("The Impact Broke My Scapula" t-shirt in the white "colorway," forwarded by a reader.)
Among the comments on yesterday's post regarding the incendiary Mavic R-Sys was this simple remark:
While the commenter's use of "golf clap" as a closing salutation would indicate mild appreciation and tempered enthusiasm, I was nonetheless disappointed in myself for not referring to rims as "hoops." As an occasional bike reviewer, it's essential that I demonstrate a working knowledge of review parlance at all times. If I fail to do so then bicycle companies will surely dismiss me as an amateur and never again will I taste the fragrant, sticky nectar of sweet, sweet product. The fact is, the cycling industry is like a giant speakeasy, and words like "hoops" are the code words you must speak through the door in order to gain access. Moreover, these code words change all the time. Of course, the undisputed master of cycling publication jargon is James Huang of Cyclingnews, who's so far ahead of the curve in this area that he's practically lapping the field. Take his recent review of the Cannondale Six Carbon 3 Compact:
In it, he refers to brakes not as "stoppers," but as "clampers:"
As far as I knew, "stoppers" was still the "cool" word, so to say that Huang's use of the word "clampers" threw me for a loop is an understatement. When I saw it, I actually felt like I was 30 minutes into a criterium and totally anaerobic, only to have my R-Sys explode beneath me. Even worse, on top of being surprised I was also embarrassed; I felt like some parent trying to be hip, only to be jeered at by his teenage children for using outmoded slang. So I beat my fist against my forehead like Chris Farley and repeated to myself, "clampers, clampers, clampers!" This seemed to do the trick, because I'm pretty sure I now have the lingo straight--though I had to make some flash cards to help me remember:
This should ensure that my next review sounds like a bad parody of Kerouacian "spontaneous bop prosody." For best results, be sure to read it with bongo accompaniment.
Speaking of sad attempts to stay "with it," one of the best ways to fake "street cred" is to buy the right used bicycle. This is especially true in the world of fixed-gears, where bike choice is everything. Nobody wants to look like a "noob" by riding the wrong bike--especially now that the scene is closed. ("Rocking" a Pista or an IRO with bullhorns while wearing a Triple 8 helmet and a Chrome bag marks you as a modern-day "Fred," and they'll never let an obvious narc like you into the fixie speakeasy.) Similarly, ITTET, it's considered gauche to "run" an expensive NJS or vintage Italian track bike since so many people are losing their parental funding. Of course, you can always choose from among the current crop of fixed-gear freestyle bikes, but then you've got to start wearing limited edition sneakers, acting like Jamie Kennedy in "Malibu's Most Wanted," and demonstrating your ability to do barspinzzz. No, the best way is to sneak in through the metaphorical back door by pretending you bought a cheap track bike way back in the late 1990s, which is why the GT GTB is so highly coveted. Usually, beat up frames these days sell for about what a brand-new complete bike used to cost, so this particular specimen is a relative bargain:
Bad Ass GTB 1 - $450 (Jersey City)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-06-10, 4:33PM EDT
Recently turning the big 3-1 has led to a number of changes in my boyfriends life. The most important, or at least pertinent to this posting, is that his ass just cant take it like it used to.
A former bike messenger, his hiney has kissed the seats of many a great bike, and this current beauty is no exception. Unfortunately, the fit young booty he sported at 29 just cant take the narrow seat and fixed gear set up.
If you are a nice young thing lookin to score a sweet ride and have an ass you can bounce quarters off of, this is the bike for you.
Good gear ratio
Brand new Bon Trager Tires
Air freshener included. Email inquiries only please.
This posting is nearly as eccentric as it is ass-centric--in addition to the "Fugino" crank, I counted five posterior references, and that's not including the air freshener hanging from the ass pedestal. (One wonders if simply replacing the current ass pedestal with a new one would solve the owner's comfort problems.) In a normal world, $450 wouldn't be especially cheap for an old mass-produced track bike, but in this age of fixed-gear insanity it almost seems too good to be true--in fact, between the price tag and the frequent ass mentions this could very well be a trap to lure some naive aspiring fixter into a freaky storage unit scenario.
I was also confused by the "Bon Trager" tires and wondered if they were French. For a moment I thought it was some kind of new Mavic product. I've actually been hearing rumors that they're working on a new power meter, but instead of measuring a rider's power output in watts it measures it in the force of one diminutive Frenchman trying to crush a hollow carbon R-Sys spoke:
Mavic is hoping that its proprietary Diminutive Frenchman Unit (or DFU) will one day become the industry standard. I hear that Tom Boonen can unleash over a thousand DFUs in a sprint--which is to say nothing of the massive amounts of cocaine he can consume through an R-Sys spoke, but I think on the streets of Belgium they still measure that in grams.
Speaking of drug consumption and "street cred," if you're a rock star you don't have to worry about which fixed-gear you ride, because you're automatically welcome in the speakeasy. I was stunned recently to receive an email from a reader informing me that Robert Plant rides a fixed-gear. I was doubtful, but the reader actually included a photo to back up the claim:
Yep, that's definitely Robert Plant, though with the sunglasses and pants I almost didn't recognize him:
Not only that, but the rider on the left is obviously New York Dolls frontman David Johansen:
Hopefully the fact that Plant and Johansen are riding fixed-gears together means they're working on a "collabo" of some kind. I wouldn't be surprised if they "drop" an album together soon. They could call it "Bulges and Nipple Slips."
Really, I think the only thing that would make me happier than a Plant/Johansen "joint" would be if James Huang were to use one of my words in a review. For example, it would please me beyond measure if he were to mention "rubbing" a component. While this has yet to happen, I was momentarily excited this morning when I spotted a hopped-up Dodge Ram palping a decal which read "Rubbin' is Racin':"
For just a moment there I thought that use of the word "rub" meaning "to use" had finally gone mainstream. However, a little internet research soon revealed that "Rubbin' is Racin'" is a common phrase in the NASCAR scene. (Or "NASCAR culture" if you're the kind of person who says "colorway.") This in turn led me to wonder if and when the "hipster" community will cultivate an ironic appreciation for NASCAR--the fixed-gear blog "Hipster Nascar" notwithstanding. Really, watching NASCAR would seem to slot much more neatly into the life of the typical hipster than fixed-gear bikes do; since they enjoy spending so much time in fake dive bars anyway, they could simply watch NASCAR races in them instead of getting their Deep Vs stolen outside of them.
Of course, it's all too easy to stereotype people. The truth is, not all hipsters are hapless fashion victims whose bikes get ripped off outside of bars while they're getting ripped off inside of them. Similarly, not all NASCAR fans shoot things with antlers. However, some of them do, which is why it can be dangerous to "rub" too many barends on your bike:
A reader recently spotted this specimen in Corvallis, OR. Personally, I'd be afraid to ride it, since some unironic NASCAR fan stereotype might mistake you for a buck and take aim at you.
I would also be hesitant to rub this cyclocross tire belt, to which a friend recently alerted me:
Really, few people get away with such a hideous accessory. You'd have to be a real rock star to pull it off. Actually, now that Robert Plant is wearing pants, this might interest him.