Thursday, October 15, 2009


As I sat down to compose this post, I flipped on iTunes, as i frequently do, to have a little music to grease the cogs of my brain.  And having recently downloaded the latest version of iTunes, I discovered the new feature: Genius Mixes.  This handy little application lumps your music library into mixes of similarly-styled tracks ready to listen to in mere seconds.  Thus, I have an instant mix entitled 'Folk Mix' with artists from my library including Kaki King, Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver and whereas I might not necessarily agree with this grouping classification as 'Folk', listening to what iTunes has chosen to assemble from my own collection isn't a bad compilation.  But am I to guess that Apple has said, "gone are the halcyon days of the do-it-yourself mix tape - or even the less romantic mix CD, we'll do it for you!" 

As goes Apple, so goes the world.  What industry hasn't gone the way of the 'ready-to-wear' or if you prefer en francais, the pret-a-porter movement, including that of the bicycle.  Specifically, the latest example of this would have to be the fixed-gear bike.  Despite being more than 100 years old, fixies have recently become a hipster fashion accessory to match skinny jeans and mixed-pattern apparel selections (see Exhibit A, cover from magazine titled Intersection). 

As a result, these bikes have become all the recent rage and bicycle companies have responded by producing new lines of fixies to sate the hunger of the masses.  No longer is a fixie-craving soul faced with the dilemma of purchasing a true track bike or converting an exising bike over to a fixed gear, he or she can simply go to any decent bike shop and pull a commercially available model that suits their liking right off the rack, so to speak, ready-to-wear.  Virtually all the bicycle companies have at least one, if not more, models of fixed-gear bike available for the consumer.

But this is not to imply that some of these are not sweet bikes.  In fact, as far as I can tell, some of these rides are really, really nice.  And let's face it - riding a fixie is damned fun.  Competition amongst the companies has driven the price low enough, that if you were to custom build a fixed gear up from scratch, you might end up spending more than what you can pick one of these models up for.  Yesterday, Teresa over at Cyclexextreme wrote me on facebook, suggesting the staff of COMO CYCO should pop over to check out the new Specialized fixed-gear installment called the 'Roll'.  The Roll is actually made by the company Globe, which is a stand alone brand created by Specialized Bicycle Components.

Unfamiliar with this bike, but curious, I thought I should check it out online.  Reviews of this little number over at Urban Velo have been very favorable and highlight all the little details that make it so special, including a clean-looking keyed washer system of the front hub, an integrated stem/bar combo, integrated chain tensioners on the horizontal drops, deep-V rims, Sugino messenger cranks, a flip-flop hub and the option for front and rear brakes.   Although I've not tested this bike out, what strikes me is the clean build up with some pretty quality parts.  Now, the Federal Trace Commission highly suggests that as a blogger, I should be disclosing any financial or gift compensation that I have received in concordance with the related endorsement.  To date, I have not yet received my free Specialized Roll from Cyclex, but when I do, rest assured, dear readers, it will be fully disclosed.  By the way, Teresa - I've noticed that the head badge on the Roll is actually comprised of a little picture frame, to allow the rider to customize their own bike with a head tube design of their liking.  I've inserted a picture of a suggested addition to the demo bike you send my way taking advantage of this feature...but consider this just a suggestion - if you had something else in mind, by all means, feel free to surprise me.

By the way - I like the Humboldt Green color.

And if you choose to get your new fixie and start busting it around COMO like the chic young urbanite you've recently decided you want to be, the recent Outside Magazine article we discussed the other day has a very handy, ready-to-use bicycle safety chart demonstrating how to ride in traffic and is guaranteed to give you instant mad urban cycling skills.  I've provided it here for you so that you may print it, laminate it and use it as a spoke card - referring to it only when necessary.  For further instant street cred, try printing a large number on the back side with a sharpie prior to putting it in your spokes, to make it look like you've been in an Alleycat recently.  If you don't know what I'm talking about - start attending hipster school here.

Each aerial-view scenario illustrates a situation involving taking control of your designated lane and is pretty self-explanatory.  That is, except for #2, which is admittedly a little confusing because of the presence of a body, lying prostrate in the middle of the bike lane behind an open car door:

I'm not really sure what is going on in scenario #2 but have arrived at one of two possible conclusions:  Either the instructions are telling us to beware of sleeping bums in the bike lane, or corpses, obviously in addition to open car doors.  In the spirit of the rapidly-approaching Halloween, I am going with corpses.

Either way, the rider should signal that he / she is merging slowly to the left and pass the recumbent body, merging back into the bike lane as quickly as possible thereafter.

Fixed-gear bikes are not the only Ready-To-Wear cycling craze these days.  Why not go one step further and not only have a bike instantly ready for you, but also the ride itself, neatly packaged and guaranteed to be sunny and enjoyable.  Bigben Interactive brings us the Cyberbike, the Nintendo Wii exercise game that comes with its own full-size exercise bike.

Once started, the game puts the rider in the role of eco-citizen, cleaning up the planet while you ride.  How's that for smog-clearing cycling-smug power in the comfort of your own home?  As part of the marketing ploy, the company is also using a Sandra Bullock look-alike model in an attempt to capture the spirit of the Speed movie franchise.  Only instead of a speeding bus, Annie is stuck on a piece of shit exercise bike that cannot slow down, or else!

Does anyone else smell the irony of acting the part of a virtual eco-citizen while never leaving your home and playing a Wii on an energy-sucking flat panel TV?  Now, if the engineers of this gem had really been creative, they would have figured out a way to power the TV and Wii with a generator installed within the stationary bike.  Or better yet - the stationary bike would be a fixed gear, and would come with a messenger bag full of fashion industry photo portfolios that you would be required to deliver all over a virtual New York City as you dodge and weave around virtual cabs, sleeping bums and corpses.

But if there is a lesson to be learned from our ready-to-wear society, one should remember to not be afraid to stray from the original design packaged up for you!  What's on the rack isn't always what's best for you.  For example - my iTunes Genius Folk Mix somehow just threw Duran Duran on after Nick Drake....wait a minute - how the shit did Duran Duran get in my iTunes?

Pedal On!

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