Sunday, May 23, 2010

The most useless bike in the world

Bikes are inherently uncomplicated things.  Frame, wheels, drivetrain, apply muscle power and go.  Despite attempts at pointless "new" spins (pun intended) on drivetrain technology, components like the bicycle chain remain the most efficient way transfer power from our thighs to forward motion.

The cost of top shelf rides seems to have no ceiling.  What's a Trek Madone cost these days?  $9,000?  Plenty of them on display even here in the 616.  Come check out our local wednesday night hobby race.  All that bike don't make no middle aged dudes any faster.  Just like Cat 4 racers wearing shoe booties and slathering themselves with embrocation cream, it's all just posing, and probably a lot closer to those fat middle aged dudes you see on $20k Harley Davidsons than any of those leg shavers wants to admit.  You want speed?  You gotta do the work, man.

With so many Lexus driving boomers brandishing gold Amex cards ready to spend big to look like El Pistolero, every glorified "designer" of luxury goods is taking a stab at building bikes.  So it's no suprise that  Land Rover has crowned a winner in a contest to design the world's most pointless, useless and expensive boutique bicycle.

Graham Hetherington is an automotive design student at Coventry University. His LR-1 bicycle design recently won a regional design contest sponsored by Land Rover. In the competition, students from selected schools across the UK were given the opportunity to create a bike based on the Land Rover design language.

What does it mean to design a bike in the "Land Rover design language?"  How does one apply the aesthetic trappings of grossly overpriced eurotrash SUVs to a bicycle?  The answer seems to be in ignoring the utility and simplicity of bikes as transportation and instead doing to urban commuter bicycles what Land Rover did to trucks.  Namely, building a crazy expensive piece of plastic that only the wealthy could afford to purchase, ride and leave pinned to a bike rack with a U lock.

his bike is “aimed specifically at a professional individual, with expendable income and a passion for cycling.” The bike is envisioned as a high-end urban commuter for that target customer. The belt drive drivetrain consists of a single 38-tooth chainring with a 14 speed internally geared hub to give the clean appearance of a single speed with the functionality of a geared bike. A lithium ion battery encased in the frame would power the integrated LED lights in the seat post and fork.
As is often said, it ain't the bike it's the motor!  And if the motor is a tool, I guess the Land Rover design language is an appropriate interpretation to jam between one's legs.  I have an old friend who's one of the most down to earth pro racers out there.  The guy wins a lot of races.  But it doesn't go to his ginger head.  A few years back after college and before he signed any kind of real contract the dude was winning races on a Burley steel road frame.  I remember going out on a ride with him once and he'd wrapped his drop bars with duct tape.  Guess what, none of that ever slowed him down.  He could knock your dick in the dirt if he was riding an 88 Schwinn Le Tour.  And while it's always fun to sport a slick new ride, it doesn't make you any faster.  

You can't buy cool.  Cool is something you make yourself.  Maybe a rule of thumb ought to be that whether you ride on top of or inside anything with a Land Rover moniker on it you've probably strayed way too far off the rails.  

1 comment:

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