Author Archives: BikeSnobNYC
The history of the bicycle is long and zany, as this amazing video shows:
Indeed, it’s been a winding and treacherous road from those completely zany and borderline useless old dandy horses to the optimal balance of zaniness and practicality that characterizes (most of) the bicycles we ride today.
Given this long history, it’s hard to think of the bicycle as “disruptive,” but that’s exactly how one smartypants characterizes it:
“Bikes have a tremendous disruptive advantage over cars. Bikes will eat cars,” Dediu told CNNTech, referencing investor Marc Andreessen’s seminal 2011 argument that software-driven businesses are dominating the world.
I think most sensible people would agree that, when it comes to personal vehicles in cities, bicycles have a lot more long-term viability than cars. However, saying they’re “disruptive” seems a little strange. After all, bicycles “disrupted” the world well over a hundred years ago when they compelled municipalities to pave the roads. Efficient and adaptable, bicycles were here before the cars took over, and they’ll still be here when the idea of car ownership is obsolete. Given this, as cyclists we’re not so much “disruptors” as we are little furry rodents, scampering about resourcefully and flourishing regardless of whatever giant lumbering creature is squandering its temporary dominance at the time.
But while bikes and the riding of them have been around for a long time, bike share is pretty new, and I do think it’s pretty fair to say that’s “disruptive.” (That is if you’re the kind of person who insists on using that term.) And in addition to helping us get around, Smartypants thinks bike share bikes will also serve as little data collection probes:
Bikeshare bikes of the future, according to Dediu, will be outfitted with cameras and sensors, collecting valuable data for cities. When a cyclist rides over a pothole, it can be automatically reported to a city. Cameras on the bicycle will provide real-time data, such as pedestrian traffic and pollution. Google Street View will look like an antique compared to near real-time imagery collected from bikeshare cameras.
The bikes will need to be carefully constructed so that the cameras and sensors aren’t easily broken during use.
Well it’s certainly an interesting thought. I could certainly get behind the idea of bikeshare bikes that capture bike lane blocking, reckless driving, and other bad driver behavior. The downside of course would be if the camera also ratted you out for rolling a red light or something, but maybe that won’t be a problem with the Bicycle Traffic Lights of the Future:
Sadly it’s unlikely we’ll ever see any of this stuff happen here in Canada’s saddlebag since it goes against our policy of punishing cyclists for not driving cars.
But try as they might to keep cyclists down they can’t argue with physics. For example, did you know that bikes are portable but cars aren’t?
Bikes’ flexible nature will aid their popularity. You can park a bicycle in your home or your office. A bike can be carried on a bus, car or train. A car doesn’t offer this versatility. A similar case of disruption played out with cameras, as the always-in-your-pocket nature of smartphones helped them leave traditional cameras in the dust.
Yep, that’s right, you read it here first: you can’t carry a Hyundai onto a train.
Anyway, besides bike share, Smartypants says the other “disruptor” will be ebikes, which makes sense:
While the speed edge seen in New York today doesn’t hold up in every city, it will likely change as electric bicycles emerge. Electric bikes — whose motors generally top out at 20 mph — will attract customers because they don’t have to worry about breaking a sweat, struggling to climb a hill or keeping up with traffic.
“When you get on an electric bike, what we witnessed is a lot of those anxieties are calmed,” said Elliott McFadden, executive director of the Austin B-Cycle, the city’s bikeshare program. It recently surveyed citizens’ interest in electric bikes.
You have to figure if the NYPD is cracking down on something that’s usually a good indicator that it’s a useful technology that will ultimately benefit humankind:
And Smartypants’s vision of the future doesn’t stop there, because after ebikes the next phase of disruption will be bikes with roofs:
As Dediu sees it, first the disruptive technology arrives, then the suitable environment follows. Early roads weren’t smooth enough for the first cars. Early cellular networks couldn’t handle smartphone data. But with time, the world adapted to fit the promising technology. Bike lanes are already growing worldwide.
And then there’s weather. Riding in the rain or snow is unpleasant. Dediu notes that the first cars and planes were open air vehicles. But they morphed into cocoons. Dediu expects bikes will follow a similar evolution.
And there’s your PodRide:
I have seen the future, and it looks like a giant shoe.
