Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stickers Are Subject to Peeling

Nothing lasts forever (should that be sujets? anyone?)

I think, ideally, I wish for my bicycle, and my blog, to be sticker-free. Free of brand names, free of cruft, stripped of needless words. For a while, for example, my commuter bike was totally sticker- and word-free, except for the head badge. I decided it looked a little too interesting like that, though, so I stuck some various colored things back on it in an effort to conceal the sleek black machine which lurks beneath. And in practice, back in the real world, I end up leaving some stickers on my bikes, giving in to some cruft, some brand names too, and I'm sure not always succeeding at the Strunk and White ideal in this space: omit needless words (x3).  To which I extend and apply polymorphism, to say: Omit needless ads. For the same or similar reasons.

Some stickers (and words) got to go. "Jante sujet à l'usure" is one that I peeled off faster than I throw out pie plates. With those icons added on the sticker, I interpret this message to be: "notice/warning: as also explained in the enclosed user manual, this rim will eventually wear out, and as it does so, the end user should be aware that when it does wear out, it should no longer be used, as riding at speed on a rim which has exceeded its useful working life may be hazardous." Or something like that. Which seems to be a message which serves only the legal liability avoidance instincts of the wheel manufacturer's legal army. Similar to those tags on mattresses. I also tear those off immediately.

When I dream about getting my own handmade bicycle some day, I picture a sleek steel beast, monochrome, midnight black or screaming orange I can't decide, with no brand names or stickers of any kind, only the maker's name or brand, on the down tube on each side, and on the head badge. That's it. The rest of the messages and words I will keep in my head, and if it comes up in conversation, I am more than willing to explain how wheels wear out eventually, or what brand of saddle or hub I'm using on it currently. Ah, to dream. Get up. Go ride.



  1. Been contemplating removing the stickers from my wheels too.
    Liability sticker have gotten so idiotic I consider them insulting.
    Or amusing.
    Off they go!

  2. By the way, where is the Roundness of Blingness?

  3. I agree. I always try to remove most stickers, and even removed the graphics from my Long Haul Trucker. I prefer a sleek look. And those warning labels and name brand stickers on components, especially wheels, are hideous, and also hideously difficult to remove, many times.

  4. New bikes, especially carbon fiber road bikes look like rolling billboards. I don't care for it.

    I had to look up the word "cruft".

  5. limom my daughter has a sticker maker, and I still may have her make me an ironic "Sticker Free!" sticker.

    limom, the roundness of blingness will be featured in Sunday's post.

    Apertome, I too have encountered the Sticker with the Hideous Glue, difficult to peel, and which leaves behind a nasty residue. These particular liability shields came right off, any way.

    RTP, yes, it's one thing if you are being paid to roll around looking like a NASCAR rolling product endorsement, and you have made your peace with adding more ads to an ad-saturated mindscape. It's quite another if all you want to do is ride in peace and mental quiet.

  6. On a related note; there was an interesting piece in Slate a couple of weeks ago about the horrifyingly obtuse pictograms that European appliances have in an attempt to be multi-lingual and avoid having different models for each country.
    Fortunately all my bikes are pretty sticker free- stickers tend not to make it past the first 15 years. Or maybe they didn't have much sticker technology back then.

  7. Thanks for the Slate article cycler. I particularly like the stove with the burner that says 0,3,5,8,12,A. That could hold me stuck in place for hours, I think, staring. I recently added two stickers to a bike that had none: a Bike Snob NYC sticker from the book, because I heard it stiffens your bottom bracket significantly, and a sticker from my favorite band in place of the former embarrassing headtube badge. The good thing about stickers: you can always take them off later.


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