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What will be “the next fixed-gear?”

October 8, 2009

BNAC??????!

Like all track bike riding bikefags, I am troubled by the fact that the trend that I recently became a part of (riding a fixed gear bicycle) has become increasingly popular – popular to the extent that people who I perceive as being “not cool enough” are adopting “my” trend.  I worry that I might be perceived as merging my “alternative brand” with mainstream “squares” or  (worse) entry-level-alts.  There’s only one solution to this problem, and it’s been the same solution since Neolithic Man got too cool for staggering around on foot and started riding horses: get a new, more exclusive alternative vehicle.

And believe me: I’ll drop my track bike like a Nitto B123 with no bar tape as soon as I figure out what the next exclusive, ironic, alternative conveyance is.

Then I’ll be getting all the alt-pussy!

For now, though, I’ll have to reluctantly pedal around on my Purple Bike, rolling my eyes when frat boys skid to a conspicuous stop next to me, shakily trackstand for a couple seconds, then exclaim at me, “Nice fixie, bro!”

Clearly, it’s time to start brainstorming.

Postulating the “next fixed-gear” alternative conveyance trend has been a pasttime of bicycle bloggers for years, now.

By “bloggers” I of course mean uberblogger BSNYC who has proposed mopeds, “p-fars”, dutch city bikes (can anybody find that post?), and a synopsis of everything I’m about to say, but said two years ago before he had polished the “BSNYC voice”.

But what does BSNYC know about being cool? He’s probably like 38 years old and married (also I’m pretty sure he lives in Park Slope (for Denverites, that’s equivalent to living in Washington Park (whereas 5-Points would be Bushwick (I guess Capitol Hill would equate to Williamsburg?)))).  He’s not a bikefag.  He just a hater!

Screw that guy, anyway.  Here’s my take on the next fixed-gear trend, evaluated according to the criteria most important to bikefags.

Criteria #1: Exclusivity

GoldIdiotBike

$102,418 fixed gear with gold-plated Furmula hubs and Origin 8 crankset

There’s no point wearing/drinking/reading/listening to/buying/riding something if mainstreamers/squares/normal people/entry-level alts have access to/know about/want it, is there?  How would this enhance your alternative brand?

It wouldn’t!

Lack of exclusivity, this is our dilemma.  Any douchebag can now go to Urban Counterfeiters and buy a R=public fixed gear bike in all the coulourwauys of the rainbow. So now the NOS, all-NJS-certified, Phil-Wood-Chris-King-Makashima dream bike that you spent so much money on technically classifies you as the same type of cyclist as said douchebag, even though that douchebag wouldn’t know DP18s from B43s..

Obviously we can do better.

Criteria #2: Irony

Huffy Laser Alloy

Perhaps the most important factor for determining the value of anything in the “alternative lyfe” is, of course, its irony.

“Wow, riding a track bike on city streets!  That’s wild, man.” might have rang true in 1985, but today the concept of riding a hybrid on city streets seems immensely more unexpected than riding a track bike.  Riding a track bike is now the norm.

To really wow the public, alternative commuters must now ride/shred/drive/etc. a conveyance that not only surprises the mainstream populous, but also bewilders them to the point of pointing and laughing.

A conveyance that will provoke mainstreamers to laugh at you and perhaps call you a “faggot” is the goal of every alternative commuter.  And sadly, a purple track bike no longer elicits this reaction.

Criteria #3: Street-Cred

lowrider_bike2

Street credibility may have at one point been the most compelling reason to ride a brakeless track bike on city streets.

“It’s like them bikes that them crazy bike messengers in New York City ride!  Gawlee!” one might have exclaimed years ago.

But those days have passed.  Today, that same astonished simpleton is jaded and would likely mutter, “Wow, another fixed gear.. Just like every other asshole and their cool dads too..”

Because of mainstream adoption of fixed-gear bicycles, the “fixie” enjoys about as much street cred as a longboard.  If this were a post about “what will be the next longboard?” (entry-level hippie/natural resource management/stoner/college boy conveyance), I’d be done already.

But since the fixed-gear now has the kind of “quad cred” that blandly subversive college kids at state universities now covet, all the urban-themed, graffitti-embellished makovers in the world can’t bring it back.  It has been “dis-cred-ited” and must be replaced at once with a conveyance that is, as BSNYC puts it, more “street credulous.”

Criteria #4: Aesthetics

herse-mixte

A bunch of fussy, dressed-up hipsters won’t stand for a conveyance that doesn’t look the part.  And aesthetics was, and still is, one of the most compelling reasons to ride a fixed gear bike.

As I mentioned in a previous post, track bikes “rule hard” because they look good.

Still, the fixed-gear must go because of its shortcomings in the other criteria.  It’s time to find something else that looks good.

