Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Happy Wednesday!

In my capacity as a semi-professional bike blogger and social media influenza, from time to time I receive the sorts of glamorous invitations that you lowly professional types with real jobs would never dream of.  For example, at this very moment, a quick glance in my inbox reveals that most recently I've been invited: to learn more about my Irish ancestry from on the occasion of St. Patrick's day; save 20% when shopping at a popular online bicycle component retailer; and to use my $2 in Staples rewards before they expire.

Hey, what can I say, life is pretty heady up here at the top.

Anyway, in addition to these exciting opportunities I was also recently invited to join Paul Budnitz on something called "Wuu:"

So what is "Wuu?"  Well, before we get into that I should remind you who Paul Budnitz is.  He started out as a maker of toys for adults:

And while you may be mystified as to why any adult would want a toy that doesn't either have wheels and go fast or bring you to orgasm, apparently there are a lot of overgrown children out there, because he was able to parlay his fortune into an eponymous bike company:

Which sells bikes he once explains are inspired by a BSA bicycle from 1946:

People have been asking where we found original inspiration for our bicycles. 

Above is the 1946 BSA Paratrooper folding bicycle — the twin-cantilever design we use has actually been around for almost 100 years.

Though one custom bike builder offers a different story:

Anyway, Budnitz launched with the premise that they'd offer an Apple-type shopping experience, meaning they'd sell something pretty and easy to use to people who don't want to be bothered with how they work in a transaction untainted by haggling or any technical details whatsoever.

Budnitz then gave me a bicycle to test:

Which I immediately customized:

It was basically a 29er but without the frame clearance or off-road capability, and it creaked like an old person's knees:

This offended me deeply, because: A) The whole point of the bike was to give you a trouble-free experience; and 2) As the world's greatest living bike blogger I resent being presented with a bicycle that's less than perfect.

Anyway, I decided it was indeed the perfect bike if you're looking for something like a Giant Cypress but you want to spend a lot more money and you've got a hearing impairment.

And that was that.

But Old Man Budnitz was not done, and having disrupted the bike industry with his revolutionary new concept of selling expensive bikes to people who don't know or want to know anything about bikes, he moved on to social media, bringing the world something called Ello:

Which was basically a minimalist Facebook:

With help from a Denver consultancy, Mode Set, they built a service characterized by minimalist black-and-white graphics and no ads. Gradually, it became the social network that Budnitz and close to 100 of his artsy friends wanted to use. “It was totally private. The problem was that as we got toward the end of that year, there were thousands of our friends who wanted to get on Ello.”

So they raised $435,000 from a Vermont venture capital fund to create something that could grow. Budnitz says that the idea is not to take over the world, but to keep building something that he—and others—will want to use. That means it will remain a service with no ads. “People keep asking are we competing with Facebook?” Budnitz says. “And I actually believe that Facebook is not a social network at all. It’s an advertising platform. We are a social network. That’s all we do. Facebook is there for the advertisements.”

And while I have no idea of Ello still exists or not he's now introduced this Wuu thing, which is basically a minimalist Snapchat:

And that’s pretty much it. My colleague Dami and I spent the morning trying out the app, quickly filling the other’s feed with wacky filtered images and confused text messages. But Wuu’s interface is incredibly vague, putting even Snapchat to shame. Instead of any clear labels, you’re presented with a row featuring a square, a circle, and a triangle at the bottom of the main feed. Through trial and error, square lets you send a text post, circle a picture or video, and triangle an audio message, but there’s no clear way to figure that out. It took me almost an hour to figure out how to change the color of text (swipe right and left on the screen while the typing interface is active), and if there’s a way to zoom in with the camera or adjust text label sizes, I haven’t found it yet. The app is also fairly buggy — both Dami and I experienced crashes in our brief time with Wuu, and at one point it froze my entire iPhone.

Sounds awesome.  I especially like the idea of buttons that make no sense, like you've been abducted by aliens and are trying to escape in their spaceship but you can't understand the controls.

Anyway, back to the email:

Wuu is beautiful, fun, and private. It's my daily dose of happiness — a safe place to share your life with people you love. 

