Nice Bike

01.28.2014 | 11:18 am

A couple days ago, I was riding up the South side of Suncrest. I was near the top of this four-mile, 1200-foot climb, and it was getting cold and windy. This is not relevant to this story, but I like to point things like this out anyway. Because I like to paint pictures in your mind, and because I like to imagine that when you hear that I’m riding my bike up a mountain in the dead of Winter, you can’t help but admire me. 

Anyway, as I neared the top (for I had nearly completed this incredible climb), I saw a cyclist ahead of me. Normally this would tell me that the race is on, but this cyclist was walking. “You good?” I shouted ahead, as I neared him, intelligently using the absolute minimum number of syllables required to ask the cyclist whether he needed help. 

“My rear wheel won’t turn,” he replied.

“Want me to take a look?” I asked, knowing that if he knew exactly how mechanically inept I am, he’d answer, “No thanks.” 

“Yeah, that would be great,” he replied, sounding a little embarrassed.

So I — gratefully, I must admit, because it meant I got to take a break — climbed off my bike. “Hold my bike,” I said, then tried to spin his back wheel. 

Sure enough, it wouldn’t spin. And — very luckily for me — the reason why was obvious: the axle wasn’t properly seated in the dropout. Probably, he had taken a fall and it had got knocked loose then.

“So, did you take a fall?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he replied, even more embarrassed. 

“This will take just a second,” I said.

Then, as I popped open the quick release and re-seated the wheel, I said, “This is a really nice bike. You must love riding it.” 

“Thanks,” he said. And suddenly he was no longer embarrassed. Suddenly, in fact, he was proud. “This is the first time I’ve ever tried riding up Suncrest.” 

“Nice work,” I said. “You’re about there.” I closed the quick release, said goodbye, and finished the climb. 

Then, the whole way down, I thought about how smart I am. Because — for probably the thousandth time in my cycling career — the “Hey, that’s a great bike” gambit had worked for me.

Allow me to explain.

How to Make Friends Fast

We love our bikes. As cyclists, we can’t help it. They represent a choice, an expression of what matters to us. And — more often than not — of personal style.

So it’s kind of nice to hear from someone else that they like our bikes. It’s a lot like hearing, in fact, that they like us…but less creepy, by a lot, than hearing, “I like you” from a complete stranger.

But how you say it matters. Don’t just say, “Hey, nice bike” to someone. That can be misinterpreted as sarcasm, which may not be the best way to introduce yourself.

Instead, use these words: “That is a really nice bike.” “What a great bike” is acceptable as well. Or, if you’re younger than 35, you can substitute “sweet” for “nice” or “great.”

And don’t say that to people who have super high-end bikes. They hear it often enough. Say it to anyone you come across on a bike. Say it to people who pass you. Say it instead of (or at least before) “on your left” when you’re passing people.

Then see what happens. 


  1. Comment by Jenni | 01.28.2014 | 11:25 am

    I totally do this.

    I am not at all surprised. Works great, doesn’t it? – FC

  2. Comment by DJ | 01.28.2014 | 11:25 am

    Fatty you’ve done it again. You’re right! Great post.

    Thanks, DJ! How’re you liking the BOOM? That is a nice bike! – FC

  3. Comment by geckonia | 01.28.2014 | 11:33 am

    Right on! I especially like it when people see my bike and say “oh a singlespeed?”

  4. Comment by Daniel Weise | 01.28.2014 | 11:37 am

    Hey Fatty, That’s a really nice bike!

  5. Comment by MC | 01.28.2014 | 11:46 am

    Hmmmmm…I’ve heard “Wow, you’re still riding alloomminium still?” more than a few times…a fact that does NOT endear me to the sayer. Even so, it’s still a better bike than I am a rider. And it looks nice…that is important too. But I’m pretty sure if you say that to someone on a Wally-world bike, no matter how you phrase it they will still think you’re being an ass (unless they truly don’t know better).

  6. Comment by Steve | 01.28.2014 | 11:49 am

    Hey Fatty, that’s a really nice tip.

    I can confirm that having someone say “How much did that bike cost? Is it carbon fiber?” will make you get back on your bike and start riding to the NEXT restroom or make you wish you’d brought a lock along.

  7. Comment by Jeff Bike | 01.28.2014 | 11:58 am

    On the other hand you could make someone feel guilty. Please allow me to explain:
    I was out riding one day last summer when I got to my turn-a-round there was a guy with a tent set up for a marathon that was taking place. At this tent was a fellow cyclist in a full collage team kit on a truly “sweet”,“nice” or “great” carbon bike. He complimented me on my new wheels. Now comes the guilty part. The guy from the tent was talking to me and was being a nice guy so I didn’t get to engage the cyclist conversation. By the time I got free of the tent guy the other cyclist had left in a different direction. I never got to be genuinely appreciative to my fellow cyclist. I feel like I came off like a jerk. There are times I don’t mind being a jerk but this was not one of them.
    The moral of the story is be nice in return or you may feel like a jerk later. Now you know “the rest of the story” (Paul Harvey)

  8. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.28.2014 | 12:05 pm

    In an alternate universe I fashion myself a New Yorker Editor, but a Collage Team Kit sounds kinda cool:

  9. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.28.2014 | 12:13 pm

    @FC Good to know you mechanical skills included locking the skewer.

