Tuesday, June 24, 2014

[Crosses line in first place, raises hands triumphantly, crashes spectacularly.]

In case you haven't noticed, road bikes with disc brakes have arrived.  At this point, even an old fusspot like me realizes the change is inevitable, and I can live with it just as long as it makes life more difficult for pro tour teams and their mechanics.  However, I'm only getting older and slower, so I have no interest whatsoever in the technology myself--if anything, as male osteoporosis slowly renders my bones brittle and hollow, by the time I'm in the market for a new road bike even rim brakes will be overkill and I'll probably be pricing subterranean recumbents.

No, what fascinates me is the manner in which the bike companies and media are lubing us up for the insertion of road discs into our marketplace.  There's a time-honored process by which they work together to convince Freds that they absolutely must have something, and this review of the Trek Domane Whatever is a perfect example of how it works:

Firstly, Freds love lurid prose that makes riding sound like a sex act, so you've got to have plenty of that:

As we've experienced in the past, there's fantastic power on tap with minimal hand effort along with a positive initial bite that's far from grabby or overly abrupt.

Done.  In this case, Huang has successfully made braking sound like the best handjob ever.

Secondly, Freds love comparisons to obsolete technology in other vehicles that are nothing like bicycles:

Quite tellingly, at one point during testing we climbed back aboard another test bike with broken-in Mavic Exalith 2-treated wheels – arguably the benchmark for rim brake performance – and the difference was akin to driving a car with disc brakes versus drums.

Cunningly, James Huang knows that the average Fred knows absolutely nothing about automotive braking beyond "disc=good" and "drum=bad."  He also knows there's virtually no way for even the most curious Fred to perform a meaningful comparison between a car with disc brakes versus one with drum brakes, because a car with four (4) drum brakes on it is likely to be much older (or at least much different) than one with four (4) disc brakes and therefore shittier in any number of ways, including but by no means limited to braking.  So unless a Fred has recently done a full disc brake conversion on a 1964 Corvair and has some solid back-to-back driving experience, it's impossible to call the reviewer on this incredibly audacious bluff.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Freds need to be frightened:

Given the company's global market and various national safety guidelines, Trek officially can only officially approve the Domane Disc worldwide for use with tyres no wider than the included 25mm Bontrager treads

This is simply brilliant on Trek's part.  Clearly one of the unintended side-effects of putting disc brakes on road bikes is that it makes them more versatile.  Therefore, by voiding Fred's warranty if he fits tires wider than 25mm, Trek can make sure he's forced to buy some kind of completely new Wide Tire Certified® bicycle should he ever be tempted to ride on gravel.  (Note in particular the double use of "officially" to underscore the point.)

I certainly wouldn't challenge with Trek on that front either.  After all, this is the same company that, after their steerer tubes kept failing, invented the concept of the "incompatible stem" to simultaneously cover their asses and make sure Freds don't use competitors' products:

Naturally, installing a 28mm tire on your dick break-equipped Domane would be similarly irresponsible.

Anyway, expect bike companies and reviewers to build on the "frightening" aspect in the coming months.  I predict that, by 2016, operating a rim brake-equipped road bike will be considered so grossly irresponsible among the Fred community ("No way I'd descend behind someone with rim brakes!") that anyone attempting to do so will be shouted off the Sunday group ride.

Hey, it happened with helments.

Meanwhile, as disc brakes take over the roads, kiddie products are taking over Kickstarter, and here's the latest one along with a song that's not annoying at all:

I love a good mesmerizing graphic:

I also love anything that promotes "independance:"

And of course good spalling!

But most of all, I love when children ask adorably stupid questions:

Awww, isn't that cute?  As a parent, my reply would have been "Because dogs are fucking morons," but I'm not a compulsive Kickstarter inventor like this guy, and you can already see the wheels turning in his head:

("Hmmm, that gives me another idea...")

I give it a month before he launches his latest creation:

I like how the guy filming says "That's cool," because there is absolutely nothing cool about anything going on in this video.  This is as dorky as it's possible to get on an upright bike, and if he added one more goofy element (a helment mirror or a pair of sunglasses on the dog, for example) the bicycle would instantaneously transform into a recumbent.

And if you do "portage" a child on your bicycle's top tube, make sure you don't do so in conjunction with this thing, unless you want to hear it constantly:

Like most Kickstarter inventions, this one is born of a stupid question:

"Why should we be limited to traditional bells and lights?"

Probably the same reason we limit ourselves to two wheels and human power: because we ride fucking bicycles.

Nevertheless, that's not going to stop him from creating a pointless noisemaker that's grossly disproportionate to the vehicle for which it's intended:

"MyBell is the world's first customizable digital bike horn."

Here's a tip for all would-be bicycle entrepreneurs: forget about the goddamn horns already.  Need to make sounds?  Get a bell.  Just because cars have something doesn't mean bikes need them too.  Car horns don't do shit even on cars, and the ones that really don't do shit are the idiotic novelty ones that blow the theme from the "Godfather," which is basically what this is.

Also, this dramatization is really convincing:

Punishing people you already see with a blast of sound for no reason is a great way to reduce yourself to the moronic level of the typical motorist.  Just go around him, numbskull!  You're on a silent machine and you're two feet away--and if your insufferable smugness still compels you to communicate additional information to the hapless pedestrian, at least have some "pants yabbies" and use your voice.

Telling someone to watch where they're going is being smug; sounding your high-decibel plastic noisemaker at them is just plain Being A Dick.

Though I admit I kind of want a horn that says this:


Ideally I'd have a button for each phrase so I could play "Ride your little bah-sickle!" repeatedly as I "Cat 6" across the Manhattan Bridge.

Lastly, speaking of people looking for handouts, the Belkin Pro Cycling Team wants you to support them now that title sponsor Belkin has crapped out like a Belkin router:

With 10 euro’s, you will not only support THE Dutch cycling team, but you will also become a part of our TEAM. Help us remain the TEAM and to maintain the history, so we can give you many years of excellent achievements in return. We will use the money we have raised as follows: 1) It will be used to keep THE Dutch cycling TEAM on the road. 2) It will be used for a special project for the fans who have supported us. 3) If the TEAM does stop, all the money raised will go to a good cause. 

Yeah, right.  Donating money to a pro cycling team seems only marginally less wrong that donating it to General Motors.