Friday, June 14, 2024
HomeCyclingThe Long And The Short Of it – Bike Snob NYC

The Long And The Short Of it – Bike Snob NYC


Did you know that there are places where they don’t keep all the merchandise under lock and key?

Meanwhile, every time I go to my local Target here in the Bronx they’ve locked up more stuff. This past weekend I waited a good ten minutes for an employee to allow me to access a package of plain white t-shirts. In addition to that I picked out some “fancier” t-shirts–you know, the ones for millionaires that come in different colors and are sold separately–which inexplicably were just out in the open on racks, hanging there for the taking. Then I paid for everything at the self-check, like a good citizen.

On the way out of the store I was vaguely aware of an alarm going off somewhere, but I didn’t think anything of it, since, as I said, I’d paid, plus the store security did not seem at all concerned about the sound. Also, it’s a very busy Target, with lots and lots of people going in and out constantly. All of this is to say that the sound barely registered…until I got home and saw that the “fancy” shirts still had the little anti-theft tags on them, and realized the alarm must have been me:

[Photo from Reddit or something.]

This raised many questions in my mind, including but not limited to:

  • Why lock up the packaged undershirts but not the “fancy” shirts?
  • Why put the tags on the clothes at all if nobody’s going to stop you from taking them?
  • Why lock up anything if nobody’s going to stop you from taking it? I mean just because someone has to unlock a package of t-shirts for me there’s still nothing keeping me from stealing them.
  • How are you supposed to remove the anti-theft tag at the self-check, anyway? Is there a little thingy there? I’ve never noticed or thought to look. This is also not the first time I’ve gotten home and realized the tags were still on the clothes, and there’s no way I’ll remember to check next time, either. Instead I’ll just keep prying them off at home with a screwdriver.
  • Why doesn’t anyone wear galoshes anymore? (This is completely unrelated to my experience at Target, but it’s still a valid question.)

Now I realize that, apart from the galoshes issue, all of this is potentially a political minefield and that it’s either the fault of the evil progressives or the evil capitalists depending on which team you’re on, but that’s not the point of this post. I’m merely pointing out that, whatever the reason, things have gotten to the point where it’s now easier for me to shop for my sundries in the suburbs during my rides than it is to shop locally. Not only that, but I also left my bike unlocked outside of the pharmacy and it was still there when I came back, though to be fair it could be that the color is inherently theft-proof:

Hey, I happen to like it, but if you think this particular hue should be called “Dead Earthworm” then I can’t really argue since it blends pretty well:

Oh, and if that crotch shot isn’t dirty enough for you, here’s another one:

Note the frame size is stamped into the bottom bracket shell. Now that’s just smart.

If you’d have told me just a few months ago that in 2024 the Faggin would become one of my main road bikes then by golly I wouldn’t have believed you–yet here we are and I couldn’t be happier, since the bike is running beautifully. For wheels I’m using a pair I got from Paul of Classic Cycle several years back:

The rims are ceramic, and I should probably get some ceramic brake pads since I imagine they’d be more consistent in the rain, but then again I should probably do a lot of things.

The hubs are Campagnolo Record–the last iteration, before Campy said “Fuck it,” stopped making standalone hubs altogether, and went all-in on pre-built wheels:

And the tires are so-called Continental Gator Hardshell:

Unlike the Paselas the ride quality leans towards “showering with a raincoat on,” but after many miles the exhibit little to no wear, and the only reason I don’t think my grandkids will still be using this very same pair is that we all know that by then everyone will be riding flying electronic space bikes:

Retarding force is applied via generic levers pulling generic brakes:

And shifting is accomplished by wiggling these Silver friction shifters:

Which in turn tug at a pair of antique mechanical derailleurs:

All these parts working together in concert do so with a level of exquisite refinement that is completely at odds with the bikes’ disheveled appearance.

As I’ve also mentioned, the crank is a freakish specimen, with 53/42 chainrings and 165mm arms…

…though I gather short cranks are a thing now so after buying them on super-duper deep discount many years ago I’m now accidentally on-trend.

For years, the rule of thumb (or leg) was that if you were of average height like me you used 172.5mm cranks on the road, and 175mm cranks in the dirt, and for years I adhered to it. (Why? Well I never thought to ask!) However, as the Old Crap Test Pilot for Classic Cycle, I’ve since had the occasion to ride various crank lengths across various types of bikes, and while I do notice differences in crank length, I’ve come to discover that they don’t really matter–or at least to me they don’t. No doubt crank length makes a meaningful difference to athletes looking to maximize their performance, which I am emphatically not. No doubt it also makes a meaningful difference to people who are sensitive to matters of bike fit, which, fortunately, I am also not. For the most part I just get used to stuff, which is why I’m the world’s worst bike reviewer. (After like 20 minutes whatever bike I’m riding usually becomes my favorite.)

As for the 165mm cranks, I thought those might be too short, but after riding them for awhile I’ve gotten completely used to them too. I did try to read up on why shorter cranks are in fashion, though I very quickly got bored because most of the reasons didn’t really matter to me. One reason I find interesting though is that shorter cranks supposedly facilitate a more aero position since it’s easier to pedal when due to the smaller circumference of the pedal stroke or whatever, and I think there’s something to that, because the Faggin has pretty low bars yet I feel more comfortable in the drops on it than I should.

Though it could just be palliative effect off the Dead Earthworm paint.



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