Bicycle Marketing: Survival of the Beefiest

(Martha knows great bloggers...and Great Head.)

As you can see from the image above, the BSNYC/RTMS Fat Cyclist Knuckle Tattoo Tribute Contest has heated up and is yielding some stunning submissions. In fact, some of them have rendered me more slack-jawed than Martha Stewart after a 90-minute "hike" around Great Head. However, incredible imagery doesn't only come in the form of contest submissions. Here is a photograph that has absolutely nothing to do with the contest, but which is awe-inspiring nonetheless:

(Taking it lying down.)

The above photo was taken by a reader and comes from the wilds of Canada (actually, the area could be perfectly civilized for all I know, but I just think every part of Canada is "the wilds"--except for the French-speaking parts, which are "Les Sauvages") and as you can see it depicts an actual AYHSMB recumbent. While the AYHSMB rallying cry does have its origins in the fixed-gear "culture," it has subsequently been adopted by the recumbent community as well, since recumbent riders arguably receive more derision than fixed-gear freestylers, off-road unicyclists, freeriders, and men who don't bother to lift the toilet seat before urinating when they visit people's houses combined. Also, it's certainly more fitting, since the recumbent position is far more conducive to receiving testilingus from "haters" than perhaps any other style of cycling.

Speaking of rallying cries, I recently discovered a phrase that could serve as an appealing alternative to AYHSMB, which is "Do Not Put Anything In My Flower Box:"

First of all, unlike AYHSMB, this phrase can be used unironically by those without testicles. Secondly, whereas AYHSMB is confrontational and implies physical contact with your adversary, DNPAIMFB simply calls for your adversary to steer clear of you altogether. Lastly, while ball-sucking is completely lacking in subtlety, putting something in someone's flower box is about as gentle (and fragrant) a metaphor for coitus as any I've ever heard.

The truth is that the world of cycling can be an overly masculine one: too many balls, not enough flower boxes. Take for example the new Gary Fisher road bike, which features a downtube that is "the largest that Fisher or Trek has ever created:"

Honestly, is this really a selling point? Just how large does a downtube need to be? Can you mount twin water bottle cages side by side? Still, many riders will doubtless be seduced by the notion of having a huge downtube swinging back and forth between their legs when they're out of the saddle in that "town line sprint" they're always referring to in the bicycle reviews.

Of course, a great big swollen downtube is worthless if it's not jammed into a "beefy" bottom bracket, so Trek/Fisher have wisely leapfrogged "beefy" and gone right to "robust:"

While crabon fiber is certainly a good material for building race bikes, it also has a dangerous downside. No, I'm not talking about the fact that it can break--after all, steel can break too. I'm talking about something even more dangerous, which is its ability to be molded into all sorts of crazy shapes. This allows bike designers to make all their most engorged phallic visions into reality. If road bikes keep swelling up this way one day you're going to go to Interbike and see a big carbon fiber penis with wheels--though arguably that's what a faired recumbent is already. Maybe that's where all this is going. Once the big bike companies have us all riding bloated bikes, it probably won't be that hard for them to convince us to lie down on them too. It's a recumbent conspiracy, and its insidiousness is matched only by its dorkiness.

That said, The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company and Gary Fisher deserve credit for the "Race Utility" concept, since in addition to making a giant downtube and bottom bracket junction they also took advantage of the opportunity to build some tire clearance and fender mounts into the frame. It's good to see that it's not all about getting us to collectively mount their huge downtube; at least they're offering some practicality, too, and I was genuinely pleased to see it. Still, I think it is important to be wary of "beefy bottom bracket" marketing, since a pair of fender mounts or a few more millimeters of tire clearance will improve the quality of your ride far more than some extra downtube girth or bottom bracket robustitude. In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to try out a new phrase:

Speaking of reviews of bikes with beefy bottom brackets, you may recall that not too long ago I reviewed a Look 566 road bike. Well, I noticed recently that no less a cycling publication than Cyclingnews recently reviewed the very same bike:

Not only that, but they pointed out pretty much the same thing I did, which is that if you're going to build a road bike that "does it all" you might as well include some versatility (or "Race Utility" in Trekspeak) too. Here's what Cyclingnews had to say:

We would have expected a bit more clearance for chubbier, sportive-friendly tyres (25s or maybe even 28s) and single mudguard eyelets also wouldn't hurt – performance is never compromised with slightly larger tyres, and the likelihood of a 566 Origin owner doing a wet brevet/grand fondo/sportive is high.

Of course, they also couched this criticism in the conclusion that the bike is "lively, quick and light for how its specced." (Saying something is "light for how its specced" is kind of like giving someone a discount by charging them 100 cents instead of a dollar; the bike weighs what it weighs, no more and no less.) Furthermore, the reviewer was somehow able to discern that the "squared and twisted chainstays stiffen the ride and soften the bumps." I'm not sure how you'd know that without trying another Look 566 with round and straight chainstays, but then again I'm not a real bike reviewer. Amazingly, though, this has not prevented someone else from sending me a road bike to evaluate, and I plan to "drop" a review in the not-too-distant future. Here's a preview of the bottom bracket shell, in case you're interested:

"Sutured" is the new "robust."

Meanwhile, fashionmonger Marc Jacobs is skipping over beefy bottom brackets and instead harnessing the awesome marketing power of p-fars. Here is the current window display at his store on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village:

It would appear then that he is moving away from the knuckle tattoo, which I saw recently adorning the Marc Jacobs bag of one fixed-gear rider not too long ago:

Yes, in order to truly understand what's hip you've got to "take it to the streets." And one thing that's certainly not going out of style in New York City is expensive yet poorly-locked track bikes. A reader recently sent me this photo, which depicts a Vivalo that is simply an unbolted wheel away from becoming someone else's:

Basically, the owner is saying, "Help yourself to my bike, but just leave me the front wheel." I realize many people are drawn to track bikes for their air of "urban cool," but maybe they should acquire the street smarts first, then get the fixie.

Another thing that's "blowing up" right now is TWS, or "Texting While Salmoning:"

As well as the triple trends of "vintage" road bikes, skater helmets, and white tires, manifest here on a single bike:

Really "feeling" the tricoloreway. Here's another "vintage" bike, though this one's day-glo:

That's a horse of a different colorway.
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