Handlebars And Handling Bars

Way back in the old days of this blog, when it was on the tail end of still being funny, I used to feature interesting cockpits:

It’s been awhile, but I recently received this stunning photo, and I’m heartened to see that baroque cockpit curation is surviving the e-bike era:

[Via Chad]

I suspect there’s probably a link between wanting a motor on your bike and wanting a second set of bars positioned well above your extremely anatomic saddle as well as your first set of bars that’s already higher than said saddle.. Also, like a piece of fine jewelry, you’ve really got to get in there with the loupe to appreciate how exquisite this one is. Note the backwards Ergons, as well as the reversed stem on the lower deck:

It’s fascinating to me how many people recreate the comfort and fit of a Rivendell via all manner of kludges while seemingly unaware that such bikes already exist in elegant form, like the hermit who emerges from after a soujorn of many decades proudly wielding the mobile telephone he’s invented, only to find that nobody will look up from their screens to admire it.

But while I’d be lying if I said I don’t find such cockpits amusing, I respect their ingenious creators above all, and I’d never go so far as to call them “comically absurd:”

Here is the “extreme” handlebar in question:

While I do find the fickle fluctuations of fashion that characterize bike setup annoying, I find the Fredly impulse to act all indignant when they are violated even more annoying. Like, how is a modern bulbous plastic bike without crooked levers any less ugly or objectionable? I mutter “Dear God” to myself when I look at pretty much any road bike made in the past 10 or 15 years:

I mean I get it, I’m sure it’s quite fast, and obviously it makes all the sense in the world for elite-level competition…but I’m glad I don’t have to ride it.

By the way, even I am occasionally taken by the cockpit curation muse:

I have like a billion spare handlebar plugs, but for some reason none of them fit these particular bars, so as I polished off the last of the holiday spirits I had an idea:

It’s like they were made expressly for this purpose:

Speaking of alcoholic beverages, I recently came across this story in the Bicycling magazine:

I’ve certainly been known to enjoy a drink or two, and I also used to race cyclocross, so how come this doesn’t resonate with me at all?

Please note I’m in no way suggesting the writer–for whom I have lots of respect–is being untruthful. However, I do think it’s amazing how different people can experience the same things so..differently. I mean sure, there was a fair amount of drinking at the SSCXWC in Portland, as you’d expect, but for the most part my experience with cyclocross was always that people were there to race, then maybe if there was a beer tent they’d have one while spectating, then they’d clean their gear, load up their vehicle, and drive 19 hours to get home.

Not like cyclocross isn’t fun, and I certainly sucked at it, but if you’re even remotely interested in getting your gas money’s worth out of the event you really don’t have that much time to drink. The pre-rides, the wheel swaps, the wardrobe changes, the putting stuff in the pit, the taking stuff out of the pit… For all the talk of how cyclocross is a refreshing antitode to the uptight road scene, it’s probably got the least favorable work-to-riding ratio of any discipline.

But maybe going to a bike race to race your bike is just an east coast thing. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have many friends.

Probably a little bit of both.

Indeed, I don’t find the world of bikes any more or less besotted than any other aspect of life–and like any other aspect of your life, if everyone around you is drinking too much then you’re probably around the wrong people. But that’s easy for me to say. I do 99% of my riding alone (see: not many friends), so I’m pretty much always accompanied by someone who drinks exactly the right amount for me, no more, no less.

And while I’m sharing articles, here’s one a reader recently shared with me:

To be honest, I haven’t read it, since I’ve reached an enlightened state of consciousness characterized by complete lack of interest in bicycle helmets. I mean I see them out there and I know people have feelings about them, and I’ll even wear one if I’ve registered for an event and they won’t let me ride without one. Other than that, to me they’re no different than coconuts: something hard and vaguely spherical I walk right past while I’m shopping.

Anyway, if the upshot of the story is that we need to stop worrying bout helmets then I take full credit.

Then again, my opinions are wildly inconsistent, and therefore worth even less than the pixels in which they are rendered. For example, why do I hate that Cervelo but love this bike, which is basically the Cervelo only 36 years ago?

I don’t know, but it’s my favorite road bike, and you’ll be pleased to note that during all that fussing I returned the derailleur to its rightful place:

The Ultegra derailleur I had on there in its stead worked noticeably better but, you know, Campy. And while we’re on the subject of form over function, these are usually cited as the ultimate example of that, but I find that they work perfectly well:

Sure, they’re a little complicated, but at least you don’t have to bleed them.

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