The Bike Limiter

07.21.2008 | 11:39 am

Eleven days ago, I posted about a mountain bike wipeout I had. What I haven’t talked about is the agony I’ve gone through since then.

No, not the agony of a separated shoulder, though I’ve had a few moments of exquisite pain — usually brought on when I forget, or do something reflexively (like when I tried to catch a wayward frisbee yesterday…not a good moment for me).

The agony I’m talking about is the agony of not riding my bike.

See, I have a big race — The Leadville 100 — coming up in just a few weeks, and now’s not exactly a great time for me to be taking a week or two off the bike.

So I haven’t. In fact, I think I took off a total of three days — enough time that I was confident I could lift my right arm high enough to rest it on the handlebar.

In medical circles, this kind of behavior is known by two terms:

  • Stupid
  • Counterproductive

Yes, I knew when I first got back on the bike that I couldn’t handle it. And I knew when I did a ride on my singlespeed road bike last week that my shoulder wasn’t up to the effort it took to row a bike for twelve miles of climbing.

And yet, I did it anyway. I couldn’t help myself.

What I needed was something — some device attached to my bike — that would have compensated for my lack of common sense.

And — face it — you’ve probably done the exact same thing: gotten back on your bike and started riding when your recovery and safety would have better served by your spending quality time with the television.

And that, my friends, is why I’m pleased to announce that I have invented exactly such a device: The Bike Limiter(tm).

What It Is
Available by prescription, the Bike Limiter is actually a set of mechanical devices attached to your bike(s) in key locations (these will be made clear momentarily). The prescription will determine specifically how and when the Bike Limiter works.

How and When It Works
Once attached to your bike, the Bike Limiter either prevents or restricts your bike riding, depending on the permissions and timetable your doctor has set. For example, your doctor may set up your Bike Limiter timetable as such:

  • Day 1 – 7: No riding whatsoever. If you do try to ride during this time period, razor blades will spring through the rims of your wheels, slicing your tires to ribbons, and your handlebars will become white-hot, possibly setting your bar tape or grips afire.
  • Day 8 – 14: Short, seated rides only, on flat terrain. You are now allowed to ride for thirty minutes or so, but only on flat roads. If the inclinometer notices that you are on a grade of 4 degrees or greater, it will immediately apply the rear brake until you have turned around. If excess weight is applied to the handlebars, they will deliver a painful (but not debilitating, hopefully) electric shock. And after the thirty minutes has elapsed, your seatpost will begin sliding into the seattube at a rate of 1cm / minute (the Bike Limiter uses metric measurements, naturally). If you go offroad (as sensed by excessive vibrations in your bicycle), your saddle catches fire.
  • Day 15 – 30: No epic rides. Two hour rides are now allowed. However, if you exceed this allotted time, your front derailleur shifts radically, dropping your chain. If you continue your ride, the rear derailleur does the same thing, but in such a way as to give you horrible chainsuck.
  • Day 31 – 45: No stupid technical stuff. The Bike Limiter uses a GPS to validate where you’re riding against a comprehensive topographical map of the world, all rated 1 – 10 by technical expertise required. If you get on a trail of a difficulty greater than what your doctor recommends, the Bike Limiter sets off a siren for three seconds, giving you time to dismount your bike. After that, it releases quick-drying epoxy into your headset, completely freezing out your steering (a highly-effective deterrent to continuing an unwise mountain bike descent.

And it comes with a handy remote-control key fob, so that when you park your bike, you can click to arm it, making for a pretty darned good anti-theft mechanism.

The Bike Limiter is pure genius. As a substitute for common sense for injured cyclists, it couldn’t have a better-targeted demographic.

image PS: Pre-order week for the 2009 Fat Cyclist jersey is now over. A big “thank you” to those of you who took the time to place an order. For those of you who forgot, didn’t have the money right now, or just weren’t sure you wanted one, don’t worry: we ordered a few extras. They’ll go on sale when they arrive in early November, and I’ll give ample warning on when they’ll be available.

Also, a big “Thanks” to the guys at Twin Six, who somehow manage to outdo themselves with jersey designs, and then do a great job of managing the influx of orders that comes their way.