Criteria #5: Impracticality

ImpracticalBike

One of the most important features of the fixed-gear is its impracticality.  Like the single speed, the fixed gear is usually in the wrong gear (unless you live in a flat, windless landscape with no stop lights).  Additionally, the rider can’t coast, giving them yet another talking point in the “fixed gears are totally wild, man” argument.  And by riding an actual track bike with no brakes or provision for fenders or knobby tires, the track bike becomes even more impractical, endowing the rider with the kind of self-satisfaction that more than makes up for any discomfort or limitations.

But the masses have now mastered the fixed gear bike.  And nowadays “track bikes” have gone soft.  My Purple Bike is a perfect example of this plushness.  It’s drilled for brakes and fenders, it has tire clearance (barely) for 32mm cyclocross tires, and it has easygoing 73 and 74-degree head and seat tube angles.

I mean, at this point why not just put a goddamn Nexus 3-speed coaster hub on it?

There’s got to be a bulkier, more unwieldy way to get around!

The Fixed-Gear is failing us!

If we don’t act quickly, we’ll be living in a world where track bikes have waterbottle-cages brazed on! Where entry-level alts and ultimate-third-dimension-meta-über-hipsters must wear the same shoes! Where alternative cyclists and mainstream “square roadies” are indistinguishable from one another!  In this drab, grey dystopia, Mike Sinyard will be our supreme overlord and we will bow before him and ride identical tiawanese-produced, crabon commuter bicycles.  The “Specialized Police” will snatch newborn children from their mothers’ arms, conduct power-meter and wind-tunnel tests on them, and then divide them into “normal” or “S-works” citizens who will wear gray-and-black or red-and-white respectively.  At this point, the New World Colorway will be complete!

But is this unfathomable dystopia too far-fetched?

No!

It is happening around us all the time!  Every time you, dear bikefag, ride your fixed gear bicycle, and defy the natural one-upsmanship that makes humankind such an inspiring and heartwarming species.

The fate of the human race rests upon our coming together and finding a suitable alternative conveyance – if only for the next five years!

Bikefag Guide to Brave New Alternative Conveyances

In the coming weeks, I’ll be analyzing a variety of conveyances according to the criteria described above to determine the best candidate for a replacement for the fixed-gear.  Any kind of conveyance will be considered (hovercraft, those shoes kids wear with wheels in them, zeppelin, etc).  In fact, since the fixed-gear bicycle was the old alternative conveyance of choice, the odds of the new conveyance being a bike seem pretty unlikely.  Any suggestions are strongly encouraged.

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. anters permalink
    October 8, 2009 7:01 am

    this blog is bikesnob lite, btw. but i like it. and i like this post. obvious choice for new way to get around? moped, the scene already exists, so it would just be a surfacing. and ive seen a bunch of supposed to go 25mph mopeds weaving around cars(skinny panted rider may care) in certain trendy districts of seattle, wa, at 45 or 50mph. they meet all criteria, and come in every ccway, and shittyway for your convenience.

  2. October 8, 2009 9:58 am

    How about wheelchairs? They are pretty hard to roll uphill, and you have to brake them with your BARE HANDS when racing downhill at incredible speed. Furthermore, they really need a lot of space wherever you ride them, so I guess that makes them impractical enough to be the next fixed gear.
    Just imagine yourself rolling through town in your custom built 5000$/€ Wheelchair, offering hot alt girls a ride ON YOUR LAP. Awesome.

  3. Aaron permalink
    October 8, 2009 2:36 pm

    the bike geeks won’t give up their bikes, so for them it will either go the way of the tandumb for those who couple up, or for the solo folks, they go really solo with the unicycle, and get all competitive in cross…

    unitard cross

    tandumb cross with retired 65 year old cultural trendsetter gunnerd sho-g-run

  4. dildo permalink
    October 8, 2009 4:38 pm

    This is the most pretentious blog I have ever read. The failed attempt at humor is both trite and contrived. give it up.

  5. LoRoK permalink
    October 9, 2009 12:14 am

    Nice post, fag. I look forward to your infrequent ramblings, so thanks for popping in.

    Like you I’ve had many an hour to criticize these goddamn douches that have jumped on the fixie* bandwagon, just like I did a few years back. Here’s what I’ve realized thus far.

    1. The Average Joe can’t tell the difference from my labor-of-love bike, from a crapublic bike, from a walmart mountain bike, so any attempt at irony or coolness is lost on them anyway.

    2. The new-alt-douches either know what’s what on my bike and will copy it (in their own styleway of course), or they know only slightly more than Average Joe and can procure one of those “fixie* bikes.”

    3. Given that the only people who will know anything about my bike are some of the new-alt-douches and the old-skool-trackies (http://www.oldskooltrack.com) I have to consider what would actually constitute irony. The new-alt-douches probably won’t get it, no matter what I do and the old-skool-trackies don’t really care anyway.

