Bike Snob NYC is a wildly popular web blog where Eben Weiss (aka the Bike Snob) dishes out both advice and insults to cyclists of various shapes, sizes and skill levels. When his blog became a success, the Bike Snob must have thought to himself, “I should turn this thing of mine into a book.” And that’s exactly what he’s done!
Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning The World Of Cycling is a quick and quirky read that should be devoured by both new cyclists and the growing legion of us who have been cycling for years and need a crash-course reminder of what it actually means to ride a bike.
The 222-page hardback Bike Snob book (also available on the Amazon Kindle) is divided into three main parts:
Part One: The Basics – Where we learn about:
- The history of the bicycle
- What it means to be a cyclist (and why we might want to be one in the first place)
- How the different types of cyclists interact (or fail to interact) with one another
- And the ways in which cycling can change our lives.
Part Two: Road Rules – Is where we discover:
- That riding a bike requires certain abilities
- The ways in which the bicycle has been adapted for cycling in the city
- And how the hipster population is currently using bicycles as not only a stylish accessory, but also as a means of picking up members of the opposite sex.
Part Three: Advanced Cycling – Is where we are told:
- How to protect our bicycles from theft (even though, according to the Bike Snob, our bicycles are already stolen)
- How to deal with cycling-related pains and properly fit our bicycles (without buying a ton of upgrades or having to order a custom-built bike)
- Ways in which we can make our bicycles look cool (and more importantly, how not to make them appear as though they belong to a total idiot)
- And ways in which non-cyclists should interact with people who ride bikes.
If you’re looking for boring “how-to” information, this is not the book for you. Instead, the Bike Snob book is more of a comedic social commentary on the hipster cycling scene that has recently become such a phenominon in New York City and so many other large urban environments around the United States and (dare I say) the world.
While the book can be read and enjoyed by both new and experienced cyclists alike, the person who is going to enjoy this book the most is the one who can look at what is currently going on in the world of cycling and laugh at it, while at the same time, laughing at themselves for breaking some of the Bike Snob’s rules and mindlessly following so many of the cycling world’s current social trends.
Take for example, the Bike Snob’s remarks on people who fear their bicycles:
Many people are actually afraid of their bikes. This may sounds crazy, but if you’re one of those people who won’t ride your bike in the rain because you don’t want the bike to get wet, or who freaks out over a dent or a scratch, or who interviews bike shops like they’re day care centers before trusting them with your ride, then you’re probably afraid of your bike.
Just as you have to get over your fear of traffic in order to ride comfortabley in it, you also need to get over the fear of your bike in order ride comfortably on it. Firstly, unlike other luxury items, bikes are not delicate. Furthermore, there’s not an inverse relationship between cost and durability, like there is with other items like clothing. A $40 pair of jeans will be vastly more durable than a $2,000 dress, but a $2,000 bike will probably be far tougher than a $100 Wal-Mart special. That’s because bikes are built to be ridden. Race bikes are built to withstand the rigors of competitive use. Yes, there are exceptions – plenty of companies make ultra-lightweight frames, wheels, tires, etc. that are intended for specific events only and will not stand up to everyday use. But generally speaking, this stuff is meant to be used. It’s meant to get scratched, dinged, dropped, and even crashed occasionally. A bike should be scratched. Using the bike will bring you joy; preserving the bike will only bring frustration. Even if you never, ever ride the bike it will still age. So you might as well ride it while it’s pretty and enjoy the process of making it ugly.
You see, if you’re a new cyclist, you just learned something new (Don’t be afraid of scratching up your bike!). And if you’re an experienced cyclist who is either afraid of scratching up your bike or you know someone who is afraid to ride their bike for fear of scratching it up, you can relate to this particular circumstance, laugh at the ludicrousy of it, and feel good about yourself the next time you ding up your bicycle.
That’s the beauty of the Bike Snob book. It not only points out these silly, humorous, and sometimes stupid things that we do both on and off our bicycles, but it makes a point of doing so in a self-mocking manner.
While certainly not a book for everyone (namely those who lack a sense of humor), Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning The World Of Cycling is one text that should take up a small space in any bike rider’s library.
My Rating: 8 out of 10