bullshit. I'm pretty sure this is Optimus Prime's illegitimate child. The wheel does not keep its integrity.

Aero gurus at Zipp have used math, computers and scientifical stuff to come up with the optimal dimple pattern for their wheels, lucky for them, the dimples ended up spelling, "Zipp" and not "Hed." or "Lightweight".

BTW...wanna really enjoy your new $5,500 crabon wheels? Try riding down a long winding hill in the rain. This is where you wished you had a fixed gear rear hub.

Daddo said...


despite other typos in today's post crabon is NOT a misspelling.

You haven't been coming to the meetings.

rural 14 said...

ant 2nd.
what are those "wheelsets" like really?
Does your average speed come up 15% on a 20 mile ride?
Does the effect last?
If i had a 19 lb crabon bike + fancy wheels instead of a 26 lb steel thing with wheel eyebrows and 32 spoke rims, would i be a lot faster, especially while climbing here in the rural 14 backyard (with 12% grades?).
Seriously now.
And does getting crabs hurt?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it; the less spokes = less meh.


Anonymous said...

This bit "...specifically the ones who attended Sarah Lawrence.." is sheer brilliance. I peed my chamois.

CommieCanuck said...

rural 14 said...what are those "wheelsets" like really?
Does your average speed come up 15% on a 20 mile ride?...And does getting crabs hurt?

I'm glad you asked all these questions. According to "Bikeforums, which is populated by guys who ride 800 junk miles a week and average 30-50 mph, and look like this, the answer is a resounding, "I pays more muney, I goes more faster".

And yes.

hillbilly said...

perfect summation, CC

jolene said...

canadians dont know shit they just itch a bit bladder imfectshins is worser

Anonymous said...

There's just so much to comment on, but the thing that grabs my attention is that Reynolds doesn't make wheels in its shop but at its "composite studio!"

Dennis Hopper said...

Trust me, Martha knows her way around light and fast Hed.

Anonymous said...


You are pricelss, love the illustration of the folding bike, folded.

CommuterNation said...

It seems these days that the price of everything is going up! Has anyone heard of Commuter Nation? It's a program that can save you up to 40% on commuting, including bicycling! You can use the pre-tax benefit to make bike repairs, buy bike equipment, and even pay for bike parking! Definitely check it out! You can get more information at

Anonymous said...


Why is the sticky icky considered a performance enhancing drug?

sufferist said...

shot in the head with a dog...har, har...I'm laughing....

Anonymous said...

I googled redd's and it's quite an interesting neighbourhood. But whats up with the old dude on the blue girls bike?
what is that a fishing rod?

rural 14 said...

50 - wow!
the last time i went 50, we were on our tandem, there was a burning rubber smell, we frantically tried to slow down using the classic Flintstone method, and our tire blew off the rim as I was steering us toward the grassy shoulder (is that like the grassy knoll?). Subsequently we independently connected a drag brake, and decided to stop towing the offspring.
I have fear of 50.
How about crabon wheelbrows? I've seed 'em.

Ken Abis said...

"What are the criteria for adding a substance to the List?

Must meet any 2 of the following 3 criteria:
• It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance;
• It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete;
• It violates the Spirit of Sport.

The crossword puzzle was pretty tough because it's Wednesday.

sufferist said...

Adapted from a skiing t-shirt that Forest Breeze (yes his real name, it was California after all) wore in highschool:

Give me Reynolds or give me Hed.

Thanks Forest....

sufferist said...

The aforementioned, in it's original form was:

Give me Rossignol or give me Hed.

Astroluc (Find me on Tumblr and Instagram @Astroluc) said...

christ... I lock up my 25 year old "mostly" true steel wheels (that'd probably cost $30 to replace) just because people steal anything . The last thing I want to do is have to carry my bike home.

Anonymous said...

I love wheelsets. I've had cosmic carbones, ksyriums, handmade clinchers and sew-ups (which I still ride.) In fact wheelsets are the only upgrade I can justify to the blonde I co-habitate with. She thinks all the wheels hanging in my garage tool room are worn out tires--I don't know, I guess because I make her take her car to the mechanic on her own when she get's a flat.

Anonymous said...


The purps are widely known to cause roadies to actually enjoy riding their bicycles, and this is strictly prohibited in professional cycling. Hence, no Wednesday for the pros.

Anonymous said...

crabon wheel systems are just a most obvious man-i-fist-ation of traginomics: the comedy of fools who buy their way to a better meh.

Daddo said...

i hear the european peloton gets calendars with nary a wednesday on them.

innerlighter said...

