I try to keep my bikes looking at least somewhat “cool.” So I’m always impressed by the lack of pretension when someone buys a $4,000 mountain bike and then slaps 40 bucks worth of plastic fenders on it, or mounts a battered old pump to the frame with the same ancient, nylon straps he used on three previous bikes.
Function over style. It’s something to respect.That’s why I also love what I like to call "bikes with jobs”— the utilitarian machines that regularly carry people to school, work and on errands. They’re the most noble bikes in existence and are usually the most interesting to stare at for long periods of time.
They can be entry-level rides or titanium racers retired to duty as workhorses, but they all share the scars: chipped paint, dented tubes, torn stickers. And when you look closely, you can recognize the ones that are valued and respected. They bear the scars of hard use, but not neglect. The cables are fresh. The brake pads aren’t worn out. The drivetrain is clean. The tires are properly inflated and still have plenty of tread.
When you see something that looks like a clunker from across the street, then you get closer and see that it has a new name-brand headset, you know something about the priorities of the person who rides it.
And you know the bike is more than just a plaything.