Minus a Brief Airbag Deployment, All Eyes Westward

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Jun 152012

Packed the hell out of the truck. In fact, spent the last 48-hours doing little more than stooping, lifting and carrying.

Well, and there was the head-on collision thing.

Somewhere in the top ten “Worst Phone Calls You Can Get” are these two:

  1. Your parents have been in an accident.
  2. Your child has been in an accident.

Last night, after a long day of packing and preparation for the cross-country relocation, we received a phone call that included both of those. Driving home with the boys after a day helping us pack, my parents were involved in an accident. The phone call came from my aunt. Near midnight, off I went, driving with that certain “no cop would stop me” disposition. Cresting the ridge near where my aunt said the accident had happened, I was hoping I didn’t drive past them, hoping I didn’t miss them.

Turns out it was pretty difficult to miss.

Fortunately, everyone was fine, though a little crop-dusted by air bag smoke. Still made for one hell of a conclusion to a long day.

Tomorrow, we start the drive back across the country.

Jun 142012


Moved the last of the supplies out of the old Speedgoat building today, including the one-off Park toilet paper dispenser. That’s a one-inch King NoThreadet, red anodized custom crown machined by Paul Price, hand-cut stanchions with wooden inlay by Dan the Mechanic and an original Control Tech 1-inch stem for good measure. Did the ream and face myself on it. Took forever to properly face the pot metal on that thing, but it was done up to King code. Memories.

Freeform Bonnaroo Exploration

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Jun 122012

Freeform Bonnaroo Exploration

So I’m on a plane headed back to Pittsburgh, but I noticed Interbike will move to Mandalay Bay in 2013. There are apparently reasons for this, and I’ll go ahead and take their word for it that it’ll be “more dynamic.” Apparently there’s a whole different Las Vegas two and a half miles up the Strip from the Sands. The advantage here is that we keep the show in Vegas (last time we were there a guy on a bicycle was chased down and driven over by an angry driver) while simultaneously adding a new level of inconvenience and relogisticating. It’s like a win-win situation, or something. Personally, I’m still hoping the move Crossvegas into a casino. Anything that makes that happen gets my vote.

While we’re on the subject of venues, I was relieved to hear Glenn Danzig went after a photographer at Bonnaroo. Looked like a miserable time anyway. Might was well try to punch somebody.

This video leaves us with more questions than it answers, though. Why are the Bonnaroo security guards all wearing florescent t-shirts with bandanas over their mouths? Is there some kind of George Michael/Suicidal Tendencies superband theme this year? Still more importantly, are Panama hats in fashion now?

I like music. I even like all kinds–I had no idea Jack Bruce and Vernon Reid were playing music together these days, and that would be an incredible thing to witness live–but these festival concerts always look like such a miserable time. That’s not entirely true. They look like a great time for people who want to say they were there, but a miserable place to hear a band. My personal belief is that Glenn was just hoping to punch a photographer in the face to improve the overall acoustics of that circus tent.

Seriously? If I told them once, I told them a hundred times, put Danzig Legacy first, then Puppet Show.

Not one person there seemed even dimly aware that he or she was at a Danzig show–almost sort-of a Samhain and Misfits show–so there’s also the possibility Glenn was just bored.

Me, I defend both the right to photograph Glenn Danzig buying kitty litter and the right of Glenn Danzig to punch you in the face, so I guess I’m leaning Libertarian on this one.

The irony of course–and if I were Glenn’s cat, I’d tell him this–is that if you don’t like people taking pictures of you, you probably shouldn’t leave the stage to go after some dumbass, because that’s exactly the kind of thing people like to photograph.

Especially guys in Panama hats, apparently.

Jun 112012

This is what Syncline trail would’ve looked like on Sunday. I’m pretty sure. Sadly, I spent most of the weekend working on a 2013 product catalog, writing copy for Cyclocross.com, and doing laundry. Had to get a head start on some office work I’ll need to leave hanging while I drive across the country again next week. So this is what Sunday looked like for me:

I’m a rockstar.

Yes, I have two monitors, which is actually pretty modest here. My goal is to eventually have six or seven. I’d like to be the Terry Bozzio of office hardware.

Needs More Cowbell, But Yes, He Plays Them All

On the monitor to my right you can see a little of Cyclocross.com, by the way. Can’t wait for the launch. Still a lot of work to do first, though, and before I can get back to it, there’s that whole driving across the country again thing. I love my country, but I hate driving across it. I always liked taking everyone’s word for it that Nebraska existed.

