Friday, July 29, 2016

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

As if you needed it, here's yet another reason to back away slowly from the sport of pro cycling:

The announcement did not specify if the team would seek WorldTour status, but said its partners "are committed to the growth and development of the team and will ensure the best conditions for its riders to achieve top results in the biggest races around the world", and "will include internationally renowned athletes. Management is comprised of globally recognised cycling experts, who have been selected for their commitment to a wholly independent and results driven approach."

Presumably the team's commitment to ensuring "best conditions for its riders" means Vincenzo Nibali won't be beaten by Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa with a rubber hose:

Mohammed Hassan Jawad (64 yrs old) was blindfolded and handcuffed when Nasser Bin Hamad asked him “do you know who I am, its Nasser with you” Then the son of the king started interrogating Mr. Jawad about the Safriya protest and accusing him of organizing the protest. To force him to confess, Nasser beat Mr. Jawad with a hose on his head until he fell to the ground. Then Nasser started kicking him mostly on his back, while swearing at shia clerics and imams.

He sounds nice.

Meanwhile, here in New York City, it may come as a shock that the NYPD's enforcement patterns are not entirely consistent with the Vision Zero agenda:

TA says scattershot traffic enforcement is a big part of the problem.

“The NYPD is falling short on its commitment to consistent, appropriate policing to deter the most deadly driving violations,” said TA Executive Director Paul Steely White in a statement accompanying the report. “Commissioner Bratton and other top police officials don’t even seem to have a clear plan for participation in Vision Zero, and their allocation of traffic enforcement resources does not appear to be based on actual conditions on New York City streets.”

Though the majority of cyclists who lost their lives this year were killed by drivers breaking traffic laws, NYPD tends to respond to cyclist fatalities by cracking down on cyclists and publicly blaming victims for their own deaths. This approach epitomizes the department’s failure to direct resources toward enforcement that would actually save lives, says TA.

Sounds about right.  Of course, this is the same town in which the mayor who implemented Vision Zero in the first place travels 30 miles a day to the gym in an SUV, so I think it's going to be awhile before any city officials start taking any of this stuff even remotely seriously.

Nevertheless, many New Yorkers persist in riding bikes, and yesterday I spotted this impressive bike rack trailer setup in Midtown:

I'd be lying if I said I didn't immediately consider the possibility of towing my mountain bike to the trail with my road bike, which may sound silly, but is--if you really think about it--still far more reasonable than driving there.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right that's wonderful, and if you're wrong you'll see a zombie-proof bicycle.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and enjoy the weekend even though we're all pretty much screwed.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) What does this control?

--A "smart helmet" with bone conduction technology
--A set of LED indicator lights
--A Bluetooth dropper post
--A Brooks saddle that has been customized with an electronic scranial massage system

2) According to the The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, the metric for triathlon bike retail pricing is now:

--The Hyundai Sonata
--The Nissan Versa
--The Fiat 500
--The FTSE 100 Index

(A still from the zombie horror classic "Miles Davis: Kind of Dead")

3) Which of the following personages is not buried in Woodlawn Cemetery?

--Herman Melville
--Irving Berlin
--Miles Davis
--Dorothy Rabinowitz

(Via here.)

4) Tour de France winner Chris Froome is a total Sumo Fred.


(Yeah, if only it were that easy.)

5) Most cyclist fatalities in New York City are caused by:

--Cyclists riding on the sidewalk
--Cyclists wearing headphones
--Cyclists salmoning
--Drivers breaking the law

6) Finally!  A _____________:

--Suspension headset
--Tire pressure-monitoring top cap with digital display
--Bluetooth multi-tool that sends torque values through your helmet via bone conduction audio
--Rotating stem

(With foreign parts.)

7) Which bike company is trying to shift its production back to the United States?


***Special Unicycling-Themed Bonus Video!***

Can't wait until "Bicycling" starts telling Freds to cross-train on unicycles in the off-season.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

OW, That Smarts! Coros LINX First Ride.

