Dubious Innovations: The "Curation" Is Worse Than the Disease

(Alberto Contador's new corporate logo, via Cycle Jerk.)

Yesterday's post, in which I pointed out that a pair of Garmin-Slipstream team bikes were being auctioned on eBay, has apparently caused quite a bit of controversy on the other side of the "Hotlantic Ocean"--particularly in France, where some sort of big bike race is taking place. Indeed, a reader informs me that team director Jonathan Vaughters was barraged with questions during the rest day in Pau. While I'm not exactly sure what the reporters were asking him, I do have a pretty good idea, for as you can see he looks like a deer in the headlights (albeit a pretentious deer with a private school education and a subscription to "The Nation"):

The New Yorker magazine cover model Eustace Tilley (illustrated), fashion designer Perry Ellis (deceased), and noted ascot enthusiast Thurston Howell, III (fictional) have reportedly already received subpoenas, and in conjunction with the now-infamous email confession of his dry cleaner, their testimonies could finally spell the end of Vaughters's argyle-print reign of terror.

Speaking of fashion choices, with the Aerospoke carbon composite bicycle wheel still the first choice of "tarck" bike riders all over the world, it's easy to forget both their humble beginnings as a heavily-discounted item in the "secret website" catalog, as well as the other types of cyclists who also embrace Aerospoke's not particularly light and not particularly aero technology. One such cyclist is the New York City food delivery person, and here is a perfect example of the sort of bicycle on which your overpriced Thai food will arrive should you "order in" in Manhattan:

In Brooklyn the "hipsters" have begun to take over the food delivery industry, and it's simultaneously frustrating and amusing to see them balancing boxes containing expensive wood fired pizzas on the bullhorn handlebars of their "fixies" as they salmon their way down major avenues. (I'm sure a New York Times "Spokes" article about the gentrification of restaurant food delivery will now be forthcoming.)

In Manhattan, however, a different type of rider and bicycle remains king. With front and rear disc brakes, suspension, motocross-style "filth prophylactics," and a full complement of gear ratios, these are the antithesis of the bicycles ridden by their liberal arts degree-holding food delivery brethren across the "Big Skanky." The one thing both groups have in common, though, is that despite riding heavily customized bicycles, neither one will add a single component that actually facilitates food "portaging." In the case of the Manhattan delivery people, you might think that at some point during the two-hour process of wrapping the frame in helicopter tape it might also occur to the owner to add a basket, but evidently this is not the case. It will occur to them to race you, however; even if you're not racing at all, and even if they have a 20lb thermal food bag dangling from the handlebars. In any case, the "old school" delivery person in the dirty apron riding a Worksman is becoming an increasingly rare site (which is a shame because they were much easier to beat in a race).

In other cycling "tech" news, on Tuesday I mentioned a "revolutionary" new chainring design (apparently "revolutionary" now means "pointless"), and a reader has subsequently informed me that it is in fact so revolutionary that it's already been done (albeit on the rear):

Apparently, the revolution will be both pointless and redundant.

For the ultimate in pointlessness, though, you really have to install a CVT on a CSSB, or "Central Storage System for Bicycles," brought to you by "Tato" and forwarded to me by a number of readers:
The Tato is specifically designed to carry objects that are narrow and oblong, and now you can finally have that dedicated laptop, board game box, or coffee table book porteur bike you've always dreamed of owning. And if that wasn't smart enough, they've also designed it into a 26-inch mountain bike platform, which is great if you need to get that game of Parcheesi through a heavily wooded area in a big hurry. I particularly enjoyed the assertion that "rear and front carriers make your bike difficult to ride and park," and that there's "no need to use accessories to secure items" on this bike--as if being able to hang a bag on your bike and then carry that bag around with you were a problem instead of the huge convenience that it actually is.

Of course, the "making something that really isn't a problem seem like one" approach is a classic component of any sales pitch. In particular, it's used to stunning effect in infomercials, which always contain that short clip of a very frustrated person struggling to do something commonplace. Take for example this infomercial for "Wonder Hangers," in which, at :37 seconds, we see a woman vainly fighting with her non-Wonder Hangers:

Note that the video goes from color to black and white to underscore the primitive nature of the technology she's using, and notice how she grits her teeth and becomes enraged as she tries to access her favorite shirt.

You can also see it in the infomercial for the "Emery Cat." At about :06 seconds, an innocent woman is practically mauled by her beloved house pet:

If only she had purchased the "Emery Cat," today she might still have both her eyes.

One day I will string all of these "making something that really isn't a problem seem like one" infomercial moments together into an "epic" Citizen Kane of Futility (alas, it seems it's already been done), but in the meantime I will ponder how difficult cycling is without a front-wheel drive power assist, via another reader:

I know what you're thinking: "That's hideous." However, you're sure to change your mind when you see it with the fairing:

(Wind-cheating schnoz provides maximum efficiency.)

If that bicycle had a "CSSB" instead of a rear rack it would be almost perfect.

Given the proliferation of power-assisted bicycles, it's worth pondering at what point one is simply better off just purchasing a motorcycle or scooter. This is not an easy question to answer, but when one needs to carry both a road bike and a unicycle with aerobars (as "tweeted" by "Sup Cat") one has clearly reached that point long ago:

I wonder of both the unicycle and the bicycle belong to the motorcycle owner, or if one belongs to a passenger and together they're about to embark on a Fellini-esque "epic."

Meanwhile, the proprietor of the "Slice Harvester" blog has spotted what may very well be the ultimate in STI lever cockpit "curation:"

My best guess is that the rider simply grips the brake levers and shifts with a flick of the wrists. I would love to see this in action, and it must be like watching somebody in a motel shower trying to get the water temperature just right. Really, the only thing that would make this cockpit more fascinating would be some additional hand positions, which could be achieved with an additional set of handlebars and the judicious application of duct tape, as seen on the Problem Solvers blog:

This must be how Minneapolis beat Portland.

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