Thursday, May 16, 2019

BSNYC Field Trip: New York, NY!

As I mentioned in my previous post, yesterday I traveled the length of the Bronx and Manhattan astride a fixie-type bicycle:

The bicycle is from State, it is from their "Core-Line" of bicycles, and it is in my possession because I recently wrote about it for a certain magazine.  I'll let you know when that gets published (or maybe you can let me know if you come across it before I do), but in the meantime I've been using this as my urban runabout and I must say I'm enjoying it.  Not only does riding the sort of bike I used to deride bring me back to the heady days of "peak fixie" when my blog was still relevant, but the truth is I used to enjoy riding the fixed-gear bicycles myself, and in fact the Ironic Orange Julius Bike was generally fixed of gear back in its heyday:

See, my disdain was never for the drivetrain itself, it was for all the silliness that came with it:

So now that all of that has calmed down I find can enjoy riding one again without all the baggage--even if I'm a good 25 years too old for the aesthetic sensibility of this particular specimen.  (I did consider at least switching the wheels for some less flashy ones I've got laying around, but as soon as I started rummaging through my old drawer o' cogs I realized I didn't feel like it.)  Hey, I've got nothing to prove, and I'm quite comfortable with the fact that everything about a balding man riding around on a bone-stock mail order fixie screams, "Aging guy who reads too many lifestyle magazines giving this 'Bike to Work Week' thing a try."

Also, I have a soft spot for cheap bikes, and this one's even cheaper than the Brand-X I rode at Eroica California this year.  Speaking of which, I keep getting emails like this from Chain Reaction:

Little do they know I wrote a goddamn feature about the bike in Outside magazine.

Yes, in a world full of marketing firms and user reviews sometimes the best press still happens organically.  In fact, on yesterday's ride, as I pedaled along the Hudson River Greenway in a state of sun-and-fixie induced bliss, I noticed with my peripheral vision what appeared to be a gathering of Freds hosing down a fleet of exotic crabon bicycles:

I stopped to investigate.  A sign read "Roula: Cycling Experiences:"

And inside riders were indeed indulging in the most lavish act a New York City cyclist can possibly imagine, that being washing a bicycle outdoors with an actual hose:

Roula, as it turns out, is a company that leads rides and rents high-end Fred Sleds, among other services--and yes, you can also give your bike a sponge bath:

Back when I was edgy and relevant I'd no doubt have ridiculed such an operation, but at this current point in my life I'm this close [indicates tiny distance with fingers] to storing all my bikes with them myself.  Even doing the bare minimum as I do, bike maintenance and curation takes up a disproportionate amount of my scant free time, and I can't really blame anybody for wanting to outsource it, especially if they have the means.  And while paying a company to store your Pinarello Dogma may seem extravagant, I can respect it a hell of a lot more than leasing and garaging a Porsche Cayenne.  (And sure, plenty of people are probably doing both, but every dollar put into the bike industry is a dollar put into the bike industry.)

Of course, while there is still room in today's digital landscape for organic, real-time, physical-world discovery, there's still an entire industry based on bringing things to consumers' attention--and ironically I was on my way to a "media pop-up brand experience" when I happened upon Roula.  This too is something I'd certainly have disparaged when I was edgy and relevant, but now that I spend much of my time cueing up kiddie videos on YouTube I was quite grateful for an excuse to head downtown, ogle grown-up toys, and exchange words with other adults.  And while not everything was bikey, a lot of it was:

Bicycles on display included this one from Alchemy:

I'm just a caveman, and your dual-suspension bicycles frighten and confuse me.  Still, I'm happy to look at them, and this one had a whole asymmetrical chainstay thing going that was interesting in an M.C. Escher-esque kind of way:

There was also a Ritte Snob, the stainless steel bicycle that, to my knowledge, they've never acknowledged is a nod to me:

It looks great up close, and I'm going to assume they've addressed the cosmetic issues because my prototype looks pretty funky these days, as I've previously pointed out:


Again, I must stress that my Ritte is an early prototype, and I have no reason whatsoever to assume that the current production Snobs, which appear to be very well-reviewed, are subject to the same corrosion.

Nevertheless, now that I have two unpainted metal bicycles, the Ritte will soon be moving onto the next chapter in its life, and I'll let you know when it does.

