A most hypocritical purchase

I’m such a hypocrite. I don’t even strive for consistency. I strive so little for consistency I could fairly be accused of actively striving toward its opposite. There is such wonderful integrity to my quest for hypocrisy that structuralist thinkers can easily steam from the ears and explode in my company, rather like this:

Let the liar’s paradox be inscribed on every poststructuralist’s tombstone! Two days after writing disparagingly of the bike touring community, I have taken possession of a bike some would call the quintessential emblem of that cycling genre, after the Rohloff. As of today I am the proud nerdy owner of a Bike Friday Tandem, designed to pack on the plane, or into the boot of your car and take to the park to ride round the oval.

But as a substitute for the machines it is designed to pack into, the Bike Friday Family Tandem is an utter disgrace. Just consider its design from a thief’s point of view. With one allen key you can make the bolt cutter method look slow, pulling the bike apart from around any collection of U-bolts, then reassembling in minutes and riding off leaving the locks as they were. (Don’t be fooled by the length of the of the Bike Friday Tandem assembly video. They really don’t take an hour and twenty-two to assemble). .

Purely on the strength of thieveability, the Bike Friday Tandem must rank as the least practical example of the least practical kind of bike generally for urban transport, the tandem. It does little for my crusade for safe bike routes through cities; barely more I’m afraid than the latest edition of Effective Cycling, (the stupidest book to come from America since the Angel Moroni sent Joseph Smith looking for gold plates in New York—my apologies to all Mormon cyclists).

You would not catch Michael Colville-Andersen dead on a Bike Friday Tandem, or Roelof Wittink from the Dutch Cycling Embassy. These things are more American than Dresden (in 1945), about as tasteful as art since Duchamp, and as gainly looking as Bradley Wiggins. Trust me, I’m holding back. In the past I’ve said worse.

But there’s just something about the Bike Friday Tanden that meant I just had to have one, like a house on a hill with shocking access by bike. (Stay tuned for that dirty secret in a forthcoming post).

About Steven

I'm on a mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, urban designers and fellow academics, who see the potential for bicycles to change cities and buildings. My PhD is in architectural history and my interdisciplinary research spans art theory, philosophy and cultural studies. I teach architectural history and theory and design studio at The University of Tasmania, Australia, and formerly worked as an architect designing large public housing projects in Singapore. My favourite bikes are a titanium racing bike I use for racing, a Velorbis retro commuter for riding to cafes and work, a single speed ultra light Brompton that I take with me when I travel on planes, a 29er hard tail mountain bike that I get lost on in remote places, an old track bike that scares me, a 1984 Colnago Super with all original campagnolo components that is plugged into a virtual realm that I train in, and a Dutch-made Bakfiets, that could easily replace half of the bikes I just mentioned.
This entry was posted in blog. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A most hypocritical purchase

  1. Well being a hypocrite or not, I do help you and your fellow rider enjoy your tandem! An interesting idea for sure.

  2. Jimm says:

    If you don’t really need it as a tandem, you could remove the seat and add on supports for panniers or cargo-cages/platforms to make it an awesome cargo bike!

  3. Lukas says:

    Oh no! I hope you did not have to sell to keep your stables balanced?

    • Steven says:

      I appreciate your concern Lukas. In recent years I have adopted a policy adhered to by many cyclists, of never parting with anything. I have some original mavic helium wheels there that I hope to be buried with.

Leave a Reply