Starting tomorrow, I expect I’ll be back to posting shorter, “on the road” pieces, if I can post at all. Last time I did my best to lower everyone’s expectations and prepare you for even less meaningful content than usual, then proceeded to immediately punch a hole through the window of my Subaru with a Jones bike. I’ll have all my family’s possessions with me this time around, so imagine the damage I’ll be able to do.

Before I go near radio silence on you, I wanted to offer a report on the voting for best wheel size. “Banana” is definitely taking the win on this one (are you catching that, Google), but otherwise it’s a tight contest between 650b and 29er. I think we had two votes for 26″ wheels. Sadly now, they will be kicked off the island.

I’m also writing a lot of product descriptions for right now. As you might imagine, sometimes the product copy I write tends to be a little different, so I thought I might post some snippets of new content from Cyclocross.com up here, and see if anyone can guess what product–or even kind of product–I’m describing. So while I get ready to head to the airport, I’ll leave you with today’s product. See if you can guess the product I’m describing (or even figure out what the hell I’m talking about).

Cyclocross framesets divide themselves nicely into two categories. First there are the frames that really—truly—are only for cyclocross racing. These have a framebuilder’s name on the downtube, no water bottle bosses, and a fourteen month waiting period. And then there are the ‘cross racing frames one would grab in the event of zombie apocalypse, the kind with all the tire clearance and quality construction of a dedicated racing frameset, but with concessions for things like water bottles and fenders (because you do not want to be riding through zombie apocalypse streets without fenders). ______________ is a zombie apocalypse bike that can also race—and win—’cross races.”

I’m pretty sure both guys who read this blog work at bike companies or distributors anyway, but feel free to post any guesses on the Cyclocross.com Facebook page, and I’ll figure out some sort of grand prize for an eventual winner. Probably won’t be a Cyclocross.com jersey, but something rad.

The jerseys are in the works now, by the way, and are gonna look like something Steve McQueen would’ve worn to a Shia LaBeouf beating.

And why is it so tough to convince any custom jersey manufacturers to create a proper, moisture-wicking luchador mask?

This Post is Not About Bananas

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Jun 082012

So I’m unpacking my car at a hotel tonight and look over and see the hood of the car next to mine is covered in glass. How do I manage always to park next to these people? Oddly, the windshield of the car isn’t broken–perfect condition, as are all its other windows, and the windows of every any other car around it. It’s just that the hood is covered in glass. There are trees immediately in front of the car, with nothing behind them. No glass even on the ground around it. I have no idea how this is possible.

Something strange is going on.

Also, three friends of mine have lost fillings or crowns this week. I blame the moon. I don’t have to understand how the moon works to blame it. It watches me. I watch it back.

If today’s post seems even more deranged than usual, it’s partially because I’m trying to intentionally confuse the ads I’ve added to the site, so I’m working in some extra distinct keywords and phrases, like “moon” and “platypus venom for sale” and “free beer.” At least some ad algorithm somewhere still thinks my demographic wants to purchase various valves, and it keeps trying different types of valves. Do people who read this blog want rodless cylinders, maybe? Or gasket solutions? It doesn’t help that I’ve named my blog after a mythical part. Sort of a feedback loop as ad generation algorithms go, the non-existent product. It’s slowly getting its bearings, though, and figuring our what a canootervalve is. I saw a bike ad tonight, even. It’s sort of creepy to watch it work, actually.

That’s why I’ve started to post images with tags and file names that specify they are not images of bananas. Surely Google won’t crawl through my file names and try to sell us all bananas, but I have to admit I’d jump up and down with excitement if I saw a banana ad over there. Here’s an image that isn’t a banana:

This is Not a Banana


And yes, it’s a real ad currently on Portland Cragslist. Honestly, I fail to understand why that guy doesn’t like full-suspension.

At any rate, given yesterday’s exploration of 650b, and the enthusiasm all four readers of this blog seem to have for sharing opinions (seriously, responses are still arriving daily from the 11-speed question), I thought I’d save Google’s “Street View” cars–you know, the ones that take “pictures” (wink, wink) of “streets” (wink, wink) the trouble of scanning your brain waves right through the walls of your home to figure out what products interest you “photographing” each of your “streets,” by just asking you which wheel size you think is best.

Without further ado then, I bring you Friday’s opinion poll: which wheel size is the best. Keep in mind that I’m an incredibly powerful individual within the bike industry, if only because I am currently employed by two-thirds of all companies in the bike industry. Your response could very well change history.

