Let me begin by saying that I ride a $400 hybrid with a rack, fenders, a few stickers, multiple lights, a kickstand, a computer and a frikkin bell. I have a friend who constantly makes fun of me for having a dorky bike. I don’t care. At least I ride. (So what if I’m considering putting a milk crate on my rack?)
Given my own cycling gear and cycling habits, it’s pretty ridiculous when someone calls me a “bike snob” just because I urge a person to go buy a bike at the bikeshop, rather than a department store, if this person insists in getting a new bike and has the money to do so. (Otherwise, I might suggest a sweet vintage ride!) I’m not trying to trash anyone who might already have a department store bike. If you know how to tune and maintain, you’re probably riding something sweeter than a bike-trail-only bike from a roadie shop. I mean people who aren’t going to know how to fix what’s wrong, largely. And people who haven’t ridden ever or in years, too. It’s more the shoddy assembly job that worries me than the actual bike. I imagine that if you bought a bike in the box and knew what you were doing, you’d be more than fine, and you’d know your machine, too. But I don’t want to talk about where to buy a bike or any other divisive bullshit like that.
One person didn’t listen and bought a bike off the rack at a place where they don’t have real mechanics, and the bike came without air in the tires, loose handlebars and needing a brake adjustment immediately. Another kid I’m teaching bought a bike from the same kind of place. I had to re-do a lot for him, including fixing a stupid mistake the person putting it together made — putting his front brake cable through the damned fork! It was missing some adjustment screws in the brakes, had frayed cables, and the poor guy snapped his brake cable, too, within a week. This is ignoring the fact that his seatclamp was stripped because they sold him the bike with it too loose and the fact that the bike is like three inches too small, which most bike shops would have noticed. Bike shops make mistakes, too. I could name a few places in the area that have made stupid and/or lazy mistakes I’ve seen, like not adjusting derailers and having brake pads touching the sidewall of tires.
I’m not saying that bike shops are perfect, just that, in these instances, I was right. Why this made one person feel like repeatedly calling me a bike snob I don’t know. Why coupling this with the insistence that I don’t know what I’m talking about was supposed to make me look like the snob, I don’t know. How the projection going on wasn’t obvious, I don’t know.
The same person called me a “bike nazi” on a ride because I politely suggested that his/her seat was too low. “I thought you’d say that, you bike nazi.” “Okay, I was only thinking about your knees, man, you don’t have to call me names,” I said. Of course, some people who say things like this go on to play these comments off as a joke. So one could also play off the “Go @#$% yourself” given in reply as mere jest, to play the same game where you try to take back an ignorant comment when you see it was rude.
What I mean to say is for you dudes getting on bikes for the first time ever, for the first time in decades, for the first time since freehubs and cartridge bottom brackets came onto the scene — Don’t take out your frustration on people who are only trying to help you. There are some wankers on bikes, yes. But there are some genuinely helpful people, too. It’s entirely reasonable to assume that a person who rides everywhere knows a thing or two more than someone who never rides. If you’re having trouble keeping up or are shocked at how out of shape you might be (sorry to sound elitist; I’m in horrible shape, too) or that things like tire pressure really do matter, don’t project your anger onto other cyclists. Don’t wear your jealousy on your sleeve.
You’re only hurting yourself. And your knees.