More than this?
In an era with so much pent up potential, why is it that struggling "Artists" cannot find adequate ghost writers? With so many people spending the greater part of a year alone with their thoughts, it would seem to me that there would be both a surplus silo of creative content, and a crippled coven of shitty artists in deep malaise seeking a new Muse to lift them out of incapacitated stupor. As we emerge from our Cheeto coated cave It dawns on me that there is a symbiosis here, which should have been well brokered, even a cottage business to introduce the under-equipped "popular class" who drive internet clicks, with the fully competent cloistered mousey clan, who write just fine. (For the Bernie's to sell the Elton's their next hit.) In Upside-down land This might have been the special sauce which should have protected us all from a headwater of sewerage breaching the bank of good taste. Put plainly, Today there is both nothing to watch, and nothing to listen to. The former being understandable because in the past 14 months nobody wanted to stand beside, (let alone stage kiss) a pathogenic Nicholas Cage... On any given movie set -- The latter seems unfathomable, because most music can be made with a MacBook, and a small mixing console. Any given film does require a few more willing bodies. In a void of anything authentic, it happens that we have all been watching shit, with our daylight-sensitive weary brains. We have been consuming, commenting, even recommending all the new re-runs & canned shit-shows which would never have breached daylight, were it not for Covid's cessation of the entire studio production apparatus.
I know that I am not alone in lamenting the consumable crap which should have better remained upon the shelf -- So I won't list every marginally shitty show I've watched ten minutes of, in hopes of some dismal improvement, only to find that even the Romanian overdubbed sci-fi crime dramas are pissy shit. Not because they are not compelling stories in their own right, but because they are basically the re-hashed Eastern euro-trash version of a shelved (Nicolas Cage) Western drama, which was stolen from the Better BBC version before, being retold in another language, with laughable and pornographic overdub of English voice actors, from an eastern bloc language school.
So the 2020's shortage of anything worthwhile in entertainment, bled into the 2021's black hole which successfully sucked any nutrients from our starved brains -- We are left with cushions coated in chip residue, the occasional cracker or crust, and more bottles and cans than the recycle bin can hold. This ritual we do ungracefully to fend off the penultimate awfulness, whilst we await daylight.
So, today, in celebration of the Summer Solstice, strengthened by your MRNA re-code, it's time to cast aside the blue glow of LED's For the Warmth of a glorious yellow sunshine.
To Quote Van Gogh in one letter to his brother Theo, " For want of a better word I can only call it yellow -- Pale Sulphur yellow, pale lemon gold, How beautiful Yellow is!..." So in complete contrast to what we know, there is this lovely light at the end of our cave, igloo, or tunnel..., It is best to begin your journey forward before you learn a foreign language by the Netflix immersion method.
As a caution toward your blind thoughtlessness, and underexposed consciousness, I will assert what I find to be the talisman of what evil can come in a sort of "Ghost of Christmas Future", warning... Wipe your glasses, or better yet grab your far less chic Ray Bans, for here beware the ides of June.
If, upon this Solstice you should find yourself yet languishing in your cave hoisting hot pockets, and shaking the chip bag into your mouth like a baby bird -- Then what follows is quite literally the most outlandish defilement of our remaining filthy façade of fake cultivation -- What you will be left holding is The worst middle-school notebook scrawl, the most adolescent shit-story-board for bad lyricism. Whilst you were sleeping we've sent this "artist" to your dreams to deliver to you direct warning from his dumpster of reject writing. Your best reason to book a ticket, or host a party. You have been warned, but while you were in your virtual office, we've been waterboarded with this gibberish, and so here it goes:
"I've been waiting on a war since I was young
Since I was a little boy with a toy gun
Never really wanted to be number one
Just wanted to love everyone
Is there more to this than that?
Is there more to this than that?
Is there more to this than that?
Is there more to this
More to this, more to this than
Just waiting on a war?
Just waiting on a war?