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently took delivery of the Coros LINX smart cycling helmet:

Here is how Coros describes it:

We are excited to introduce our first product, the Coros™
LINX smart cycling helmet. Our industry pioneering
helmet is the ultimate audio solution for cyclists, so
riders can get the most enjoyment out of their cycling
experience without compromising safety.

Coros™ LINX delivers mobile lifestyle demands of
smartphone connectivity, precision two-way audio, and
instant accessibility, all packed into a performance
helmet. It does this ears, hands, and eyes free, so you
can keep focused on your ride and the road.

Open-ear bone conduction audio - no wires, no earbuds,
no safety compromises – links you to your music,
friends, bike mates, navigation, and ride data to enrich
the ultimate riding experience.

And here's a diagram of its various functions:

Now, by way of a disclaimer, I should confess that I'm interested in doing virtually none of these things while I'm riding my bike--and that includes listening to music.  This isn't because I think listening to music at a reasonable volume while riding is particularly dangerous (I don't), or because I don't care much for music (I do).  Rather, it's just because I generally find riding interesting and engaging enough that I don't need the extra stimulus.  Also, I prefer to listen to music at home on external speakers, rather than via devices on my head.  Even on the subway I tend to go without headphones, though I do put them on and crank up the volume when a fellow passenger launches into a psychotic rant or a heated argument breaks out because someone didn't say "excuse me,"which you can pretty much count on during rush hour.

At the same time, I'm not a total luddite.  I live in the 21st century.  I'm a parent.  I run a bicycle blogging media empire.  As much as I like to vanish completely while riding a bicycle, I also want to be able to keep in touch.  In fact, I even wear a "smart watch" so I don't miss important texts such as "Pick up some milk on the way home" or "Where the fuck are you?" while I'm riding, which tends to happen when your phone is buried deep in your jersey pocket.  It was this same smart watch that alerted me to the impending birth of my second child.  I was quite literally lifting my bike off the storage rack to go for a ride when my watch vibrated and I learned my wife's water had broken.  (Hey, the kid wasn't due for another week, I figured I had time.)  I mean, it's not like I wouldn't have checked my phone, it's just that ideally no "My water just broke!" phone call should ever go unanswered.

The point of all of this is that, despite my many sarcastic posts on the subject, I'm by no means immune to electronic gadgetry or modern society's pathological need to be connected at all times.

Anyway, I was quite pleased to receive the helmet, mostly because it afforded me an excuse to fuck off for a bike ride under the guise of "product testing."  First, I unpacked the helmet.  Next, I repaired to the restroom, where I set about installing and configuring the concomitant Coros app on my popular brand of smartphone.  One of the first things the app asks for is your emergency contact:

I chose my wife, even though every cyclist knows you should always hide injuries and bike component expenditures from your loved ones in order to spare them any undue concern:

She immediately texted back asking why she was getting weird texts from something called Coros about being an emergency contact, so evidently the app was working, though I feared our relationship was already on shaky ground.

Once the app was installed and I'd finished my other restroom business I paired it with my psmartphone using Bluetooth technology.  Then I put on some stretchy clothes, fired up the app's tracking feature, and headed out for a ride:

As I mentioned, I generally don't listen to music while riding, but since this was one of the helmet's main selling points obviously I was going to make an exception.  Here's the remote that comes with the helmet.  It mounts in about five seconds:

I'm not sure if you're supposed to mount it horizontally or vertically, but whatever, this is how I did it.

Once I'd fitted the remote I cued up some Shostakovich in order to seem cultured to my dozens of readers:

As mentioned in the diagram above, the helmet uses "open-ear bone conduction audio."  While "bone conduction" may sound like somebody conducting an orchestra using an erection instead of a baton, what it really means is that the "speakers' rest on your cheekbones and send you the music through the bones of your skull.  Having never used bone conduction before, I didn't know what to expect, but I'd describe the fidelity of the Coros LINX open-ear bone conduction audio system as slightly better than hold music played over your smartphone's speaker and held in the vicinity of your ear.  I don't know if that's the nature of bone conduction, or if maybe I didn't place my open-ear bone conduction audio nubs properly, but that's what it sounded like to me.

