This Just In: Recess!

Once again, the time has come for me to take a short leave of absence.  This one will commence immediately at the end of this post and will continue until Monday, December 1st, at which point I will return with regular updates.  If this displeases you, I implore you to at least take solace in the fact that there are encouraging signs from the Chris King Headset Composite Index.  When we last checked on November 14th the CKHCI was at 71.53, and it is now at 72.21:

Or, to put it another way:

As you take your seat at the Thanksgiving table, I hope you will join me in not only giving thanks for this uptick but also in praying for the CKHCI's continued growth.  Hopefully, this bodes well for the retail orgy that is Black Friday, as well as for the regular orgy that is Sepia Saturday.

I hope you will also take solace in the fact that I will not be squandering my recess.  I've long known that you can build a custom fixed-gear over at Pedalmafia (home of the tiny fixed-gear models), but until Stevil Kinevil of HTATBL sent me this mind-blowing creation I simply did not appreciate the full potential of the application:

As such, I will spend at least part of my recess virtually fabricating my own "whip."  Personally, I wanted something less Dr. Seussian and more practical, and I'm already off to a ripping start:

As you can see, though, I still have a long way to go.  You'll note from the pile of top tube pads and grips on my worktable that I'm still deciding on accessories.  Note also the Look Ergostem, which I'm using in order to dial in my position.  (I think I can get the front end lower, though I'd hate to ditch that Cinelli Alter stem since it looks so sweet with the lime green Skyway Tuff Wheel II.)  Still, I think it's pretty sexy.  And it's even sexier in sepia:

Then again, everything's sexier in sepia:

And yes, this image is perfectly safe for work--not only because it's sepia-toned, but also because it's pre-20th century.  While sepia alone can't always legitimize a photograph, any art historian or porn-monger will tell you that pornography automatically becomes art after 100 years, no matter how explicit it may be.

So if your nationality and/or disposition compels you to observe Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoy yours.  If not, you may still feel free to take part in Sepia Saturday.  And regardless of how you choose to spend this week, I'll see you again on December 1st (otherwise known as "Mauve Monday").

Many thanks for reading,


BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

If you live in New York, then you love being miserable. And if you love being miserable, you probably also love cyclocross. So if you're a miserable cyclocross-loving New Yorker (or a miserable cyclocross lover with access to New York) you'll be "pleased" to know that there will be a cyclocross race on Staten Island next Sunday, November 30th. Shrouded in mystery, Staten Island is a magical place--not only because it is perpetually 1987 there, but also because it manages to make its neighbor New Jersey seem sophisticated. Also, Staten Island is ordinarily an irony-free zone, but if you're the type of person who gets uncomfortable without it I expect the organizers will bring plenty. I understand they've even secured waffle and bacon sponsors, and as everybody knows bacon is currently the ironic meat of choice.

Not only that, but this very weekend is the Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Cup in Southampton, LI. You may recall that this is the event at which you can win a Richard Sachs cyclocross bike. What you may not be aware of is that the promoter gets very defensive when people imply that the Hamptons air is too rarified for 'cross, and even goes so far as to assert that Long Island is "not even an island, even though it’s called Long Island. It’s a peninsula." This struck me as an absurd claim--until I learned that the Supreme Court actually did rule that Long Island is a peninsula back in 1985, which is nearly as mind-bending as that geared singlepeed. In any case, there's ironic 'cross on Staten Island, as well as UCI 'cross on an ironic peninsula.

With that out of the way, I now present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think carefully, and then click on your answer. If you're correct, you'll know if. If you're wrong, you'll see this Columbia Sportswear commercial with a unicycle in it that I saw while watching "The Chocolate News."

Ride safe this weekend,


1) Thursday morning in Brooklyn--what's going on here?

--Fallen tree + Amateur traffic direction = Clustercoitus

--There's a sale at Macy's

--Ridgewood, Queens has just been declared the "next hot neighborhood" and all of Boerum Hill is moving there en masse

--Word's gone out that a nearby bike lane needs obstructing

2) Which booming trend is not in evidence in this photo? (Warning: answering correctly reveals a person on a toilet.)

--The vintage Italian saddle trend

--The Bullhorn-Equipped Road Bike (BERB) trend

--The disc-specific 29er rim trend

--The "vintage" GT triple-triangle trend

3) What is this jersey?

