Do you have a friend who used to have a sweet fixie, but who now considers full fenders, racks, and a dynamo a bare minimum for their 4km commute? Did your roadie friend suddenly rock up to the bunch ride with those clip on fenders, their excuse being that, you know, what if it rains? Perhaps someone you used to rip trailz with all of a sudden doesn't really want to get rad anymore, and instead rides fire trails on weird wheel sizes. Maybe you recognise some of these tendencies in yourself. If you recognise any of these scenarios, you may have been affected by what we call 'the beardo effect'. Heavy Metal Monday needs to interrupt the normal Tour De France schedule to discuss a most distressing of bike sub-sub-sulctures: the Beardo.
Beardos, it should be added, don't necessarily have to have a beard. It's more of an attitude, or an approach to life. The beard, if you will, is attached to the soul of the person. Beardo's love the following things: mudguards, brass, racks, the verb 'portaging', new dynamo lights for use, old dynamo lights for polishing and talking about, cantilever brakes, steel, artisan tyre manufactures, talking about psi, the word 'supple', stupid shaped handlebars, not slamming their stem, waxing lyrical about certain cup and cone designs actually being more water resistant than a great deal of the sealed bearings on the market which, by the way, aren't strictly speaking 'sealed', gravel, lumens, the word randoneur, proper placement of load across a bicycle, sneering at credit card touring and, finally, 650b wheel size, and telling MTBers that they were into it way before they were.
Beardos aren't necessarily old either. At this stage in their development as a bike sub-sub culture, they are made up of two distinct groups. Old people who never moved on from the technology they grew up with. Perhaps they thought Audax rides were a bit too competitive for their liking, or you know, maybe they used to race 'back in the day'. Regardless, they stick to steel like the shellac on their old singles. These are classic beardos.
Then there is the new generation. These are comprised of three distinct sub groups. MTB riders who totally nerded out. Roadies who can't flatten their back and put it in the big dog. And, finally, fixie kids who, in a direct reaction to the militant minimalism of the 2007 track bike, responded by putting way more carrying devices on their bicycles then they would ever need.
It is much more common now, for example, to see a hipster riding a steel bike with a big front rack, full mudguards and perhaps even a poorly positioned Shimano dynamo front hub, than it is to see some guy riding a toight as a tiger track bike, all rolled up jeans and overly tight chain tension.
By the same token, we hear mutterings on the bunch ride that, you know, it's great that old mate isn't splashing water in my face anymore by having put on mudguards, but, it makes my bike look uncool, you know?
And finally the split in the MTBer community has been highlighted by those who spend more time positioning their helmet light than taking sweet jumps at the Youies.
Having recognised the problem, the community, and from which bike subcultures this sub-sub culture have emerged from, perhaps it is time to figure out how it can be stopped.
The first step is open ridicule. When you see a full beardo riding by, tell them their mudguards are ill fitted. That should stop them in their tracks for a good 35 minutes. Don't actually approach them, or you will get caught in a conversation about 650b that will span the natural length of the universe.
The second is prevention. If, on a day ride out on gravel roads you see an at risk beardo, or some one who looks like they might have put just that little bit too much time thinking about which tyres to run, and at which psi, tell them bluntly that you're running 22mm tyres, at 150psi. Then put it in the big dog, and storm off, at a minimum of 400 watts. Don't worry, their big dog is probably a 48 tooth, possibly even a 46 so they ain't gonna give no chase. This will have the potential beardo in serious doubts as to their lifestyle choice.
Once gone full beardo, there is no going back. So loud and inefficient is their coffee bean hand grinder, that they won't be able to hear you over the smugness. But we can save many bike riders from a life of supple tyre pressure and skinny, hairy legs. Direct action is the only way.
Pump up those tyres, to max recommended psi! Slam that stem! Melt all the steel in the land, and remove any scientific evidence about the benefits of having a brass bell over an alloy one. Make those mudguards rattly, remove the dynamo, and affix the invisible and non water proof knog lights. Shave those legs, by force if necessary. Bring back the mudgauardless bunch ride, this isn't Washington state. Demand that your bike shop stock nothing from Brookes, or any new 650b MTBs. Deny any affiliation with anyone who tours 'properly'.
The revolution is rolling through. It cannot and must not be on 650b wheels. The entire bike community is depending on you.