No Likes, no followers, and no ads. Everything deletes from Wuu's server in 24 hours. Lots of hidden features, and once you join you can invite people you love too.

I dunno, call me a retrogrouch, but when I want to enjoy private time with the people I love I generally use my living room.  There are no ads there either, and nothing gets stored on any server.  (Well sure, the TV is listening to me, and I've got Obama in the microwave in the kitchen, but that's something else.)

Still, you've got to hand it to Old Man Budnitz.  Over the past 10 years he's basically copied and re-sold:

1) The Noid from those old Domino's commercials (Kidrobot toys);
2) The expensive swoopy-framed bicycle (Budnitz bikes);
3) Facebook (Ello);
4) Snapcha (Wuu).

Indeed, he hasn't so much copied them as Budnitzed them, which is to say he's basically taken the whole thing and then changed some superficial details to make them less functional and more expensive.  (Or at least more "exclusive" in the case of the social networks.)  And while there was a time in my blogging career when this might have irritated me, now that I'm getting older I only wish I'd been similarly canny, for it only becomes clearer as time goes on that to the grifter go the spoils.

“He gets probably to this side of me almost completely past me and says, ‘I remember you.’ And before I know it he’s grabbing my throat. He basically shoved me over onto the boulder and I just went into total protection mode and tried to cover my head,” Andrew said. “After the two punches he stomped on my back kind of right around here,” Andrew said.

Then the runner allegedly threw Andrew’s bike 50 feet down the mountain off the trail.

“I’ve replayed the incident over in my head multiple times thinking what I could have done differently,” he said.

As far as what he might have done differently, apart from this I have no idea:

If it were me I'd probably have curled into a ball and whimpered.

Here's the full story straight from the source:

Just one more thing to worry about.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hey Brotard, Can You Spare A Meme?

You'll be [insert feeling here] to know that, further to yesterday's post, I've put a new (old) bottom bracket in the Brown Stallion and it rides like a dream (assuming that dream is about riding a perfectly serviceable bike):

As you can see in the picture above, fog has descended like a metaphor upon the city (I just used metaphor in a simile, what do I win?), and as I headed downtown this morning I felt as though I was disappearing into the mists of time.  See, whenever I find myself riding in the rain in Midtown on a weekday I'm immediately transported back to the 1990s, a glorious age when people danced the Macarena, AOL sent people us free discs in the mail, and I worked briefly as a bike messenger:

As the moisture crept into my shoes the nostalgia dampened my soul, and once again I was an adrift 20-something flitting about the city with a bag full of modeling portfolios, a heart full of awe, and a crotch full of tinea cruris.  Yes, there was a time when I knew all the skyscrapers by their addresses, and when I could navigate the warren-like service entrances like an industrious little bunny.  Alas, this information has since been pushed out of my tiny brain, supplanted the day-to-day considerations of child-rearing and blog curation and the pictures of Mario Cipollini that have been burned into my wetware and will no doubt haunt me until I die:

It's an occupational hazard.

Speaking of sexism, Wolf Tooth Components (makers of those wide-range cogs and narrow/wide chainrings that are so hot with the millennials nowadays) recently experienced a bit of a PR chain-drop and consequently squashed their nuts square on the top tube of ignominy:

American parts manufacturer Wolf Tooth Components has apologised for yesterday posting a sexist, homophobic image to its Instagram account. The image – seen by BikeBiz but later deleted by Wolf Tooth – adapted a disparaging meme to mock those who use SRAM and Shimano products.

Of course, the Internet never forgets (as I know too well) and here, apparently, is the image in question:
You see what they did there?  People who use SRAM are gay, because SRAM is gay.  And you don't want to be gay, because being gay is gay.

Anyway, obviously it's a stupid image, not just because of the sexist and homophobic implications, but also because anybody who cares about bike components that much is a complete dork who spends all their non-riding time sad and alone:

And that's true regardless of sexual preference or which restroom you use:

For their part, Wolf Tooth Components pushed the hot chicks off their laps for long enough to explain that it was the action of a rogue employee:

Stung by the growing criticism, an image of the company's logo was later posted to Instagram with the message: "We are so sorry for the inappropriate post put up this morning by one of our employees. It is a disgusting image and we are saddened that a picture of our product was used this way. This does NOT represent our company. A mistake was made, we are very sorry."