As for the helmet itself, here's a photo, and I apologize in advance for including myself in it:

Here you can see the open-ear bone conduction audio nubs:

And here you can see me breathing fire from my generously-proportioned schnoz because I'm excited to go for a ride:

I'm not going to bother commenting on the helmet's aesthetics because I think pretty much all helmets look similarly goofy.  (And yes, I generally do wear a helmet when riding in stretchy clothes.)  It did feel slightly heavier in my hands than a regular sporty-biking helmet, but once it was on my noggin I didn't really notice.  What I did notice was the presence of the open-ear bone conduction audio nubs against my head, though I wouldn't say it was bothersome; it was just apparent.

Anyway, with Shostakovich sending me into an emotional tailspin and the Coros app tracking my every move I figured I'd try to place a phone call.  So I called my mother, noted author of the parochial school screed in my Brooks blog post from the other day.  She did not answer, though her voicemail greeting was clear and audible through my helmet.  I left her a message.  She did not call me back.  Therefore, I was unable to complete the "receiving a call" test.

Maybe next time.

By now I'd arrived at Sprain Ridge Park (which you might also remember from my Brooks blog post), where I paused to futz with my tire pressure (no, I will not tell you #whatpressureyourunning, that's proprietary information) and admire the manner in which my smart helmet complemented the fork on my Marin Pine Mountain 1:

Not long after, I was picking my way up a rocky little climb, at which point disembodied voice in my head said "Pairing."  Then announced "Power Off" or words to that effect.  Then it said "Pairing" again, indicating the power was still on.  (I soon confirmed this by checking the helmet's power light.)

I do not know why it did any of this.

Anyway, on I rode until reaching the top of the big climb, at which point I turned off the ride tracking and admired my accomplishment:

Amazingly my 10.5 mile ride at a 6.5mph average speed was enough to make me the third-best Coros smart helmet-riding cyclist in the entire world:


However, I should point out that when I set out on my ride my smartphone's battery was at 70%.  Now, after only about an hour and a half of riding, it was at like 15%.  I'm not sure if I did something wrong on my end, but if not that would appear to be a problem.  I should also point out that, while the helmet's weight didn't bother me initially, it did seem to move around a bit more than a regular helmet on rough terrain.  I don't know if that's because I need to fine-tune the fit, or because of the helmet itself.  I'll mess around with it and let you know.

Now it was time to test the helmet's crash alert system.  Incredibly I'd managed not to fall down on my 10.5-mile "epic," so instead I figured I'd just pitch the fucker and see what happened:

My wife did not receive any texts notifying her of my impending demise, even when I botched one of my throws and the helmet landed on a rock hard enough to scuff it:

I can only assume that the helmet had spontaneously un-paired itself from my phone on that climb earlier in the ride, and indeed since then I've been unable to pair it again.  This could be because: a) I'm an idiot; b) The helmet ain't no good; or c) I'd dashed it against a rock.

Regardless, rest assured I'll try to get to the bottom of this, and that I'll continue to subject the helmet to rigorous real-world testing, mostly because I can use all the riding excuses I can get.

And with that, I un-pair myself from this blog until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesdayplay noun Wednes·day \ˈwenz-(ˌ)dā, -dē; British also ˈwe-dənz-\

Last week I received an email with the following subject line:

Bike Helmet Breakthrough

And under it were the following words:

Dear Bike Snob,

Imagine staying connected while cycling - without ear buds or wires. This is the safest way to enjoy music or access to your smart phone.
Coros is about to debut its new smart technology helmet - one of the biggest technology advances in cycling. We would love for you to try it out!
The Coros LINX Smart Cycling Helmet connects bikers wirelessly and hands-, ears- and eyes-free to their music, friends, bike mates, voice navigation and ride data. This allows riders to safely get out to enjoy a ride, while also utilizing their smartphone capabilities without the distraction of wires.
Happy to provide advance information to you. The helmet samples we're sending out are the final, consumer model. Would you like me to send one to you? If so, what is your helmet size and shipping address?

