12.04.2007

Bike Snob

So, I've been going to the Bike Snob blog for a while now. Shit, in fact, one of my bikes [see the pampered Marinoni] was "featured" on it as well. Some people hate him, I personally think it's great. Subtle nuances turn into amusing entertainment. I wont go on any further about it, instead I'll just post one of my favorite "bloggings" to date of his: If you're a cyclist, the fixed-gear craze is probably old news to you by now--especially if you live in a big city. But for the mainstream public, it's only now just appearing on their radar. As a result, every so often some newspaper or website will publish the obligatory article about it in their local news or cultural section, as the New York Times notably did this past spring. So, in my ongoing attempt to provide public services of dubious value, I've decided to save America's journalists the trouble by creating a template for future articles. If you're a journalist in a smaller city that hasn't yet reported on the fixed-gear trend, please feel free to use the article below in its entirety. Simply cut and paste, fill in the blanks, put your feet up on your desk, and cruise on up to that deadline! THE FIX IS IN: Coast To Coast, Nobody's Coasting by: [your name here] You may have noticed that a new type of bicycle is taking over the downtown area. At first glance, it looks like a racing bicycle of the sort that Lance Armstrong used to win the Tour de France. However, a closer look will reveal that it lacks the shifting mechanisms that are technically referred to as “gears.” It may even be lacking the stopping devices mechanics and gear-heads call “brakes.” If you’ve seen, hit, or been hit by one of these bicycles recently, then you’ve encountered the hottest thing in bikes today—“fixed-gears,” otherwise known as “fixies.” The most important difference between fixies and regular bikes is that fixies don’t let you coast. Why wouldn’t you want to coast, you may ask? “It’s like a zen thing,” explained _____, an American Apparel sales clerk, filmmaker, graduate student, and fixed-gear aficionado. “You feel totally connected to the bike. It’s like taking the stairs versus riding an escalator.” Okay, but what about the part about not having brakes? While some fixed-gear riders do use brakes, others eschew them and instead slow their bikes by locking their legs and skidding. _____, a bartender, filmmaker, musician, and fixed-gear aficionado explained, “It forces you to pay more attention and to stay a step ahead while you’re riding. Instead of playing my iPod at full blast and only looking a car or two ahead, I keep the volume lower and look all the way to the next intersection. I feel much more like an integral part of what’s going on around me. It’s like a zen thing. You feel totally connected to the bike.” Fixed-gear bicycles are nothing new. In fact, they’ve been around since at least 1986, when Kevin Bacon famously rode one in the film “Quicksilver.” That movie, about a person who delivers documents to companies for money, singlehandedly created the bicycle courier industry. Those couriers, called “messengers,” rode fixed-gear bicycles, bathed infrequently, and carried voluminous shoulder bags just like their idol Mr. Bacon did, and in turn were the inspiration behind fixed-gear craze of today. Part of the appeal of the fixed-gear bicycle to young people is undoubtedly its minimalism. State-of-the-art carbon fiber road racing bicycles with complicated gear-changing systems can cost thousands of dollars, whereas fixed-gear bicycles with handmade frames, top-end parts and colorful wheels and tires cost just a few thousand dollars. “The fact is, you just don’t need all those gears,” explained _____, an advertising copywriter, woodworker, filmmaker, and fixed-gear enthusiast. “Eddy Merckx won the Tour de France in the 80s like six times on a fixed-gear. All that other stuff is just marketing.” And it’s not just 20-somethings who are joining the revolution either. Older, experienced cyclists are also re-discovering the joyous simplicity of cycling thanks to fixed-gears. “I love it,” said _____, a lawyer, father of four, Porsche club of America member, and recent fixed-gear convert. “It reminds me of why I got into cycling in the first place. I recently converted my titanium Serotta to a fixed-gear. My knees hurt, my thighs ache, and I’m experiencing more penile numbness than usual, but according to my SRM I’m putting out more watts at lactate threshold, which makes it worth it. Plus, it’s a zen thing. You feel totally connected to the bike. All that other stuff is just marketing.” It’s safe to say at this point that an entire culture has grown around the fixed-gear bicycle. At _____, a downtown bicycle shop that specializes in fixed-gears, owner _____ sells not only the latest in bicycles and parts but also a complete line of fixed-gear specific clothing that allows riders both male and female to easily adopt the young Audrey Hepburn look that is currently in vogue. And while _____ can’t sell you a brake, he can sell you a $50 t-shirt with the shop’s logo on it. _____ also promotes fixed-gear-specific contests which feature events like skidding, track-standing, and other competitions focused entirely on slowing or simply not riding the bicycle. _____ explains that shops like his embody the future of bicycle retail, and says that his customers are looking for something different. In fact, he says fixed-gears may just be the future of cycling. “All that carbon fiber and gear stuff is just marketing,” _____ told me. “Fausto Coppi won the Giro d’Italia like six times in the ‘70s on a fixed-gear bike, and I think people want to get back to that simplicity. It’s like a zen thing. You feel totally connected to the bike.”

1 comment:

RyCon said...

you have to ask yourself though, where would he be if fixed gears weren't so huge right now.