--A worldwide campaign to save lives

--A worldwide campaign to embarrass cyclists

--The maillot vent for the most flatulent rider in the Tour de France

--Court-mandated after that unfortunate misunderstanding at GapKids

4) What's going on here?

--The rider is modeling Rapha's new $400 "Derelicte" knee warmers

--The rider is modeling a pair of plastic rain chaps

--The rider is sporting an essential component of the modular maillot d'incontinence

--The rider is racing cyclocross and he got tangled up in the course tape

5) Where can you buy this $4,300 Ferrari bicycle?


--Hammacher Schlemmer


--Toys 'R' Us

6) What's the most likely explanation for the above?

--Someone is both smug and anachronistic

--Someone is on the way to a Grover Cleveland rally

--Someone is on the way to Williamsburg to do some ironic cycling

--Someone is on the way to Colonial Williamsburg to do some period-correct direct-drive freestyling

7) What would really tie this p-far together?

--A top tube pad

--An Aerospoke

--A pair of MKS track pedals

--All of the above

8) What kind of contest is taking place above?

--A trackstand contest

--An irony contest

--A contest to determine which rider has most effectively sublimated a need for attention into front wheel form

--A crotch-numbing contest

9) Professional cyclist Sylvain Chavanel was recently injured in:

--A tragic Beaujolais-opening incident

--A penny-farthing accident

--A cyclocross-related groin pull

--A tragic oyster-shucking incident

Moxie: Who Needs It?

On Tuesday I ran a number of cycling-related websites through the Genderanalyzer, which yielded some interesting if not entirely accurate results. Of the sites analyzed, the most masculine by a huge margin was Lance Armstrong's Twitter, at 93%. Well, I recently discovered that another cycling-related site is sitting right on Armstrong's wheel in the masculinity department, coming in at a resounding 89%:

I'm not sure what kind of e-pheromones Son of Zone Baby is exuding to elicit such a positive result (besides the fact it has "Son" in the title of course), but if you're looking to read something that will put some hair on your chest, go check it out.

Meanwhile, the blog you're currently reading is holding fast at 52% female, which while not entirely accurate is at least consistent. I for one value consistency over accuracy, which it so happens is the same rationale used by many devotees of friction-shifting. Besides, regardless of whether you're running/rocking male or female reproductive organs, when it comes to being successful the real determining factor is moxie. And like this blog, moxie is gender-neutral. Take this messenger-versus-model race, forwarded to me by a reader:

There's a long tradition of pointless, apples-and-oranges, mismatched exhibition races in our culture. Jesse Owens raced against a horse, Mario Cipollini raced against a horse (though rumors he subsequently bedded it are unsubstantiated), the TV show "Top Gear" pitted a Ford Mustang against a horse, and even I raced against a Smart (but only because no horses were available, probably because the ASPCA got wind of the Mario Cipollini incident). However, I was immediately skeptical about this particular mismatched exhibition race when I heard the messenger, Al Busano, claim that he delivers over a thousand packages a week.

This is a bold claim to say the least. Even if Busano works ten hours a day, seven days a week, he'd need to deliver over 140 packages a day in order to meet that number. That's 14 packages an hour, or roughly one package every four minutes. Either: 1) Busano is omnipresent; 2) Busano delivers mostly interoffice correspondence; or 3) Busano is inflating his number. In any case, even if he is rounding up by a factor of ten, he should have no trouble beating a fashion model on a skateboard, right?

...even if her "secret weapon" is apparently the ability to employ her legs in conjunction with her labia while riding a skateboard, and even if she's wearing the notoriously arresting Sue Ellen Mishky blazer-with-a-bra-for-a-top combo that made Kramer crash his car into a pole in that "Seinfeld" episode:
Well, if you were pulling for the mendacious messenger to defeat the skateboarding model rocking a prehensile vagina, I'm sorry to say you were disappointed. Personally, I suspect the contest was rigged, and that the people at somehow stacked the odds in favor of the model. If they'd really wanted a close race, they'd have made her race against Mario Cipollini, though had they done that there's a good chance the competitors never would have gotten on their respective forms of wheeled conveyance and the video would have taken a decidedly pornographic turn. Or else, they could have used one of the female messengers from this recent New York Times article. My personal choice would have been German emigree Carmen Burkhart, described in the article as "a slight, tight-bodied 43-year-old who smokes and drinks only hot coffee for hydration, even in the summer:"

(Carmen Burkhart: weltschmerz in motion)

In a match-up like that, the smart money would clearly be on the wiry dehydrated nicotine-and-caffeine-addled Teuton over the ditz on the skateboard. Not only that, but the video would have been way more entertaining to watch.