PPS: Check out yesterday’s issue of The Toledo Blade. Lukas Kummer is featured in an article about bike commuting, and is looking good in his Fat Cyclist jersey. Way to fly the flag, Lukas!


  1. Comment by Al Maviva | 07.21.2008 | 11:45 am

    My bike riding, like my social skills and IQ, is strictly limited at all times. Unfortunately, this isn’t related to my doctor’s orders, but is a consequence of my ability level.

    It’s a net positive, however. Ever since the last Ice Age, the Earth’s ability to reshape itself has been somewhat diminished. I’m helping by plowing up great big troughs in the dirt, knocking down trees here and there, and dripping copious amounts of blood into the Earth, which a Marine friend assures me will make the grass grow.

    I don’t think of it as mountain biking badly, but prefer to envision it as Saving the Planet From Predictable Geography – although I still haven’t figured out a way to explain how badly contaminating the local watershed with AB+, Gu2O and my own tears will help Mother Earth.

  2. Comment by ann | 07.21.2008 | 11:56 am

    Modify that for use with teenagers and cars and you will have all the time you want to ride your bike, when you are healed…thoroughly healed.

  3. Comment by Flash | 07.21.2008 | 12:18 pm

    So, my friend who is an avid cyclist and has many shoulder issues for which he has had several surgeries found a solution for the times he could not ride his regular bike: it’s called a recumbant bike. He says he can go as fast if not faster than his fellow riders on that puppy. Now mind you this is kind of an upright recumbant, but none the less it works for him when he’s unable to ride his regular bike due to shoulder issues. It might be funner than just staying off a bike for a certain amount of time.

  4. Comment by Emily | 07.21.2008 | 12:20 pm

    I thought riding a singlespeed *was* the way to employ a Bike Limiter.
    Alternately, I have always considered good old-fashioned Pain (it’s free! it’s organic!) to be a pretty decent Bike Limiter, myself. This opinion clearly means I am either not very hardcore or very intelligent.

  5. Comment by Hamish A | 07.21.2008 | 12:33 pm

    Absolute genius! I think you need to get onto the Patent Office straight away though, stop any of those Big Bad Bike Companies ™ taking your idea.

    I have found during my rehabilitation that another very useful restrictive device is Worried Parent, often used in conjunction with Nagging Partner.

    The devices activate whenever I look longingly towards my bikes, normally with a ‘phone call from Worried Parent to the effect of “I just wanted to make sure you were taking care of your leg” Swiftly followed by the clincher “Now promise me you won’t ride your bike yet”. So you make your promise and you don’t ride (that day) It’s not like you can tell your Mother a fib now, is it?

    Then the next day, just when you think you might get a little two wheel action you encounter Nagging Partner. Now, Nagging Partner takes a much more direct approach: “If you ride that bike and I find out about it you’re sleeping on the couch” followed by the candy coated kick to the tender bits that is “I’m only nagging because I love you”. Sigh. What can you say to that?

    If anybody wants to license the design for my own Restrictive Devices feel free to drop me a line. I’ve got two test units fully assembled and ready for delivery.


    Heal Fatty. WIN SUSAN!!!

  6. Comment by Corey | 07.21.2008 | 12:43 pm

    When I broke my collarbone in a crash, the orthopedist had my wife hang my bike upside down on its customary storage hooks in the garage, and then he told me I was free to ride it when I could get it down by myself.

    As for bike commuting, per the article you linked, I have a 9.7 mile commute that I do at least 4 days a week, sometimes all 5. I am fortunate that my employer has a locker room with showers, and a lax dress code. My bicycle trunk bag has room for my lunch, a t-shirt and thin nylon hiking-type pants, as well as toiletries and other miscellaneous items, and my hydration pack carries my spare tube, wallet, ID badge and multitool. I also wear Cannondale Roam SPD shoes that double as passable work shoes all day.

    One observation is that my hardtail (Specialized Rockhopper) with 26 x 1.5 street tires makes an excellent commuter.

    I was on the fence about bike commuting until a trip to Moab in June where it took 5 hours to drag my fat behind around Slickrock Trail. I started bike commuting immediately upon returning, and if I can convince my wife to take the kids to school, I may continue it into the fall and winter.

