Practical Bike Philosophy

Yes, it may appear that the above is an oxymoron, but there’s got to be a reason why we do these things, rather than just driving the BMW X5 to the basement car-park of the corporate high-rise, making a killing on the stock-market for 8 air-conditioned, fluorescent-lit hours, then rush-hour traffic-jamming it home, to a deep-frozen reheated TV-dinner evening in front of the 250cm plasma screen. Have I been smug enough yet?

Why bikes? What is so interesting about this particular agglomeration of technologies into a fairly precarious and ill-protected apparatus? I think that it is an example of what Victor Papanek called “Design for the Real World”. That is, appropriate for all citizens of Planet Earth to use to increase their well-being.

Have a look at this:


This is a bike made by Abici in Italy, offered for sale at a “design” store in a trendy inner suburb not a million miles away from BAC Bikes. Also, peruse the following legend:


Guess how much it costs? Go on, guess. Over $2000. Have a look at the next shot:


The bike in the street, i.e. not the one in the glass display case, we sold for $35.

This is our workshop:


Granted, it’s not in the foothills of the Dolomites and populated by silver-moustachioed elderly Italian craftsmen, but I can guarantee that our bike, for a whole lot less cash, works as well as the expensive, pretentious marketing exercise aimed at cashed-up, image-hungry dilettantes, and actually gets people around without the backing of the Range Rover out of the garage. One suburb, two very different realities . . .

BTW, the A4 blurb in the window is full of the most tendentious shite known to cyclekind. I can unequivocally state that the cranks of the Abici are made in Taiwan, as are the pedals and the front brake. Backpedal brakes are in no way ‘highly efficient’ (but they are simple and tamper- and weather-resistant), and the ‘clever mechanism’ for releasing the (front, only) wheel has been known for decades as a ‘quick release’. Brooks saddles, even to their most die-hard adherents, are not known for their ‘comfort’ (or more accurately, ‘fit’) until after several hundred miles. Doh. What sort of fool would buy this bike on the basis of this recommendation? There’s obviously perceived to be a market for this sort of thing, but by whom? Should we really let them be in charge of a bike? Clunker riders of the world, hold your head up in pride!



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2 responses to “Practical Bike Philosophy

  1. Give me an old cool bicycle, and I’ll ride around the city for days.

  2. vjb

    I, too, saw this bike at RG Madden, Mark… Can’t believe they’re charging $2k for this— thing! I really like the Madden, but the owner obviously knows nothing about bikes and has been royally conned.

    Maybe you should put a suit on and sell them some of your bikes for $1200 wholesale and make some cash for BAC… or send your silver-moustachioed grandfather in to do it for you. 😉

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