  •   26-inch

Anatomy of The Next Big Medium-Sized Thing

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Jun 072012

I’m writing this the night before anyone will read it, and I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten some bad tuna. If this ends up being my last post, somebody avenge my death by punching Jarrod from Subway in the throat.

At any rate, I’m even woozier than usual, so tough to say just how Salvador Dali this is going to get. I read with great interest that 650b explosion post on Bikerumor. Actually it was only passing interest, given the wooziness. OK, actually, I didn’t even really read it all that well, but I did look at the pictures.

Alright, I didn’t even really look at every single one of the pictures. I did, however, happen to notice the absence of one Carl Schlemowitz in the discussion.

Carl Schlemowitz, in case you don’t know, is the guy who made me my first 29er and the first framebuilder I’d ever seen to show a genuine 650b mountain bike. Yes, Kirk Pacenti deserves a lot of credit for pushing 650b when no one else was, but really no early 650b bike looked at all like the one-off race bike Nino Schurter’s been using to win races. They were adventure touring bikes, and–other than Carl’s Mambo Sun–650b was basically synonymous with the look epitomized by Rawland bikes. The Vicious Cycles Mambo Sun was the first 650b bike to look anything like the ones making all the noise today.

I don’t mention this to pick any fights or play “I saw it first.” All this shit’s been done many years ago anyway. I mention Carl because if you do look at the arguments in favor of 650b right now, you’ll find a few distinct patterns. I summed them up in a post last February:

  • There Was Never a Good Reason for 26″ Wheels in the First Place – One of the most important things 29ers did was dispel the myth of the 26″ wheel, which might as well have been chosen arbitrarily. When it comes to the preeminence of 26″ wheels in the world of mountain bikes, once the flood gates of doubt opened up, it became pretty which wheel size couldn’t swim. The 29er could never replace a 26″ wheel, but a 27.5″ wheel just might. And probably should. Get over it Europe. The 26″ wheel is stupid for anyone over five feet tall. That’s 152.4 centimeters.
  • Nobody Wants to Look Stupid After Missing that 29er Thing – Once we hit that tipping point, adoption is going to happen with the quickness here. Not only did some companies look stupid for panning 29ers up until they finally caved in and released one (which then shot to the top of their sales charts and stayed there), but some companies made much more money by betting on the right horse. Money equals motion. Everybody wants to cover this next move, when it comes.
  • Forks and Rims Are Already Here – The real teeth-pulling with 29ers happened around the rim, tire and fork manufacturers, but for 650b, that part of the puzzle’s already in place. It’s also a manufacturing reality that you just have to make different sizes now. All this shit is being mass-produced in China anyway, so you really can’t bitch about your overwhelming productions costs to Americans who pay more for a cup of coffee than it costs to have a tire made in China. You’re making two sizes of tires and rims already. Might as well just make another one.
  • 650b Bikes Won’t Suck – By definition, they were designed to be the middle of the road, and, unless you’re a GOP candidate, that’s never a particularly dangerous place to be. Something like a 36″ tire will be pretty unlikely to be adopted by everyone, but a bike that rolls a bit better than a bike with 26″ wheels, but in all other ways feels about the same but has marketing buzz? That’s not a hard bike to sell. A 29er was a big difference, but the only people still riding 26″ wheels wouldn’t even know the difference if you put 27.5″ wheels on their bike.
  • The Industry Needs This – Not just because new trends have to constantly drive you to want a new bike, but due to some very concrete reasons, there is a very powerful lobby going on for the middle wheel size right now. This is led largely by companies with skin in the five to seven inch travel frame game. You just can’t get enough distance between stuff to have a “longer travel” 29er. Something’s got to give. A system is already in place at most manufacturers to make that something a 650b long-travel suspension frame.

If you read the Bikerumor panel discussion of 650b bikes, this is basically what everyone is confirming, albeit with some extra dancing around and justifications.

But nobody contacted Carl at Vicious to ask his opinions about 650b–or maybe they did and Carl did the whole, “You kids get off my goddamn lawn!” bit. He’d have earned the right, but that’s not really his style. If anyone had asked, I think Carl would have told them he’d built a 27.5″ wheel bike for himself (he loathed the term “650b”) and rode it, and thought it felt pretty good, and that was why he made them. He’d also probably tell them that a small framebuilder has to be on the cutting edge of even the smallest trend, because that’s where any money is for small builders. That’s what I think Carl from Vicious would say, the guy who had a genuine 650b, er, 27.5″ mountain bike at Interbike in 2007.

