Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Zed's Dead, Baby. Zed's Dead.

Despite a professed hatred of freak show bikes, I sure like to build freak show bikes. That is to say, if it's a freak show I'd like to be invited to. I put this together for my buddy Josh in Santa Rosa:
The inspiration for this one was somewhere between an old school bobber:
And a cafe racer:The frame is a 17" aluminum MTB frame, raw, with an arching top tube that gives off a moto-meets-Schwinn Stingray vibe. Bars are motorcycle drop bars. Giant brake levers are first generation Dia Compe mountain bike levers, which I put on everything because they rule. Lever boots are a must:Left side gets a micro bar end mirror, for seeing when the fuzz is about to put the kibosh on your mean motor scooter party action happy fun time:Whereas the right side gets the speed selector--7 lucky speeds--courtesy of a Shimano barcon:
Tape is Cinelli Mike Giant limited hoo-ha. Stem is a mega-tough, ├╝ber-ridiculous Dirty Dog skull jobber:
Beautiful machining and anodizing. Despite the amount of material carved out inside, the thing weighs about as much as two or three normal stems. Ridiculous on any other bike...ridiculously awesome on this one. Good thing the spacers are carbon.

Braided steel cables by Odyssey give a custom moto feel. Gusset forks and retro brick cruiser tires. OWL decal on the head tube because Josh is the head hooter at Our Wrecked Livers:
Avid BB7 caliper with a Dirty Dog skull and crossbones rotor:
God is in the details:
Polished Profile widowmaker chainwheel, red ano beartraps, raw Stolen cranks, and a Paul chain keeper:
Skull are important:
Rally-striped banana seat, cut down sissy bar, Moon Eyes license plate:
All this and an Coupe de Ville?
And an awesome pooch named Lux, to boot. Some guys have all the luck:
Now for the randomness. Psychedelic clouds in the Presidio:
Strange interlopers:
They're here for our weed, y'all. This high art sculpture is in a store next to the newly re-opened mini golf in Clearlake. It's got a ton of tribal motif T-shirts with pitbulls on them and sayings like "Nor Cali Grown,"and posters of the "Indian 10 Commandments," enormous dreamcatchers, wolf face sculptures, shit like that. For Clearlake, the place is like a museum of fine art.
Speaking of art, if you see your mom this weekend, would you be sure and tell her:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oh, You Were Behind Me? I Wasn't Even Pedaling.

Not sure if it's the most amazing race of all time, but it is pretty amazing, and it's definitely "all time." Homeboy breaks his chain coming out of the first turn and hangs on to win. Must be truly demoralizing to be in this guy's class.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This Is Evolution? Take Me Back to My Cave, Then.

I don't mean to sound like some kind of Stevil Knievel rock and roll retro grouch railing against disc brakes on cross bikes or belt drives, but one has to draw the fucking line somewhere. Which leads me to ask, what the fuck is this thing?
Let's see: it's a recumbent unicycle with another wheel tacked on? A really unsafe, ugly bar stool from Sonny and Cher's honeymoon palace? Why no, it's the "Evolution Bike" by Roel Verhagen Kaptein, a Dutch "industrial designer" who's clearly way too into design for it's own sake.

Of course, it's some kind of ridiculously complex internally geared automatic variable front hub transmission nightmare. Click on the photo for hilarious explanation. As far as I can tell, the key is "the rotating balls tilt." Whereas this truism has caused many a hernia, apparently tilting balls is a good thing with Roel's better mousetrap. Haven't studied the diagram too hard, but I'm wondering if there's some kind of clutch mechanism to allow one to coast, or is it all shifty-shift shit, forward we go? Who knows?

The best part about riding Roel's bitchin' barstool?
"No messy chain."

I realize that people are always going to try to build a better mousetrap, even if the old style snap trap and a scoop of peanut butter will still kill every mouse in the house. I'll even admit to have recently ridden a two speed kickback, freewheel, belt drive Spot street bike which I found strangely awesome and at least half fun. But seriously: what is it with you design school shitheads that's so goddamned afraid of getting your pant leg, or--God forbid, your hands--dirty? Please, explain the horror of the "messy chain" one more time. It's like the Blair Witch Project of bike parts...purportedly horrifying, yet, when you really come up against it, not too freaky at all. A little sticky, sure, but not all that horrifying.

Reminds me of a story. I was riding what I consider my first "road bike." This was like, 5 years ago. If that. What can I say? I never really cottoned on to the whole lycra thing.Said "road bike" was second hand Cannondale--actually a hybrid frame of some sort, and, though it was a touch too small, it was US made and a fun ride. It set it up with mountain bike riser bars, a triple, and my first set of 23s. Oh, and flat pedals. (Go ahead and tease me...I realize for "real roadies" the aforementioned set-up is definitely on the "fat girls and mopeds" side of things.) Though for me, it helped me discover the joys of just getting out there and riding roads--paved ones--for hours, without jumping curb cuts, kicking out on trash cans, or wall-riding, and popping only the occasional wheelie.