My favorite bicycle on display by far however was this one, which also happens to cost like 10 or 20 times less than the other two bikes:

This is State's new chromoly single-ring 8-speed road bike, and it costs $549.99.  Sure, with a little effort you could probably put together a vintage road bike for less, but this strikes me as a phenomenal deal for anybody who doesn't have the time, parts inventory, or general know-how to do so--which, let's be honest, is most people.  (I'm all in favor of ready-to-ride bikes.)  It's also really nice-looking, especially in person.  Granted, without steering it onto the cobbles I don't know how it does in the chain-retention department, and yes, there's no boss for adding a front downtube shifter (I guess they don't want to spoil those "clean lines), but assuming the chain stays on I smell a hit:

Oh, there was also this e-mountain bike from Specialized, which was positioned in such a way I couldn't get a good shot of it because I suck at photography:

But you already knew that:

A full-suspension e-MTB is so far beyond my purview I'm not even going to attempt to say anything meaningful about it, though I suppose if I lived in a chalet in the Swiss Alps and needed to get around my 100-hectare estate to check on my dairy cows this one would be at the top of my list:

Okay, I know what you're thinking: "You're a total sell-out, Tan Tenovo!  All that crap is douche-tastic."  Wrong!  They're just bikes!  You want douche-tastic?  Check out what they had outside:

The company is Himalaya, and they basically modernize and refurbish Defenders:

I don't know anything about Defenders apart from the fact that they're iconic vehicles with a cult following, so I'll leave it to the auto-Freds out there to pass judgment:

They definitely looked good, but they also seemed like the kind of thing you buy with our Axe Capital bonus and then drive once a year with your bros when you're out in the Hamptons:

Oh, they also do refurbished forklifts:

Just kidding.

Oh, I should add they did offer to let me drive one, and while I briefly considered it I ultimately declined, for the simple reason that I was kind of grossed out by the idea of driving a car that costs over $100,000 on the Bowery.

Anyway, they were smart to have the douche chariots on hand, because it made the offerings from Silca seem impossibly modest by comparison:

Sure, your hardware store hex keys may work fine, but do they come in a presentation box?

The real danger here is you get addicted to the sublimely balanced hand-feel of this exquisite toolset and wind up carrying this fucking thing around with you on every ride.

Oh, and if you're a terminal pressure weenie, here's the Bluetooth mini-pump you know you want:

Sorry, I did't mean "pressure weenie," I meant "discerning cyclist:"

It is a really nice pump though, and they do offer an old-fashioned analog version which, while not cheap, certainly isn't wildly expensive if you keep it for 20 years.  (I have a Blackburn mini pump older than that so I don't see why this wouldn't offer the same long-term value.)

As for the $70 titanium bottle cage, it's amusing to think that if you had four bikes and equipped each of them with two of these you'd have spent more than one of those State bikes costs:

Artisanal nutrition from Osmo:

Hipster binoculars, because birdwatching is trendy now:

And of course "adventure deodorant:"

Because you gotta smell good when you're out cruising in your custom Defender:

Anyway, inasmuch as I spend most of my working hours on the couch wearing yesterday's clothes this dip into the frothy waters of consumerism was oddly invigorating, and even the many, many bike lane obstructions couldn't bring me down.

Then again, maybe it was all the CBD oil.


mikeweb said...

That nifty State 1x8 is about the same as my own Surly CrossCheck that I built as a 1x8 commuter steed with parts I had lying around (complete w/ Shimano 600 downtube rear shifter):

Prior to that, I had a Surly Pacer spec-ed out the same way but switched to a CrossCheck so that I could run wider tires.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little disappointed there was no 'beefy bottom bracket' joke for that electro-specialized.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the branding of the disperate products (deodorant, binocs, etc.) looks all the same. Is that a new trend in NYC advertising?

I like that State 1x8.

huskerdont said...

Long one today, eh?

I like State and have been tempted by their new geared bikes they recently emailed about, but I do have enough.

This is my State Simpsons Fixie posing outside the Green Parrot in Key West:

While I ride it locally on rainy days (so easy to clean!), it really is made for the flats of places like Key West. The gearing is just a touch hard for the local hills, and when I wear out the chain, I'm going to put a 17-tooth cog on it to help out the old knees a bit.

Spittle Chin said...

