Saturday, August 16, 2008

Feininger und die Erfindung des Rads

Lyonel Feininger was obsessed with trains and other contraptions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries. It is no wonder then that he made this cubist painting of bicycles. The bicycle is, after all, a nineteenth-century design. What is more, it is a nineteenth-century design which is scarcely made better by contemporary technologies. Carbon-fiber might well feel like a dream, but it's unpleasant on the eye, and it doesn't wear well. V-brakes, once the object of so much cranky mechanic-derision, are a wonder of simplicity and power (and very little change in canti design), whilst disc brakes are just silly. Otherwise, it's all just little tinkering here and there: gimmicks on the shifters, the revelation of the splined-drive crank (wonderful, but not a fundamental change), and rapid-rise. The bicycle is, in fact, unimprovable.

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