Lastly, reviews of the new Cipollini are in, and you’ll be pleased to know it’s got a “massive bottom bracket sheel and taut front end:”
Plenty of aero-style bikes feel fast once you’re over the 20mph hump, but the neat trick with the NK1K is that it feels lightning quick from a standing start. The solidity through the massive bottom bracket shell and taut front end make for a truly exciting bike under acceleration.
I’d expect nothing less. Continue reading
It’s a significant occasion in bike geek history as storied Italian shifty-parts maker Campagnolo has finally gone disc:
This is huge, because until now if you wanted to use disc brakes with Campagnolo you had to retrofit a set of Delta brakes:
After all, this is the man behind the quick release and the derailleur, which were cutting-edge Fred tech in their day, so if anything he’d probably be wondering why it took so long.
As for the brakes themselves, Campagnolo claims they’re even better than Shimano and SRAM, because what the hell else do you expect them to say?
Campagnolo claims its new road disc brakes stop faster than Shimano and SRAM in the dry and the wet, with less hand force required.
This is particularly groundbreaking, because now it’s only a matter of time before companies start introducing other disc-specific components such as saddles, pedals, and bar tape:
Then again, there’s no such thing as a disc brake “conversion” that doesn’t basically involve buying a whole new bike anyway, so what’s the difference? As for what makes the crankset “disc-specific,” it basically just moves your chainrings a bit, which in the olden days you’d accomplish with a different spindle or some spacers. Fortunately now that that we have integrated bottom brackets and proprietary chainrings those days are gone, and you get to buy a whole new crank instead.
Alas, what I was really hoping for when I read “disc-specific crankset” was this:
One of the most entertaining aspects of the Fixie Golden Age was their steadfast refusal to do anything even remotely sensible in the area of braking. If they weren’t destroying $50 tires in three days because they insisted on skidding in order to slow down they were using the greasiest part of the bicycle as a braking surface.
Those were the days.
Lastly, a Bahrain-Merida rider was booted from the Giro d’Italia for pushing, and here’s the dramatic video:
If only he’d waited until they were under the tree canopy he might have gotten away with it.
Let’s keep it short today because I’ve got stuff to do, you’ve got stuff to do, and most importantly this blog is going steam-powered so it’s only got a limited range.There’s been a lot of talk lately about ebikes:(An ebike what I saw at the Bike Expo … Continue reading
Okay, let’s get to it.First, come to Bike Expo New York tomorrow to bask in my presence and obtain the new BSNYC cap!(There was a typo on the date. I fixed it.)Second, read my thrilling Jersey City bike share travelogue over at the City Bike Jers… Continue reading
You won’t want to miss me, if for no other reason than you can pick up the new BSNYC cap, which is a subtle homage to the local Applebee’s.
(Don’t worry, it doesn’t say “Applebee’s” on it.)
Also, if you want to ride down to the Expo together let me know, though I’ll tell you right now if it’s raining I’m going multimodal with the Brompton:
These days my MetroCard gets more of a workout than my legs.
Speaking of stuff you put on your head:
Good advice from our neighbor state, Maryland. https://t.co/jonjqdMO5h
— DDOT DC (@DDOTDC) May 3, 2017
Yeah, that’s right:
Good advice indeed.
By the way, in addition to the helmet misspelling (or correct spelling depending on how you look at it), May isn’t “Bicycle Safety Month.” It’s just plain Bike Month:
So if anything it would be nice if everyone would stop bugging us about the stupid helmets already. I realize we’re not going to undo Helmet Mania in this country anytime soon (though believe me I’m doing my best on this end), but at the very least they could shut the fuck up about it until June. Bike Month should be a celebration of the joy of cycling during which we revel in delightful weather, savor the freedom of the bicycle, and appreciate wherever it is we live.
Here are five (5) things you should try at least once during Bike Month:
Try it, you might like it. And I guarantee you’ll survive. If you don’t, contact me from beyond the grave and I’ll refund your money.
Boy do people ever get self-righteous about that one. Do you know how dangerous it is to ride while listening to music or a podcast at a moderate volume? Not very. In fact, probably not at all. The biggest risk is that you’ll get a ticket depending on your local laws. (In New York City you’re only allowed to wear one earbud, which frankly seems more disorienting.)
