By Michael Wise
There are a lot of books out there that try to detail and capture urban cycling: Hurst's the Art of Urban Cycling, Glowacz's Urban Bikers' Tips and Tricks, Culley's The Immortal Class. Bike Snob NYC, the book by formerly anonymous blogger bikesnobnyc, tries to do the same, without much success. Most of the terrain has been covered in these books, by better writers, in more comprehensive detail.
However, as an introduction to cycling culture, this book makes a mark. If you've come from that background, the recovering fixed-gear hipster or the fashionista with a pant leg rolled up, you might learn something about real cycling culture here. For one, you might learn how to lock your bike up properly. You might also learn of others with a love of bikes that in no way resembles your own. If you are a serious bike enthusiast, like the Bike Snob himself, you'll find most of this book old hat, the tips mostly what the regular cyclist has learned already, and the observations about hipsters and culture itself to be interesting but trite. What isn't really in evidence here is the legendary snarkiness and complete evisceration of hipster bike mania that bikesnobnyc was famous for.
Unfortunately, that kind of snarkiness presumes a certain familiarity with the culture, a familiarity that the intended audience for this book wouldn't have. As I once heard in an interview with bikesnob, “I'm the wrong person to explain how a fixed-gear works.” Yet, that is what he is trying to do here, trying to explain a “culture” he personally abhors to newbies or outsiders with a presumed interest in it. That he succeeds at all, that he might be able to explain to your aunt why she should let you bring your bike into the living room, is an accomplishment in itself. However, someone familiar with the bikesnob's Craigslist takedowns of fixed-gears being offered for way too much money might hope for something here with a little more bite.
For more from Bike Snob NYC, visit: bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com.