    4. Therefor I have learned that a dork-bike is the best thing to ride. The new-alt-douches will think I’m a dork for riding it, therefor kicking me out of their club (which is my primary goal in the first place). The old-skool-trackies don’t give a shit anyway.

    5. Once I’m considered a dork, and am pleased with that, then I have the appearance of one who doesn’t give a shit, which I don’t. Then I can just do what I do and not give a shit. I realized all this once I started ironically using the term “fixie*” because all the hipster-trackies hate the word. *=Saying it myself takes the sting out of it all, and from there it’s only a small leap to total self acceptance, and finally returning to the roots of goddamn cool fixie* riding.

    6. Alt-pussy generally has daddy issues, which pays off more and more as I get older and my beard gets more awesome. Nothing screams dad-like-confidence-and-know-how like a guy who just doesn’t give a shit that the new-alt thinks he’s a dork. It’s the whole theory of post-cool.

    • bikefag permalink*
      October 9, 2009 1:54 am

      LoRok, thank you. We will all be getting a little more laid thanks to your post-ironic, post-cool post-wisdom.

  6. LoRoK permalink
    October 9, 2009 12:16 am

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I’m awaiting delivery of my second Bianchi Pista. No sense in spending a shit ton of money trying to impress the nouveau-hip. Hence the afore-mentioned dork-bike.

  7. Derek permalink
    October 9, 2009 1:34 am

    recumbents with sails…. powered by wind…street sailing bra…

  8. Jeff permalink
    October 9, 2009 2:56 pm

    I have a GMC Suburban that I drive when I’m not on my bike. It’s fantastic.

  9. Pants Yabbies permalink
    October 9, 2009 4:34 pm

    Randonneuring and touring. ‘Nuff said!

  10. October 9, 2009 5:17 pm

    Best one yet, bro! Looking forward to the sequels. Maybe you should write a documentary play about your encounter with the 50×12 palping dude-bro who “races” at the Boulder track. Tee hee!

  11. green panasonic permalink
    October 9, 2009 5:50 pm

    c murder. i am more bored at work than you. you riding chili’s tomorrow?

  12. nwvtskiboy permalink
    October 11, 2009 7:32 pm

    If you want a new way to get around that will leave people bewildered, try out roller skis (skis with wheels for when there is no snow). They are a summer training tool for cross country skiing and hardly anybody outside of the ski racing community knows what they are or what they are for. If you use them at all anywhere for any amount of time, you will get heckled, stared at, and interrogated. They are terribly impractical for general use, unwieldy, and awkward, but oh so much fun to confuse people with.

    • bikefag permalink*
      October 11, 2009 7:44 pm

      I like it. Also, the associated nordic skiing-meets-hipster fashions would be pretty excellent (and not too tough). Instead of wearing tight pants, you could just start a neoprene one-piece (doesn’t American Apparel already make one?). Ironic skiwear. Devotion to a misunderstood, romanticized foreign culture. Track racing?

  13. October 15, 2009 12:23 am

    I’ve got a couple submissions – both of which should score well in impracticality.

    1) The Legway – http://www.instructables.com/id/Steampunk-Segway-Legway-/

    2) So, I don’t actually know the name of this one, but I’ve seen it out and about on the UNCFRCT bike (er, multiuse) paths. It’s like a scooter, but in a v-shape with one foot on either side of the v. The dude then leans side to side to propel it forward in an appropriately dorky, weaving fashion. (Google failed me on this one.)

    • bikefag permalink*
      October 15, 2009 1:35 am

      Yeah! Those things! What the fuck are those called?

      • October 15, 2009 11:18 pm

        Trikke! (Or “Trikke Carving Vehicle,” if you will. Also, Google persistence pays off.) When you see the sweet freestyling that can be done on these, I think you’ll agree that its street cred is moving in a quick, upward trajectory.

        Like any good human-powered conveyance, you can choose from models of dubious distinction, with promises of upgraded componentry and appropriately higher pricing.

        The material here is seemingly bottomless.

  14. bikefag permalink*
    October 15, 2009 1:44 am

    Oh, and just in case anyone on earth hasn’t already seen this yet, it’s one of the sharpest lampoons I’ve ever seen:

  15. bikefag permalink*
    October 15, 2009 1:49 am

    Speaking of which, did y’all see “tireless bikes?”

  16. December 17, 2010 11:57 am

    Very Cool blog! Great pics! and good reading!

  17. BMOC permalink
    November 15, 2011 6:01 pm

    Fuckin’ geeds.

Trackbacks

  1. Shout Outs « Bikefag’s Blog
  2. One Year Blogiversary! « Bikefag's Blog
  3. Where does it go from geared? - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed
  4. R.I.P. Bike Fag: April 2009 – April 2011 « Bikefag's Blog

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