Every day waiting for the sky to fall
Big crash on a world that's so small
Just a boy with nowhere left to go
Fell in love with a voice on the radio
Is there more to this than that?
Is there more to this than that?
Is there more to this than that?
Is there more to this
More to this, more to this than
Just waiting on a war?
Just waiting on a war?"
-Foo Fighter Extraordinaire
Please select your preference:
A. “On what day did God create Dave Grohl?, and could be not have rested on that day too?”
B. “Shit Sandwich”.
I won't argue that a good concert is precisely what we all need right now, Complete with bathroom-stall make-out session, smuggled whisky, and psychedelics. But if entertainment as an escape, is useful for a well formed soul -- Then a great performance does not equivocate great songwriting. In fact great songs are not (necessarily) required for a solid rock show. A great concert can thereby be pulled off, with showmanship, stagecraft, smoke machines, and decibel's, (even if most of the tracks are crap). We can hereby all just agree to self medicate until they/them, "Play their fucking hit already"... But please sweet baby Jesus save us from this hideous plague which has infected our brains. This vacuous scourge has made it not only possible to create such trash, but to take a cold bath in it, and thus accept this spiky ball of shit to bind to our brains. It's not your fault if you find yourself singing along to Madonna's "Borderline" Because we are all desperate for Something, Anything..., and heck!, "Borderline" is a good track, even in an elevator.
But the 'King Foo'?... Wow! when did "Borderline" became the breached border wall of quarantine, and why are we now forced to suffer the indignity of yet another junior-high notebook doodle, cum garage-band from that "Bearded Nirvana Drummer guy"?
You can do something before you slide so far down the slope that your friends catch you tapping your toe to this track. Before they can no longer help you out of the muck... Just say no. Being desperate for the company of good music does not mean that we should so readily lift our skirts for just any track (with or without a toy gun in it) -- Lest it be from this guy, This Song even smells like Fluorescent Lights and Blatz Beer, On-stage -- Hurling saliva droplets upon my 5th row VIP experience.
"I've been waiting on a wristband, since I was young" -- And to cuddle 3000 awkward strangers in the mud for the first Rock Show in 16 months. This has it's therapeutical advantages -- But, I'm not waiting on, "Smells Like Teen Spittle".
Play drums? Yes.
Form a Band? OK.
Be the front man if you wish -- But when you absolutely cannot conjure anything better than this banana hammock drivel, you need a friend to pick your next outfit. Stay home until you have something presentable.
Is there more to this than that? Fuck yes there is. It's called the back catalog by anyone, maybe even Nirvana.
To celebrate the summer solstice Open your Window Shades, Stretch, Vaccinate, Vacuum, Trade-up your TV for some Records. If you need some help with selections, phone a friend, or better yet have them over. Because friends don't let friends listen to crap, or Loverboy. But if you want to place your speakers in your open window sill, and "Blast" the neighbors, and it has to be Loverboy, Fine! just don't let it be the aforementioned "boy with the toy gun". Because well... Just Don't! It's the longest Day of the year, and it's a Monday -- So don't waste 4 minutes and 34 Seconds of glorious sunlight with this track.
"Relax, relax, relax just a little pin-prick, there'll be no more Ahhhhh... But you may feel a little sick".
A Conversation with Gen P
Generation P (It Looks like The Meek shall Inherit All This Shit)
Are you out of breath pouring Oat milk over your cereal?
Who the fuck can afford cereal?, ...oh that’s right you live in your Mom’s basement.
So Bored with, "...How other countries still like fucking exist” and "how is it they have a completely different (if real) set of crises"?
Nobody Suffers like I do bro..., "Fuck! I cracked another $800. Android".
Sad that nobody clicked on your feed this week? You sensitive flower.
"But, um like... Everyone’s Posts seem so similar, so is it really plagiarism"?
Appalled with The inflated price of mainstream vape apparatuses?