Helmets?  Smart technology???  As you can imagine, I immediately responded in the affirmative, and yesterday this arrived by drone at my palatial abode:

I'm pleased to report I've already taken it out for a ride this morning, and you can expect a debriefing tomorrow:

(Spoiler alert: it matches my bike.)

Speaking of helmets, remember the pro-skater-turned-helmet-advocate I mentioned Monday?  Well here's a video forwarded to me by a reader in which he fights four (4) guys at once:

So remember kids: lash out violently if someone calls your heterosexuality into question, but make sure to always wear a helmet when you're riding on the wooden board with wheels.

It's the American way.

As for me, I'm too classy to engage in the fisticuffs.  (And by "classy" I mean cowardly.)  Plus, my looks are my livelihood, and were someone to rearrange my face it could put and end to my media career:

("They say you shouldn't wear underpants with cycling shorts.  I disagree.")

Then again, it's possible the rearrangement could help were it to serendipitously reorder my features into those of Fabio, who knows?

(An uppercut to the jaw could give me a nice butt-chin and a lucrative butter substitute spokesperson contract if the assailant is wearing his class ring.)

The point is I'm classy (sleeveless jersey notwithstanding, and I ain't apologizing for it, either, it was hot as balls), which is why I'm slowly adding EH Works tool rolls to my bikes:

See, first I put one on my travel bike, and it classed it up so much you almost don't notice the mighty tower of headset spacers:

Just kidding, of course you do.  Nothing could distract you from that monstrosity.

Then the other day I was looking at my Milwaukee:

And that old-man-in-the-steamroom saddlebag started to bother my aesthetic sensibilities, which is something I only discovered I had until recently, gargantuan spacer stack and sleeveless jersey notwithstanding.  (Such is the danger of flirting with the world of artisanal handicrafts.)  And so emails were sent, passive voice was used, and then this arrived at my palatial abode by hooded hawk, wrapped in brown paper like a fancy cut of meat:

I realize it's not gift guide season yet but if you're shopping for that special cyclist in your life I can assure you this is the way to go.  In fact, as I unwrapped it, I got angry that nobody has ever gifted me one of these before.  (Well, besides Erica Hanson herself, who handed me the first one in Seattle.)  Instead, it's always that can of Simoniz:

I mean sure, nothing brings out your bike frame's luster like Simoniz, but still.

Alas, there was no mention of tool rolls in the New York Times's recent gear rundown on the eve of the New York City Triathlon:

Though there was the obligatory comparison between the price of the bikes and the price of a random car:

In the swim portion of the swim-bike-run competition, there are goggles and wet suits. In the run, there are sneakers. The middle event, though, is the real showstopper: aerodynamic slivers of carbon fiber on wheels, costing upward of $15,000 — or more than a new Nissan Versa. Huffys with banana seats and baskets on the front are not welcome.

Why is the Nissan Versa suddenly the metric for bicycle prices?  Firstly, there are plenty of cars that would make that bike seem cheap.  Secondly, what is the point of arbitrarily comparing the price of sporting goods to the price of something people in khakis use to get to and from their cubicles?  They have nothing in common apart from rolling on wheels.  It's not like anybody's thinking, "Hmmm, I need a form of transportation.  Should I get the state-of-the-art tridork bike, or the soul-crushing econo-box?  Well, the Versa's cheaper, so I'll get that."  It's like comparing the price of custom ice skates to the price of Payless loafers.

Then again, if you substitute the word "water" with "coffee" and the word "racing" with "riding to work," this description of the bike does make it seem like the ideal commuter:

“So when I’m doing a race, I can actually just stay in my aero position, use this hose or little straw that pulls out, and I can drink water while I’m racing in the aero position without having to sit up, pull the water bottle out, drink from it, close the water bottle, put it back in and then come back down into the aerodynamic position that we’re usually using when we’re racing,” Szekretar said.

