TCI Friday

We all do this right? Even when we are walking down the street, or driving along in our cars, we are looking at bikes. Every rider I pass (or who passes me) I’m looking to see what they’re riding. Against my better judgment, I am judging. Is that the right bike? Is it a cool bike? The answers don’t matter really, but I like to ask the questions. I can’t even help myself.

My wife has stopped asking what I’m looking at. She knows. Other than the harrowing experience of having the driver spin around suddenly in bumper-to-bumper traffic, she mostly accepts that I have no control over this thing. The sad part is that, by and large, the bikes aren’t that cool, except when they are.

Another facet of the preoccupation (and judginess) is bike fit. I am continually fascinated by the jacked-up ways people ride. The most obvious one is saddle height. Either they’re pedaling on tip toe, their hips see-sawing back and forth, or they’re so low it looks like they’re riding a hobby horse. It’s one thing not to understand bike fit. I’m no expert myself. But, that can’t feel right. They must know, right? And yet…

Reach is another one. Mostly I see people overstretched, shoulders in their ears. This doesn’t bother me so much on entry-level bikes. I can imagine their owners don’t ride that much, or someone gave them the bike, or they bought it on-line. But sometimes I see a $5,000 road bike that fits like OJ Simpson’s bloody gloves. I think, who did that to them? And why did they pay for it?

This week’s TCI Friday asks, is it me, or do you also give every bike you see the once over? I should be clear; I love all bikes. I love great bikes. I love crappy bikes. When someone rides by me on a fourth-hand beater, I love that bike usually even more than I love a brand-new dream bike. My judgements on bikes aren’t about how good they are. It’s about how cool they are, how good the rider looks on the bike, how smooth it all seems. Maybe your criteria are different. Or maybe you don’t care at all what other people are riding. Maybe it’s just me.

Join the conversation
  1. tcfrog says

    I tend to check out bikes more when I’m riding than while driving. I’m mostly looking at aesthetics, but sometimes fit/sizing come into play as well. One of the best places I’ve been for bike watching was the Netherlands … So many different styles than we’re used to in the States, and the bikes are everywhere!

  2. Barry Johnson says

    Always scratching my head at the poor kits, usually it’s the hips that I see first. Man that’s gonna hurt ‘down the road’. Pun intended.

    1. Barry Johnson says

      Poor fit…lol. Kits too 😉

  3. Jeff vdD says

    ALWAYS looking. Occasionally judging, until I realize what I’m doing, stop, gently scold myself, and move on to my intent: admiring and satisfying my curiosity. In the best of times, learning.

  4. alanm9 says

    Me, too. All of the above.

  5. TominAlbany says

    Mostly I just check out the bikes. After all, my shoulders are in my ears..

  6. Hautacam says

    I compulsively check every cyclist’s front QR to see if it appears properly fastened. Not so much according to The Rules, but rather whether it is properly fastened in the mechanical sense. A shocking number are not — they are dangling loose, or splayed out at a wide angle — and several times a year I chase people down to let them know and to show them how to do it properly. Almost everyone is grateful. No one has ever asked “why were you looking?” And frankly i am glad for that. I don’t have an answer.

  7. schlem says

    My judgements hinge on auditory input. Lube yer damn chain, poseur!

  8. johnjstillwell says

    I look at tire pressures..
    Do these riders have a pump at home?
    I look at the tire inflation ratios compared to say, the right amount of air,
    Riders bouncing along, working way too hard.
    I’m thinking of carrying a floor pump in my car. just to be nice.

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