    Oh, and at current gas prices, it’s saving me around $80.00 a month in gas.

  7. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.21.2008 | 12:45 pm

    This is indeed genious. But the razor blades make me nervous.

  8. Comment by Maggi | 07.21.2008 | 12:46 pm

    Unlike Hamish A, I’ve found that both tools — Worried Parent and Nagging Partner — tend to have the opposite effect on me, because I so desperately want to get the heck away from them! And really, what better way to get away than on a bike? It is possible that I need a jersey with a mule on it, rather than a clydesdale. ;)

    Thanks two Twin Six for making pre-order available! Now I’m excited about November for the first time since relocating from AZ to PA. (The weather here in November is miserable!) Of course, I may be ordering another — shortly after ordering, I realized that, at the rate I’ve been going, the jersey I ordered will be too big on me by November! No complaints there, of course.

  9. Comment by Don | 07.21.2008 | 12:50 pm

    you are a sick, but brilliant man Fatty!

  10. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.21.2008 | 12:52 pm

    Hey Fatty – Here:

    is a shout out in the July Livestrong newsletter, where one of the other LSC participants mentions that she is a FC reader and is riding for Susan!

    Way to go, Elizabeth!

    LiveSTRONG / WIN! Susan

  11. Comment by regina | 07.21.2008 | 1:03 pm

    sweet pic Lucas! Awesome idea on the Bike Limiter, I was thinking when you begin your offering on this for the first 5 minutes or one thousand sold whichever occurs first you could give an extra clicker, so a loved one can inflict locking/shocking as required. not really an enhancement more a marketing strategy.
    WIN SUSAN!!!

  12. Comment by KanyonKris | 07.21.2008 | 1:04 pm

    But with your healthy stable of bikes, you’re going to need a lot of those limiter devices. You may even need to put limiters on the kids bikes, because when a cyclist is desperate to ride, anything with 2 wheels is acceptable.

  13. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 07.21.2008 | 1:17 pm

    I was thinking the same thing as KanyonKris. And what does the limiter do to keep you from going to your LBS and buying another Superfly with no limiter? :-)

  14. Comment by Jen | 07.21.2008 | 1:18 pm

    My bike limiter has been the inability to lift my leg over my bike which I have tried several times. I crashed at the end “easy” part of the mountain bike loop. I received five well spaced so the cut ooze stiches on my right knee. The crash nor trying to get back on the bike was no near as painfull as the needle in the knee cap(local anesthesia) so the er doc could clean the cut. The other fun part of this crash was experiencing airport security on crutches and watching hubby go off on rattle snake free, tree shaded trails of maryland. I say if you can get on the bike, peddle, and brake go for a ride.

  15. Comment by joel | 07.21.2008 | 1:39 pm

    You should get in touch with the Masiguy about getting some of these added to their line – from his recent posts he will probably need a similar device in the near future

  16. Comment by hades | 07.21.2008 | 1:46 pm

    After dislocating my hip in a stupid MTBing incident, my limiter was like Jen’s: I couldn’t swing my leg over the bike – However, I cured this by laying the bike down, standing over it, and lifting it into position. It took me about 2 weeks before I was able to ride again and about 3 weeks before I was able to walk (w/o crutches).

    Corey, yeah I carry all kinds of crap in my commuting bag as well, including rain gear, two tubes, pump, clothes etc. I kind of use not driving as justification to go mountain biking; all of the money not spent/gas not burned goes toward MTB trips on weekends since it’s so darn flat around here and I don’t have great trails right outside my back door (Commuting is probably still a net savings of both over driving to work.)

    WIN Susan!

    Heal up quick Fatty!

  17. Comment by TC the OC | 07.21.2008 | 2:00 pm

    Strong pink Team Fatty presence at NUE in Breck Saturday!

  18. Comment by aussie kev | 07.21.2008 | 3:06 pm

    thats awesome, i crashed once afetr having crashed the week before, i dont know the technical term for “gravel rash” on top of “gravel rash” other than carnage – maybe the “bike limiter”, could spray a antiseptic “cloud” in those first few days of injuries to prevent you from actually getting within a fewe metres of the bike ( due to the intense stinging)

    allez Cadel
    allez the Fatties


  19. Comment by kenny | 07.21.2008 | 3:08 pm

    I have this theory that if you ride injured you heal faster. When you exersise your blood circulates faster through the injured area bringing healing goodness through out your body. Botched, back me up on this. … Or maybe, I’m just addicted to riding my bike.

