It depresses me. I’m sure I spotted this guy when I went looking for the witness to my accident last Tuesday, and if you read the relevant BikeSnobNYC post (from whence this image came), you’ll see I share a similar animus to him regarding ‘fixie (fixed-gear rear wheel) scenesterism’. Which means the contagion has well and truly spread to Melbourne. It’s been growing for a while, but now it’s here, in all its manifest ugliness.
My guy, however, had a little additional bling:
- pink powdercoated Velocity Deep-V rear rim with white computer-cut vinyl gothic-font lettering applied (the coolest of all cool fixie rims), laced to a non-lockringed ‘fixed’ gear rear hub
- no rear brake (of course), meaning that the cog could unwind whilst slowing the rear wheel down, involuntarily locking-up the rear wheel
- floppy-soled trainers/boat shoes (the exact opposite of efficient cycling shoes)
- Mavic time-trial bullhorn handlebars (sore neck, anyone? See also ‘clincher’, below)
- similarly stupid eyewear (it’s dusk at 6pm nowadays)
- mustard-coloured BMX helmet (ugly as all get-out)
- floppy ankle-length keychain (can tangle in the cranks? you bet)
- ankle tattoo (mark of the w*nker)
and the clincher (or it could have been a ‘single’):
- 650c (smaller) white Aerospoke front wheel and aero time-trial forks on a standard horizontal top-tube (no longer, it’s now pointing down, stuffing up the handling characteristics no end) Guerciotti steel road frame (allied with the abovementioned handlebars, results in a very sore neck, and wrists/hands)
I caught up with him at the Kerferd Rd. lights, and had a little time before the green light to take in all the poseur glory of his ensemble. How much non- (indeed anti-) functional stuff on that bike was there to peruse? Why am I ticked off at this? At least three things in the list above have the potential to bring Mr. ‘Fixie’ Dude suddenly crashing to the ground in front of me (I’ve done that once already along here, once is enough), so I rode, with no real effort on my heavy, slow touring bike, around him on the green and continued on my way. He had a two-way radio on, so I assumed that he was working for a (very dress-code tolerant) courier company. Making lots of cash and completely unhampered by his ‘distressed’ cotton oh-so-cool and illness-inducing (not just the bile rising in my throat) cycling gear (cut-off jeans with pain-inducing seams in all the wrong places and more gear loops than the average combat jacket) in the dank Melbourne almost winter, I don’t doubt. A professional? A show-pony? Both? That, or he was a ‘fakenger’, a ‘fake messenger’ in NY parlance. Why would anyone want to be mistaken for a courier? Low wages, bad and dangerous conditions (done it, know it) – it’s the cool thing in NY. But see BSNYC’s post for further elucidation on this point. Why had he copied what he thought was a style worthy of emulation – ‘000s of k’s away from the source, and completely lost on the majority of people who might see him? His ‘uniform’ – almost as unfit for purpose as the average 18th century British army getup: his version of the red cloth, brocade, silly hat and white accessories. The phrase ‘fashion victim’ kept bobbing up in my brain – but he was riding a bike, after all.
The unthinking adoption of fashion has always gotten my goat – ‘form follows function’ are what bikes are about – style being peripheral to just making the thing go as well as you can push it. Likewise ‘bike choppers’ for little kids – heavy, slow, unpleasant to ride and handle like a barge:
(Giant had the sense to drop these from their range – they sank like a stone. Big W and other chain stores keep selling them)
It’s as though someone is afraid of the true potential of this technological artefact of ours – a secret cabal of evil geneii plotting the confusion and obfuscation of one of the most efficient technologies on the planet. Do you want to turn people off bikes? Then keep selling them this sort of s*it in the name of style!
Stop with the style, already! Get a bike and accessories that work! There’s plenty of them, you just need to go looking. Question why something is designed the way it is instead of sheepishly following a trend!
Then make your own decision – stop with the presentation of ‘cool’ and the labyrinthine justification of pernicious and obfuscatory eccentricity. We need to ridicule, and ridicule hard, to knock these trends on the head, before this contagion spreads in earnest in our fair city – it starts in the ranks of inner-urban (or of choppers/cruisers, on the foreshore), over-educated skinny white guys, and before you know it, has spread to every suburban shopping centre in the land.
Join me. I’m sure (our version of) righteousness will prevail.