But competing in phony races isn't the only thing that takes moxie. It also takes moxie to maintain your bicycle's drivetrain. And since moxie seems to be a non-renewable resource in our culture, the Great Trek Bicycle Making Company is finally bringing to the mass market a drivetrain that requires no moxie whatsoever in order to maintain:

The carbon fiber belt drive bicycle drivetrain is nothing new--we've already seen it from Spot--but Trek is wisely marketing it to the commuter rather than the racer (though Travis Brown has been running and/or rocking one too). While I've been critical of Trek in the past, I have to say that I'm not only in favor of the belt drive commuter bicycle, but moreover I feel as though Trek is doing me a personal favor with it. I've voiced my irritation over the fact that so many commuters are unable to lubricate their drivetrains before, so a bicycle that will run quietly without lubrication is nothing less than a godsend to me. I can only hope that the lubricant-impaired take to this system en masse and I never get stuck behind another squeaky, rusty, non-shifting drivetrain ever again. After all, Trek's fellow Wisconsinites Harley Davidson have already successfully shown the world that when convenience and low maintenance are more important than performance a belt drive is the way to go. (They've also convinced an entire generation of dentists and lawyers to ride around on overpriced flatulent motorcycles while wearing leather chaps, but that's something else.) And the rest of us don't even have to give up our chains--apart from the metaphorical chains that bind us to our irritating noisy-biked cousins, that is.

Not only that, but while killing off the noisy chain the Great Trek Bicycle Making Company may have unwittingly dealt the coup de grâce to the already-withering colored deep-V trend as well, since the new belt-drive District comes with high-profile rims of orange:

No way colored deep-Vs can survive this with their street cred intact. I never thought I'd say this, but thank you, Trek. Thank you.

Penny-Ante: The Ordinary Trend Moves Up a Notch

As the fixed-gear trend arguably reaches the point of total mainsteam absorption, the penny-farthing trend appears to be taking its place. On Monday I pointed out that penny-farthings not only trump the fixed-gear in terms of zen-like simplicity, but are also "chick magnets." Since then, my assertion has been borne out, as photos of modern-day penny-farthings (or "p-fars," if you're the type of person who says "fixie") continue to pour in from around the world:

From Hjulcompaniet in Norway comes an excellent example of what you can expect to replace the "fixter" in the coming months. Note that instead of wearing snug women's trousers, the "p-farster" is wearing loose-fitting bloomers. It's also interesting to note that he's sporting relatively modern-looking eyeglasses. There's a raging debate in the p-far community as to whether these sorts of glasses are acceptable. Proponents point out that over-the-ear eyeglasses have been around for centuries, but purists maintain that they weren't very popular until fairly recently and as such opt for the pince-nez.

From Melbourne, Australia comes this fascinating example. Interestingly, this rider eschews period-correctness and has even incorporated modern accessories such as a u-lock and a spoke card (or, given the size of the wheel, a spoke treatise). Also, this photo proves once again that the p-far is a "chick magnet," as there is a blonde woman with bare legs and high heels in close proximity. It's obvious that this photo was taken just after she spotted the p-far and just before she followed the owner into the building, where she probably smiled coyly at him and encouraged him to send a telegram or perhaps even (gasp!) call upon her in person for tea.

We've already seen colored deep-Vs and adhesive letters in the fixed-gear scene, and it would appear that the p-far scene may be following suit. Unfortunately, though, this rider has failed to take advantage of all the space with which his huge front wheel provides him. Instead of simply spacing out the letters, he could have really seized upon the opportunity to employ some flowery Victorian-era prose. If he's reading, I recommend revising this message before making a sepia-toned daguerreotype and submitting it to pennyfarthinggallery.