  20. Comment by Vito | 07.21.2008 | 3:09 pm

    That is an awesome idea Fatty!

    I broke a couple of ribs and smashed my sternum about 4 weeks ago now. I rode anther four days before going into the Doc to find out what the hell I did.
    Kept riding, but very easy flat stuff that wouldn’t get the HR up too high causing me to breathe heavily.

    It is quite hard to breathe when you have fractured ribs and I guess, in order to be really efficient on a bike you do need to breathe.
    I hate having to take time off the bike.

    Best of luck to you at Leadville. Would love to try that some day. Also, best to Susan.

  21. Comment by ronm | 07.21.2008 | 3:11 pm

    Did you forget to complete a thought in today’s post?

    When defining how the bike limiter works, for the “Day 8- 14″ entry the last sentence reads:
    If you go offroad (as sensed by excessive vibrations in your bicycle).

    ….??? Seems like an incomplete sentence there. Oh well, aside from that… another brilliant entry as usual!

  22. Comment by TomE | 07.21.2008 | 3:13 pm

    Hey TC in the OC – I was one of those sporting the Pink Team Fatty jersey (did the 32 mile course)!!! I did see one other jersey and he was doing the 100 miler!

  23. Comment by Heatherann | 07.21.2008 | 3:22 pm

    The Bike Limiter is pure genius. You are going to make a fortune and be world famous and I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to tell everyone that I knew you when…

  24. Comment by Jay Peitzer | 07.21.2008 | 3:28 pm

    There are cures for just about everything. However I have yet to discover a cure for the dreaded Testosterone Poisoning. This condition inflicts almost every male on the planet at one time or another. It’s cause is an over abundance of testosterone leading to complete stupidity and the inability to make rational decisions. I was infected almost 20 years ago on a ride from Los Angeles to Mono Lake. While it’s effects fade over time the disease never completely goes away.

  25. Comment by UltraRob | 07.21.2008 | 7:26 pm

    I’ve been wondering if you still be able to do Leadville with everything that’s going on with Susan. I figured she’d want you to based on her past support.

    I plan to be there. I’ve gotten 4 good weekends of training in. 2 more left. I’m guessing with only 6 weeks of training I’ll take 3 hours longer than my PR. That’ll still give me a small cushion to get an official finish.

  26. Comment by Mike | 07.21.2008 | 7:49 pm

    Having just been planted on the couch after some day surgery, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m willing to pay overnight shipping.

  27. Comment by Beth from the Funny Farm | 07.21.2008 | 7:58 pm

    I saw those photos of your wipeout. I just about cried for you. I am NOT a bike rider. I ride horses. But I have once or twice rode a bike. And I wreck when I do. Wrecks HURT!

  28. Comment by Andy Pandy | 07.21.2008 | 8:05 pm

    Broken fingers and inserted plates no trouble at all. I am currently riding one handed and have yet to have a problem.

  29. Comment by Kristen | 07.21.2008 | 8:43 pm

    Ouch…sorry you aren’t quite healed up yet! Being off the bike is no fun no matter what the reason!!

    Thanks for sharing such a nice article. I started biking to work this summer, it’s about 13 miles from a nearby rails-to-trails path. Unfortunately, I still have to drive to the trail but I look forward to the days that I ride in even with the logistics of clothing and shower supplies. I encourage everyone to try and go by bike, even if it’s just to the bank or fast food joint :)

  30. Comment by Walter | 07.21.2008 | 8:46 pm

    Fatty —
    Brilliant concept — can I order one, NOW?

