23 April 2008

Avenger needs to be uglier

Update: Bike Snob NYC on kleptophobia, and why there's a good reason you should feel nervous when strangers hover around your bike and ask questions about it. (And why you should never grow the least bit attached to your bicycle, but let's leave that aside for the moment.) Was asked this exact question twice that one day about Scooty-Puff the Unusual Folding Bike and intuitively muttered the same answer. Very glad now to know my intuition was probably right.

Now that we've been forced politely requested to park outside at work, I really need to increase my bicycle uglification efforts. The number of times I've heard "nice bike" lately in reference to Avenger the Dorkass Hybrid is a little disconcerting.

I do not have a nice bike, I have a cheap piece of crap with more wear and tear than it was ever designed to endure. It has literally survived a fire. Qualitatively it's a step or two above a bike-shaped object from Evil-Mart, and aesthetically it's as ugly as sin. Even the magic T-word has been all but obliterated by peeling stickers and a long gash in the paint. It's exactly the same kind of overblown hybrid that you can rent at Navy Pier. (In fact, one or two people have indeed asked me where I rented it. Stickers and all.) "Nice" is simply not an accurate description. Unless you're being sarcastic, but I'm pretty sure some people aren't. They positively gush over the thing.

And I love it to bits and think it's absolutely perfect, but that's because it's mine. What I think is beside the point here; it's what a would-be thief who saw the love of my life (she admits it!) locked to a rack behind a dumpster next to a darkened parking lot (hey, when did that light fixture stop working? I am so going to throw a fit at the safety meeting) in an untrafficked part of Woodlawn at about 10pm would think.

So I hear "nice bike" from complete strangers, and I get a little worried.

How can I make the darn thing even uglier?

In similar news, what do I do if I can't find the sales receipt for it anymore? How could I prove that it's mine in the event of theft and resale? I have the serial, UCPD registration, and apartment bike room numbers written on the "emergency contact" card in my wallet; would that and a photo ID be convincing enough proof? Or would I need actual proof of purchase in order to have a legal claim?

("You're being paranoid," he told me many times.)


At 22 April, 2008 08:45, Blogger Freewheel said...

Here in D.C., I stash my bike in various underground garages. Some of them even have bike racks.

Keep Avenger safe & dry!

At 24 April, 2008 10:30, Blogger Fritz said...

Stickers are a popular way to uglify your bike. Electrical tape and duct tape also work well. Here's a closeup of my everyday commute bike -- it's kind of ugly, I guess.

I tell people "nice bike" all the time (actually, it's usually something like "I LOVE your bike!"). I hope they don't think I'm scoping it for theft.

Almost all bikes have a serial number at the bottom of the bottom bracket shell. Flip the bike upside down and look for the serial number stamped into the metal there and write it down somewhere. If your city has a bike registration program, use it. Otherwise, there are programs like the National Bike Registry. Photos of your bike can also help with recovery.

At 25 April, 2008 17:10, Blogger Jerome said...

Another good tactic is to put some identifying piece of information into the bike where a thief won't find it. Your ability to tell someone that there's a small piece of paper inside the handlebar with some unique information on it will quickly prove that the bike has previously been in your possession. Friends also do this with their laptops, using the battery compartment.


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