And, "Shit man! they are out of White grape… Bro".
Pissed that you can’t grow an adequate ironic mustache?, or that your roommate’s boss said you can no longer ween at the teet of pilfered single origin cortados?
"Dude, I Absolutely cannot go to work without coffee, and who the fuck knew they were actually 5 bucks"?
Told your pal (while stoned) that you, "Make way better Ramen than that Uber Eats Shit"?
From a packet no less?, "...The secret is Mayo and Sriracha Bro".
You "Don’t vote, ever”, although your parents still pay your Car insurance?
You are so thoroughly “Gen - P”
Today you argued with your Sister and your Father, (who you also call 'Bro') because
they um like called you a lazy fuck, and you think that's a "racist slur".
You sensitive twat!, You are not the "Woke Pronoun" you believe you are because you sleep until 2 pm, and, you believe, "Jay Z totally invented Hip Hop".
Well, at least you believe in something.
Sad day and sorry to hear that you, "Crashed your One-Wheel E-scooter-Handicapped-Mobility-device-thingy?
It was bound to happen in the bike lane, at rush-hour, in traffic, while posting rad vids of your dragon wing tattoo to your instagram.
"...Won’t get a free vaccine, because", "the Lines are hella long"?
Yawn… Line? -- Wait... -- You actually wait in-line for brunch, bitch.
You didn’t know that cell phones "even had a Phone-Call App", until you started getting political spam. "They can, um like make it ring, and then you like listen and talk..."
Last Fall you blocked everyone, but the nine people in your contacts.
You're thinking that perhaps you identify as 'Bi', or 'Q', or "Whatever", because you can’t umm like talk to other notorious genders.
Maybe changing your name will help; But (Um Like) today, you actually just identify as “P”
Let's make it easy, we have a name for you.
You are the future Bro..., And we shall call you 'Generation Pussy'.
The First Car to Hit a Cyclist
What an irony that Two Bicycle Makers, (brothers actually), became America's first gasoline-powered car makers. Charles and Frank Duryea were keenly interested in the compelling new gasoline engines and in imported automobiles., and so they set about to build themselves some cars. It should be noted that these two were certainly curious tinkerers, and continued to pursue challenges of both engineering, and to score them some wins in their need for speed. Somewhat laughable today, These were not the speediest machines, in fact some contemporaries on bikes rode beside them in their inaugural road race. The Duryea Bros. participated in races, nearly as soon as they had a working prototype; Of course they did.
Frank & Charles Duryea became the first Americans to launch a successful commercial automobile company, and they were thrilled to participate in any challenge which would get them needed market exposure. The brothers Duryea were also the first to incorporate their American business to build automobiles for sale to the public. They studied the internal combustion engine at their public library, and after begging, everyone for start-up capital, they set about to make something so pedestrians and cyclists would forever live in fear of crazy drivers.
At 8:55 am on November 28, 1895, six motor cars set off from Chicago's Jackson Park for a 54-mile (slow car) race to Evanston, Illinois -- and back through the snow to the park. Incidentally this is a route that I do in my bicycle in about half the time, but one could argue the roads are a bit nicer today... I'm not so certain.
Car Number 5 driven by inventor Frank Duryea, won the race in just over 10 hours at an average speed between 5.4 & 7.3 mph. This "Thanksgiving day Race" pitted him against three imported Benzes and two electric cars. Charles helped, his brother Frank cracking a crop to speed his horse-drawn sleigh through a snow-storm supporting his brother with parts and repairs for the car. Bad weather forced these cars to slip & slide into each other and snowbanks. Frank Duryea was the only one to actually finish the race.
The winner of the annual Thanksgiving race scored $2,000. (more than $50,000. In today’s money).
An automobile enthusiast from the crowd notable for giving these new horseless vehicles the name "motorcycles" won $500. The race was sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald Newspaper and after the thrilling race they published, "Persons who are inclined to decry the development of the horseless carriage will be forced to recognize it as an admitted mechanical achievement, highly adapted to some of the most urgent needs of our civilization." Wow!!
