Author Archives: BikeSnobNYC
Hello!Just a quick post to introduce you to my new hero. No, not the YouTuber who’s been riding around the city with a car horn bolted to his bike, but the woman who gives him what for about five seconds into one of his most recent videos: Is it … Continue reading
Further to yesterday’s post, you’ll be pleased (or perhaps disappointed) to learn that both my wheels:And my saddle:Were still there after hours of sitting unattended in midtown Manhattan.This could mean that both the Abus NutFix and the Hiplok Z LOK p… Continue reading
As a world famous bike blogger and noted author of books, people occasionally offer to send me stuff to try. (When I say “stuff” I mean equipment, not casseroles or homemade wine.) Often I decline, mostly owning to the fact that things are pretty chaotic over at my château, and anything that crosses the threshold is liable to wind up getting flushed down the terlet by my two year-old before I have a chance to try it. However, every so often something piques my interest, and so I say, “Ah, what the hell, send it on over.”
One such item was the Abus NutFix, which may sound like a cutting-edge medical treatment you’d need to seek if botched a cyclocross remount, but is in fact a theft-proof locking skewer system:
Basically the idea is that when the bike’s upright you can’t get it open, but when you lie the bike down horizontally you can slide the cover off of the nut and open it up with an 8mm wrench:
Which is great as long as you don’t park your bike like this:
— Bike Snob NYC (@bikesnobnyc) August 1, 2017
This product appealed to me because I’ve been using my Surly Travelers check for a lot of my city riding these days and I’m tired of carrying around like three locks and/or taking the front wheel off:
Of course, once the box containing the Abus NutFix skewers arrived back in April I promptly set it aside and didn’t get around to opening it until this very morning.
I need a larger staff.
Anyway, the first thing I did upon opening the package was try to unlock the nut by holding the skewer vertically, but try as I might I couldn’t get it to work. I must have stood there in the kitchen for about 40 minutes, tugging and twisting the thing to no avail like a monkey trying to open a combination lock. Finally, I realized that what sets us apart from our simian siblings is the ability to operate the Internet, and so after roughly four seconds of G–gling I discovered I first had to push down on the nut and then give it a pull.
Yes, I realize all of this sounds totally obscene, but there’s really no way around it.
Once I got that down and was confident I wouldn’t wind up stranded and unable to fix a flat on a cold dark night on they went, and then I headed to Midtown where the bike is sitting outside as I type this:
That’s about the closest I’ve got to a “fancy” set of wheels (they came with my Ritte Rustbucket) so it should be interesting to see of they’re still there when I return. Oh, here’s how they look when they’re installed:
It seems like a decent system, but of course it all hinges on having that 8mm wrench when you need it. Naturally I’ve added one to my Surly’s tool roll:
But inasmuch as an 8mm wrench isn’t the sort of thing you’re likely to find on a typical multitool it’s easy to see how you might find yourself without one at a crucial juncture.
Oh, and while I was testing the NutFix I figured I’d also test that Hiplok “Z LOK:”
Yes, a reusable locking zip tie with a steel core is all that is securing my Brooks Cambium from the thieves of New York City:
Will see what happens.
Oh, and for the millionth time because it always comes up, yes, I suppose if a thief was familiar with the S&S coupler system then he or she could help themselves to half a bicycle if they were so inclined:
However, I’m willing to bet that if the bike gets stolen it’s going to be an all-or-nothing scenario.
I’ll keep you posted.
In other news, everybody’s heard by now that Steuart and Tom Walton have bought Rapha:
Honestly I’m just surprised there are that many giant Freds in the world:
Mr Mottram said the investment would enable Rapha to accelerate its global expansion plans.
“It heralds the start of the next stage of our journey and is testament to the growth and potential that people see in Rapha and in cycling,” he added.
Rival firms, including Aston Martin shareholder Investindustrial, were reported to have been interested in Rapha, which was valued at a reported £200m.
Though I’m not sure about this:
“Who was really interested in cycling back in 2001 and 2002? It was just something us weirdos did.”
I dunno, 2001 and 2002 were Lance Armstrong’s third and fourth Tour de France wins, and if I remember correctly the Steamroller of Fredliness had already attained unstoppable momentum–though either way there’s no question that Rapha’s timing was impeccable. And while everybody’s relishing the fact that the Waltons are heirs to the Walmart fortune, I think the real irony is that the quintessential roadie clothing company got bought by a couple of mountain bikers:
Brothers Steuart and Tom Walton are grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and their shared passion for mountain biking has led the Walton Family Foundation to contribute $13 million toward trails in Northwest Arkansas. Remember when you were a kid (or, like last week) and you played that game: “What would you do if you had a zillion dollars?” Well, these guys can actually answer that question. And it turns out what they’d do is create a living lab for trail advocacy.