But while some trend-seekers have abandoned the fixie for the p-far, others have left it for the road bike, and they're taking their fixed-gear habits with them. A reader has pointed out to me a new trend of road bikes equipped with bullhorns, and I must say that this is in line with what I've been seeing on the streets of New York City:

I've definitely been observing more and more people using bullhorns on their road bikes, and frankly I find it disturbing. Bullhorns became popular on fixed-gear bikes because they allow a hand position similar to that of riding with your hands on your brake hoods. However, once you've got a road bike with actual brake hoods there's no reason to use bullhorns. (Unless you're building up a time trial bike or something, in which case you're about to get sucked into the rabbit hole of compulsively anal behavior and there's no hope for you.) The drop bar with STI levers affords you all the hand positions of the bullhorn, keeps all your controls at your fingertips, and gives you the added bonus of drops when you need them. Then again, urban fixed-gear riders are highly averse to drop bars, and when they do use them it's simply an aesthetic choice. Even those who choose to maintain the stylistic integrity of their "classic" track bikes by using drop bars still often ride with their hands on the tops even when they're out of the saddle. It would follow then that they'd carry their bullhorns over to their road bikes. In fact, with more and more riders coming to other types of cycling via fixed-gears, it may be only a matter of time before the drop bar becomes extinct and bike companies start selling road bikes stock with bullhorns, top-mount brake levers, and bar-end shifters (in addition to the flat-bar road bikes they're already selling of course).

But what if you're not ready to abandon your fixed-gear for the p-far or the bullhorn-equipped road bike? Well, fortunately there's still a place for you. In Japan. The proprietor of a "Keirin bar" in Tokyo has just informed me that I can stop in for a Nama Beer if I'm ever in Nakameguro. According to the description on their website, I can also order a Ginger Mint Mojito if I prefer, and I can drink it beneath a "kaleidoscope of Japanese Keirin Track frames:"

It's good to know that the Ginger Mint Mojito is a "drink for any occasion," because if I do ever go to Nakameguro you can be sure to find me sucking them down in rapid succession at Kinfolk as I play with my tiny fixed-gear models beneath a kaleidoscope of Keirin frames. You can also be sure that by last call I'll be passed out in my underpants on the sofa in the background, surrounded by tiny fixed-gear models and smelling strongly of ginger like some tragic parody of Bill Murray in "Lost In Translation."

Speaking of tiny bicycle models, if you're looking for something to add to your own collection look no further than Philadelphia Craislist, where a reader informs me you can purchase a "G.I. Joe Like Soldier On Bicycle With Gear" for the incredibly low price of $20:

Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-11-18, 4:16PM EST


Between those track bike models and this I may never have to leave the house again--though my play may now become a bit more bellicose. My only reservation is that the quasi-G.I. Joe's bike doesn't come with a water bottle, since I'm not sure where I'd be able to find one. (There may be one in my Barbie's Workout Center, but I'd hate to open the shrink-wrap and break up the set.) Then again, the soldier does Google, so he may be able to find one for himself. Intrigued, I set about trying to determine whether the seller was male or female by running the ad through the Genderanalyzer, which yielded the following result:

I guess I may never know.

One thing I do know, though, is that telecommunications companies are looking out for cyclists. (Well, not specifically cyclists, but I suppose we benefit by default.) If you're a cyclist, by now you're probably accustomed to avoiding drivers who are far more engrossed in their cellphones than they are in where they're going. Personally, I'm more afraid of a driver holding a cellphone than one holding a Ginger Mint Mojito. For this reason, I was simulaneously heartened and irritated to see this tiny icon in the corner of a Sprint cellphone advertisement in a respected and highly pretentious magazine:

Wanting to learn more, I placed the highly pretentious magazine in the recycling bin where it belonged and consulted the same popular search engine the quasi-G.I. Joe uses, where I learned this:

A cellphone company telling teens not to drive distracted is kind of like Philip Morris telling parents to talk to their kids about smoking, though I do appreciate the effort. I also find it entertaining that the program speaks to teens "in their own language, using real-world examples," and I'd love to see the part of the instructional video where they show the kid pulling over safely and coming to a stop before answering that long-awaited callback from his weed dealer. Hopefully the "Focus on Driving" program speaks more loudly to teens than my own PSA, which while poignant admittedly falls into the generational gap:

And cellphones aren't only deadly in the hands of drivers. We cyclists are equally vulnerable to the cellphone's siren call (or text). Just a few days ago I witnessed a woman ride through a red light at a major intersection while on her cellphone. She then ran into the broadside of a yellow cab (which amazingly had been doing nothing illegal or dangerous), at which point she took the phone off her ear and shouted obscenities at the driver before returning it to the side of her head and continuing on her loquacious way.