No word on whether or not this employee was censured, but presumably he drove home that evening in a tuned Honda Civic with one of those farty crabon exhaust pipes and spent the rest of the night playing video games and doing a lot of this:

He's wanking, by the way.  (Just in case you couldn't tell from my design department's sublime illustration.)

And of course none of this is surprising, given the cycling industry's strong "bro" culture--though it is kind of funny how bro-tastic cycling is given that it's really not that much different from hobbyhorse riding:

Customizing something and then putting it between your legs and prancing around in front of your peers is pretty much exactly what cycling is.

Lastly, speaking of cycling and bros, Peter Sagan kinda makes my skin crawl, although I do enjoy his cooking videos:

I'd suggest watching this highlight reel:

You're welcome.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Unbearable Lightness of Crabon

Did you know what if you buy a frame or bike from Rivendell you get a copy of my book?

It's true!

And not just because they jammed the spine to ascertain your pubic bone height and can't in good conscience sell it to anybody else:

It's that right, pubic bone height guy?
Sure it is.

No, it's because Grant Petersen knows quality when he sees it.  (Even though his book is better than mine.)  Well, that and Rivendell probably has a bunch of copies left over from my visit back in June of last year:

Which remains one of the highlights of my blogular career:

That ride was fantastic, and would have been even better if only I'd been wearing a VeloVisor:

Between the brilliance of the East Bay sunset and the radiant smugness emanating from the Rivendell crew it was enough to make one squint.

Indeed, as a recovering Fred who's already crested the summit of life and is currently stuffing his jersey full of newspaper for the rapid descent towards the grave it's becoming increasingly clear to me that I could probably eliminate at least two or three bikes from my livery by curating one sensibly-appointed and age-appropriate Rivendell.

Alas, as the father of various human children plus the proprietor of seventeen (17) blogs and the author of so many books I've lost count I can barely maintain the bikes I already have, much less edit and update my fleet.  Consider this bike, which incurred a flat tire recently:

It was one of those overcast but warm-ish early spring days, and so I pulled up a chair and set to work like I was carving a corn cob pipe on the front porch.  Of course, whenever you start tinkering with anything mechanical in public any male antennae within a one-mile radius start quivering, and before long a gentleman sauntered over to oversee my progress and offer his unsolicited commentary.

"I see you've done this before," he noted in admiration of my surgical deftness.

A seasoned New Yorker, I did my very best to avoid eye contact.

"You know, you should never patch a tube, it's not worth it," he admonished me in an accent that might have been either British or Antipodean, I could not muster the requisite energy or interest to attempt to parse it.

I was not, for the record, repairing the tube.  As far as patching goes, here's my protocol: if the puncture is readily apparent, I patch it on the spot.  If it's not, I replace the tube, take it home, and put it in the "to be repaired" pile.  This tube fell into the latter category.  Nonetheless, his comment prejudiced me against him, as not bothering to repair an otherwise perfectly good tube (or at least tell yourself you're going to do it later) has always struck me as being rather wasteful and the sort of thing people who wear white shoes and quote the Velominati are wont to do.

My observer then began a lengthy anecdote about a bad patch and a bike tour that was so tedious I nearly punctured my own eardrums with a tire lever, and once he'd finished he then turned his attention from my labor to my trusty Surly travel bike, which was propped up on a planter just as you see it above.

"What, no disc brakes?"

I figured he was joking.

"No, and yet somehow I manage to stop," I replied.

As it turned out he was not joking.  He then told me he'd been bike shopping recently, and not only had he learned about the superiority of disc bikes, but he also discovered that carbon bicycles are much lighter than metal ones.  The implication was that I should get one.

At this point I finally turned to my new companion and took the measure of him.  He was an older gentleman, and fairly ample.  And while it's not necessarily wise to judge people at first glance, it was almost impossible to picture him astride a carbon road bike in the same way it's tough to imagine Winston Churchill dropping into a halfpipe.  What I mean to say is this was by no means the sort of person you'd place upon a carbon bicycle--unless of course you were in the business of selling as many carbon bicycles as possible to anybody and everybody with a wallet regardless of how ill-suited they were to such a machine.