Though the current state of their wardrobe was almost certainly a factor:
In any case, I can’t help feeling a bit nostalgic, since Rapha played such an outsized role in the salad days of my blogging career. After all, who could forget this?
I even got quoted in the article:
In an e-mail message, Bike Snob NYC said he was impressed with a “Fixed Jacket” that Rapha sent him to try. “It’s excellent,” he wrote. “It’s durable, the fit is good, and the pockets are in the right places.” The blogger added, “They’ve done a great job of not only evoking cycling history but also capturing a ‘soulful’ aesthetic that appeals to certain riders.” Still, he admitted: “As a cyclist, I understand it, but personally I sometimes find it off-putting. It’s a little rarefied for me … I don’t want to feel like I need to be worthy of my clothes.”
Now Rapha’s all growed up and fetching £200 million, and here I am riding a Surly and hoping my wheels don’t get stolen. All I’m saying is where the hell is my buyout? I’m not asking for Walmart money, but couldn’t the Tad’s Steaks heirs buy me out for like fifty grand?
Well I’m still waiting for my wooden speed sleigh, which I understand should be coming any day now:
In the meantime I’ve been training hard on my chubby bike:
That’s right, I plan to set those Strava segments on fire–unless of course the Renovo goes up in flames first.
Speaking of test items, a little while ago I mentioned that I’d received a set of these reusable locking zip ties from Hiplok:
Here’s what happened.
As the curator of a vast publishing empire and the father of an undisclosed number of human children it’s not too often that I have time to go for a leisurely Sunday ride. However, yesterday the stars aligned in just such a was as to make that possible. So I grabbed the Ol’ Milwaukee and pointed it north.
However, a few blocks from my home, I noticed a potentially ride-ending problem:
My bar tape was messed up.
Specifically, the edge of one piece of bar tape had wriggled itself free from beneath the overlapping piece, and so it was popping up a tiny bit. Now, as a parent with limited riding time my capacity for bicycle imperfection has increased considerably over the years. Filthy bike? Out-of-true wheel? Rusty chain? I no longer give any of these a second thought.
However, riding around with unraveling bar tape is a notch above sporting a great big greasy chain ring tattoo, and the level of distraction it would present during my ride was akin to having a pebble in my shoe or a burr in my chamois.
Anyway, I was just about to throw the bike over a guardrail and give up cycling forever when it occurred to me that I could take that little zip tie key and tuck the tape back where it belonged. So that’s what I did:
Incidentally, this particular tape says “Do not stretch” on the package, but clearly there’s a fine line between not stretching and not wrapping tightly enough, and I guess I must have been just beneath that line by the time I made my way to the top of the bar.
It is exceedingly comfortable though, so I’m willing to ride the learning curve.
Speaking of Strava, now that I’m broadcasting my lame rides to the world, clearly I need to take the next step and make dramatic videos about them–just like world famous fixie bike rider Patrick Seabase:
A place, rich in culture and history – Containing a wide range of topography, ideal for cycling.
From the intense atmosphere of Marrakech to the silent peaks up to 3000m.
No, this clip does not capture the beauty of riding in the High Atlas Mountains. What it captures is the intricate linework of Patrick Seabase’s chest tattoo and the wispy hairs of his mustache:
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Intel Corporation has quietly discontinued its Recon Jet smart sunglasses line as part of its reported move out of the wearables market. In a document published on the Intel website, the company said it would stop accepting orders for the products on Sept. 29.
Though not everybody’s giving up on the concept:
Everysight, an Israel-based company, is continuing to move ahead with its heads-up display sunglass, also marked for cyclists. The company attended Summer PressCamp last month and said it will begin shipping its glasses soon.
I hope they come out with a monocle version I can use with my wooden bike.
Just ducking my head back in to let you know my new Outside column is up:It’s all about how I opened a Strava account.Yeah, that’s right.I feel dirty.Anyway, go ahead and chew on that over the weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.Yours and so … Continue reading
Good afternoon!While I generally endeavor to give at least some advanced notice in the event of my leave-taking form this blog, the high shit-to-fan ratio* with which I’m currently dealing requires said notice to be a bit more abrupt.*[If the surface a… Continue reading
It’s your lucky day!Firstly, the new Outside column is here, the new Outside column is here!Read it now. NOW!!!Secondly, I’m pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If … Continue reading
In his bespoke Italian suit and designer dress shoes, Cyril Therien gracefully weaves in and out of street traffic like a fish in water.