Can you ride no-handed? Can you walk and talk at the same time without bumping into anything? If so you can combine them both into a no-handed ride-and-talk. Of course, it’s the kind of thing people see and think, “What an irresponsible person!,” but the people who think that are usually douchebags.
When was the last time you just hopped on your bike and went a long way without getting all dressed up first? If you’re a Fred, not since you were like 8. However, the truth is it’s actually possible to ride a bike without stuffing yourself into an overly-revealing Lycra Fred condom. In fact, it can be quite liberating, and it might even encourage you to stop along the way and do stuff, like have a drink–which brings me to…
Trust me, I spent years Fredding about and doing my best not to stop lest I sacrifice precious miles, and I’d get anything to have that wasted time back. Had I ridden half as much and drunk twice as much I’d probably…well, I’d probably be in even worse shape than I am now, but I’d probably have been a lot more pleasant to be around. (Then again, if I hadn’t spent so much time racing and Fredding about back then I probably wouldn’t appreciate not doing it now, so I guess it works both ways.)
Hey, it’s Bike Month, loosen up is all I’m saying.
Speaking of which, I saw the following video via the Twitter, and while it purports to be motivational I saw it as nothing less than a horrifying cautionary tale:
I pray to the Good Lob on High that one day this poor Fred is able to break the Shackles of Weeniedom and know what it means to be free.
Seriously, if you get too deep into all of this you can lose the ability to think, and next thing you know you’re reading articles about how to purchase food in a deli:
How to navigate a convenience store and save yourself from a bonk: https://t.co/wWv4tmzN1a pic.twitter.com/mFV7Ejtm07
— Bicycling Magazine (@BicyclingMag) May 3, 2017
Horrifying. Continue reading
Did you know that bike lanes are part of a vast Jewish conspiracy to undermine gentile businesses and prime the city for a complete Semitic takeover?
It’s true, I read it in the comments on a local news story:
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you might even “shart” depending on what you ate for dinner last night.
Anyway, everybody knows the notion that New York City’s bike lanes are part of a Jewish conspiracy is ridiculous, because it common knowledge that Jews prefer to manipulate the populace through their control of the entertainment and banking industries:
As half a Jew they let me audit the meetings but I’m not allowed to participate.
Nevertheless, I look froward to CBS New York’s next hard-hitting report:
In the meantime, should people should start sabotaging the bike lanes with nails in order to Make America Great Again, you might want to get some Bicycle Armour, the new tire sealant currently vying for your money on Kickstarter:
As far as I can tell it’s made from clumps that were scooped out of a bathtub drain or something:
Like Archimedes, our Eureka moment happened in a bath tub too …. the domestic chores of clearing a blocked drain to be precise. So the premise was; if human hair (which has quite a small diameter) can tangle up and effectively block a drain (which has a relatively much larger diameter), then maybe we can apply this principle to our bicycle puncture problem.
FACT:* This is the composition of a typical bathtub drain clump:
Soap scum: 15%
*[This is in no way a fact.]
So there’s your sealant.
With that in mind, let this image of someone stirring a slimy brown blob with a chopstick forever haunt your dreams:
Of course, the concept behind Bicycle Armor is quite sound. In fact, if you’ve been riding bikes for awhile, it probably sounds pretty familiar to you:
We incorporated different sized fillers, ranging from nano sized particles to microns in diameter. We developed a non aggressive, stable liquid transport system to suspend these fibres and fillers. And we combine all these ingredients using a very high energy three stage mixing process which we developed in house.
Hmmm, tiny particles suspended in a semen-like matrix? I think someone named Stan might want to have a word with you:
I wouldn’t say there’s nothing new under the Sun, but there’s definitely nothing new on the Kickstarter.
Lastly, in news of professional bicycle riding, the Giro d’Italia has called off plans to reward the fastest descender with fabulous cash prizes:
But ahead of Friday’s opening stage in Sardinia, one new Giro award caused such a storm in the professional peloton that the race scrapped it just 48 hours before the start. The Giro was offering a cash prize of up to €15,000 ($16,381), in effect, for the craziest rider in the bunch: the fastest descender.
Pre-owned Hyundai money to the fastest descender in the race? What could possibly go wrong?
