Before I start, a brief warning: this Useless Review may contain more sincerity than most. If you’ve come seeking unvarnished satire, lampoonery, and sarcasm, I apologize in advance. Even Robots feel nostalgic sometimes.
I was discussing with some friends the elements of a “good” bike, and what one might need to spend to acquire one. This was all in the context of trying to adjust our attitudes vis a vis equipment fetishism, snobbery, and gatekeeping, because even if you think you’re just going along with the prevailing zeitgeist it’s important to maintain your perspective, maybe even to check yourself prior to wrecking yourself, or more importantly to avoid stepping on someone else’s good time.
On Christmas Day 1980, I woke at dusk in my bedroom on Westbury Drive in Mobile, Alabama. Detecting some small measure of daylight in the outline of the curtains and being nearly nine years old, I fairly sprang from my bed and padded softly down the hallway in my underpants, hoping against hope that Santa, or his representatives, would have provided me a new bicycle. The living room was at the back of the house and darkly wood paneled, so it was through squinted eyes that I first made out the outline of the CPX-100.
In 1980 I knew nothing about BMX bikes other than I wanted one, preferably fully bedecked with mag wheels, pads on bar, stem and top tube, and the knobbiest possible tires. On these latter elements, I was negotiable. The possession of any bike even vaguely resembling the bikes that other kids were jumping and skidding all over the neighborhood was of paramount concern.
The 1980 Peugueot CPX-100 BMX bike was the single best bike in the history of bikes, the years since producing all manner of fine cycling equipment, but nothing quite measuring up to that heavy, little lump of a bike. It cost something like $100, which gave my father significant pause, he having grown up sharing pants with his brothers, because there weren’t always enough to go around.
If you peruse the virtual halls of BMX history, you will find virtually no one extolling the quality of the CPX-100 (in fact, the bike didn’t even say Peugeot on it, and I was unaware the French bike maker had produced it until some years later). That’s because it was an entry-level kids’ bike with third and maybe fourth rate components on it. It didn’t come with mag wheels or pads or any of the other stuff everyone wanted at the time. Awesomeness sold separately.
This is all, however, tangential to the point. For anyone hell bent on getting hell bent, even the minimum equipment will produce the maximum result. And thus, I set about hucking the CPX-100 off every curb cut, plywood ramp and dirt mound I could find. I laid great gouts of rubber across sidewalks and in the fine dust topping Alabama’s red clay soil, stepping hard into a set of coaster brakes, untroubled by any thought at all in the world. That shitty little bike was the sun and the moon and the stars in aluminum and steel.
This is all to say that a “good” bike is ABSOLUTELYF*%KINGENTIRELY in the mind of the person riding it, in their burning need to ride, in their ability to imagine themselves as a great rider, and in the bike’s simple existence. I don’t know how much you need to spend to get any of that. In 1980, the answer was somewhere between $89 and $108, depending on whether the old man got it on sale or not. My bet is, he did.
“On Christmas Day 1980, I woke at dusk…” That seems kinda late even by my non-practicing Heeb standards. 🙂 Despite how much you, me and everyone else loves to share what they think is the best bike, mostly it’s just the one you’re on.