As far as staying power is concerned, most early inventions explode, deteriorate, completely flop before getting legs, or immediately become eclipsed by a new fashion, or a far better contraption. The namesake Duryea automobile, and later sold only 13 units, before the brothers arguments split them up. Frank continued to tinker and became quite successful with his new "Steven's Duryea" automobile which was sold in a more-or-less similar and expensive limousine version from 1896 into the 1920's. The initial hand-built buggy was little more than a carriage, tiller for steering and a motor., It was a handsome, and efficient machine for its time. Fully Formed in Springfield, Massachusetts -- within one year of their Chicago Publicity race, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company soon disbanded, with Charles pursuing different trades, and Frank following his dreams to build a better machine than Benz. Before the two split and Frank formed his second company, the two made many new ideas work — But Frank would later invest considerable time in a 6 cylinder engine. Frank Partnered with the Steven's Firearm Manufacturing Company to build his new engines and 3 models, and so Steven’s investment in both the company and manufacturing brought Stevens primary naming rights. The second phaeton was an expensive limousine, which remained in production in some form for 20 plus years, making Frank and Steven’s quite wealthy.
Two months after their first winning race, "Customer Number 3" -- A New York City motorist, Mr. Henry Wells Esq., struck a cyclist piloting the original Duryea. The rider suffered bruises, and a broken leg..., and Mr. Henry Wells spent a night in the city jail. This auspicious incident became the nation's first recorded traffic accident, and injury.
Is it any wonder that the first ironic American Automobile crash of any kind, was some rich dude striking a cyclist, in a car built by Bike Makers?
It is only comforting to recall that these sweet rolling coffins hit a top speed downhill with a tailwind of no more than 14 Mph, the average speed of a bicycle in America today.
Frigidaire's Frenemy Freon
Chilled Beer, Cool Movies, even Cooled Seats... Go ahead and grab a cold one, but don't vilify those who brought it to you, because (perhaps) they brought more good than harm.
The term “air conditioning” actually originated with textile engineer Stuart H. Cramer. Cramer used the phrase “air conditioning” in a 1906 patent claim he filed for a device that added water vapor to the air in textile plants to condition the yarn. This invention became the Humidifier, which is essentially the opposite of what we now know as Air Conditioning.
In 1902 just one year after Willis Carrier graduated from Cornell University with a masters in Engineering He was making $10 a week at the Buffalo Forge Company, A year out of college, and Carrier’s “Apparatus for Treating Air” was already in operation for a Brooklyn printing company, Fluctuations in heat and humidity in his plant caused the dimensions of printing paper to alter and create misalignment of the colored inks. The new air conditioning machine created a stable cool dry environment and, as a result, aligned four-color printing became possible His first of several patents was awarded to Willis Carrier four years later. Carrier is recognized as the “father of air conditioning.”
In 1911 Carrier published his basic “Rational Psychrometric Formulae” to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His formula remains today as the basis in all fundamental calculations for the air conditioning industry. Carrier said he received a “flash of genius” while awaiting a train on a foggy night. He was thinking about the problem of temperature and humidity control and by the time the train arrived, he said he understood the relationship between temperature, humidity and dew point.
Because of Carrier, temperature and humidity levels could now be controlled, and with impediments removed, Manufacturers could scale production regardless of the weather to improve productivity in Meat, Medicine, Textiles, Printing, Prayer, and even Office Work.
Charles Franklin Kettering invented many things, He invented an easy credit approval system, a precursor to today's credit cards, authorization system. In fact you’d likely wait the same amount of time from swipe to signature today as his O.K. system in 1920. Kettering also invented the electric cash register for NCR (National Cash Register), which remained in production for 40 years. These allowed sales clerks around the globe to manage transactions, authorize credit cards, and conduct commerce at a new clip. Later his electronic cash register would evolve into Code-Breaking devices for wartime cyphers, Followed by the folkloric Enigma Machine, and later your Computer.