Even better would have been if the cash prize was sponsored by a disc brake manufacturer:
Alas, in the end “safety” prevailed over spectator bloodlust, which is alwasy a bummer:
On Wednesday morning, following a backlash from the cycling community, organizers announced that the fastest descenders’ prize would be canceled.
“The spirit of the initiative was to highlight an important skill which is an integral part of a cycle race without putting the riders’ safety in jeopardy,” they said. “Rider safety is, and remains, the priority of the Giro and the race organizers.”
It’s true, descending quickly is an important skill, which is already highlighted by, you know, winning the race. Remember this guy?
Savoldelli was a climber but known for his fast downhill riding. He is nicknamed Il Falco (“the falcon”). His downhill skills won him the 2005 Giro. His descent of the Colle delle Finestre before the final ascent to Sestriere in the penultimate stage, closed a gap to Gilberto Simoni, preserving his lead and giving him the win.
Of course you don’t.
But you would have if he’d launched himself into a ravine in pursuit of €15,000.
Anyway, in the end it’s the fans who have been cheated out of a thrilling spectacle–not of of crashes, but of riders with no GC hopes ballooning up to Sumo-like weights in order to descend more quickly and claim the prize.
And there goes any hope of corporeal diversity in the professional peloton.
It’s Bike Month, everybody!
That means it’s time for Bike Expo New York!
Which in turn means it’s time for me to hang around at the Walz booth pushin’ caps!
Not only is Bike Expo New York free, but it’s also your opportunity to hoard like a year’s worth of free energy food samples (mmmm, can you say “Chia Squeeze?”). Just make sure you take a break from glomming and schnorring and swing by the Walz booth between 10am and 12pm on Saturday, May 6th, which is when I’ll be there.
In other news of me, I graciously offered a piece of my jenious to Outside magazine recently:
While CDOT’s judges deliberate, we went ahead and asked 11 of the brightest minds in the bike industry what they would do to make U.S. cities better, safer, and smarter for the two-wheeled crowd. Here’s what they had to say.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m one of the bike industry’s “sharpest minds:”
By the way, I feel I should offer a little backstory on that photo. You may be wondering why I’m sitting on top of a picnic table in full Fred gear next to a rather incongruous retrogrouch sleigh. Well, back in 2009 I visited Portland in order to pen this Pulitzer-worthy article for the very same publication:
The editor who commissioned the piece was a Portland denizen, and during my stay we went for a ride together. When you’re riding with people for the first time it’s always interesting to see how people turn up, and in this case I showed up in full Fred gear astride the versatile yet aesthetically-challenged Ironic Orange Julius Bike, which served dual duty during my stay as urban runabout and irreverent SSCXWC chariot. My editor, on the other hand, showed up in the sort of wool ensemble you’d expect to find atop a classy sport-touring/randonneuring/whatever-you-call-it bicycle complete with canvas handlebar bag like the one above.
Anyway, together we made for Forest Park, and at one point we switched bikes for a bit, which is when the above photo was taken.
All of this is a long way of saying I may be a sartorial disgrace, but even I would not have chosen that outfit to ride that bicycle.
Oh, he also took a picture of me playing bike polo in the interest of research:
I’m gonna go ahead and lie and say I curated that facial hair so I could go undercover in Portland and that it’s not how I usually looked at the time.
Speaking of bike polo, have you ever wondered who invented it? No? Me neither. Nevertheless I found out by accident and wrote about it in the Bike Forecast.
So there you go.
And given the outsized role he’s played on this blog over the past ten years I knew I’d be remiss were I to forego this rare opportunity to pay my respects and take his measure in person:
According to the Red Hook Crit website the ride was set to take place in Prospect park at 9:30am. Back when I lived in Brooklyn, 15 minutes and a few strokes of the pedal would have been all that it took to deliver me to the start. However, now that I reside in the northwest Bronx, a trip to Prospect Park is a good 20 mile ride. All of this is to say that I had every intention of being punctual, but by the time I crossed under the fog-enshrouded George Washington Bridge I was running something like an hour behind schedule:
Alas, if only I’d had an ebike like this guy I might have made up the time easily:
The brand of the above bike was “Juiced,” and I’m assuming that’s the “CrossCurrent” model that sells for $1,499:
Hey, whatever works for you, but if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about ebikes it’s that they encourage their riders to circle at red lights even more than fixies do.