Wow, he makes it sound so easy!  Maybe all this guy needed was a more expensive bike:

But of course the real reason to own an expensive triathlon bike is the feeling that your machine is so exotic that it confounds mere mortals (though that does require more car comparisons, the only metric Americans understand):

“This is the equivalent of a Ferrari or a Maserati,” Blyer said. “So you can’t go into your local bike shop, in some cases you can, but a lot of the times if you walk into a bike shop that deals with kids’ bikes or commuting bikes with something like this, they’re going to scratch their head and say sorry.”

Yeah, I don't know about that.  It's still just a bike.  Anybody can adjust it--it doesn't even have disc brakes!  They're probably blowing you off because they don't feel like rummaging around for the meter-long valve extender you need to put air in your tires.

And yes, inflating the tires is the most challenging aspect of owning a triathlon bike, as I found out firsthand:

I may have to do a handmade artisanal bento box "collabo" with EH Works.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What are you doing here? Today's post is on the Brooks blog!

Yes, it's time for another fun-tastic ramble through the wilds of the New York City metropolitan area, so put on some pants, ratchet up your clicky shoes, and let's head on over to the party room!

As you read, consider the awesomeness that would be a mountain bike version of the BSNYC Fondon't (hey, you never know), and I'll see you back here tomorrow.


--Wildcat Rock Machine

Monday, July 25, 2016

My goodness, would you look at the time!

Well, the Tour de France is over, so please join me in congratulating the winner, Chris Froome:

By the way, I should point out that wearing cycling shorts with your sumo loincloth is the equivalent of wearing underwear with your cycling shorts, which makes Froome a total Sumo Fred.

Anyway, if you didn't follow the race this year you're not alone (hi!), and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay (who is the only remaining mainstream journalist who continues to take the sport seriously) suggests this could be due to the sport's financial inequality:

Chris Froome won the Tour de France on Sunday, his third in four years. This was not a big shocker. Froome seized first place on the first day of the Tour’s second week, and, outside of a Three Stooges-style fiasco in which he lost his bike in a crash and briefly ran up Mont Ventoux in his yellow cycling shoes, that was pretty much that. Presumed competition never materialized. Once more, Froome and his team, Sky, were too deep and dominant, suffocating all challengers and turning the final ride to Paris into another ceremonial, soft-pedaling coronation.

Hmm, a dominant rider with an illness backstory and a strong team powering to yet another unsurprising Tour de France win?  Where have we seen this sort of thing before?  I seem to recall similar scenarios playing out back in the early aughts (right down to the thrilling "fiascos"), but when I went to check out the results from those years the winner's name had been stricken from the record books:

I'm sure there's a pretty juicy story there, maybe somebody can fill me in.

In any case, Froome knows those "marginal gains" don't come cheap:

Still, Froome acknowledged something significant the other day. He admitted that if he rode not for the well-funded Sky, which can afford to surround him with well-paid lieutenants, but for a smaller, lower-budgeted outfit, he probably would not be in the running for the yellow jersey. “If I was riding for a small team, it would be different,” Froome said.

No shit.

Indeed, Sky somehow manage to spend €35 million on racing their bicycles, while other teams like Cannondale-Drapac are forced to scrounge the contents of Sky's half-eaten gel packets and hoard Nashbar coupon codes:

During the Tour, the French sports newspaper L’Equipe estimated Sky’s budget at €35 million, or $38.4 million. There are a couple of teams in that financial orbit, but many others with less than half or even a third of that budget (L’Equipe estimated the budget for the well-liked American Cannondale-Drapac team at €10 million, or about $11 million.) There is worry that this disparity is draining excitement out of the Tour—at least in the overall yellow jersey competition—because the have-nots do not have the personnel. Froome possesses a phalanx of teammates who would be leaders on other squads, giving Sky staggering ability to control the race. If you include Bradley Wiggins’s yellow jersey in 2012 (for which Froome was Wiggins’s top domestique), Sky has won four out of the last five Tours. ( 21st Century Fox Inc. owns 39% of Sky PLC, the major sponsor of Team Sky. Until 2013, 21st Century Fox and The Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. were part of the same company.)

