We’re Headed In The Wrong Direction

I’ve seen the future of road bikes and it’s ugly as shit:

That’s obviously a gigantic chainring, and it’s used in conjunction with a two-speed rear hub hub instead of a front derailleur:

Then of course there’s the increasingly popular teeny-weeny-handlebars-with-turned-in-shifter thingy he’s also doing:

That used to meant you were a noob who dropped his bike too many times and didn’t know how to readjust your shifters. Now it means you’re a pro.

To be clear, I recognize that there’s a huge difference between what professional racers do and most other riders do. Furthermore, when it comes to going fast for money, the ways in which riders attempt to gain an edge here and there is one of the more entertaining aspects of the sport from a gear perspective. Roadie bike setup traditions can be fun to indulge in when you’re riding for pleasure and immersing yourself in the history of cycling, but they’re utterly meaningless when you’re trying to win a bike race. In fact, adhering to tradition can be like dragging a boat anchor. Just ask this guy, he’ll tell you:


So yes, it’s silly to critique a professional’s bike setup in the context of professional bike racing.


What is troubling about this is what it portends for those of us who don’t have any use for any of that stuff, and who do prefer the function and silhouette of a traditional road bike, even if we may be squandering small amounts of energy or speed as a result. The bike industry has wanted to do away with the front derailleur for years, and they’ve already succeeded with the mountain bike. So far the road derailleur has just barely managed to hang on, but this two-speed hub thing could be the death blow:

If front derailleurs were sentient, they’d feel a sense of existential dread and impending doom, like the passenger on the life raft who knows he’s gonna be eaten next.

Shimano also appears to have gotten rid of the front derailleur on the low end too with this whole “Cues” thing:

Though I admit I didn’t have the patience to actually read it so maybe they do still offer the front derailleur if you want one, I dunno. If I am wrong, well, ex-CUES me:

I’d also sincerely request that you excuse the previous pun, but how could I help it with a name like “Cues?” I guess it’s supposed to stand for “Create Unique ExperienceS” somehow, which is weird, but they should really lean into the whole “excuse” thing, since no matter how good they make it riders will find some ex-CUES for why they need to “upgrade” to Dura Ace.

The point is that the tail wags the dog, and the tail is the pro peloton, which means that not only are we the mangy dog, but also that it won’t be long until all road bikes have two-speed hubs, serving platter chainrings, turned-in brake levers, and of course dropper posts:

He’s pointing to his dropper post, not his genitals.

I think.

Meanwhile, as road bike cockpits fold in on themselves in shame:

Gravel bike cockpits keep right on manspreading like a subway passenger with a swollen nutsack:

[Pic from here.]

All I’m saying is, like, why can’t people just do stuff normal and ride bikes that are normal, you know?

In other news, here’s a video that captures the transcendent joy of bicycling in New York City:

My first impression was that this reaction was a bit…over the top, and that this was yet another excitable bike lane warrior throwing a hissy fit, though reading further into the thread it appears he ended up breaking his arm so the collision must have been more serious than it appeared, and I wish him a speedy recovery.

Regardless, as the person who coined the term salmon all those years ago

…even I have come to appreciate that theirs is not a wanton selfishness or even cluelessness, but more the inevitable result of a stupid-ass bike network. There is a reason that many of the city’s streets are one-way, and it’s that they’re simply not wide enough to accommodate two-way car traffic. But bikes are narrow–even those gravel bikes with their swollen nutsack bars–and should have no such restriction. There’s simply no reason for any bike lanes in the city to be one-way. It’s ridiculous! Let’s say you’re going to…I dunno, the Museum of Sex–one of your dumber tourist attractions, to be sure, and the kind of place some doofus would probably visit via Citi Bike:

Now say you’re heading east on W. 26th Street. Is there any reason you should have to go all the way over to Madison, and then up and around?

Well, yeah, because maybe you’d come to your senses and go to the National Museum of Mathematics instead. But setting that aside, if you’re on a bike, you should just be able to hang a left on 5th:

That’s assuming there are bike lanes on all those streets, which I don’t think there are. But if there were, they should be designed so that you can ride ride them in whichever damn direction you want, is the point I’m trying to make.

By the way, there’s even a guy on a Citi Bike in the street view:

Horny bastard.

Of course, pending the city actually coming to its senses, which isn’t happening, people should ride the right way in bike lanes–but the simple fact is they won’t, and so you’ve got to expect it at all times. I certainly don’t want to say the guy who busted his arm in the video was asking for it or anything like that, but I am saying that when you’re in the bike lanes of New York City you should always ride like a salmon is about to appear around the corner at any second.

Sometimes expecting people to do the right thing is the most dangerous approach of all.

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