Why are there so many ugly bikes?
To conclude that I am æsthetically challenged would be folly, and that others are, uncharitable: which is the blacker mark on the soul? Surely folly. (Should my honesty be mistaken for vainglory, I willingly consign myself to a bonus term in purgatory toward the higher goal of enlightenment. The first 10,000 years will doubtless be spent with tongue relocated to cheek; the next 10,000, the other way around.)
It might be useful to establish a baseline reference, so let us start with a non-ugly bike. It happens, by chance, to be mine.
Call it predictable and safe, call it lacking a certain je ne sais quoi,
it won't be breaking any mirrors. Nothing is out of proportion. The tubes are not fantastical shapes. There is no disharmony in geometry, no crass advertising to spoil the view or sensibilities. Observe also the lack of paint, so often a springboard to bad taste.
Compare and contrast with the typical eyesore which garners so much praise. What can be the reason for it? Astigmatism? When corrective optics are so widely available! (See Fig. A for an example of how the "baseline bike" might appear to someone with visual defects.) Too often I fear the eye of the beholder is looking inward, praise sown with a view to reaping in due course.
The beautiful thing about ugly is that it's not about money. You rarely spend your way out of it. Money, as usual, blinds.Fig. A
Herewith a small selection of bikes which need to go back to the drawing board:
Extruded, but not in a good way.
Farming equipment is sexier.
Is it harsh to include this? It's not too bad, right? Wrong. That headtube. While a single flaw can paradoxically become a beauty mark, in this case the eye is drawn to it and bulges, then explodes.
Admittedly quite the pretty thing when you've got the frame in your hands, as I did not long ago on a visit to Enigma
before they fled the wrath of Westerham residents angry at the bling blowing through their dignified Sussex streets. Removing the luscious titanium from your grasp and viewing it disinterestedly, this a good example of the typically blighted modern profile. And the rims should never have made the trip out of a wind tunnel.
The Victorian's arbiter of taste Albert lobbied in vain for the removal of unsightly velocipedes.
This doesn't help.
Though gold on black is nice, form has surrendered to function without a fight.Spaceframe Moulton
Photo withheld to dissuade copycat designers. Seriously, how do people not bash their knees? Or at least look like they're constantly in danger of doing so.
Electric bikes start with a handicap. That doesn't mean they get a pass.
For something that's probably quite comfortable, this looks like a torturer's armchair. I imagine Malcolm McDowell getting an eye exam in it.