As soon as he pulls up to Pergola, the Flatiron hot spot du jour, women are practically lining up to speak to the 39-year-old IT specialist as he parks his wheels.
“This thing is a chick magnet,” he says.
There is no way in hell Cyril Therien is a real person.
Anyway, unlike other bike bloggers who also ride skateboards (I’m looking at you, Stevil Kinevil), I can’t do any tricks and I totally suck. However, yesterday I used my skateboard in a practical application instead of simply flailing around on it on the street outside my house, and I must say that it was something of a revelation.
Basically, I had some errands to run in my neighborhood, and then I had to go all the way to Brooklyn. And while I certainly could have done all of this by bicycle, I also had a limited amount of time, and I live far enough from Brooklyn that the only way the bike saves me time over the train is if said train derails. (Which, I should point out, is becoming increasingly common these days.) Ordinarily in a case like this I’d reach for the Brompton, but this time I figured “what the hell” and instead I grabbed the board with wheels.
Here’s how it played out:
–Rode skateboard to post office and some other places, tried not to beat self to death with skateboard while suffering through postal service transaction;
–Saved myself a time-sucking inter-division transfer by skating to my destination once I arrived in Brooklyn;
–On the way home, got off the train early, picked up some Chipotle, and skated the rest of the way home.
What can I say, something about riding a skateboard makes you hungry for Chipotle.
Anyway, the revelation wasn’t that the skateboard worked out well as a handy way to augment the New York City transit system. No, the revelation was how I felt while riding it–and the way I felt was deeply self-conscious.
See, as an internationally renowned bicycle blogger and author who’s been riding a bike since the 1970s:
And eventually reached the lofty heights of Category 3 road racing and “sport” level mountain biking:
I am simply no longer capable of feeling self-conscious while on the bike. Sure, there was a time when I felt naked without a matching stretchy kit and wouldn’t be caught dead on a bike without clipless pedals, but thankfully these days are long behind me. Indeed, my only fear at this point is that I’ve become so laid back and ecumenical with regard to bikes that I might one day do the unthinkable and experiment with recumbents.
Oops, too late!
Rest assured I showered in scalding hot water afterward and have not been on one since.
The skateboard however was another story, and I found myself constantly worrying that I looked like a middle-aged hipster doofus–probably because that’s exactly what I looked like. More than that, I worried that I was doing it “right.” Not right in the sense of staying on it (I’m pretty capable of that), but right in the sense of not offending anybody. After all, it’s been like 30 years since I’ve used a skateboard for transportation, and back then I was too young to give a shit about stuff like whether or not I should be on the sidewalk or what’s the least loud and stupid-looking way to stop this thing. When I’m on a bike I know exactly where I should and shouldn’t be, which rules to follow and which rules to bend, and so forth. On the skateboard however I was some weird not-quite-pedestrian and not-quite-cyclist, and I didn’t know shit.
And that was the revelation. This is how a lot of people feel on the bike. Just as I hadn’t skated since I was a teenager, many New York City cyclists haven’t been on a bike since adolescents and are wobbly and insecure. And while most of them are capable of staying upright, no doubt many of them are emotionally quite fragile, and how much they worry about whether or not they’re doing it “right” could be enough to decide whether they stick with the bike or simply give it up.
And while I wouldn’t call riding the skateboard a form of penance (I enjoyed it too much), I would say it was humbling and lent me some much-needed empathy. Certainly it’s important to encourage cyclists during this important make-or-break period in their development.
As for whether or not I’ll continue using the skateboard for commuting, we shall see. But if I can ride around on a folding bike and maintain some shred of dignity, I can probably ride anything:
With the stock market on a tear and a president who’s committed to making America great again by increasing our reliance on cutting-edge energy sources such as coal there’s never been a better time to purchase a quality bicycle made here on the good side of the Mexican border wall. Are you in the market for a new bike that says, “I’m an American, and I wipe my ass with $100 bills?” If so, look no further, because you’ll want to buy two or three of these babies:
Each Wheelmen bicycle is a custom-built masterpiece. The lavish finishings and details of this exceptional bicycle ensure that The Wheelmen is both work of art and mode of transportation like no other.