Shortly after Joining NCR Kettering’s coworkers were encouraging him to improve the automobile, Charles Kettering modified an internal combustion engine to run on kerosene. However, kerosene-fueled engines knocked, as trapped kerosene droplets would crack the cylinder heads and pistons.
Thomas Midgley Jr. An associate of Kettering, discovered that the cause of the knocking was from the kerosene droplets vaporizing on combustion. Anti-knock agents were researched by Midgley, and subsequently tetraethyl lead was added to fuel. This led Thomas Midgley to invent leaded (ethyl) gasoline.
With a smooth running engine, Kettering (working now at General Motors), invented the first electric automobile ignition system. The “self-starting” ignition was first installed in a Cadillac on February 17, 1911. The invention of the electric starter motor by Kettering eliminated the need for hand cranking, but equipped the automobile with a Lead Battery. Lazy Humans could now go forth by automobile, And do so with very little effort, and even bright lights.
Lead would become ubiquitous when the new self-starting automobiles began to run upon leaded gasoline, ignited by a leaded battery.
We were now set to scale up simple knock-free self-starting cars for everyone. Convenient Cars could belch lead and cast their leaded sheen over the coal dusted landscape. Midgley, now called the most destructive inventor of all time, kept secret the known hazard of Leaded Fuel until his death. In fairness Midgley and Kettering, moved the Fuel industry to efficiency, and thereby reduced emissions, and waste. Kettering and Midgley experimented with a variety of fuels, and patented
many blends, He also discovered that the most interesting high-percentage anti-knock additive was ethyl alcohol (ethanol); Which is blended in fuel today to maximize it's efficacy, and reduce knock.
With full credit to Carrier, it should come as no surprise that two of the most influential inventions, (perhaps ever); The Automobile, and the Air Conditioner, would become substantially improved by Kettering and Midgley, en-route to destroying the Ozone, and poisoning our landscape.
But Air Conditioning and refrigeration, (arguably the coolest inventions of all time), were using ammonia, and other caustic, toxic, and flammable refrigerants, to cool and dry the air. In fact many arched top refrigerators stood in yards because of their propensity to catch fire, or sicken a household. These dangers became the devil you’d know.
Comfort cooling evolved along side industrial utilization, and in 1924 three Carrier centrifugal chillers were installed for the J.L. Hudson Department Store in Detroit, Michigan. Shoppers flocked to enjoy an “air conditioned” store. The revolution of human cooling flowed from department stores to movie theaters, Matinee tickets were cheaper in the hot seats, Before the Rivoli Theater in New York installed their Carrier Chillers. “Cool Comfort” signs soared sales for the Summer film business, and as demand increased for safer refrigerators and cooler spaces, demand outpaced ingenuity.
Refrigerators from the late 1800s until 1929 used the toxic gases, ammonia (NH3), methyl chloride (CH3Cl), and sulfur dioxide (SO2), as refrigerants. Several fatal accidents occurred in the 1920s because refrigerators leaked methyl chloride.
Charles Kettering was the vice-president of the General Motors Research Corporation from 1920 to 1948, when Thomas Midgley was chosen by Kettering to head research into new refrigerants. An auspicious collaboration with Dupont, General Motors, and Frigidaire, lead to the development of a safer, and more effective refrigerant. In 1928, Midgley and Kettering invented a "miracle compound" called Freon. Frigidaire received the first patent, US#1,886,339, for the formula for CFCs on December 31, 1928.
Freons, (unlike leaded fuel) are colorless, odorless, nonflammable, noncorrosive gases or liquids.