But as a New Yorker I suppose I should consider myself lucky, for while I may have to dodge cellphone-wielding drivers and cyclists on my commute a reader correctly points out that I have yet to have a run-in with a bear:

I was glad to see that both rider and bear seem to be OK, and that neither was using a cellphone at the time of the collision (though fortunately the bear had the wherewithal to call for an ambulance). I was also pleased to see that the rider was on a cyclocross bike and that penny-farthing craze has not yet reached Missoula, which means that while we may see more and more of them in the coming months it should be a good while before the trend moves into its ironic phase.

Gender Politics: Sex, Bikes, and Relationships

As we saw yesterday, the winds of change continue to blow, and it seems like colored deep-V rims may be on their way out. While I'm doubtless not the only person who has been longing for their disappearance, the unfortunate truth is that this could also lead to the demise of humorous messages applied to wheels with adhesive letters. Then again, as long as people continue to use spokes they will continue to express themselves with their wheels. Take this bike, for example:

Sometimes when the winds of change blow a bunch of debris gets caught in the spokes.

Speaking of change, fashion is not the only thing that is mercurial. It appears that gender too can be a bit of a moving target. A reader informs me that he plugged this very blog into the "Genderanalyzer," and it came back with the result that I am most likely a female:

To be perfectly honest, I have mixed feelings about this result. On one hand, I find it heartening that I have achieved near gender-neutrality, as I of course take great pains not to be a part of the patriarchy of bike culture and bike shops and to ensure that nobody is exluded due to their gender identity. Then again, I can't help but find my gender neutrality somewhat disconcerting as well. I think most of us like to think that our genders are readily discernible to others. As such, learning that I'm slightly a woman makes me feel like some combination of the portrait of Dorian Gray and that photograph of Michael J. Fox in "Back to the Future" in which he fades in and out depending on whether he's being successful in making his parents hook up--it's as though my own "parts" are constantly changing depending on which side of the 50% barrier my gender index is on at any given moment.

Intrigued and disgusted by this notion, I decided to test the accuracy of the Genderanalyzer by plugging in the blogs of some other cycling writers of whose genders I'm reasonably certain. First I tried Fat Cyclist, who it turns out is 62% man. Though not a landslide, the result is certainly decisive and accurate.

Next up was HTATBL, and it may come as a surprise to its author Stevil Kinevil that he is (according to the Genderanalyzer) a whopping 75% female. I'm not sure what led the Genderanalyzer to its incorrect conclusion, but I'm sure Stevil will be pleased to know that he can always print out this result, have it laminated, and use it to gain access to Super Power Inclusion Night at the Derailer Bicycle Collective in Denver, CO.

Next up was Jim at Unholy Rouleur, who was correctly diagnosed to be a male. (He came in at 67%.) I'm not sure why the Genderanalyzer didn't simply check his profile, since the fact that he's named Jim should have upped the odds considerably, but in any case it was correct so I suppose that's all that matters.

Finally, I sent the Genderanalyzer over to unretired professional cyclist, cancer activist, fashion icon, and budding social networking enthusiast Lance Armstrong's Twitter. The Genderanalyzer had little doubt as to Armstrong's gender, and it pronounced him to be a male with a probability of 93%. Unfortunately, I'm sure that this overwhelming result will only lead his detractors to accuse him of using testosterone, and I'm also sure the USADA testers are kicking down his door and demanding that he urinate in a cup as you read this. If you live in the Austin area you've probably seen Armstrong's USADA "urine detail," but if you haven't I can tell you that they shadow him in a Plymouth Reliant and they look uncannily like Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez in the 1987 film "Stakeout:"

Just imagine the person attached to that leg slipping on a Nike cycling shoe instead of a red pump and you've got the idea.

