Friday, January 6, 2012

When is a Bike a Bike

When does a bike become a bike?

I've wondered about this over the past couple of months putting the finishing touches to the new Soma Double Cross. Her lonely frame would sit in the corner, waiting for random UPS deliveries: handlebar, seat post, new headset, a classy leather saddle to make her feel sophisticated, bartape. Every passing week she would get more company in the corner.
This pile of parts was obviously not a bike I thought. Nor are the aisles of brand new bikes that line the LBS's racks. You may think they are but they're not. They are merely soulless vehicles waiting for a home so they can finally realize their purpose in life. Once your booty sits down on that saddle for the first time it becomes a bike (and your credit card is swiped). I say this because I tend to humanize material products. I blame this on my Mom. She has treated her cars like babies my whole life, so it was only a matter of time that I would inherit her kookiness.
So, finally, after ages of waiting the pile of parts was ready to be dropped off at the LBS. When I went to pick it up at the end of the day it was like picking up a new little baby from the bicycle shop nursery. I knew she was going to be a special bike because on the way home there was a full moon. The kind where you expect to see a witch or Elliot and ET flying across. It was then that I agreed upon Mabel as her official name. Actually her name came about because I was kind of hungry and I was thinking about donuts. My favorite is a maple bar, her frame has a similar color to the icing. Also, she's steel and kind of heavy, she's not going to take shit from anything, so Mabel sounded like a big 'ol southern lady. Perfect.

Is it a bike now? Yes, and no. Here are a few things that I do to ensure that my bike knows it is loved, hence, becomes a bike. But first, I suggest that you go over to your bike, bend down next to the handlebar, and whisper (or scream to the heavens if you feel inclined) that you love it and that you appreciate it for everything that it does for you. Doing this after a 5-6 hour ride or after a couple glasses of wine makes it easier for those of you who doubt or are a bit inhibited, or sane.

Here's a list of a few more things that make my bike feel special and loved.

1. Bicycle has to have a name. A well thought out deserving one. One from the heart.
2. All bikes must be used. A bike needs to be ridden. I'm not a 'happy miser.' If a bike is too expensive to ride what the heck are you doing with it?

3. Bike must be in above proper working condition. I like to give my bikes personal attention. They do a lot for me so in return I take care of them. Wash, lube, tune. Doesn't hurt that I enjoy it too. A clean bike is a happy bike.

4. Enjoy the bike. All bikes inspire a smile out of me and should inspire one from you, if not go play tag football or frisbee golf you weirdo. Even in pouring rain or 45 mph winds, I can manage a smile.

That's some special machine.


  1. I don't name my bikes but the rest of what you say is fine. I think a bike becomes a bike when you have ridden it over 10 miles or else when you finally put a bell on it.