They contain several different chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, a group of aliphatic organic compounds containing the elements carbon, fluorine, as well as halogens (especially chlorine) and hydrogen. These have been deployed in commerce and industry at incredible scale for a hundred years to improve production of nearly every industry from filmmaking, to food-processing. They are invisible and odorless, and so it’s no surprise that nobody saw them destroying our planet, in tandem with Leaded Fuel. These Hazards became the Invisible Devil.
Willis Carrier developed the first residential “Weathermaker” air conditioner in 1928, for private home use. The Great Depression and World War II slowed the non-industrial implementation of air conditioning, which is just as well, because the new refrigerants would improve a rebound after the war.
Packard would become the first automobile manufacturer to offer an air conditioned vehicle in 1929. Massive units about the size of a window AC unit today bolted in the trunk, consuming more than half of the boot, while pipes were run the length of the car to deliver the chill via vents. This “option” was installed by Bishop and Babcock (B&B), of Cleveland, Ohio. The B&B AC upgrade were ordered on approximately 2,000 cars. The "Bishop and Babcock Weather Conditioner" also incorporated a heater. Cars ordered with this option were shipped from Packard's East Grand Boulevard factory to the B&B factory where the conversion was performed. When finished, the car was shipped to your local dealer for pick-up by it’s wealthy clients.
Packard warranted and supported their conversion. However, it wasn’t commercially successful in depression era America because of it’s price of $274. ($7500 in 2020 US dollars)
CFCs, or Freon, are now infamous for greatly adding to the depletion of the earth's ozone shield. High up in the stratosphere is a 3mm thin veil of O3, which blocks (filters) UV wavelengths. This blanket guards against Ultra Violet bombardment from our sun. Leaded gasoline is also a major pollutant, A double duty damager producing burnt carbon, and toxic lead in spades, and dumping the heavy stuff in our drinking water, while floating the lighter stuff upward. Thomas Midgley secretly suffered from lead poisoning because of his inventions, and tunnel vision, a fact he kept hidden from the public, until his death.
Before everything went to shit with The War, America enjoyed cool Theaters, Cool Cars, and Cold Beer.
Because of ozone depletion, Most uses of CFCs are now banned or severely restricted by the Montreal Protocol. Today, no suitable (general use non-flammable / non-toxic) alternatives to halocarbon refrigerants have been found to resolve problems innate to the original Freon
Brands of Freon containing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have replaced CFC’s for the same purposes, but they too, are under strict control under the Kyoto protocol. CFC’s & HFC’s are deemed "super-greenhouse effect" gasses. If you believe in that junk.Kettering holds over 186 patents from the Neonatal incubator, to Guided Missiles, and from Diesel Engines, to Automotive Paint.
Of course every new feature comes with some bugs, and at a cost, -- So in consideration of a myriad improvement to human comfort afforded by your lovely Fridge, One’s car, or the humanity restored by your first 'Window Unit” — We have a few formerly unknown fellas to toast as the thermometer goes straight up.
As you pull a frozen Hot Pocket from your ice-box, reflecting that you were lucky enough to be vaccinated, then you can thank Carrier, Kettering, Midgley, and (of course) our frenemy Freon.
What do you get when you cross a McLaren with a Stuffed Toy? What happens when you shod your Ducati with doughnuts? How can I possibly make fast more comfortable? Can I have my couch mounted to my bike's seat-post? None of that is possible, as the dynamics of comfort are antithetical to the physics of going fast. To be efficient, is to shed every possible exceptional gram, and gadget, and perhaps slip the wind. Going Faster seems a direct proportion of effort, exertion, and efficiency. Is a Front shock the answer? Full suspension road bike, in your future? Maybe a "Road Bike" is not the "right bike" for you?
