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Bikefag’s Broke-Ass Buyer’s Guide

May 28, 2009

In my previous post, I advocated not buying anything.  But maybe I was a little bit hasty.

Let’s face it, this isn’t exactly Adbusters and I ain’t exactly an anarcho-crust-biker (I like meat and shiny parts too much).  I like the idea of buying another bike just as much as the next bikefag.

Therefore, in the coming weeks I will embark on a rigorous campaign of product analyses, stress testing, focus groups, and velospace comment aggregation to deliver the Bikefag’s Broke-Ass Buyer’s Guide.

But the bFbAbG will only be concerned with the weight, handling, durability, etc of bicycles insofar as it affects coolness.  As every bikefag knows, the most important quality in a bike is coolness.  And The bFbAbG will rate bikes based on their coolness per dollar (CPD).

A subjective “coolness” rating out of 1000 is divided by the price in dollars to find the CPD.

Here are some examples:


The Independent Fabrications 2007 NAHBS concept bike.

In a perfect world we could all ride titanium-lugged, carbon-tubed, custom painted wonderbikes on the streets and we could all have butlers to re-glue our skidded-through tubular tires.  

I.F. is a very well-respected company.  This bike is not only a track bike, but a pursuit bike.  It is incredibly rare.  It utilizes graphics palatable to contemporary bikefag sensibilities.  It’s lugged.  It’s brakeless.  It’s absurdly impractical for the road.  It’s illegal on the track.  And it was highly blogged-about.  This bike certainly comes close to a perfect coolness rating.  I mean, imagine the reaction you’d get riding this thing through San Francisco or Brooklyn..

Coolness rating: 970

Price: $15,000 (est.)

CPD: .065

This is a horrible CPD.

Let’s try something a little cheaper:


A 52cm Cinelli Vigorelli built up to standard Velospace spec.

This bike is pretty cool.  It’s sort of the “Pista Concept” of 2008.  This particular example is built with Thomson seatpost and stem, Phil SLR hubs to Deep Vs, a Nitto B123 bar, and one of the “more expensive than Sylvans” models of MKS pedals.

Unfortunately for this bike, the frame and all of the parts are remarkably unimaginative (the Flite is cool).  The Vigorelli truly is the “Pista Concept” of 2008.  It’s the default track bike for rich hipsters who want something really “sick” and “gangster.”  And the stock hipster build kit – although extremely sensible and quality – loses the bike points because of its conventionality..

Coolness rating: 750

Cost: $2,200 (est.)

CPD: .34

Not bad.  A CPD of .34 beats the hell out of the IF’s .065.  But I think we can do better:

Pista Concept


The 2005 Bianchi Pista Concept.

The Pista Concept is the “Pista Concept” of 2005.  There was a time when this bike was the coolest thing any bikefag could ride on the streets.  Then they all crashed them into things and folded the frames, or sold them to buy Cinelli Vigorellis.

The Pista Concept still holds up today as an excellent starting point for a “blanged out” wünderwhip, though.  And the stock model comes with nice enough wheels and cranks that you don’t have to hide it in your garage until you can afford to replace every single part with the hipster build kit employed on the previous bike.

Coolness rating: 650

Cost: $1,400

CPD: .46

We’re getting better.  

Oh shit!  Here it is:


A Bridgestone Honest-to-God track bike for $600 on Craigslist in Denver

Bridgestone keirin bikes get the type of respect that a shiny, new, aluminum Italian track bike never will.  They’re steel, rugged, and made for the crashing demands of keirin racers (this one has a serious dinger on the downtube).  And for $600, this bike is an incredible find.  It’s coolness is hundreds of points higher than a similarly-priced (but more expensive) off-the-shelf KHS Flite 100 or Bianchi Pista.  It has some nice parts.  The bar is already a cut-down riser bar, saving you time and the embarrassment of having to ask your local mechanic to do such a procedure.  In fact, if it didn’t have those Formula hubs, you might not have to even “upgrade” anything.

Coolness rating: 700

Price: $600

CPD: an incredible 1.1666

A CPD over 1 is an excellent value.  It’s just a testament to having some patience, some discernment and scouring Craigslist on an hourly basis.  I’ll talk more about that and many more skills in my coming buyers guides.  In the meantime, if you’re 5’6-5’8, GO BUY THAT BRIDGESTONE!

Stay tuned for the Bikefag’s Broke-Ass Buyer’s Guide for Road Bikes.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2009 9:44 pm

    Well, I want an Italian track bike. Bianchi pista is completely out… So what are the options? You hate cinelli… I want to drop a record pista groupset on a sickie Italian frame, WTF bra? And to think I almost bought a vig… Saved…

  2. June 3, 2009 5:29 pm

    or a $400 Vitus 979 @ Bicycle Experience in CSpringsbridgesteen.
    If only the coastal uberhipsters knew about that store’s sidewalk selection..

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