A Celebrity on a Bike -  Who Gives a $%*^

brad-pitt-bike.jpg

It seems that my RSS feeds are often treated to the news that various celebrities ride bikes.

Who the hell cares?

Look, I’m all for people riding a bike, but celebrities are just folks that that are paid way-too-much so that they can pretend that they’re someone else, the fact that they’re throwing their leg over one of the most common forms of transportation in the world–why does anyone care?

It doesn’t make cycling seem cooler the same way that Britney didn’t make it look more amazing to drink a mochalattachino when she did it. People ride bikes. Celebrities (despite the fact that they’re worshiped like royalty by Americans) are people. Some ride bikes. Whoopie.

Likewise not news: celebrities eat at restaurants, talk on cell phones while walking their babies and have pets.

Let’s stop treating every paparazzi sighting with a townie like a mandate from above that cycling is cool or mainstream. You’re not Brad Pitt and your wife’s not Angelina.

Now the fact that the couple has donated hundreds of bikes in Africa, that’s important news because someone (Angelina) did something (give bikes) to someone else (needy students in Africa) causing a change (better quality of life) that was unexpected. But it’s not news when Lindsey Lohan gets a pack of cigs at the boardwalk coffee shop on a fixie.



12 Comments

Ha! Too true!

I hate Cyclelicio.us. It’s mainly tripe.

I don’t know. While it doesn’t make much difference to me whether Brad Pitt is riding a bike to his Scrooge McDuck vault to roll around naked in his money, people like him are style-makers in this and other first-world countries. And if a style-maker is seen riding a bike, it is something that many of his followers and fans will become more likely to do as well. Sort of like an advertisement for cycling that he’s not getting paid for.

So, no, not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of the world, but a positive photo of somebody famous on a bike might actually be a good thing.

i hate how cyclicious posts about celebrities riding bikes.  it’s my only gripe.  i just immediately mark it as read.

Oh my god Lindsey Lohan bought cigs on her fixie, I’m off to tell everyone I know!

I’m not singling out cyclicous here. I have lots of sites in my feeds and lots of them do this same thing. And the news sites even run this stuff.

Cyclious is just trying to do what it seems the society wants. 

It’s just part of some cultural thing I’ve never understood about celebrities and cycling.

For example, at (I think it was) Bike NY a few years ago Patrick Dempsey was a celeb rider who go to speak at the start of the ride. I’m thrilled he likes to ride his bike, but how about someone who is a new yorker, maybe who does some local advocacy, or does anything besides act?

Fritz (cyclelicious) is a colleague, friend, and also a fan of [our blog](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/3966392828/)—he’s spotting trends like we are with an emphasis on celebs. I don’t think that David was calling Fritz out in the post, just lamenting all the celeb sightings across blogs and news services. Beyonce rides a bike between shows, [Mark-Paul Gosselar](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/fashion/05fitness.html?_r=1&ref=fashion), not only is a celeb, but also a racer, [Robin Williams](http://bikehugger.com/2007/05/lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-fam.html), etc.

Celebs on bikes are like design school cad drawings—they hit the blogs and get relinked ad nauseum. Anyone else notice that banks are now using bicycles in their ads? During the Summer, there were at least a dozen ads with bikes in them in rotation on CNN and I just spotted this [odd business magazine cover](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/4081270647/). Celebs are doing what’s trendy and blogs spot them doing it. Maybe not my thing, but it doesn’t anger me. It’s another indicator that bike culture is flourishing.

In the 70s, I lived in Long Beach with my parents and watched [Roller Derby on TV](http://www.baycitybombers.com/history.html). Skinny Mini was a star and this wasn’t *suicide-girl, alt forms of feminine beauty on skates* with an uplifting message about personal empowerment, sponsored by a cola-drink. It was big-time wrestling on skates with raunchy women beating each other up. There must be some crusty-old roller derby fan lamenting Drew Barrymore’s latest movie while at the same time happy that his sport has got some recognition.

The dudes and women that built fixed bikes from parts bins and scoured the internet for kierin cranks share this same lament, but must appreciate that fixed is a cultural phenomenon worldwide started by them, much like snowboards. Wow the blogs would light up if the Cross scene got itself a movie starring Drew Barrymore and that girl from Juneau. They could have all the Oregon builders combine their talents and build them the ultimate technicolor dream bike and win all their races. Then realize it wasn’t about racing, but about them!