If I ride a bicycle wearing a baggy wind-breaker and a back-pack, I should expect these to luff in the breezes catching wind and dragging me slower. If I ride my 1956 Schwinn 3-Speed, I should expect to work a bit to push against formidable rotating weight, and heft. If I ride the lightest bike on the block, and wear my birthday suit, I should expect to slip the wind, powering forward without impediment, as I double or treble my Schwinn's-speediness, but be arrested, just the same. So with a sense of danger, ideal gear (a proper lycra kit on a fast bike) & perfect elements (lovely weather & conditions), the only thing slowing one down is ability, and (of course) the rank surface upon which you roll. For the city rider with perfect kit, speed may defy gravity, but one cannot become fast at all if the terrain plots to swallow you whole. It's best to levitate.
I recall fondly the first day I borrowed my friend's Peugeot Mountain Bike, and the deliberate reckless abandon with which I bashed into every conceivable bump, patch, and pot-hole. I felt empowered to do evil to the cushy tires, and sturdy steel frame. I cut across every lawn, and landscape, river-beds, and pathways, until I returned to put that mare away wet. I feel certain that this release of testosterone, and adrenaline, as counterpoint to my Custom Paramount with 20c SUP's, was cause for my friend never lending me her bike again. She was polite to not berate me for banging up her bike. But This set a fire beneath me to one day own my own fat-tire rig. I relived this very moment again when I picked up my new Cannondale MT2000 from Lay-away, and put it through it's paces. This was the same moment that I swore to learn to build wheels, swap rims, and hence I became a better mechanic. It is not lost on me that everyone has this primal YOLO experience, when given a deadly toy. Most "normal" people slip a bit when handed the danger keys. It is poignant that I can tap this very nostalgic empathy each time I help some sap fix something bad they did quite deliberately to their beloved bike. It is with this same Evil Urge to bomber into shit, that I clicked my heels upon my new set of wheels, and became belligerent with my bike but again. Ohh the sweet release of being negligent!! Like a rental when you have "Full Coverage"...
So today, quite deliberately I poked new valves into a brand-spankin' new set of custom wheels, and belted them with some Schwalbe's I'd had sitting about the house. I poured a few ounces of latex into these, and snapped them onto the rim. With my handy-dandy Silca Pista, I pressed the plunger down and the whole dream clicked together. My new custom wheel-set is at this very moment regretting ever having met me, and we are pressing forward with an undiscussed agenda, whereby I do the deed over some of the rougher roads my fair city has to offer. (We have the shittiest roads North of Nicaragua).
I spun the discs off my Roval's and checked the indexing, before setting out on a deliberate tear down by the abandon foundry. My new wheels are built from DT180's, 32 Berd UHMW String Spokes, and 32c Atomic Carbon Road Hoops. They are both bizarrely competent looking, (if a bit inelegant), and brilliantly lightweight. All tolled, as compared to my Roval CLX's, These Custom Berd wheels are a flat 1200 grams, and appear to be up to the task. My Current Roval wheels are a bit of a Magic Carpet Ride, because they are flat out the fastest wheel I've ever strode upon. They are wicked light, punchy, bomber strong, and wind-up like a fighter jet. Incidentally the Roval Alpinist CLX weigh about 1255g. So... It is my opinion that I can only be disappointed with my first test-ride, Right? Should the folkloric claim to comfort by Berd owners, prove false, I will be the first to say. As Prophesy goes, those who believe, shall be saved. So today as traffic subsided I set about to beat these wheels about the worst roads my fair city has to offer, and to see how they Koncede the Kush. It is fair to clarify two points... One, is that I'm a lightweight, so the punishment is not coming from Clubber Lang the Clydesdale. Two, is that I am just like the rest of you indelicate fuckers, who have tried to punish someone-else's gear, without regard for life or liberty. These are my wheels and I promised them I'd do my best to gauge their singular advantage as compared to my benchmark wheelset; The Roval Alpinist CLX. Are they Lighter? -- Not Much. Are they More Aero? -- Not at all. Are they cheaper? A bit. Are they faster...? Well -- We will find that out.
