Saturday, December 15, 2007

You look fabulous!

Not long ago, I wrote about the trendiness of leather bicycle seats on certain types of bikes, among them urban fixies and road bikes of timeless design.

Readers reminded me more than once about leather's qualities as a seat material. They told me that a rider can expect a leather saddle to adapt to him or her - instead of that rider's trying saddle after saddle to find something workable.

For a week or so, I softened, much faster than a Brooks saddle ever softened. I thought, hey, it's a legit choice of seat. Can't be fashion every time. Be nice. Cut these folks some slack.

But this morning, in 11-degree, snow-and-ice-covered Denver, I saw an ex-track bicycle, still with downsloping stem, that'd evidently been ridden to work. Today. No snow piled up on its Brooks seat.

And no brakes and no lights. Give me a reason, anything I can believe, for the omission (on a bicycle used daily in city traffic) of a taillight and at least one brake. They're not missing by accident - not on a totally self-conscious bike that features not one casually chosen component.

Minimalism - a clean, uncluttered style - is the only explanation that makes sense. The bike is cleaner without a light or a brake. Especially that tacky brake caliper...and lever...and cable. Ugh. And those taillights are plastic. No way.

It's great that the bike is ridden. To my mind though, the bike is ridden despite its slavishness to style, despite sacrifices made so that it looks cool.

I feel sure that the owner made those choices so the bike'd be great to look at - and okay to ride. In daylight. Unless something happens and the rider wants to stop. The bike was built to be looked at and admired, not sat on and ridden.

All the softening I did about Brooks saddles as a legitimate choice undictated by fashion?

I take it back.

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