"And that means what?," I countered in response to his comment about carbon's lightness.

"Well that makes it much easier to ride, and at my age I need that," he explained.

I was tempted to explain to him that given his demographic a comfortable bike would improve his performance infinitely more than a slight gram reduction, and to that end I was about to direct him to Rivendell.  But then I figured he may just be one of those people who merely looks like he should be riding a recumbent but once he clips in he's suddenly transformed by the magic of crabon into some sort of watt-churning uber-Fred.

More importantly though, I couldn't be bothered.

Finally I finished fixing the bike and returned home.  Then, the next time I went to ride it, I found the bottom bracket completely seized due to the messy streets I've been riding in over the past few weeks, which underscores my point about how I can't find the time to maintain my own bicycles.

So I moved onto the Milwaukee, only to find the right pedal spindle completely seized on that bike too.

Between the facts that: 1) I can't seem to keep any of my bikes running; and B) People nearly twice my age are telling me my equipment is obsolete, it's becoming increasingly clear to me I should  quit bikes.

Lastly, here's an inspirational tale:

It's always good to see people gain enlightenment from cycling, and eventually if she keeps riding she may even work out that Christianity is a myth.

God willing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Just Popping Back In To Promote Myself


Just poking my head in the door to let you know that on Monday, April 17th at 7:00pm I'll be bloviating at the REI in Soho:
The subject of my bloviation will be "mountain biking," which is a hot new trend involving riding bicycles with knobby tires on forest trails.  If you live in New York City and have been curious about this exciting new sport, or if you just like hearing goofy bike bloggers be goofy, you won't want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.  Topics will include:

--Where to ride
--How to get there
--Why you don't need dropper posts and other expensive crap

Copies of my latest book will also be for sale, and I'll even sign them for you!  Or, if you already have my book and want to give it back, I'll gladly accept it, though I won't give you a refund.

Best of all, I'll do my best to scrounge up some fun stuff to give away, such as hats and coffee and hatfuls of coffee and stuff like that.

Anyway, that's all for now.  I'll be back here on Monday, and in the meantime I've got a whole other blog you can read!

Nobody gives of themselves more than me.


--Wildcat Etc. and so forth

Monday, March 20, 2017

This Just In: I Got A New Site!

Good morning!

I'm pleased to announce I've teamed up with/infiltrated/been abducted by the smugness mafia over at Transportation Alternatives, and together we're bringing you a new site called...

Here's the email that went out this morning:

Dear Wildcat Rock Machine,

I am Eben Weiss, a.k.a Bike Snob NYC.
Since 2007, I've been publishing the BikeSnobNYC blog, my lovingly sarcastic take on the cycling world. Now, with Transportation Alternatives, I'm embarking on a new project:

Drivers and straphangers can always find local media reports on traffic jams and transit delays. But what if you ride a bike?

Bike Snob’s Forecast is your answer -- a daily digest for #BikeNYC. Every morning, I’ll update you on the weather and provide you with all the information you need to ride your bike that day.

Citi Bike down? Snow in the bike lane? NYPD ticket blitz? Before you drag your bike out of the house, check out Bike Snob’s Forecast.

Besides the weather, I’ll keep you up to date on the cycling zeitgeist with news from New York and beyond -- whether it's London's £770m investment in cycling initiatives or the xenophobic community board member blocking a new bike lane in Queens.

And periodically, I will share longer features on cycling in New York City -- from ride guides to in-depth mockery -- to remind you of the many ways in which this great city is best experienced by bike.

Bike Snob’s Forecast is a resource built exclusively for New York City and people who ride bikes here. Check it out, and let me know what you think at

Eben Weiss
Bike Snob NYC (and TransAlt's newest blogger)

P.S. Excited about Bike Snob’s Forecast? You can help support this project with a tax-deductible donation to Transportation Alternatives. Donate now to support Bike Snob’s Forecast.

I'm looking forward to this for many reasons, not least of which because it gives me a great excuse to get out on the bike and ride around the city.

Jimmy Breslin is rolling in his grave.