Out the door I felt the gears, and brakes, and ran through them to be sure no harm may come. Pursuing a course through a few washboard areas, where crucible train tracks crossed the road over and again to carry hot steel from foundry to prep areas in a space which was once a Stainless Foundry, This crumbling causeway allowed me to cruise through a quick patch of obstacles. After a few bunny hops, and perhaps not paying close enough attention, I can say that my headwind was strong, and yet at about 18 mph, most of what I noticed was not memorable at all. In essence, my ride through what is generally quite taxing on my hands, forearms, and ass, were not much to mention. This conspicuous missing data, where I really didn't feel beat up, was perhaps the special sauce I was looking to confirm. I checked myself, and thought as I hit a straight-away, "Was I just not paying attention?, or" was that not a big deal?" Maybe I should have paid more attention to the washboard, and the tracks, as well as those cracks and potholes, and so I vowed to focus when I hit the park. As the perfect sunny day released many varied people from their habitats..., Their strolling-about forced me to go off-road. through the park by Grass and Gravel. I hit some roots, ruts, and branches, as well as a few ledges. What again happened was this strange sensation that something was missing. I calculated that I should very well have perceived more shake, more shimmy, and more fatigue, but it just wasn't coming. Was this confirmation bias? Am I fooling myself? What the hell is happening here? There is a claim from some wheel builders who lace with these $8. string spokes that their wheels impart 20% more comfort. This of course is nearly impossible to quantify, unless by creating a custom dynamic testing rig in a laboratory, or by placing one's frail ass upon a road bike with a hard carbon seat. Problem: Rough Ride - Solution: Levitate.
I continued with a paved route, using the occasional dodging to grass and gravel maneuver off tarmac, and onto the shoulder. I rode like this for about 6 miles and then hit some parkland. Again offroad I was missing the general gentle jarring of a rigid wheel. Wait! what's my tire pressure? Is it leaking? Are they getting splashy? No. They were still at 80 psi, about 16-18 lbs. harder than my Roval reference. So now I soldiered onward, then turned around to hit the same terrain on the way back to make more notes. It's not unusual for me to not be passed at this time of day, as I swam amongst the minnows, but I was going quite fast both directions and felt none of it.
On the technical side the Berd Spokes are basically a high molecular weight Polyethylene rope. They have a threaded tip held on like a Chinese Finger trap, and a knot that stops them at the hub. They wind-up like a typical spoke, but require a few tensioning phases to ensure they are devoid of slack, They play a bit like a ukulele, and they are reparable the same as any spoke, albeit easier to pack. The spokes float on water, but won't allow you to ride upon it. Berd spokes are protected by US Patents 10,150,332 B2, 10,661,598 B2, and patents pending.
When returning i had a tail wind and so I hit the same terrain at about double the speed. Through each distinct obstacle, I rode with what appeared to be less impact to my otherwise pansy-assed constitution. I'm not getting any younger, but this new recipe of a bike lover's bike with a wheel lover's wheel seemed to be doing what's advertised. I cannot quantify with a percent sign what modicum of squish factor is being applied through this initial test-drive, but we will certainly revisit, the present fantasy, that my new Berd Wheels were legitimate contenders for my Sofa Seat fantasy. What will become of me with a wheel-set that allows me the freedom to ride it like I stole it? I trust that having faith in one's deity, whether a gadget, totem, or plain fantasy may very well be enough magic to sustain the faithful. I have ridden upon what appears at first blush to be a marvelous set of wheels, and hope to live to tell about it.
We will revisit this string-wheel review after a few hundred miles, and then again after a few thousand, and I hope the news is as good. Today, my new custom Berd wheels are magnificent. I was not initially mesmerized by the retro aesthetic as I changed from 24 spokes back to 32, but once I get over fat shaming my spokes, I will settle on these as my preferred go-to all-rounder.
Let's see how they climb next.
My wheels and all reviewed gear is paid for in full and all reviews here are without influence of $chwag.
Phone: (612) 308-8740
Address: 401 11th Ave S Ste 300, Hopkins, MN 55343
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm Central US Time
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.