Thanks for pointing out a useful value-priced bike!

I'm going to give one to a friend and include a copy of John Forester's Effective Cycling and a membership in the local bicycle advocacy group.

You see, I prefer a broad-minded approach to cycling.
But not to bicycles.

theEel said...


Billy said...

I once had a heated email exchange with a marketroid at State over their ads continually showing the bicycles without breaks equipped. "We want to show off the clean lines." Idiocy.

They do make nice, reasonably priced bicycles however.

Dooth said...

I’m green with envy over Tan’s Greenway fixie ride. Vicarious pleasure. My track bike is not drilled for brakes. I wouldn’t dare ride brakeless these days. No bliss. Just high intensity intervals around a park. I’ll post my next track ride on Strava. It may confuse the app (“he’s just riding in circles?!).

Steve Barner said...

No manufacturer is going to photograph their bicycles with breaks. Broken bikes just don't sell.

HDEB said...

Got two free cheapo minipumps decades ago and they're still my go to

Coline said...

Stainless hey!?

I bought a titanium bottle cage in 1975 and it will still be good hundreds of years after I am dead. I never did get the titanium frame to bolt it to since I quit the job to be able to ride more...

Beck the biker said...

If providence allows, people get lucky enough to become birdwatchers. Those Nocs are more than discretionary trinkets, they're helping introduce the aging demographic to our future recreation choices. Load up a rack of your high-finance friends in the Defender, pick up the sleds at the bike concierge, synchronize tire pressures with bluetooth convenience, then head upstate for some bird watching and loops from the AirB&B to the coffeeshop in town for leisurly breaks consuming CBD lattes, all between naps no longer fraught with worries about chain retention, cross chaining, or JRA self-desructs from too many teeth, not enough chain. Henry Ford rode into his 80's, had himself a 12 pound bike he like to ride 3 miles daily after supper. 12 pounds! There's the life to strive for - birds, binoculars, and bikes. Mmm... CBD doughnuts.

Some guy from upstate said...

The mention of the IOJB caused me to remember that, in reading old posts, I recently came across what I think is the first photographic evidence of the existence of the ironic orange julius bike in this post , parked next to the "unibrow" bike. You can see a little of the top tube in the bottom right hand corner. Next to the cigarette butt. I recognized the color immediately. Which is not orange. If it was orange there would be a comma between "orange" and "julius".

I really need to get out more.

Hope everyone had a good bike to work week. Or, as I like to call it, "week".

George Krpan said...

You were ahead of your time with the On-One with the dirt drops where the hoods were slid down for braking in the drops. Check out the pics on the Shimano GRX site. All of the riders are riding "drops only".

eBikeADV said...

you got so up in that shop that i can't believe you weren't invited to promote it via your blog. maybe you're just that sneaky?

Rich said...

I rarely click on the links to products, but the State bike caught my eye. The details look really good, but what really got my attention was the paint scheme because it reminds me of the Bridgestone RB2 from 1991, which was a copy whoops I mean tribute to the paint scheme of the late 80’s eddy merckx. Yes I know I’m old.

Older, injured, but still riding and now bird-watching said...

@Beck the biker at 10:07 PM

"There's the life to strive for - birds, binoculars, and bikes."

You have solved the riddle of what I shall do once I am done with all my Fredly craziness.

Just started looking for and watching for birds - that's the "new Masters racing" for me.


leroy said...

My dog wants me to say "Dibs on the Ritte" just in case you're doing that sort of thing.

He also insisted we take the greenway this morning.

Schisthead said...

So did you rub your balls on the stem or what?

dancesonpedals said...

You wanna tie me up with one of your ties, Ty?

der blaue Reitier said...

Sorry if this is ld news but I've been offline the last week...
THIS ARTICLE?!? About how a pool noodle will save your life (although it does not replace a helment)!


DC said...

I think the cross check is the gateway drug to widertires. Once you go full Jan & Grant though (wide tires and fenders) I get toe overlap even with a 58cm frame. I’m excited to try a 650b or 26” wheels on my next bike. But having a mortgage and a toddler is probably 20 years away...sigh.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree, the best one is the State you liked, which I hereby dub Stripey McGee.

Anonymous said...

Dammit did that shit go through?


"Gotta agree, the best one is the State you liked, which I hereby dub: Stripey McGee."