My point in all this tuna-induced rambling is this: 650b showed up for the same nearly random reasons the arbitrary 26″ wheel showed up. It just sort of worked out that way, and there were enough spare parts around in that size to cobble stuff together. The idea has inertia behind it now, so market forces have locked on and it’s clear we’ll have some form of 650b bike all over the place next year. And why the hell not? They seem perfectly fine.

None of this, however, has anything to do with addressing the shortcomings of 29ers.

Let me explain, and then I’m going to go puke. The common complaint with designing a longer travel frame on a 29er is that the wheels are too large to move through much more than 130mm of travel without hitting into things like the seat tube.

The idea that smaller wheel is the only solution to that is absurd.

Does a 29″ wheel hit into your saddle at 140mm of travel? No? So your ass can stay put. What a 29er wheel hits is the seat tube and seatpost, and the rockers and rear triangle get awfully convoluted snaking around everything to make it all work, too. That’s a bitch. I’ve dealt with the clearance issues, and it really and truly is.

But so what.

Why not design a completely different seat post that’s out of the way. Road frames are doing this already with their “integrated posts” and they hardly even have a reason, so it can be done. Developing a proprietary seatpost is a hell of lot easier than inventing a new wheel size. Doing away with the conventional seat tube and post might seem crazy, but any more crazy than inventing a new wheel size? Besides, Shimano and SRAM have derailleurs that’ll bolt anywhere these days. Where we’re going, we don’t need seat tubes.

And the “wheels are too large in diameter to be strong enough” argument? Right. No one has ever made anything larger than 27.5″ in diameter that was also strong. Do you think materials advancements are making things weaker or stronger these days? I have to call bullshit on the weak wheel argument. Again, I’m fine with saying we want 650b just ’cause we want it, but don’t let’s pretend it’s the only solution.

I like 650b. I really do. I want to design a bitchin’ 650b bike, because I think they make more sense than 26″ wheel bikes. But I do believe sometimes the bike industry follows whoever’s leading, no matter where that person’s going. Why did Carl build a 27.5″ wheel bike? Because he wanted to do something different. That’s all. Why is everyone building one now? I’m not sure anyone really knows.

Metaphysical Tags

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Jun 062012

Absolutely no beer in this park. Except maybe a little beer. Or a lot, depending.

Responses to my question, “Would you move to an 11-tooth mountain cassette that let you go single ring up front if it meant having to buy a new rear hub or entire rear wheel, new derailleur and new shifter?” continue to arrive in my email, and all I can say is that we’re all wafflers. We hate that system, unless it’s cool, in which case we like it. Or vice versa. To be fair, a few of you have gone bold and declared SRAM’s 1×11 system utterly undesirable. Very few have felt they must have it at all costs. But most of you just sort of might use it, if the price is right. You could go either way on 11-speed mountain.

I sympathize. There are a lot of things about which I’ve gone back and forth over and over again and always feel like I just need more information. One of those things for me is advertising. Unless Google went out of business, you’re probably seeing some form of add there on the right. Maybe it’s a group of ads and maybe it’s a single animated one. I have no idea, because Google tailors whatever ad is over there not just to the content in my post (which should be pretty interesting), but also to you–to all the other data Google has on you. It occurred to me the other day that I should mess around with that. Particularly if there’s a chance I can generate about $8 a week, which is the approximate cost of the beer that makes this blog possible. Mostly, though, I just wanted to see what Google would put there.

I’ve set up some AdWords accounts in my day and was recently asked about setting up another. Retailers all have to contend with AdWords as a necessity, but for a lot of manufacturing and distribution businesses, AdWords is still just some mysterious way Google generates greater income than a majority of the countries in the world. The whole point of AdWords is driving people to your ecommerce site with a single mission: buy. Buy that widget you just searched for. You know you want it, and now we know you want it, and Google sent you to us, so let’s just do this thing already.

But brands without any direct call to action–like Coca Cola–what’s in it for them? Go ahead and Google “coca cola,” and I promise Coke’s paying mad money to show up at the very top of a list of organic search results that are all about their company anyway. If the whole page is results that point to your product anyway, why the hell pay to compete with yourself?