The larger concern I think is bikes are embedded in pop culture with an industry that doesn’t know how to market to them outside of the bike shops. For example, there was no workshop at Interbike on how to market like Top Shops did to urban woman [with Chictopia](http://bikehugger.com/2009/09/chictopia-bikes.html). Those container ships full of cargo bikes just arriving now into port, whose going to sell those? Really? Or doesn’t bending a

Our reaction to Urban Outfitters selling fixies wasn’t “oh gawd that sucks,” but expect more of this, [like this](http://bikehugger.com/2009/08/fendi-bike-and-more-velocoutur.html).

Maybe a celeb will figure this out and open a high-end bike shop like they do with restaurants and clubs. Planet Hollywood for bikes, if you will, with valets, knowledgeable staff and well stocked shoe departments. BlingBikesByBeyonce.com or something.

Their PR people have certainly noticed that when they ride a bike, the photos make the mags, blogs, and entertainment shows.

Yeah, though it can be slightly annoying how big a deal some people make of celebs on bikes, I think it’s a good thing that brings the message to a way, way, way more vast audience.

All the cycling blogs in the world are likely ready by much less than 1% of the population, so if People Magazine wants to run a shot of some hotshot actor riding down the street that’s one of those “A rising tide lifts all boats” kind of thing.

Put more simply, one photo of Brad Pitt on a bike does more for an average SUV owning american living to think “hey, maybe I can get one of those things and ride it down to the corner store instead of driving” than everything we write online about our love of bikes.

It’s sad, but true.

>>Put more simply, one photo of Brad Pitt on a bike does more for an average SUV owning american living to think “hey, maybe I can get one of those things and ride it down to the corner store instead of driving” than everything we write online about our love of bikes.
It’s sad, but true.<<

Based on what? Sales research? I’ve never heard anyone say that they want to get a bike because they saw a celebrity ride one. I don’t think the barrier preventing most people from using a bike as a sustainable means of transport is that they haven’t seen a photo of Lady GaGa riding one. Or that Brad Pitt rides one.

I’m just not sold on the notion that a publicity shot in People of a celeb on a bike has a sustainable bump in the sale of a high-priced consumer item.

BTW, I also don’t hold the notion that cycling journalism converts people to riding either. I’ve only met a few people who got into cycling because they saw a Bicycling magazine in a doctor’s office and rekindled their childhood passion for riding. Generally got hooked on the idea of riding and then started reading.

Maybe that’s my issue with photos of celebrities on bike sites it’s really preaching to the choir.

Hey, I love you Dirt Farmer. This reminds me of the 90s, when the elites with their formerly exclusive access really resisted the move to open the Internet up to the public.

I don’t know who half the people are who I post about, and I don’t give a rat’s patootie either about celebs on bikes. But I *AM* all about promoting cycling to the non-enthusiast.

Like Byron alludes, another important thing is that my celeb posts draw interest and traffic from the general population. Much of my audience are people who’ve been riding for less than three years. They’re not bike snobs, most of them couldn’t care less about professional cycling or technical advances. For better or for worse, a lot of these folks like to identify with the stars.

My local shop says the biggest boom to their business was Lance’s domination of the sport during this decade. Photos of Lance on the cover of Sports Illustrated and him sporadically showing up in a newspaper sells a lot of bikes and gets people riding.

Hollywood celebs have been preaching the importance of hybrid cars (refusing limos at every awards) and I’m sure that got people thinking about buying a prius in the future, hopefully more and more photos of them on bikes does the same thing.

I say that based on half the people I know end up buying clothes, sunglasses, and/or shoes based on whatever they see celebrities wearing. It’s not hard to see them wanting to try a bike if their favorite celeb is constantly seen doing it.

>>My local shop says the biggest boom to their business was Lance’s domination of the sport during this decade.<<

That’s not the same as a celebrity. That’s an athlete in his chosen sport. That’s like saying that celebrities playing softball influence people to buy Louisville Slugger bats, and you know because the local sporting goods store has photos of A-Rod on the wall. :)

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