Appealing Package: What's New Is Old Again

One of the most dangerous aspects of cycling (apart from the ever-present risk of death) is the tendency many of us have to think that we "know it all." While time and experience make all of us better cyclists, if unchecked they also can conspire to transform us into insufferable pedants--serial retrogrouches and über-curmudgeons who automatically dismiss the strange and unfamiliar as "myth and lore," or "fiddle faddle," or "balderdash," or any other crotchety term of derision to which the cantankerous and ornery are inclined. In an attempt to thwart the onset of this condition in myself (I recently caught myself using the word "poppycock"), I have admitted that there is indeed still much I don't know, and have also resolved to open my mind to new knowledge. For this reason, I was pleased to receive the following video from a reader:

Immediately after watching, I abandoned my resolution, for while old dogs may be able to learn new tricks, sometimes "classic" ones like licking themselves are all they need.

This is not to say that the miracle of video has nothing to teach us; in fact, when combined in a contrived fashion with "rap" or "hip hop" the results can be quite potent and rather edifying. Consider this new video from "Da Gryptions" (forwarded by another reader) which will tell you all you need to know about Montreal's bike-sharing program:

While knowledge can be difficult to imbibe by itself, it goes down much easier when it's dissolved in the delicious beverage of entertainment. Or, you can just funnel it down people's throats in the form of some Auto-Tuned swill, as is the case here. In any case, this is without a doubt the greatest Canadian bicycle-themed rap song since Toronto's Abdominal ( Andy Bernstein) "dropped" his genre-defining "Pedal Pusher" back in 2008:

Really, if you want to do any better, you need to look to Australia, home of Hugo & Treats, who astute readers will remember as the "curators" of the infamous "Keep Pedalling" video:

Rumor has it that Hugo was the first choice for the Bixi assignment, but due to the fetid state of his trademark blond dreadlocks he was held in quarantine at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport for a period of six months, after which the Public Health Agency of Canada deemed them a biological hazard and ultimately denied Hugo entry into the country:

Reportedly, Hugo was devastated by the decision, for not only was he desperate for the Bixi gig, but he was also looking forward to visiting the Athabasca oil sands and fortifying his coiffure with bitumen.

Of course, the greatest hip-hop-video-created-to-educate-the-public-about-municipal-bicycle-amenities of all time remains the "TARC Bike Rack Rap" by Mr. Theo and the TARCettes, which shows you how to but a bike on a bus in Louisville, KY:

Like a bike messenger pitted against an office worker with a PDF document and a decent Internet connection, Da Gryptions never stood a chance.

Speaking of attempts to appeal to the "youth," Scott Bikes has announced that it will produce an e-bike:

However, unlike other e-bikes, which are apparently marketed to "an older consumer," the Scott e-bike will "target a younger demographic" thanks to it's "white, green, and yellow" color(way):

Yes, nothing transforms an uncool object for old people into a must-have for young fans of "urban design" like the simple application of colors--a universal truth to which the Best Made Axe attests. Indeed, young people everywhere will certainly be clamoring for e-bikes once they see this key lime pie color scheme, and when paired with the matching Scott crabon fribé walker it will surely be the "hot set-up" on your local cyclocross circuit. You can also expect the Denny's early bird special to supplant happy hour at the faux dive bar as the cool place to be seen and mingle, and obviously the "bike pile" outside will be electrically-assisted instead of "fixed."

In the meantime, if you're not ready to make the leap to e-bikes (perhaps because you fear that in the process of leaping you might break your hip) you can always get a Bowery Lane Bicycle, as featured recently in the Wall Street Journal:

Bowery Lane Bicycles are simple cruisers inspired by the infatuation New York City's smug and fashion-conscious have with Amsterdam and the notion of "cycle chic:"

The idea for the company came about when Mr. Bernard traveled to Amsterdam with his wife and saw its cycling culture. "We wanted to replicate that here," says Mr. Bernard.

While the Bowery Lane Bicycle seems useful enough and is not as outlandishly priced as other Dutch-inspired bikes sold to Americans, I can't help thinking that if Mr. Bernard wants to "replicate" Amsterdam here he might be better off opening a Van Gogh museum and digging a series of canals. The truth is, New York City already has its own ubiquitous form of cheap, unremarkable, and functional bicycle--it's called the Crappy Mountain Bike, and that John Leguizamo video from awhile back shows the manner in which many New Yorkers successfully employ them every day. Of course, there's nothing "special" or "cycle chic" about riding around on a crappy mountain bike (just as I'm sure there's nothing "special" about riding a Dutch bike in Amsterdam) hence the need to market simplicity.

Of course, it is nice that the bicycles are made in New York City, though the Bowery Lane Bicycles website makes a bit more of this fact than I think is warranted:

We proudly offer Bowery Lane Bicycles to you. We conceive, build and finish these bikes for unsurpassed quality, sustainability and style. We use only American steel for our frames, which are forged in a factory that derives 30% of its power from solar panels. The facility is located within New York City limits, which means employees can commute via bicycle or public transport. In short, we produce these bikes conscious of our impact on the country, the environment and the local community.

Why does the fact that the facility is located in the New York City limits mean "employees can commute via bicycle or public transport?" What if some of the employees live outside the city limits? And even if they do, who's to say they're not taking public transportation or riding bikes too? The transportation infrastructure does not come to a dead halt at the city line. Conversely, what if some of the employees who live inside the city limits prefer to drive to work? To what extent are we, as smug consumers, supposed to micro-manage the behavior of the people making our goods? More importantly, is there any aspect of production left that cannot be incorporated into a sales pitch? Next year, will Bowery Lane Bicycles assure me that the people who build their bikes are washing their hands with Dr. Bronner's after relieving themselves in giant composting toilets? At a certain point, the truth is we really just don't need to know.

But when it comes to smugness, perhaps nobody can beat Mark Braun (or "Mr. B") of Ann Arbor, MI, who "portages" his piano by bicycle (as forwarded to me by yet another reader):

I'm sure that right now plenty of people in Portland are saying, "So what? I totally have a piano porteur bike," but their mock dismissal cannot mask their insecurity. Apparently, Mr. B is aided by the rest of his band, and as they travel they receive much approbation from their fellow cyclists--though the simian manner in which they express it was new to me:

Guitarist Brian Delaney says, "When bicyclists go by, they usually pump their chests or stick their fists up in the air in approval."

I wonder if every so often they fling their own feces as well.

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