Once I’d ridden nearly the length of Manhattan I merged onto the new Chrystie Street bike lane:
And mounted the Manhattan Bridge, where even at this late morning hour riders were still streaming towards Manhattan in considerable numbers:
Either New York City’s got an actual bicycle rush hour now, or else they were simply fleeing the Cipollini.
Upon alighting in Brooklyn I made straight for Grand Army Plaza:
Where a group I took to be the Brooklyn chapter of the Mario Cipollini Appreciation Society in fact turned out to be park volunteers:
I’m assuming the Prospect Park Alliance heard Mario Cipollini would be visiting, and so they brought a wheelbarrow full of sawdust to soak up any oil slicks and keep the roadway safe for the park users.
Anyway, I’d long missed the rollout, but it wasn’t long before I heard a flurry of Fredly activity nearby:
And moments later I was among them:
The main group was well ahead of me, and presumably these were the riders who’d become overwhelmed by Cipollini’s pheromones and dropped back to breathe some unadulterated air for awhile. Obviously many of these riders were in town to compete in the Red Hook Crit, and as you can imagine it was thrilling to be among the crème de la crème of international fixiedom. Every few moments I’d hear the unmistakable whoosh of crabon wheels and the rattle of over-tensioned chains, only to be passed by yet another rider with tattoos and a mustache:
Indeed, when it comes to sheer fastidiousness in the realm of appearance, fixie-crit riders have overtaken roadies like that guy on the Juiced bike overtook me:
Given the sheer volume of runners, dog walkers, and Orthodox Jewish power-walkers, Prospect Park at mid-morning is not exactly the ideal venue for a huge group ride, so rather than attempt to make my way to the front I instead dropped back, took the cutoff, and waited for them at the park entrance. Before long they came back around, and while it was hard to pick him out at first:
I soon spotted the unmistakable profile of Cipollini himself:
And once the ride ended I watched as he graciously posed for photos with his many admirers:
I’d briefly considered bringing something along for Cipollini to sign. Indeed, at the risk of sounding too arrogant, I’m something of a sensation in Italy myself. Not only have my books been translated into Italian, but I was also the guest of honor at “Full Bike Day,” which was without a doubt one of the fullest bike days the region of Puglia has ever seen:
Therefore, I figured I’d do Cipollini the honor of presenting him a copy of the Italian edition of my book, asking him to sign it, and then taking it back and keeping it for myself…though as I was preparing to leave I realized that rummaging around in boxes looking for a copy of the Italian edition of my book would have made me even later, so ultimately I just said “Fuck it.”
I also briefly considered taking a picture with Cipollini myself as a souvenir, but given the earnestness of the occasion I felt like injecting irony into the proceedings would be kind of a douchey thing to do, so instead I just took pictures of other people taking pictures:
I have no idea why the riders in the background are shielding their eyes, and I can only assume they can’t bear to look directly at a skinsuited Cipollini from behind, much in the same way you can’t look directly at the Ark of the Covenant or else your face will melt:
Once Cipollini had graced everyone with handshakes and pixels I headed down to R&A bike shop, where according to the Red Hook Crit website a “Q&A” was to take place:
However, when I asked someone at R&A where the Q&A was taking place they looked at me like I was an idiot and said they didn’t know anything about any Q&A but that Cipollini was inside:
I can only assume that since everyone had gotten what they came for the whole Q&A idea must have fallen by the wayside, and once again I was disinclined to bother a guy who clearly wanted to tap at his phone uninterrupted after having given generously of his time. So I paid my respects to the Red Hook Crit organizer and made my way back to the Bronx. The cherry blossoms were in bloom:
The bridge was now free from the fog in which it had been imprisoned:
And as I contemplated the cycle of life and these symbols of rebirth it occurred to me for the first time that I might be pregnant.
I should have shielded my eyes.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what happened at the Red Hook Crit, I have no idea, but I did see this on the Twitter:
So crazy! Gllad you made it unscathed @alexreich00 in that crazy start of the @redhookcrit race. @thronecyclesA post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Design,Fixie,Bmx,Moto (@rustedjalopy_) on Apr 30, 2017 at 12:12pm PDT
So there you go.