Close, but I'm pretty sure Steve never made skis...

Give me Rossignol, or give me Head.

But I'll settle for meh

ant1 said...

cyclotourist said...

Just got done fondling my headset.
Did I miss anything?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but in what COLORWAYS are the Hed wheels available, hmmm?

innerlighter said...

That is great, especially if you pause it at 0:21 for the expression on the rider's face. Although Lego people don't have fingers per se, it looks like he was flipping off the driver and yelling some epithet suitable for NYC just before getting creamed.

Maybe Lego will start building their bikes with brakes from now on.

sibosop said...

Learned about the boutique wheels the hard way (at the top of tioga pass). Now have set built by local builder who will fix them pronto if I can't instead of waiting *three* *weeks* for the [insert offender] company to fix them.
Snob wisdom continues to save me money. I wish there was a Snob equivalent for woodworking.

Bristol Traffic said...

We've seen mountain bikes with stolen forks -good suspension forks are worth money, so it's pretty brutal to come out and find some git has nicked your front boing:

Recommended action: steel non-suspension for the commuter. Lower maintenance, less demand, cheaper to replace.

Anonymous said...

That's it! This morning was the final straw. I've officially given up trying to be a good citizen by utilizing the effing bike lanes. Here's what I encountered in no particular order: oblivious rollerblader w/ headphones; person pulling a suitcase on wheels; old lady walking a dog; two people side by side each pulling a suitcase on wheels; and so many pedestrians I lost count (about half wearing effing headphones). I'd rather take my chances riding alongside sociopathic cab drivers.

Ahhh...there, it felt good to vent.
Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Ok, here's a news item that deserves the tag, OBVIOUS--

red neckerson said...

a post about blowing and hed and everbody is behaving so i will too

but i got some serous wood reding about this stuff

ScooterX - simple living, simply living said...

who are these idiots? don't they know even basics things, like

NEVER, ever lock a bike with a white belt after Labor Day!

Vikingland Cyclist said...


You should get to know the crew at HED.. Not always alot of sizzle from them, but a pretty good steak arrives at the table...


Vikingland Cyclist

StupidName said...

Computer rendered = Real
More enginering = better = more money
Industrial design = better quality.
Beefy bottom bracket= better

eleven is better than 3

Anonymous said...

i took my exhausted wheel into my favorite LBS for a rebuild. they suggested replacing, and started SHOPPING PRICES ONLINE! wtf. i now have a NEW favorite LBS

leroy said...

Does anyone know what the signs around the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge bike path are about?

They're orange and bear the word "HOH" with an arrow.

At first I thought it was a Craigs List missed connection for folks who can't spell Ho.

Sean said...

So I'm listening to 'Mind Chaos' by Hockey and along comes the song, 'Wanna Be Black'

How are these for hipster lyrics?

"what's your plans for the night
meet up and you know I'll get on my fixed gear
purple and black tights
dress just right for your decade too
dress just right for your age"

Fixed gear. Purple and black tights. Does that sound like anyone we know?

rockandrollcannibal said...

The orange signs probably indicate where some movie or another is being shot on location.

Is BLAH an acronym for something? I'm pretty lost there.

Dave said...

Is the second "P" in Zipp structural as well?

ant1 said...

no, the first P is the structural one, the second, like the dimples, is just there for show.

CommieCanuck said...

Is the second "P" in Zipp structural as well?

The second P is backup for when the first P cracks.

Gettin' RIPPED! said...

what are the two rules for a ripped body, and don't they know, rules are meant to be broken? I guess i'll never have a ripped body . . . damn it!

BS, question for ya. Will this product help me win races? If not, will it at least help me have a super hot girlfriend? If not, will it at least help me increase the number of sick tats I have?

Klaus Mohn said...


Anonymous said...

High Occupancy Hovercraft

Chris said...

The Hed Flanders? Does it prattle on about Jesus?

Ned Flanders Actual said...

You're going straightereatereate to Hell, Chrissy! But that's okay!! 'Cause I know I'm not!

Anonymous said...

"collapsible wheels" doesn't mavic make those already?

Slice Harvester said...

Bike Snob,

Long time reader, first time commentor.

This post is pretty fantastic, as usual, but I'm a little troubled by the Sarah Lawrence comment. It seems superfluous, unfunny, and frankly, borderline homophobic or at least totally chauvanist.

It's not grounds for me to stop reading your blog, or even to stop suggesting other people read it, but it left me feeling bummed enough to comment.

-the Slice Harvester

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