Friday, March 26, 2010

Real World Bicycles

When Margadant was young and still an operator he had a number of bar classifications, the extremes being Fern Bars , which he had contempt for, and Bar Bars, which he loved not wisely but too well. I believe Reverend Dick of the Church of the Sweet Ride is speaking here of Bar Bars. I enjoy reading good writing. I like bicycles.  I love it when they come together in a perfect union. Praise the Lord and pass the collection plate! 

There are categories of bikes.
Within these categories are niches.
Within these niches are windowless dive bars peopled by shady lowlifes. It may happen that you need to lock your bike up here, and when it does happen you will count yourself fortunate to have prepared for this inevitability by building a bike to fit this particular seedy niche:
the bar bike.

The bar bike is your townie, stripped of all precious componentry.This is harder than it sounds. You think to yourself, "Whatevah!" (because that is how you talk ) "I have a huge booty bin of parts! I can whip something together in no time." But, before you know it, your beater has been turned out with that sweet high flange intricately cut-out Campy Record wheelset you have hanging up in the workroom. Or those undeniably comfortable yet slightly too narrow Ti 16*bend WTB handlebars. Or that rough around the edges and heavy as a boilermaker 3 sprung Brooks touring saddle, or that sweet 40spoke tandem front wheel... Etc.

Now you see.

Those are all parts you are not currently using, yes. But you would hate to lose them even so, and that is the complicating factor in this build. A true bar bike requires mechanical soundness (who can fix anything demanding more than a good kick when departing the 4th lube joint en route to the 5th?) and a modicum of comfort (seedy bars are not all gathered in one convenient neighborhood), yet also demands that the bike be subject to prolonged exposure in the most debauched of locales...yes, sometimes even overnight. Frankly, crashing is to be expected at some point, too.

There is the latest iteration of my bar bike. If you're out driving in your car and rekanize me, just roll up next to me and yell "FAGGOT!" or throw something...I'll know it's you.


Margadant said...

The Right Reverend is 100% in identifying the environmental challenges a bar bike faces and he correctly puts functionality above all else. But I sense he is too good a wheel-man and not enough of dedicated toss-pot; the Rev appreciates the build more than he does the need to get on site as quickly as possible.

The bar bike is usually built in the following fashion: You have wrecked your ride and/or your license has been revoked. Needing to visit a bar -- shall we say, "Smoe's," the brick layer's bar about 10 blocks south of the packing house, you take, or borrow, if you prefer, your kid's or roommate's bike and head off in order to be there by at least 4:00 p.m. -- for headache treatment, ya know. [It should be noted that all the trades and crafts usually have their own joints, so a person can be selective as to the company he keeps -- I only mention my favorite as an example -- not as a recommendation.]

As the Reverend indicates, a bar bike is left outside. Ordinarily it is unmolested by other patrons, but is customized, or "built" by virtue of what the little sods in the neighborhood steal off it before you return again.

"Building" is only a function of being having to repair the machine sufficiently to ride it back to the bar. It never occurs because you have to ride it home from the bar. If the little thieves have disabled the bike to that extent, well, that's what closing-time chicks are for. Hopefully, you'll be able to walk back from her place tomorrow and not have to take a cab.

My favorite bar bike would be one of those Brand-X, heavy steel frame jobs with balloon tires. Ideally, it should have been stripped of anything that is useful or attractive before it comes to your attention, as that increases its chances of survival. Whether it has a men's or women's style frame is not important; it only needs to get to the bar.

Gunnar Berg said...

You are correct in your observation that bars tend to be segregated by trades. For instance, The Elbow Room clientèle is made up of the once worked, seldom work and never worked - OWSWNW Local 126.

While the Reverend writes that this is thrown together from miscellaneous junk, a quick check has the Brooks B.73 saddle clocking in at $162

Anonymous said...

that bike would look best with a rider in a harley T shirt. or a polyester Hawaiian shirt with cutoffs and flipflops. preferably with a broken arm in a sling.

It's really pretty versatile.


Echelon said...

Yo! Go easy on the Hawaiian shirt thang. BTW the real McCoy is made out Rayon. For us in Laguna Beach this standard equipment at the bar. Our bar is the Marine room AKA the Mar Bar. And yes I have one whole section dedicated to Aloha Shirts. They are the best piece of clothing invented, because the louder and more sophisticated the better. If your just a little bit curious checkout the site of Reyne Spooner, best shirt in the biz.

Now... On to bar bikes. Mine is an 81 trek convert to a single speed this is the precursor to my wifes Pinot express. It has cheap parts all over the place. Photos to follow.



Mimbres Man said...

My townie when I am back home in the USA is my Univega...I'd still hate to lose that bike. It has a lot of sentimental value to me and a lot of cool vintage Japanese parts on it; high flange Suzi hubs, Suntour Vx derailleurs, an Avocet [Ofmega] crank, Eclipse rear rack, and a Blackburn rack with Eclipse adapters welded on.

Jack, You need a vintage Mimbres Man "Gila Five-Oh" cycling shirt. Very rare, but very styl'n. I was way ahead of the curve back in the 90's when I was doing that thing.

Gunnar Berg said...

A flinched a little myself at Michael not respecting Hawaiian shirts. I also have a section devoted to tropical print shirts. And yes, the best are rayon, occasionally cotton, with perfect pattern matches across the pocket and ideally the button front. And in spite of the slur, not cheap.

Echelon said...

Barin where does one bag a vintage Mimbres shirt? Or do I have to surf EBay til I am blue in the face. BTW do I remember your "rags" being on the rack at MDR cyclery on Lincoln Blvd.

I think I will take the McLean for 40 mile spin this morn. Report back later.

Mimbres Man said...

MDR Bicycles: My friend R.J. managed that shop. I stayed on his boat when in L.A.

Gila Five-Ohs: I have my personal stash, but most are in NM in semi-retirement. I used to wear them on a near daily basis. But perhaps we could talk...

Yes, Rayon are the most authentic ...the Five-Ohs were mostly made of cotton exclusively from Hoffman Fabrics, same supplier to Reyne Spooner (at least it was back then). My sister and her family lived on Maui for 18 years, her husband a successful CPA has lots of business connections on the islands and I asked her to do the research for me where RS got their fabric. Two in Hawaii, the other in Mission Viejo, CA. I could drive to the one in CA, so that's how it started...

Mimbres Man said...

Forgot to mention the Univega also has old school Mafac cantilevers (on retrofitted brake bosses) and upgraded with Kool-Stop pads. Very cool!

Jonny Hamachi said...

Christ Hates Nails.

Reading these comments is like tending bar down the street from the rayon shirt factory.

Kurt said...

I think that the true bar bike does not exist any more. There are more bikers (with a little “b”) at taverns since the tougher “Driving while intoxicated” laws. Some of these folks put together bikes from parts just like you do, only the parts are collected from the back alley drop off point of a Salvation Army after someone dropped the bike off in the evening and before the store opens in the morning. People are a lot less choosy about taking someone’s bike. Ugliness is not an issue, even if it is pink.

Gunnar Berg said...

If this is not a "true bar bike", what is it? Take my word for it, this pink bike is real and used for the task implied. The basket is to carry Hamm's beer. I know this to be a fact.

Echelon said...

From the land of sky blue waters



Gunnar Berg said...

Irony. I don't think Hamms has been available in Minnesota for 20 years. They went bankrupt, someone bought the name and it's regional west coast now.

reverend dick said...

Whatever. It's $11.99 a CASE!!