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Trend Watch: People Now Riding Bikes With Large Tires

Posted by on March 13, 2017
Not sure if you've heard, but apparently there are these things called "fat bikes" in quotes:


PORTLAND, Me. — Gone are the days when cyclists had to put their bikes away for the winter. These days, hard-core riders are staying outdoors year round thanks to “fat bikes” that allow them to conquer winter's worst instead of staying indoors on a stationary bike.

Yes, according to the Associated Press Style Book, "fat bikes" must be rendered in quotes until the 10,000th article is published about them:


This is why the knuckle tattoo trend no longer has to be rendered in quotes, but the "air quote tattoo" trend does--though strictly speaking it should be rendered "'air quote' tattoo," which will surely be the undoing of many a copy editor.

It's even more complicated if you want to add "irony punctuation," in which case it's "'"air quote"' tattoo"...I think.

Or we could all just accept the fact we're living in a post-grammatical society and surrender to emojis:


I'm old enough that the first thing I think of when I see this is blotter acid.

Anyway, if you want to know what makes a "fat bike" a "'fat bike'" it's the "comically large tires:"

The bikes, with comically large tires, have come into the mainstream in the past couple of years, after having been introduced about a decade ago.

It's certainly true that "fat bike" tires do look cartoonish, but if you adjust for brainwashing it's really the rest of America that's riding around on "comically large tires" thanks to our obsession with SUVs:

A largely aesthetic consideration that tends to create more problems than it solves:


See, in America we like motor vehicles that can cross rocky stream beds (at least in advertisements) but can't make it through a tiny city without wreaking havoc.

The article then quotes a "fat bike" enthusiast:

John Grondin, 48, of Scarborough, Me., got his fat bike to kick the winter blues.

“I wanted to get outside and ride in the winter,” he said. “I like to ride, period. I'll ride a road bike. I'll ride a mountain bike. I just want to ride.”"

I'm getting the sense he likes to ride.

By the way, another good way to kick the winter blues is to not live in Maine.

The article then goes on to make the stupendous claim that "fat bikes" are the first major cycling trend since the 1980s:

Fat bikes represent the first major bicycle trend in several decades, after BMX bikes in the 1970s and conventional mountain bikes in the 1980s, said Jay Townley, partner in Gluskin-Townley Group, a Pennsylvania consultant and market research company focusing on the bicycle business.

Um, what am I, chopped liver???


Jay Townley clearly slept through the fixie craze of the early 21st century (not to mention the Lance Amstrong-driven road bike boom that preceded it), and for that I envy him.

Nevertheless, these "fat bikes" are now big business:

The NPD Group, which tracks retail sales of bikes in the United States, reports that fat-tire bike sales have grown eightfold in the past three years, to $74.7 million in 2016.

If we assume the average "fat bike" costs $1,000 that means there are currently 74,700 "fat bikes" out there rolling around on comically large tires.  And since every one of those bikes will need two (2) new comically large (and therefore comically expensive) tires eventually then it seems to me that's the business you want to be in--which is why I'm pleased to announce my new online retail venture:


Alas, if only I'd planned ahead, I could have debuted this at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, which took place in Salt Lake City, Utah:


(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Debra Banks, a hand crafted saddle manufacturer for Rivet Cycle Works, left, checks out a one of a kind "Big Bamboo Bike" made by Craig Calfee of Calfee Designs out of Santa Cruz, CA. at the 2017 North American Handmade Bicycle Show at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday. This model is an electric bike made of a bamboo including the wheel spokes. The battery is inside the large tube. He makes several more coventional design custom bicycles using bamboo frames. It's the largest and oldest handbuilt bicycle show in the world where ideas and innovation come together to promote custom bicycles and the companies that support the market. It is the show's first time in Utah. The event runs through Sunday.

Presumably the sustainable and environmentally-friendly bamboo is meant to offset the electric drivetrain, which requires lithium mining, as well as the leather saddle, which requires resource-intensive cattle whose flatulence contributes to global warming--sort of like how I ride to the big-box store on a bicycle to pick up my planet-destroying disposable diapers and paper towels:


I'm thinking that maybe if I add some bamboo veneer to the WorkCycles I can also get a pass on sorting my refuse when I eat at Whole Foods.

Anyway, obviously I didn't go to NAHBS this year, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it was exactly like every other NAHBS except there were more disc brakes:


Wake me up when someone shows a rim brake fat bike made from bamboo.

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