The rules of bicycle design

This will be short.  I may expand it in the future.  In fact, I only have one item right now.

Car companies should not ever ever ever try to design bicycles. Nope.  Stoppit.  Smack whoever came up with this idea.  Auto guys have NO idea how simple and complicated bicycles are.   Inevitably, they try to fix something that doesn’t need fixing, add too much, and the result is stunning in its mediocrity.

No, the word “mediocrity” implies that it actually fits on a continuum of goodness.  Inevitably, the result in these cases is somewhat like going up to somebody, asking for directions, and hearing “fish sticks appalloosa” as a response.  Doesn’t even belong on the scale for directions (which goes from “situational/emotional topography” to “ex military precision” without passing through any of the food groups or domesticated animals on its way.  Don’t worry about the first bit, I’ll explain that in a later post the next time somebody gives me situational/emotional directions and I feel like ranting about something.)

Particularly car companies that are pretty good at designing cars.  The results are always horrendously overpriced and abysmal.  If Hyundai did a bicycle, they’d probably actually do pretty a good job… less arrogance, lower expectations….

Wait, they did?

Hyundai bike thing.  $212. Not overpriced.

Never mind.  At least it’s cheap.  On to the cool car companies:

Cases in point:

Mercedes bike.  Never thought I’d see something that makes a Brompton look sexy.  Note the almost complete lack of trail (“But ve haff rake, is that not vhat you need for ze good handlingk?”).  1699 Euros.  The stylists were on an extended coffee break when this thing was whisked through ID for approval.  The guy who signed off on it was actually the janitor.  The scene was half Good Will Hunting, half Rain Man, but with no math.

Porsche Bike – Clearly their stylists spent more time on the wheels than their FEA guys (curved spokes FEEL stronger.)  In a fit of pique, the FEA guys then swiss-cheesed the hell out of the billet pieces holding the frame and swingarm together.  To get back at them, the stylists stole the boot off the shock so it would only last two weeks but would look more “technical.”  The project manager for this excresence is still in a mental asylum somewhere outside Hanover.  $10,612 in 2001 dollars.  PT Barnum is still counting his money somewhere.

There is one exception to this, the Ferrari/Colnago collabo bike.  It gets away by being only horrendously overpriced.  But it’s definitely not abysmal.  Clearly, the Colnago guys put the Ferrari guys in their place right quick.  “You-a… you choose-a the colorway.  We do the rest, yes?  Maybe you design the stand?  For the store, in Milan?”

Ferrari by Colnago, the lone exception.  $12k plus.

Update :

Never mind.  It’s so horrible I can’t look…

(and people get mad at Ducati for building a muscle cruiser… sheesh!)

I just realized that I completely let BMW off the hook in this post.  While we’re on this rant, we might as well take a look at what our Bavarian friends have cooked up in the two-wheeled human-powered realm.  Shall we?

Not bad, actually.BMW – Exhibit A. $995.00

Actually not so bad.  I’ts got a bit of the Chris Bangle thing going on in places, but it’s at least trying.  It’s only when you realize that you’re paying for $1000 for roundels and Alivio componentry that things begin to smell a bit sauerkraut-y.    You could get a nice bike for $1000, probably with 105 or Rival.

Let’s see what else Ze Germans have on offer…

BMW – Hmm.  Not bad.

I’ll leave it at that… at least till I find something new to add.