Merriam-Webster defines "innovation" thusly:
I suspect this may be a mistake.
Nevertheless, while "innovation" may be too charitable a word for the brainfarts of today's Kickstarter doofuses, we are certainly experiencing a golden age of bicycle alteration. If a part on a bike didn't move before, it does now. If there's a way to get your phone to operate some part on your bike that works much better if you just use it manually, then rest assured somebody's on it.
Now, one bold entrepreneur has turned his attention to the humble bar end:
Largely ignored since the 1990s, the bar end is the Primus of bicycle accessories. However, like Primus, they still have their dedicated fans--though most bar ends you'll see are simply there because the owner couldn't be bothered to take them off, which is something they also share in common with pie plates.
Anyway, if you've ever used bar ends you know the most annoying thing about them is that once you set them up exactly the way you want them they tend to slip out of place--so naturally this person has invented bar ends that rotate on purpose:
Also, they look like a gun, so there's the added risk of getting shot by an overzealous police officer who will then testify that you were coming at him with a pair of pistols.
Then again, this is a Portland product, so you're probably safe from the police just as long as: A) You only use them in Portland; and B) You look like this, which in Portland most people do:
("Nothing bad could ever happen to us.")
So how did he come up with the idea for the rotating bar end?
"I initially came up with the idea 'cause I used to be a bike messenger..."
With the possible exception of "Whatpressureyourunning?," there is no more common phrase among bike dorks than "I used to be a bike messenger." That's why it's going to be the basis for my new line of t-shirts:
Stay tuned for the Kickstarter campaign.
Alas, it seems bicycle messengering took its toll on his back:
"I would ride for eight hours a day and my back would just kill at the end of the day."
See, messengers get a bad rap for all the weed and booze, but all they're trying to do is soothe their chronic back pain.
"There was no way I could really change my hand position or my back position. You know, when you ride a bike you're just hunched over in one position, or two positions at the most..."
And that's just with standard road bars. With a little creativity and some ordinary household items you can go way past the four canonical hand positions and venture Beyond the Infinite:
By the way, when you're a messenger, even though you're technically on the bike eight hours a day you're rarely riding for more than 20 minutes at a time, since you're constantly on and off the bike picking up and dropping off packages. If anything you spend most of your time waiting for freight elevators--which gives you ample time to work the kinks out of your back.
I know this because I used to...
Well I'm not going to say it.
Either way, he's gone ahead and invented the trigger-operated adjustable bar end nobody wanted or needed:
And here he is explaining the mechanics behind the concept:
Which is basically that they're artisanal "bum bars."
But what's most compelling about this particular Kickstarter pitch is that Mike Lane of Portland looks remarkably similar to another Mike Lane of Portland who once hawked some sort of posture-correcting device on the TV show "Shark Tank:"
And the inspiration behind it?
Fanklin said Lane's desk job sparked the invention. "He said 'I’ve got an idea because I sit at my desk all day and my posture has gotten really bad. Let's create a posture improvement device.'"
Wait a minute! I thought the bad back was from messengering! Now we find out it's from sitting in a cubicle all day?!?
Actually, we may never know the real Mike Lane, for he's clearly a master of disguise. Three years ago it was selling manssieres to office drones, now it's selling bar ends that look like guns to the urban cycling set, and three years from now he'll probably be selling some kind of ergonomic car seat cushion inspired by his days as a repo man.
Speaking of innovation, I've mentioned the ICEdot helme(n)t before, and apparently now in addition to alerting your loved ones that you've crashed it will also tell them when you've started and finished your ride:
Icedot — an emergency ID and notification service — is now offering a digital safety platform that sends text messages to designated contacts when you start and finish a ride. These notifications also include a tracking link with map features to track your route. With the Crash Sensor app, the system uses automated push notifications at the outset of a ride that users can choose to turn on or off the text messages notifications.
If your loved ones really cared that much couldn't they just stalk you on Strava?
And why is this even necessary? Everybody in the house knows when you start and finish a Fred ride, because you're wearing ridiculous clothing and you clomp in and out of the house in your stupid clown shoes.
Does your spouse or life partner really need some kind of electronic notification to know that this just walked in the door?
If anything, a text message on top of the horrifying reality only seems cruel.
By the way, the aforementioned Velo-whatever article also mentions this:
Umbo Helmets shoots to reduce traumatic brain injuries
A team of Colorado scientists and avid cyclists hopes to reduce the $76.1 billion that the U.S. spends on traumatic brain injuries each year with the newly designed Umbo Helmet.
I've mentioned this company's Kickstarter before, but I'm too lazy to figure out when. In any case, if they want to whittle down that $76.1 billion figure they're wasting their time making bicycle helme(n)ts, because here's what's causing traumatic brain injuries here in Canada's scranus:
The leading causes of TBI in the general population are falls (35.2%), motor vehicle crashes (17.3%), blunt impact (e.g., being struck by or against a moving or stationary object) (16.5%), and assaults (10%) (4). Different age groups are affected to varying degrees (Table). Falls account for a large proportion of TBIs among children aged 0–14 years and among adults aged ≥65 years (4). Motor vehicle crashes and assaults are the predominant causes of TBIs in teens and young adults aged 15–34 years (4). Military personnel, both in and out of combat, and rescue workers and victims exposed to blasts also are at risk for TBI (10).
Notice "Fred crashes" aren't listed anywhere. I mean sure, maybe they're included in the general "falls" category, but I'd think if it was such an epidemic that they'd break it out.
And I'm not saying that Freds don't fall, because they most certainly do:
Hey, in their defense, it was a very technical section of road:
As for what caused the first rider to go down, the videographer doesn't say, but my guess is either "foot popped out of pedal" or "front wheel came out from under him," possibly owing to a potently Fredly combination of spirited out-of-the-saddle acceleration and a choppy pedal stroke--and I'm not sure the white tires are entirely blameless here either:
Though I could very easily be wrong about all of this.
Still, in the interest of Fredly forensics I've analyzed the video, and here the rider already listing, his front wheel possibly coming out from under him:
Skipping ahead now to the slo-mo replay, we can see clearly that the foot's now out of the pedal:
Then the yabbies meet the top tube:
And he elegantly ice skates into the adjacent Fred:
At which point they both fall like it's the mirror scene in "Duck Soup:"
Helme(n)t apologists will no doubt point out that Fred 2's foam hat hits the pavement:
As does Fred 1's:
Though helme(n)t cynics will blame the white tires for causing it all.
Regardless, all of this is so engrossing that we forget all about Fred 3, who is right now at this moment completely upside down:
One can only imagine the texts if they'd been wearing ICEdots.
Here's hoping everyone's okay.