But when it comes to gender and stalking, nobody is in a better position to stalk people of the opposite sex than a bike messenger:

to the girl in the architecture office - m4w - 26 (everywhere)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-11-15, 8:01PM EST

You are every beautiful girl in every architecture office, at your desk by the door, with your dignified "we love modernism even though we know it's so over" style and your glasses. I am the bike messenger, one of the smart ones too stubborn to get a real job, the architecture school dropout, who is in your office for 15 seconds at a time, who you smile at, who you offer water, who you ask if it's still raining out. I never have time to chat, but maybe after work sometime we can wax nostalgic about saarinen and kahn and talk about the houses we someday want to build for ourselves.

While you can't always tell people's gender from their writing, you can usually tell right away whether or not they're smart. Still, this particular person felt the need to come right out and say it. And if you're still not sure, he's also dropped some names. (As a smart person myself, neither reference was lost on me, and I know both Saarinen and Kahn as notorious "Star Trek" villains.) Furthermore, not content to tout his own intellectual superiority, he's also gone ahead and disparaged other messengers as well as the vocation of messengering by suggesting that it is not a "real job." I suppose what he really means to say is that he's a person of privilege, and that as a person of privilege he has elected as a form of self-expression to do a job that other less privileged people must simply do in order to survive. Moreover, he's also saying that those who are messengers by necessity rather than choice are stupid--or at least not as smart as he is.

Given this, it's no surprise then that so many messengers are poorly compensated and receive no benefits. After all, it's a lifestyle choice, not a real job, right? So why would "smart" people who messenger instead of getting "real jobs" bother to demand better treatment when all they really require is an excuse to ride around the city on weekdays and lord their superiority over non-messengers at alleycats? Sure, this attitude doesn't work out so well for their many co-workers who actually have to messenger, but then again those people ride crappy bikes and speak different languages and don't dress well and are totally unsexy. They're the lumpen-proletariat. Who would want to have anything to do with them? Certainly not beautiful girls who work in architecture offices.

In any case, I wish our smart and stubborn bike messenger luck. I hope he does get together with a beautiful architect, and that together they build a glass house on a hill from which they can gaze bemusedly upon the lumpen-proletariat below.

But the lumpen-proletariat is not the only distasteful group of people out there testing the patience of the sophisticated urban cyclist. There's also the Hasidim. And I wouldn't expect this rivalry to end anytime soon, for it seems the "hipsters" may already have taken to actively baiting their pious minivan-driving adversaries:

you ride a converted track bike... - w4m - 25
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-11-12, 1:50PM EST with straight handlebars. you dodged the minivans in south williamsburg beautifully- i am a scandal, a reason for the outcry of bike lane indecency in my neighborhood. wanna be part of the problem?

As one who longs to see a peaceful coexistence along the Great Hipster Silk Route, I was dismayed to read this. Certainly intentionally scandalizing your neighbors is no way to live in harmony with them. My only hope is that this is an isolated incident. Perhaps this particular woman is simply a Semitic exhibitionist who derives a perverse thrill from being watched by Hasidim, and she's hoping that the guy with the conversion and the straight handlebar shares her proclivities. Assuming this is the case and they do connect, they can then place another Craigslist ad seeking a minyan to observe their lovemaking. And maybe--just maybe-- such a fetish will allow the "hipsters" and the Hasidim live happily together after all.

I also hope that things have gotten better over in London. A reader recently forwarded me this article from his archives, which despite being a year or so old is still relevant today:

If you're anything like me, you're simultaneously shocked that a cyclist could be capable of such brutality and dismayed that there's no video of what doubtless must have been a highly entertaining and comical interaction.

Lastly, you may recall that not too long ago I was somewhat critical of a marketing video for the Oso Bike. Well, I'm pleased to report that Oso Bike owner Shane Stock has just informed me he's produced a new version:

I'm sure you'll agree that, with its high-energy techno soundtrack, Stock has finally managed to capture the spirit and excitement of his famous backyard Bacchanalia. You simply haven't experienced gender-bending and Semitic exhibitionism until you've been to Shane Stock's house.

BSNYC TrendWatch: Deep Vs Being 86ed for 29ers?

When it comes to cycling, there is nothing more important than staying abreast of the trends. Regardless of whether you're a roadie, mountain biker, singlespeeder, fixed-gear freestyler, triathlete, randonneur, commuter, BMXer, or one of the many types of "freak cyclists" (recumbent riders, triathletes, etc.), always remember that your discipline is subject to the whims of fashion, and to fall out of step with fashion is to miss the very point of cycling itself. So before you lube your chain, top off your tires, and make sure your bolts are torqued properly, you should always make sure your bike is not violating whatever style code is applicable to the sort of riding you do before you head out on your way.

