***Warning: This post involves me spewing hatred***
Fashion is a terrible thing sometimes. Some people want to own bikes like you get from yard sales or from the dump and claim it to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. It seems to be a thing and people will pay a lot of money to get that ‘shitbike’ look. Like Billy Joel sang, “you can’t dress trashy unless you spend a lot of money.”
I was walking in Berkeley, CA this past Saturday evening and came across this perfect example of a shitbike. It looks like the kind of crap that you find rotting in the back of your grandparents garage and probably rides just as well. Heavy. Ugly. Almost designed to cause pain. These bikes make little sense. It’s a fashion thing. Not for the serious cyclist.
I’d call it a Shitbike (Berkeley edition) because of the Power Grip straps on the garbage pedals. Typically, a bike like this will have proper shit pedals and metal toe clips with the pinnacle being the Shimano 600 clip pedal. Probably one of the worst pedals in the history of cycling when used without cleated shoes. The Power Grip straps show up in certain urban environments where using one of the most deadly forms of foot retention is important. Usually, this is near large universities.
Let’s look at some of the details that make this such a fantastic example of just how poorly a bicycle can be put together.
- Rivendell Frame – These things are actually still produced today. They hark back to a time when bikes were very inefficient and painful. Heavy beasts meant for collecting dust. Strangely, they cost a lot of money. What you would expect to cost around $125 will cost you thousands. Interwebs!? The design team at Rivendell is highly skilled at designing some of the most horrible bicycles known to exist. Special in how bad they are. Rivendell even adds to their specialization by crusing around in dumps to find crap parts to outfit bikes with. They charge a premium for circa-1976 gear so look out.
Wanna see some serious crap, because it gets worse: A. Homer Hilsen & Hunqapillar. Serious shit sticks.
- Steel Fork – A steel fork is one of the greatest tools you can have to show why almost no road bike today comes without a carbon fiber fork. Give one of these a try and you’ll always be glad for your carbon fork.
- Olde thyme saddle – These were developed in the mid-1800 and haven’t changed since. They weigh about 10 pounds. Owners of them swear that they are the greatest once broken in…after 25 years of riding. This is a particularly good example of how to set one of these up, very high nose. The goal is to destroy your sex organs. 2 miles riding with your saddle like this and you may have trouble reproducing…which sounds like a good thing for the rest of us.
- Bar tape – The handlebars have been covered with some extremely cheap cloth tape but painstakingly tethered and coated with shellac to make them very slippery and hard. You couldn’t change your bar arrangement, but then, why? All road shock will be transferred to the rider for maximum suffering. When wet, hands will simply not stay in place. Awesome? YES!
- Bar controls – No shitbike is complete without bar controls. They are positioned well away from where your hands will be when shifting is needed but with the added benefit of hitting the knee and shifted unexpectedly at the worst of times. They are rare so when they break, it’s always a special order.
- Bad brakes – There aren’t easy ways to find brakes these bad these days. Somehow this rider pulled it off. They must have paid top dollar to reduce control so well. I am actually impressed by how bad these are and that they were even used. Putting the ass in class.
- Non-aero levers – It’s luxurious to have brake cables catching on everything and snagging. Forget carrying this thing up any stairs. Special order parts ftw.
- 3×7 drivetrain – Why? I really don’t understand.
- Friction shifting – SIS is a fad that won’t last, right? Why click when you can fuss around to get it right. Winning. Really, really winning.
- Loose ball headset – Nothing matches friction shifting like an indexed headset. They aren’t smooth and they foul easy but you get the benefit of poor function. I love it.
- Handlebar luggage – any added weight on a bike should always be placed directly over the front wheel and on the steering arm. It can make a light bike ride like a truck, image what it can do for a heavy bike.
- High rise aero stem – Pythagoras had a theory…but it’s just a theory. In real life, we don’t use math.
- Freewheel hubs – It’s one thing to use a freewheel hub because you are a drunk living in the bushes but intentionally doing so and spending top dollar on Phil Wood hubs to do it…when running friction shifting…is just nutso. You guessed it, 36 holes because…something…I guess….
- Rotting tires – Nothing says you care like gumwalls and rot.
- Quick releases and multiple locks – Why remove quick releases and set a bike up for urban use when you can just carry several locks around with you on every ride. It’s a lifestyle.
- Several computer mounts – More data means something, I guess. Make every ride count!
- Extremely expensive lightweight bottle cages and rear rack – You gotta save weight somewhere.
What is amazing is that this bike is probably about 5 years old and cost $6000 to put together. Any common $950 road bike available would ride circles around it in greater comfort for years. I just get so disgusted when I see poorly informed people, wasting lots of money, on garbage bikes.
Look at what $970 of full boat retail dollars gets you – A Giant Defy 3. An utterly amazing bike that can be customized to be even better/more comfortable for very little money using commonly found parts. 9 speeds, carbon fork, engineerered frame. Light as hell. The thing about this cheap little bike, it really is better than the shitbike in any way you want to use it. It will work better, feel better, cost less. It is…amazing.