The prevailing theory here seems to be that companies like to control their message. They like to own their content. When people search for Coke, Coke wants to get in front of that search result, instead of, say, “Coke Plus Mentos Makes Boy’s Stomach Explode.”

But by all accounts Google’s algorithms also factor in what I guess we’d call “gravity.” Spend a million bucks on ads to get people to your site, and your site is going to have residual life to it even after you stop paying. Just like having money makes money, having traffic makes traffic. But frankly there’s a lot of weird shit about how Google does stuff that I know absolutely nothing about. There are a lot of people who’ll tell you they do, and that they can make you buckets of money based on this great Search Engine Optimization system they’ve developed.

It’s been my experience that few of these people have divine knowledge, and the majority of them are engaged in business practices that are “ambitious” at best, “fraudulent” at worst. I just can’t bare to listen to SEO wonks prattle on about “synergizing” this and “value adding” that, and “creating multi-platform relationship” and stuff. These are basically all the things that anyone who isn’t a complete asshole does to grow a business anyway. Give people a reason to find you, and once they do, make it so they want to come back.

So few articles about SEO I find to read online are of any real value. Usually I just want to find the douchebag who wrote the article and beat him to death with his own leg. Hence my experiment. Based on the stuff I write about here, what ads will Google deliver to this page.

So far, I’ve seen one for ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs. What in the hell made Google place that here, I don’t know, given that I’ve never mentioned basketball . . . until now. Damn, you’re good, Google.

But the interesting part for a guy who’s about to build yet another AdWords campaign is to go back to my older posts and see what Google thinks they should be selling. The SRAM post I’d written on 1×11 seems to’ve gotten Google infatuated with “Needle Valves” and no fewer than two ads for needle vales are showing up for me on that page. One of the many joys of having a blog called “canootervalve” is all the plumbers my ads are bound to attract. There’s also an ad for AdWords (oh, Google, you are so meta). Oh, and there’s a Zoosk ad asking if you want to “meet a real girl for free.” Google’s ability to tailor ads to you, my audience of five guys, is uncanny.

As someone who’s always been on the other side of Google advertising, though–making ads and trying to generate return on investment through them–I’m fascinated to see how long it takes Google to figure out what it is I’m really writing about.

Then, ideally, they can tell me.

Golf Carts and Recycling Launch My Campaign to End Air in Tires

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Jun 052012

WinCo Cart Retrieval, uh, Cart

You might’ve noticed I’ve gotten rid of the email form that used to live over there on the right of Cannotervalve.com. As with most things in life, some asshole spoils an otherwise good time, and for me, spam has ruined the direct line of communication I used to offer here, so I had to lose the Submitatron 4000 and replace it with the decidedly less high-tech:

chris at canootervalve dot com

That’s where you can email me from now on, and any psychiatrists out there may see today’s post as a golden opportunity. Here’s my attempt to document the creative process or something. To describe an idea as it occurred to me, at any rate, whatever you want to consider that. So I had this idea today, and here’s how it went.

I’ve had about a beer a day since arriving in Portland and have heard a great deal about Oregon’s bottle recycling centers. One takes one’s beer bottles to a grocery store recycling center–which I’ve heard alternately described as a cross between the DMV and a dentist, or a really swell place, depending on the describer. At any rate, word is twenty bottles will net your lucky ass a voucher for something like one U.S. dollar worth of groceries, so merely setting bottles out for the recycling guy to pick up–it’s been made clear to me–is Mitt Romney behavior. Nevertheless, the Safeway where I shop didn’t seem to have one of these recycle areas, so I waited, figuring one day I’d fine one while slowly accumulating enough beer bottles to build my own bio-dome.

Today was the day.

Today I happened to roll up to a WinCo grocery store, and there it was, a line of people with shopping carts filled with crap to recycle. Finally, the giant bag of empty beer bottles I’d been keeping in my car (driving around for a month with empties was generally frowned upon back in Pennsylvania) was going to pay off. As I was waiting to recycle my bottles and feeling the bottoms of my shoes slowly adhering to the ground just outside the bottle return, I noticed the scene captured at the beginning of this post. It’s a perplexing tableau, so I’ll explain: there’s a very large man in that thing; that thing is a golf cart; he’s using it to retrieve the shopping carts.

OK, so here’s the part where I attempt to explain the carefully synchronized firing of my addled, little synapses. I am watching a woman deposit what I’d conservatively estimate to be $45,000 worth of plastic bottles in a recycling machine, when I turn to see this guy driving the golf cart while towing a row of shopping carts. His golf cart has those overly wide swamp-buggy-style low-impact pneumatic tires like all golf carts.