Williamson bicycles are hand brazed in Detroit using highest quality chromoly tubing. The frame, fork, lugs, and stem are all handmade by Williamson, with individual copper details and subtle logos brazed in place. Each component is wrapped with python or crocodile and hand sewn. Brake levers, gear system, pedals, and cranks are then assembled to your exact specifications. All of our animal skins are CITES certified, thus they are harvested in a sustainable and humane process. In addition, no chemical bi-products are used in the tanneries.
And here are the specs, which slot neatly in between “stock Surly” and “stock Budnitz” but are closer to the former:
Yes, as you always suspected, intense scranial pressure is the path to enlightenment.
For those of us who reside down here in her dirty pant cuffs it’s tempting to imagine Canada as an endearingly polite idyll with free health care and a dreamy prime minister:
However, every so often something comes along to shatter our illusion and remind us that our unassuming neighbor to the north also has its share of violence-prone pickup truck-driving troglodytes:
PETERBOROUGH—A driver has been charged after a dramatic video showed a 74-year-old cyclist viciously attacked on the side of the road with a club.
Peterborough police said that just after 11 a.m. Tuesday, the cyclist was riding in the area of Erskine Ave. when an argument broke out between him and a truck driver.
The driver climbed out of his truck and attacked the cyclist with a small club, police said.
Unlike his stateside counterparts he’s wearing sandals:
But the dissimilarities end there.
“The sound of the club hitting him was sickening,” the woman told the newspaper. “Blood was flying off it.”
She said she didn’t witness what led to the encounter.
“They were flailing their arms around and the guy walked back to his truck,” she said.
I’m going to go ahead and guess what led to this encounter is the same thing that leads to every instance of driver-on-cyclist road rage, which is that the driver nearly killed the cyclist with his giant motor vehicle by doing something stupid or selfish or both, and the cyclist had the audacity to exercise his self-preservation instinct by trying not to die.
Just a hunch.
Still, not all Canadian pickup truck drivers are bad, and some might even save you from a bear attack:
He began hitting his horn to get the cyclist’s attention, seeing that his speed would not outrun the bear.
“Finally he looked over at me and I said, ‘You’ve got a grizzly bear about 25 feet behind you.’ He looked back and went, ‘Oh!’ and started to pound on the pedals.”
Here’s what a touring cyclist looks like when he’s being pursued by an ursine wheelsucker:
And here’s a bear who has locked on to the irresistible scent of pannier stuffed to capacity with dried meats and dirty chamois:
Though it doesn’t address various concerns specific to cyclists, chief among them being “What pressure should I be running?”
Nevertheless, the number one threat to our well-being continues to be idiots driving cars, and while self-driving technology may soon factor the idiots out of the equation you can be sure the auto-industrial complex will figure out new ways to make safety your problem:
On a recent afternoon, Rowe pedaled a white Bianchi Brava bicycle up and down a busy street in the city’s university district. His bike was loaded with gear: the antenna of a GPS unit extended above his head in a long plastic tube, a laser range finder called a LIDAR measured the precise position of everything around the bike, four inertial measurement units captured motion, a water bottle held a battery, a computer collected all that information, and every other spoke carried a speedometer.
“I would not be happy if I had to ride this every day,” says Rowe, hopping off the bike. “But hopefully when all of this stuff just gets embedded in a cellphone on the front, then it should be no problem.”
Oh, sure, helping the machines help you seems innocent enough, but it’s not too hard to imagine a future in which this sort of technology becomes mandatory. And while that might not seems like such a big deal either (after all, we’re all riding around with phones anyway), in practice it could have many of the same implications of a helmet law, such as enforcement for not using it falling disproportionately on certain segments of the population. Plus, the auto industry has been deflecting responsibility onto more vulnerable road users since the days of the hand-cranked engine, so why should we expect this to be any different? I’m sure the traffic light and all the other controls we’re familiar seemed like good ideas at the time, and of course we couldn’t imagine life without them now, but really what they served to do was wrest control of the streets from anyone who wasn’t driving a car. You’re already fair game out there, and being forced to get “wired up” before riding a bike (even if it’s just flipping a virtual toggle switch on your phone) feels like a final act of surrender.
Of course, we all know who’s going to sell us out first: the Freds. They’re used to riding while connected anyway so will no doubt embrace this technology, and from there we’ll soon reach a point when “serious” cyclists sneer at anybody riding without LIDAR in the same way they currently do ay anyone who rides without first putting on a foam hat. And who do you think will be the first country on earth to bend over and willingly accept mandatory GPS cycling suppositories? Yeah, that’s right:
You have been warned.