This is why I feel it is my duty to alert you to the fact that one of cycling's most visible trends--the bubblegum-hued deep-V rim trend--may at last be waning. It turns out that no less an authority than aggregator-slash-arbiter of fixed-gear freestyle chic, Prolly, has abandoned his own deep-Vs for the "greener" (or more accurately, blacker) pastures of disc-specific 29er rims. Moreover, he's even gone so far as to express hope that "more and more people will see this and begin to rock* lighter, more durable wheels and not just focus on color-matching their rims to their grips."

(Note: "Rock" means "use;" if you're a competitive cyclist, substitute "run" for "rock." Never use the word "use" or "ride" with regard to bicycle componentry--unless your typical cycling outfit includes a reflective velcro pant cuff retainer and a helmet mirror--and always observe the proper "rock/run" distinction depending on the type of cycling you do. If you're uncertain, generally speaking if you "session" then you "rock" a certain piece of equipment; if you race, then you "run" it.)

I applaud Prolly's decision to embrace function over form and to rock what works best for him. However, the implications of his call for the rest of fixed-geardom to follow are serious and far-reaching and I can't help feeling it was a bit irresponsible of Prolly to announce such a change without putting a contingency plan in place. I don't want to cause a panic, but I would strongly recommend that if you are rocking (or, less likely, running) colored deep-V rims that you remove them from your bike immediately and consign them to a closet until we know for sure where this is going. If they are in fact going out of style then it will be at least a few years before your colored deep-V rims can be rocked again ironically. (Something can be rocked ironically once the last person who has been rocking it sincerely has finally stopped rocking it, which is why it is vital to closely monitor remote corners of the midwest for trend fallout. Premature Ironic Rockage--or PIR--can be very dangerous, as sincerity and irony can be toxic if allowed to mix.) Remember, this is not a recall--it is simply a "wheel advisory," like Shimano recently issued because of their poorly-designed spoke plugs. (If you are in possession of that particular wheel, I recommend either rocking or running rim tape depending on your riding style.)

As for other forms of fashionable fixed-gear wheels, it's difficult to say what this means. The Hed 3 remains popular (particularly when it costs more than the rest of the bike on which it is being rocked), though the rise of the 29er disc rim in the fixed-gear freestyle realm may mean that the Hed 3 is only rocked on special occasions. Say, for example, your evening will not involve sessioning but it will involve a leisurely ride to a trendy bar in order to take in the premier of a new fixed-gear movie. In such a case the Hed 3 might be appropriate and thus could become the fixed-gear equivalent of putting on a bow tie. Even so, if you ride a fixed-gear and you don't already own a Hed 3 I would advise against purchasing one for the time being. Actually, I'd advise agaist purchasing any deep-section rim right now. So if you're in the midst of some kind of piecemeal upgrade like the rider below, who's already got the long-valve tube but is evidently still saving up for the deep-dish wheel to go with it, I would keep your money in escrow. (Though you may allow your bike to continue engaging in auto-fellatio.)

And as far as aerospokes go, I maintain that they've already gone from sincere to ironic, as you can see here. Or here. Moreover, here in New York City the "almost-spoke" design has actually won the Department of Transportation's CityRacks Design competition, which means we'll soon be seeing almost-spokes all over town:

Note that the DOT is calling it the "Hoop," though this is clearly a thinly-veiled attempt to get around Aerospoke's trademark.

Less clear is whether knuckle tattoos have moved from sincere to ironic. One thing's for sure, though: they're still in style. A reader recently forwarded me this moving image:

If this is a man, then these hands obviously belong to a fixed-gear rider, since as we all know gears are for queers. (Or for anyone who is excluded by the patriarchy of bike culture and bike shops because of their gender identity.) Then again, this may not say "Love Tits," since the little ladies' room symbol isn't necessarily standing in for an "I." It could be an "A," and the tattoo could say "Love Tats." It could also be an "O," which would mean that the wearer either loves Tater Tots or simply loves tots, as in toddlers. If it's the latter, that is disturbing for a whole other set of reasons. I don't know what kind of bikes the people who love tots ride, but I do know tot-lovers are not treated very well in prison. It could also be that the wearer is a woman, and she's simply expressing her exclusion by the patriarchy of bike culture and bike shops because of her gender identity. But whatever the case, it's safe to say that knuckle tattoos are still hotter than a freshly-microwaved tater tot.