See, here's how it works: In this sport, you gotta make the money first.  Then when you get the money, you get the power.  Then when you get the power, then you get the jersey.  That's why Sky is the Tony Montana of cycling teams:

And what could be simpler than that?  Indeed, what could be more American than that?  Rapidly-growing income inequality and real power concentrated in the hands of the very few is what this country's all about.  If anything, between that and the fact the riders keep getting hit by motor vehicles I'm surprised pro cycling isn't America's national sport.  Alas, this has not happened, and ironically the handful of Americans who have weathered the scandals and remain in the sport want socialism:

The push for financial leveling has been kicking around the sport for a while. Advocates include Cannondale-Drapac boss Jonathan Vaughters, who thinks some version of a budget cap will not only improve competition, but also bring badly-needed stability to the sport. Cycling’s every-team-for-itself approach is undoubtedly chaotic—teams open and shut every year on the whims of sponsors, donors and even governments.

"...said Vaughters as he combed the road shoulder for discarded bidons."

But is the financial gap really what's taking the excitement out of the Tour?  Or is it the fact that the race is fucking long?

Meanwhile, a budget cap is not the only suggestion out there to spice up the Tour. There are also appeals to reduce the number teams, or the number of riders on teams (from the current nine to maybe six or seven) or tinkering with stage formats and distances. Stapleton thinks a lot of Tour stages go on way too long and favors “shorter, more intense” races. Velon is using technology like on-board cameras to change the way the sport is seen.

This makes good sense--until you realize that nobody gives a shit about the shorter races either.

And yes, I'm looking at you, ironically-sponsored bike race:

Meanwhile, in parenting news, a former pro skateboarder wants your kid to wear a helmet:

In skateboarding, as in life, no kid wants to be seen as uncool — even if being “cool” means a broken arm and 3 hours in the emergency room. And in a sport where wearing safety gear is shunned, few pieces of equipment are considered as uncool as the helmet.

Okay, sure, but what the hell do helmets and broken arms have to do with each other?

I don't know, but here's his reasoning, and if you're anything like me when a pro skater gives you life advice you listen and you listen good:

“In the end I had 3 good reasons: My wife and my 2 daughters,” says Vallely, “I wanted to be around [for them]. When I step on my skateboard today, I wear a helmet.” And while he calls his decision a “personal” one (and doesn’t want to be seen as hoping on — and probably grinding off — a soapbox), that hasn’t stopped him from joining forces with safety gear company Triple Eight to launch the Get Used to It campaign, aimed at raising awareness for helmet use and head safety. In the end, he hopes helmets are treated like seat belts (“It should be intuitive. Just click it and go.”) and has strong feelings about getting kids to wear one, as well as why not having brain damage is better than being cool.

Wait a minute.  30 years of pro skating and now suddenly he's worried about not wearing a helmet?  I mean, I don't begrudge him at all for "joining forces" with a safety gear company (I certainly hope they're paying him to do this), but it seems to me that if he got this far without a helmet he's in the clear.

But it's not just about him, it's also about the children, won't somebody think of the children:

Get Them While They’re Young
Convincing teen skaters – especially serious ones – today about the virtues of wearing a helmet is pretty much a lost cause, says Vallely. “They’re just entrenched against it.” That’s why it’s critical to slap a lid on your youngest before he or she even knows what cool means. Inevitably, they’re going to face pressure to ditch the helmet, be it from friends (or corporate sponsors). You want the idea of not getting brain damage to be so deeply ingrained in their undamaged brain that they don’t give it a second thought. “Families need to be steadfast in their commitment to protecting their heads,” says Vallely. “Kids need to be encouraged to keep the helmets on [as they get older].”