    You may remember that my big cycling event of the year is the Pan Mass Challenge (1st weekend in August). Well, everything had been going fine until a month ago, when, to make a long story short(ish), I required “minor” surgery in my (ahem) groin to remove a lump that wasn’t supposed to be there and showed its lack of appreciation for long training rides by swelling up like a balloon. Of course, the surgeon said there would be “no problem” getting me back on a bike within a month, but recuperation from the procedure turned out to be more complicated than expected(3 ER visits, 2 hematomas, 1 overnight hospital stay, some serious antibiotics, daily visits from a nurse to pack the 2″ deep incision, etc.).

    All that is a very long buildup to this: the incision looks like it’s finally closing, and the remaining swelling just might go down in the 11 days that are left before the PMC. So, I *know* (and the surgeon has said) that I should NOT ride the PMC, but I also know that if it’s physically possible for me to sit on a saddle, it will be very, very difficult not to at least start the ride. The BikeLimiter would be the perfect solution — both the surgeon and my wife would be willing to shell out big bucks for it to keep me from doing something (I know is) stupid…

  31. Comment by Co | 07.21.2008 | 9:30 pm

    um, Fatty, I thought you had rollers. That could simulate mountains. Without requiring you to use your arms. Don’t you think Leadville will be easier if your legs work from now ’til then while your shoulder rests? You could even do the rollers one-armed. Also (not that this next suggestion ever worked with my husband) you could put the injured arm in a sling to remind yourself that, well, it’s injured.

  32. Comment by New Blue Shoe | 07.21.2008 | 9:40 pm

    If you explain it as a high-cost training tool, EVERYBODY will line up to own one. BRILLIANT!!!

  33. Comment by randomhigh | 07.21.2008 | 9:51 pm

    I’d like one made for shoes, please, since there is no cure yet for lack of common sense, or LOCS for short. I’ve been “training” (ahem) for a half marathon until the heel and knee pain drove me to the doc… turns out I’ve got flat feet (what a fine time to find out) so I’m running with inserts now but it’s more hobbling interspersed with limping than anything. a friend once said that pain was weakness leaving the body and o’course we laughed… everybody knows that LOCS cancels out any benefits from pain…

  34. Pingback by Fat Cyclist: When All You Need Is A Little Laughter - The Adventurist - Mt. Everest to The Poles: Exploring Adventure One Trip At a Time | 07.21.2008 | 9:54 pm

    [...] out The Next Big Thing In Sport’s Nutrition and his latest, The Bike Limiter, for a taste of the humor dished out.  You will quickly see why this has become one of my new [...]

  35. Comment by Kathleen | 07.21.2008 | 10:21 pm

    See, it’s that competitive spirit that keeps you going in a race and in life…just give yourself a bit of downtime for some healing. Best thing I read when prepping for my triathlon was eat and sleep are crucial aspects of training (along with the actual training of course). I was all over that!

    Be well…

  36. Comment by Coelecanth | 07.21.2008 | 11:39 pm

    I’ll take two.

    The first day I had my cast off after surgery for a broken wrist I got on my bike…and promptly rode into the back of a car. It had stopped in front of me for an intersection. Not only were my skills rusty and my timing disturbed by pain meds, I also had no strength in that hand to grab the brakes.

    My doctor, my physio and my wife never heard about this little incident so mum’s the word ok?

    Get well soon and Win Susan!

  37. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.22.2008 | 2:03 am

    I think I must already have a Bike Limiter fitted.

    For instance, a couple of years ago I tried to pop a simple manual over a largely benign drop-off (“largely benign” being fancy language for “almost non-existent”) the front of my bike suddenly weighed more than Saturn and I was ejected over the bars.

    My Bike Limiter then hammered home the message (literally) by driving the stem/top cap into my balls. I resorted to the Below the Neck Rule* and excused myself further cycling activity for the day.

    Oh, and those above-the-stem spacers were removed the very next day.

    Fatty, how rare are the Johnny Cash jersies going to be?

    *from the Cyclists Training Bible – whereby one should not train with an ailment that affects parts of the body below the neck.

  38. Comment by barry1021 | 07.22.2008 | 8:27 am

    While brilliant, the problem with the Bike Limiter is that it messes up the graceful lines of the bike. However it is quite clear from the responses than many off road riders DO need this device. Therefore I have invented a different product that is likely to have the same effect as the Bike Limiter. It’s called

    The Brain Stimulator.


    b21 (confirmed Roadie)


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.