And I think, “Why do we still have air in our bike tires?”

I remembered having seen a honey-comb airless wheel design somewhere before (think I even posted a picture in an old post)–which turned out to be the Bridgestone version of the more common Michelin “Tweel”.

Airless Tires

Tough to say what caused that serious of connections to get me thinking about airless bicycle wheels. Something I’d eaten, or the fact that I hadn’t eaten, maybe. Excitement over the eighty cents I was about to make feeding Rogue and Deschuttes bottles into a machine. There’s a lot going on with my suspension system right now, and bike design is on a kind of tape loop in the back of my mind all the time anyway, but the plastic bottles plus absurdly un-green method of shopping cart retrieval somehow equated to an intense desire to see a bicycle version of this,

Resilent Technologies Airless Tire

That’s Resilent Technologies’ airless tire, and I want some for my Independent Fabrication single-speed.

High Life Haircuts and Schwindelhauers

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Jun 042012

Bishops Barber Shop, Portland Oregon

Portland is a place that brings otherwise different things together: office buildings and mountains; personal independence and community spirit; bright green hair and middle age. But the most interesting combination I’ve seen has to be beer and haircuts. Bishops on Mississippi not only serves Miller Lite with their haircuts; they stay open until 9:00pm on Saturdays and 7:00pm on Sundays. I’d argue that no other place in the world would think to combine the convenience of sitting around drinking all day with the practicality of cutting hair while sitting around drinking all day. And lest the ladies be left out, apparently many of the hair salons in this same part of the city serve wine, regardless of the time of day. It’s an innovative kind of place.

Speaking of innovative, I was also recently invited to one of those incredibly exclusive private sales web sites, TouchOfModern.com. Actually, I was following a link to a particularly hip-looking bike and decided it looked silly enough to warrant giving the ultra-exclusive sale club site my email address so I could see it. It immediately asked for me to give it the email addresses of three friends. Unable to quickly think of three friends I disliked, I tried to back my browser out of the whole sordid mess and assumed my sign up to be a total failure. But they got me.

Now I can’t seem to escape TouchOfModern.com, which keeps showing up in my email at all hours of the night like some digital F.Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, asking me to just come out for one more drink and to maybe see a chrome lamp with tassels that’s 40% off this week only. But when it comes to online shopping, I prefer to drink alone, or while having my hair cut.

But the bike I was hoping to learn more about–and for which I have polluted my email for some time to come–is this, the Schindelhauer Viktor.

Schindelhauer Viktor

Exclusive at it is, even you can visit Schindelhauer’s site to check out the Viktor for youself. Especially powerful is the one-sentence manifesto Schindelhauer includes in the brief description of the bike: “Waiver of all superfluous details is the ideology of the hard-minded purist.”

Damn straight. But you pay a premium to be deprived of conveniences these days. The Viktor–a 6061 aluminum frame with a Kalloy post and equally regal shit components everywhere else, all whitewashed the obligatory “Urban White,” will set you back just under $1700 by my Euro conversion calculations. More if you want fenders. You could, for a few hundred bucks less, get something like a Focus Urban 8 with gears and disc brakes and a seat post clamping system that didn’t die out with Czech-made track frames of the ’80s, but where would the style be in that? How hard would your mind be then?

I, of course, can get a Viktor for only $1525, plus $20 shipping and a strict no returns policy, because I have been invited to TouchOfModern.com, though I can’t remember my password.

The Schindelhauer’s Viktor was also apparently the recipient of a prestigious “Red Dot Design Award,” which I’d naively assumed to be presented by a paint company, given the quantity of paint used on the Viktor. But, no, Red Dot is the real deal, an organization that helps mankind discern the subtle differences between a wrench and “an elegant tool with completely new characteristics.” For my part–and getting in on the spirit of things–I would like to award the first ever Canootervalve Divine Excellence in Dramatic Copy Writing Fortitude award to Red Dot, for their other-worldly attempt at explaining the existence of wrenches.

In the world of manual work there are many areas and work steps in which by now age-old tools such as the wrench are essential.”

Ah, yes. That world of manual work is always using age-old wrenches. For a second there, I was worried the entire design industry had lost sight of function completely and was just glorifying anything more mechanically complex than a pet rock. Clearly, though, this is proof they still understand what’s going on out there in the world of manual work.

I think I need another haircut.