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Ask a Track Bike! 

Wednesday, Apr 26 2006
Hi everyone! Welcome to my tri-weekly advice column, wherein I answer loyal readers' questions about the anomalous habits of San Francisco's track-bike-riding hipster cognoscenti. Three weeks ago I invited you to send in your queries, and send them you did. Mon Dieu! Here are my three favorites; the readers who submitted them will each receive a prize. Send a question to and maybe I'll answer it and you'll win a prize, too!

Q: Dear Ephraim,

I've been trying to buy an old Italian track bike on Craigslist for months now, but I only want to spend $150. How come everyone is trying to capitalize on the trend that I'm six years too late on and trying to charge more for their '69 Cinelli??? I only make $200K a year at my graphic design job, and between my Mission District rent, $75 haircuts, and Frappuccino addiction, I'm too poor to buy one. What should I do?


Wasn't Cool in High School

A: Dear Wasn't Cool,

Some people think hipsters spend big bucks on track bikes because of our minimalist charms. Not true. It's the impracticality. Like uncomfortable shoes and $200 jeans that cause rashes, hipsters ride track bikes because they're uncomfortable. So extrapolate: Spend that $150 on a unicycle! Or a bear trap — yeah! Next time you hit up the Phone Booth, walk in with your bloody leg snared between steel teeth. It's Spanish fly!

Q: Hey Ephraim!

I'm thinking about diving into the world of track bikes, but I'm a few el-bees overweight. One thing I've noticed is that a majority of male hipsters who ride fixies are waif-y thin. Does one have to be a certain weight to ride one? Is it an aerodynamic thing? Help!


Phattie McPhatterson

A: Dear Phattie,

No, it's not an aerodynamic thing. Hipsters obviously aren't worried about efficiency or speed or even safety — why do you think they ride track bikes in the first place? However, this does not mean you should go out and buy one. Hipsters figured out a niche for fatties a long time ago: Your place is in a vintage car, listening to rockabilly music, wearing Dickies shorts and mutton chop sideburns. Barring that, just stay indoors.

Q: Ephraim,

My name is Carter Ribble, and I am a lowly fixed-gear bike with a front brake ("Gasp," say the hipsters/messengers). I let a longtime messenger ride me, but never at work in S.F. That would be stupid for both of us. ... It is difficult to tell the difference between a hipster and a messenger. Same bags, same pants, same too-small shirt, same studded belt; tats, piercings, alterna-hair: check. I know that messengers like to call the hipsters "fakengers," with disdain. Do [messengers] deserve to feel that the functionality and former distinctiveness of their dress and vehicle choices have been co-opted by society at large? Or should we all just respect each other's choices and be glad that more bikes than ever are on the streets?

Yours in one gear, (one brake), one world,


A: Dear Carter,

Here in San Francisco during wartime, it's more tempting than ever to want to extend an olive branch to those who would jack your steez. This is a no-no. For starters, trust that hipsters view messengers as inferior and uncreative, having forgotten that it was from them that they stole the idea for track bikes in the first place. Also, do not make the mistake that hipsters are making a choice in riding track bikes — they are merely stealing other people's choices. And Carter, remember what God said: "Thou shalt not steal." Also: "Wearing a scarf indoors is gay."

About The Author

Ephraim the Track Bike


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