Anyway, the Bike Forecast will be updated daily, if you need me this week that's where I'll be.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

PS: No, don't worry, this blog isn't going away.  It's like the chewing gum in your spokes: impossible to get out.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Full Fredal Jacket

Not to be THAT GUY, but Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, who not only officially revealed my identity to an indifferent world back in 2010 but also had me on his podcast not too long ago was totally THAT GUY yesterday:

And so I totally THAT GUY-ed him:
Hey, I can't help it.  I mean really, if you're going to concern-troll, wouldn't you start with the fact that he has no brakes?

As for the video and the stupid jacket therein, it appears to be a year old now, and for all I know I've already bloviated about it.  Regardless, let's look at it again:

First of all, those are some long-ass bars:

To his credit, I suppose they give him a lot of leverage which he can transfer into stopping power, and from what I understand the general brakeless fixie rule of thumb is that every additional foot of handlebar width translates into 1/8th of a coaster brake of stopping power.

That means to give your fixie the stopping power of a bike with front and rear discs you need a handlebar roughly 60 feet wide.

I recommend a repurposed flagpole, which you can pick up for under $7,000:

As for the jacket, having futzed around with that stupid battery-sucking "smart helmet" I can pretty confidently say this jacket is stupid.  I mean sure, ride around town dusting off your sleeves if you want to:

But I'll stick to using my sleeves to wipe my nose--you know, the sleeves of my wildly expensive custom-tailored non-smart jacket:

After all, a jacket's only as smart as its rider.

Anyway, who wants to take calls from the boss while riding?

Unless of course that call is from the Boss and he has some important fashion advice for you:

Seriously, unless you're in a Springsteen cover band you should not be wearing that much denim all at once.  It's like Dorkness on the Edge of Town with this guy:

For Lob's sake, if you insist on listening to stuff while you ride just skip the smart jackets and smart helmets and wear some fucking headphones.  Sure, if you're THAT GUY you probably think wearing headphones while riding is reckless and irresponsible, but as long as you keep whatever you're listening to at a sensible volume it's really not an issue.  (I almost never ride with headphones myself, but have no issues with those who do.)  And yes, it's technically illegal in New York City to ride while using two headphones (you're allowed one), but now that wireless earbuds are taking over you can hide them under your hat or payos:

(Nobody need know but Hashem.)

Yes, I'm a radical who believes it's okay to ride helmetless and while listening to music or podcasts at a reasonable volume as long as you remain aware of your surroundings and use a bicycle with functioning brakes.  This is heresy in Anglophonic countries and I expect to be banished to the Netherlands forthwith.  Meanwhile, Americans seem to be perfectly fine with blasting their shitty music on handlebar-mounted loudspeakers, which I assume is because we think this sort of antisocial behavior is normal due to loud car stereos.  Indeed, it's only a matter of time before they're also bouncing along to the music on Rinsten Springs:

As far as I can tell, this is basically a way to retrofit your plastic Fred saddle into a Brooks:

So that it complements the questionable aesthetics of your wardrobe and Fred bike:

I highly recommend watching the video on the Kickstarter page, which I was unable to embed, but if that's too much link-clicking for you just watch this instead:

You're welcome.

Speaking of hoary British contraptions I was pleased to see a Brompton make a cameo in the New York Times Real Estate section:

The couple arrived last month, paying $321,000. Annual taxes are around $11,000. They bought a used car. Ms. O’Shaughnessy drives it to the station while Mr. Lopez, an early riser, takes a fold-up bike.

I believe you call that "Bromptossining."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

This Just In: Duty Calls, Sh*t Happens

I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that if you're a fan of this blog I have to work on a project today, so there won't be a post today:

Although this is technically a post, so instead let's just say there won't be a comprehensive update today:

Okay, so what's the good news?  Well, if you're not a fan of this blog, then the good news is that there won't be a post today:

See that?  Every cloud has a glass that's either half empty or half full, depending on how you look at it.

And really it's all Moots anyway:

Since the project I'm working on will appear on the World Wide Internet eventually so it all balances out in the end.

In the meantime, I leave you with this:
And I'll see you back here tomorrow.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine