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Why Does My Purple Bike Rule So Hard?

May 22, 2009

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I just assembled and rode my beloved Purple Bike for the first time in almost a month today.  My God!  What a bike! After riding my road bike every day, everywhere – road riding, the library, spandex, tennis shoes, u-lock, EVERYWHERE – it’s so nice to have my lovely purple lady back so’s I can get around town in style.  

And dude! Goddamn!  Riding a track bike rules!

But what is it about the track bike, or fixed gear bike, that rules so hard?  Why is riding a track bike around town so much more Goddamned fun than a faster, safer, more reasonable, and infinitely nerdier geared road bike?  If I just need something to “get around town” on, why don’t I just ride something practical like a hybrid bike, or a cargo bike with fenders, or a $5,900 Seven Cycles Earth Day Bike?  Why, in a world with with so many better-suited bikes, must I commute on a purple track bike?

I took a dive deep down inside my own confusing hipster psyche to find out.

Reason #1 my Purple Bike rules so hard: because track bikes are cool.

A logical place to start is with the admission that all people who ride fixed gear bikes do it because it’s cool.  We say that it’s “zen.”  We say that riding fixed gear bikes make us “one with the road.”  We tout fixed gears’ mechanical (and metaphorical) simplicity.  And these explanations are all well and good.  But just as all roadies actually shave their legs because of peer pressure, all fixed gear riders ride fixed gears because it’s cool.

I was having a conversation today with someone who didn’t know much about bikes, but did know that everyone keeps talking about these “fixed gears” all the time.

“Why do people ride these bikes?” he asked me.

“Well, because they’re cool,”  I said, “really.”

“Why are they cool?”

“I guess because they’re dangerous and impractical.”

“Why are they dangerous and impractical?”

“Because there’s no gears and no brakes.”

“Ooohh.” He said.  “That’s crazy!”

Exactly!  Riding a bike without brakes seems crazy!  Of course you or I know that it isn’t really that crazy.  But the fact that it seems crazy is the great fount of the fixed-gear rider’s self-importance and coolness.

I ride a track bike on the streets.  I’m fucking badass.  Right?  Crazy, right?  Please love and accept me.    

But the appeal of a track bike extends well beyond a need for acceptance.

This brings us to the second most compelling reason to ride a track bike.

Reason #2 my Purple Bike rules so hard: Aesthetics.

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Look how good my Purple Bike looks.

kanye-west-track-bike-cinelli-vigorelli

Look how fly Kanye be looking floating above his left-hand drive Cinelli Vigorelli that’s floating above the Earth.

DeepVBike

Sure, the kind of person who would ride this bike is probably a total deep V, but it’ cool.  That shit’s fresh as hell!

One of the major contributing factors to my Purple Bike’s “ruling” is its looks.  And my brain told me to build it to look that way, so I’m pretty well-acquainted with the rationale behind the aesthetics..

 

So far we’ve established a couple of fairly cynical criteria to back up as bold a statement as “my bike rules.”  Just because something looks good and fits into a current trend doesn’t mean it “rules,” though.  I mean, shutter shades were cool for like three months once, but I don’t think anyone would go as far as saying that they “ruled.”  They were just a trend.  Come to think of it, they didn’t even have any real function.  Other than make you look like you listened to 3Oh!3..

No, my Purple Bike is gonna have to do a LOT more than look good and be en vogue if it’s going to “rule.”  “Hard.”

And luckily it does.  

Reason #3 my Purple Bike rules so hard: it’s really, really fun to ride(especially without brakes).  

Track bikes generally have less rake in a the fork, shorter wheelbases, and steeper head and seat tube angles (except in the case of hipster-marketed fake track bikes, like the Purple Bike).  This contributes to more aggressive, more immediate handling.  This contributes to a sensation of “fun,” which in turn contributes to my purple bike “ruling.”

Also, riding with no brakes is awesome.  Maybe it’s foolhardy and stupid, but so is logrolling, a sport whose appeal rests entirely in its stupidity and foolhardiness.

As i mentioned earlier, riding a fixed gear without brakes is far from impossible.  The tricks and techniques necessary to stop your bike are half (if not 60%) of the fun.   

And lets face it: without the threat of death, riding a bike with no brakes just wouldn’t be worth it.

Moving down the list,

Reason #4 my Purple Bike rules so hard: there ain’t nothin’ to break.

My Purple Bike’s got 99 problems, but a misaligned derailleur hanger ain’t one.  

You know that feeling of fear you have on a bike when you stand up on a hill in too tall a gear and crank hard, preying that your chain won’t skip and bash your shin into your stem?  That never happens on my Purple Bike, no matter how absurdly over-geared i may sometimes be.

You know that feeling you have riding down a steep hill in the rain when a red light turns red and you slam on your brakes only to feel the squishy terror of useless, wet brake pads?  That never happens on my Purple Bike.  I have way more important shit to worry about in this scenario.  But at least I went into it with the knowledge that I didn’t have any brakes to begin with..

You know that annoying and embarrasing sound of an out-of-true wheel rubbing on a brake pad?  That never happens on my Purple Bike.  Way I figger it, if my wheel ain’t touchin’ my frame, I ain’t touchin’ my wheel.

The Purple Bike has been through some hard times – the kind of things that I would never subject my well-bred, fussy road bike to – and it keeps on riding.  Even though my Purple Bike isn’t any more rust-proof, I feel OK leaving it in a downpour.  Even though it has the same thin 23mm road slicks, I feel ok about riding it on singletrack and off of curbs.  My drivetrain maintenance standards are lower on my Purple Bike.  When it got its first dent on the top tube, I was sort of proud.

Every square inch of the Purple Bike’s clear coat is scratched.  The cones on the hubs are rusted.  The fork blades are misaligned so when I ride with no hands it’s slightly sideways.  The crank arms are bottomed out so they creak and can’t be fully tightened.

But I ride the Purple Bike every day and it keeps ruling.  Track bikes may have been made for the smooth surface of the velodrome, but their simplicity makes them ideal for the cruelty of the streets.

 

Reason #5 my Purple Bike rules so hard: All that other bullshit everyone is always talking about.

All that other bullshit everyone is always talking about is no bullshit, it turns out.  Riding a track bike is Zen-like.  I am one with the road.  It is a purer cycling experience.  The Purple Bike is a metaphor for simplicity.

I feel like the Purple Bike is the vessel by which I will one day pedal to a never ending state of perfect peace, free from craving, anger and air pollution.  The Highest Happiness awaits the Purple Bike’s rider.  

Riding the Purple Bike produces a mind state that has come to a point of perfect lucidity and clarity – Buddha’s Asankhata Mind – enabling the rider to find the Noble Eightfold Path.

 

But you, reader, know as well as I

That track bikes are just a trend

And I’m only riding the Purple Bike because it’s cool.

Right?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete permalink
    June 6, 2009 5:04 pm

    Nice purple bike, fagot!

    • youreanidiot permalink
      January 25, 2010 7:45 pm

      nice spelling bigot

  2. chillzorz permalink
    July 25, 2009 6:54 pm

    Bikefag, we’re now best friends.

Trackbacks

  1. Hipster Road Biking « Bikefag’s Blog
  2. What will be “the next fixed-gear?” « Bikefag’s Blog
  3. The End Of An Era, The End Of A Bike. « Bikefag’s Blog
  4. Bikefag Report: Portland, OR « Bikefag’s Blog
  5. The Stupid Things I’ve Done (change) « Bikefag’s Blog

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