Sadly, this entire paragraph is completely undermined by the photo that follows it:

That's not a helmet, that's a choking hazard.

I wondered if this same publication had any cycling-specific advice for neurotic parents, and indeed they did:

Here's what they had to say:

Remember when you were young, and nobody wore helmets? What wonderful, idiotic days those were. Since massive brain injuries are less cool than wearing a helmet, you should probably find the right one for the whole family.

Wow, talk about idiotic!  It's true bike fatalities are down for kids, but the reason for this is that kids' don't ride anymore:



The article then immediately goes on to explain why kids falling off their bikes is no big deal:

The Smaller the Kid, The Shorter the Fall
Because your child isn’t named Johnny Knoxville, you understandably get upset when they take a nosedive into the pavement. But you also should realize that falling hurts less for young kids. “When they’re young, they don’t have a long way to fall, they don’t carry a lot of speed, and they don’t have a lot of mass, so they bounce right back up,” says Wells. “When they’re young, they bend.”

But somehow if they're not wearing a helmet they're an idiot and they're going to die.

Still, I do agree that you should always wear one when robbing a bank:

His parents obviously raised him right.

Friday, July 22, 2016

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

If you're anything like me, every time you go for a ride you think to yourself, "I sure wish some Silicon Valley start-up would rethink the bicycle!"  Well good news!  Here comes the Volata, which is the combination TV/VCR of road bikes:

So how are they rethinking the hopelessly retrograde bicycles we've all been riding?

Instead of buying a bike and then buying lights and a GPS computer, the founders of Volata Cycles think the whole thing should come as an integrated package. Volata Cycles is launching this summer with an electronic, internal-hub shifting, hydraulic-braking, slick commuter bike that has an app-based computer and front and rear lights all built right in and powered by the front hub.

Brilliant.  A bicycle is a machine that can last you for decades that you can accessorize as needed, whereas electronic gadgets are fickle, disposable items with a shelf life measured in months.  Naturally then you'd want to integrate them instead of changing your accessories as they age or wear out.

Volata Cycles is selling the bike for $3,499 at, asking for a reservation fee of $299 with the remaining balance due upon delivery beginning in July 2017.

I was convinced, so I headed over to Volata's site to configure my new dork sled:

I was able to choose from two colors, four sizes, three saddles...and that was it.

Sure, I would have also liked to specify some other details such as stem length, but when you spend $3,499 for a Volata you have to hope they eventually get around to offering them in different sizes:

Thank you, Silicon Valley, for "disrupting" the versatility and adaptability right out of the bicycle.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right then great, and if you're wrong you'll see Cat 3s.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and may we soon be liberated from the heat dome.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) Which "Entourage" star recently doored a cyclist?

--Jeremy Piven
--Kevin Dillon
--Steve Buscemi
--Daniel Day Lewis

2) From July 25th through July 29th, the NYPD will crack down on:

--Drivers who endanger bicyclists
--Bicyclists who endanger drivers
--Officers who block bike lanes
--Bicycles with tires exhibiting excessive tread wear

3) Who is Graham?

--An "interactive lifelike sculpture demonstrating human vulnerability"
--A test subject for New South Wales's experimental helmet implant
--Yet another lame new "Star Wars" character
--A Masters cyclist who took too many PEDs

4) Silca's new T-Ratchet portable torque wrench is yet more proof that carbon fiber is a stupid material for bicycle components.


5) How much for an old wooden baby block at the Brooklyn Flea?


6) A person who points to his or her head as you ride by and mouths the word "Helmet!" is called:

--A Helmet Nazi
--A Helmet Mime
--A Safety Kippah Enforcement Agent
--A typical Australian

("What, no helmet?!?")

7) Basically nobody really knows shit about why bikes work.


***Special PSA-Themed Bonus PSA!***

Okay, two things: 1) Seems like more of an anti-bullying PSA than a bike safety PSA; and B) How does a helmet help if you take a 2x4 to the face?