And when it comes to trends, probably the only thing hotter than a knuckle tattoo is a penny-farthing. When it comes to "keeping it real," the penny-farthing makes the fixed-gear look as obnoxiously high-tech as a 22-speed crabon fiber wonder bike. Erik K sent me this photo, and while I was pleased to see that the rider was not rocking a colored deep-V I was also dismayed that the bike wasn't locked up well:

When you ride a bike as hot as this you simply cannot leave it unlocked poorly locked and unattended. Not only do you run the risk of having your bike stolen by someone who looks like this, but you'll also have to put old-timey "Wanted" posters all over town since the sorts of people who ride penny-farthings don't use Craigslist. (Too high-tech.) And if you're still in doubt that penny-farthings are desireable, here's a second photo which proves they're indeed chick magnets:

Oh, yes. Gears may be for queers, but diamond frames, two wheels of equal size, and non-direct drive transmissions are for nellies and confirmed bachelors. Real men ride ordinaries (whilst wearing tweed undergarments).

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Before we begin, I feel it is my duty to keep you apprised of the Chris King Headset Composite Index:

The good news is that volume has increased, and the CKHCI is up from last week's low of 67. But the bad news is that the index remains low at just above 70:

While any uptick is encouraging, it remains to be seen how things will play out as we move into the holiday buying season.

Moving on, I've prepared a quiz in order to further dampen your enthusiasm as we move into the weekend. As always, study the question carefully and choose your answer. If you're right you'll see the item or some other confirmation that you're correct. If you're wrong, you'll see part I of the episode of "Family Ties" in which Alex P. Keaton gets addicted to speed.

Also, please note that, as usual, this quiz contains a melange of material, some of which I came across myself and some of which was forwarded by readers. I just want to take this opportunity to thank the many readers who send me links and photos. Please know that, while I'm not always able to respond, I'm always grateful to receive it and I consider myself very fortunate to receive so much email, even when it is somewhat disturbing.

Good luck, thanks for reading, and ride safe this weekend.


1) What lies beneath the tarp in Opinionated Cyclist's latest video?

--Green beans

--Yellow moons

--Orange stars

--Dead bodies

2) The Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE) has:

--Named Jonathan Vaughters to its Board of Directors

--Added "wheelsucking" to its list of ethics violations

--Won the coveted "Golden Stream" award from the American Urinalysis Society

--Gone belly-up

3) According to a recent Seattle Times article, what may signal the death of the bike messenger?

--New and prohibitively strict insurance requirements

--Court system e-filing

--A statewide ban on self-righteousness

--The rise of the Mogo scooter messenger

4) What is this?

--A great armada of refuse, plying the Hudson Street bike lane under a gloved masthead

--A new Terry Gilliam film shooting in Manhattan

--Part of a citywide bike lane cleanup program

--The morning after yet another Transportation Alternatives soirée

5) Who can come to S.P.I.N. (Super Power Inclusion Night) at the Derailer Bicycle Collective in Denver?


--The "gender queer"

--"Anyone...who is excluded by the patriarchy of bike culture and bike shops because of their gender identity"

--All of the above

6) What is this?

--The final destination for a great armada of refuse

--The set of a new Terry Gilliam film

--Chez BSNYC

--Bigvalueguy World Headquarters, located in the Republic of Texas

7) Cipo's back!



8) What is VeloNews technical editor Lennard Zinn's advice to a rider with a scuff on his Dura Ace crank?

--Get over it

--Get over yourself

--Home anodization

--Crank replacement

9) According to old crappy 10-speed expert Cameron, when it comes to old crappy 10-speeds shoddy cyclocross conversions may be the new shoddy fixed-gear conversions.



***Special NOT SAFE FOR WORK bonus question***
(Warning: no good can come of answering this question correctly.)

How do you know when a man is waaay too excited about his new Sora-equipped road bike?

--The crotchal region of his half-shorts is distended

--He is slavering copiously

--He has taken a photograph of himself with it in flagrante delicto

--It is impossible to be excited about a Sora-equipped road bike