One day, while out on Skyline toward Daly City/Pacifica, I encountered a fully kitted-up Lycra warrior on a titanium Seven. He had on the full Seven kit with shoe covers, and though I didn't inspect his machine too closely--I first saw him as he was dropping me like a bad habit on a climb--he was probably running a full Campy Super Record set up. You know--that type of dude. The weekending dentist as Conquering Invader. The "if I can afford it, it must be what I need" kind of guy.

We swapped the alpha postion a few times--he'd pass me going up, I'd pass him going down. (If there's one thing I've learned pushing pedals, it's to let your beer belly work for you.) As I came over the crest of a hill, I saw Tour de Pac Heights stopped up ahead with a mechanical of some sort. He was staring with consternation at his bike around the cranks/bottom bracket/front derailleur area. Keep in mind, I had an unobstructed view of this guy for 60 yards as I approached. Being somewhat handy with a wrench, and not so small-minded and petty as my lead-in might have you believe, I slowed down to see if he needed assistance. Right as I was about to stop, I noticed his chain has overshifted off the front ring, and he was pulling latex gloves out of his underseat bag. He had to put on latex gloves before he could put his chain back on.

Damn you, Messy Chain! I will not deign to touch you with my delicate phalanges. I just had my hands re-palmed in fine Corinthian leather.

The horror!

Just think, Mr. Seven, now you can avoid that revolting entity altogether and evolve, as Roel Verhagen Kaptein has got you covered. Calling this thing a bicycle is like calling a Razor scooter a skateboard. No wonder they couldn't photoshop actual people (actual virtual people) into the concept illustrations, just oversized maquettes:
That's the only way I can envision riding one of these: if you're made out of wood and have no eyes with which to see your own shame. He actually made one, and yet, still no photos of anyone riding or even sitting on the thing:
What the bike world, and the world in general, needs is products designed by people who are end users of similar products. You know what I mean? Like, don't design motorcycle suspension if you don't ride motorcycles. Don't design blenders if you don't like smoothies. Don't brew beer if you don't drink it. Pretty straightforward, to my way of thinking. Yet the cycling industry (eww...I just threw up in my mouth a little) is full of pretentiously pretty design school bullshit that doesn't actually work. I'm not against hydraulic road brakes or belt drives because they're not reinventing the wheel--they're just options. Insofar as they're actually functional.

Bicycles didn't spring fully formed from Zeus's head: there's a reason they look the way they do. Sure, they're going to keep changing, but they're not going to "evolve" into recumbent unicycles overnight because a Dutch design student and an anal retentive roadie don't like "messy chains." At least they shouldn't. Fuck, I don't think I've ever crossed my fingers this tightly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Too Dumb to Die

Too stupid to live.

This is five steps beyond "fat girls and mopeds." Seriously, how do you explain it to your girlfriend when you get caught doing this shit?

This other thing, however, is fucking amazing. Guy's a way better rider than me:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Too Long

I haven't done a Bertlemann in way too long.Tell me this shit doesn't feel good.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Helicopter Parenting and the Nuclear Family

Off the wall in Vans: me at 16. Tender little bitch, ain't I?
As I leave the shop for a test ride, two kids are playing around with a demo bike we have parked outside, screaming like hormonal hyenas as their mothers ignore them from 30 feet away. The trophy moms of the Marina are confused when their nannies get a day off, though they tacitly acknowledge Juanita may have a little brown family of her own.

As I ride back to the shop, the little boy is backpedaling the cranks furiously with his hand, while the little girl pokes her fingers at the whirling teeth of the cassette where it interfaces with the chain.

"If you keep doing that, you're going to cut off your finger," I tell the girl.

They look at the scary bald dude and hustle toward their mothers, who tell me, "We're sorry about that."

"No problem," I say. "It's not my finger."

Though I do thumb my nose at you, mothers who hover at all the wrong times. You're probably more concerned about your kid's peanut butter (organic almond butter, perhaps?) than their fingertips.

Excess packaging will be the end. To paraphrase Nikita Kruschev in a way his vodka-addled borscht brain could've never envisioned: it will bury us.

The world needs another, even colder war, to embrace the eternal, paternal coziness of a fasco-Republican republic. A womb for grown ups! A veritable Mit fit for a man! I learned to love the bomb as a child: the shooting of Korean Airlines Flight 007 from the sky was my Lourdes. It was our mini-Missile Crisis, an adrenaline hit in the dog days of summer, just before succumbing to the lingering sickness of school. Shot out of the sky by a Soviet fighter on the way home from vacation, or a business trip; first peanuts and Coca Cola, next, fiery, howling death at 35,000 feet.
I drew a lot of mushroom clouds/skulls/mushroom clouds that looked like skulls/skulls that looked like mushroom clouds on my Pee-Chee folders that year.

"Radical man is the CIA and we say no!"