    Last year during a most unpleasant Death Ride the result of a new wheel set with higher (unbeknownst) gearing every time we got the Nice Tandem shout out I would offer to sell it. My tandem partner, who bought the bike, did not think it so funny.

    But enough about you! (and us):

    Where do we stand on Ambassador MoN Hammer’s nomination?
    When are the hearings, who do we lobby, and what back room deals need be made?

    She sent in her application; now we just see if she’s chosen. – FC

  10. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.28.2014 | 12:37 pm

    Thanks Fatty!

    Time to mobilize the nation! Now where is Katie’s address…….twitter……facebook……probably wouldn’t hurt to get a big fat envelope of cash too….

  11. Comment by PNP | 01.28.2014 | 12:41 pm

    A couple of years ago, I participated in a local fund-raising ride, and as I was waiting at the start, a man and woman walked by. The man said to me “beautiful bike” (which it is, by the way), and before I could respond, the woman said to him “oh, I suppose you’re going to want to a new bike now.” Sort of made my day.

  12. Comment by Eric L | 01.28.2014 | 12:42 pm

    I’m a bike fiend – always ogling bikes. I’m always saying “nice bike” to folks. I particularly enjoy when I see someone riding a well loved old-school steel bike like an old Peugeot PX-10 or ancient Raleigh.

    Many bikers put a lot of thought into what they ride, so it’s a nice complement to their style, tastes and pocketbook to call out their bike.

    My favorite line (and I’m not under 35) is to just say “sweet rig!”. Guaranteed to make a biker’s day.

  13. Comment by Carl | 01.28.2014 | 12:42 pm

    Fatty, you are such an ambassador of good will.

  14. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 01.28.2014 | 12:51 pm

    That is a great tip, I sure wish some of the guys that I run into would replace their current comments. I ride a Cannondale lefty and continually hear ‘why did you buy that half bike’ or some less kind version of said statement. My personal fav was the guy that spent 20+ minutes riding behind me telling me how my bike was not up to snuff my bike was for a upcoming race we were both planning on. Best highlight of the race was seeing the results and noticing that my subpar ride crossed the line 14 minutes in front of his uber awesome work of art.

  15. Comment by Susie H | 01.28.2014 | 1:06 pm

    pretty sure no one’s ever told me my bike was really nice. they like to say it’s really heavy…that’s ok though, it makes me feel safe. slow, but safe. ;-)

  16. Comment by TK | 01.28.2014 | 1:12 pm

    What threshold shall we set as the maximum bike price for the “nice bike” compliment? $4,000?

  17. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 01.28.2014 | 1:31 pm

    @TK, that compliment works for ANY bike – just the fact that someone is out riding is awesome. And the beauty of it is that it makes both parties feel good. (My original 1979 Schwinn LeTour got tons of compliments from my team mates on rain-bike rides, and the fact that I didn’t get dropped was a bonus. Unfortunately, I crashed it and bent the frame, so now it’s my awesome stationary trainer). Nice bike! Ride on!

  18. Comment by Benguela | 01.28.2014 | 1:47 pm

    Great post as always. I just noticed that Twin Six is closing out all the latest Fatty gear in their Trunk. Time to get my first fat cyclist jersey.

  19. Comment by gingyh | 01.28.2014 | 2:19 pm

    I have a particular distaste for bike snobs after lining up for my first century (almost 4 years ago now) on a 90’s model Mongoose road bike. A friend of a friend rolled up next to me and made several snide remarks about my old aluminum bike. They bailed at mile 55 when the weather started rolling in. My trusty old Goose and I made the full 100 (108, actually) miles through wind and rain. That being said, I bought a carbon bike 2 years ago but I feel duty-bound to comment positively on anybody’s bike and encourage them in their riding. BTW…the Goose is now my SS commuter/cross/grocery-getter/fun bike. I still love that bike. ;)

  20. Comment by Heidi | 01.28.2014 | 2:19 pm

    What the guy will remember most of all of his first time on the trail will be that a kind soul took the time to get him back in the saddle. Way to go, Fatty!

  21. Comment by Bee T | 01.28.2014 | 2:25 pm

    I would be your loyal flunky for life if you or anyone else told me what a nice bike I have. While my roadie IS a nice bike, it’s more just being told that it’s nice. It endears you to me forever and makes me want to share my snacks.

    Hey… That’s why you do it, isn’t it?

  22. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 01.28.2014 | 3:40 pm

    Nice work, Fatty! Cool technique.

  23. Comment by pdx_tea | 01.28.2014 | 3:45 pm

    For the record, while “nice bike” is great and not creepy at all “nice frame” (in my opinion) is not okay, especially as a pick-up line.

  24. Comment by Rusty Red | 01.28.2014 | 5:48 pm

    I’ve fallen for this before, but I may have to employ this myself!

  25. Comment by Libby | 01.28.2014 | 6:06 pm

    I love being told my bike is nice…especially by those ones with uber bikes. I usually reply with a thanks and “it’s red so it’s fast” (It’s fast noy the rider!) I’ve only had it since last April so it is still very novel for me to own a Specialized Rubaix. A situation where the bike makes me look way better than I really am.

    I’d be thankful for a stranger to help me get back riding again..nice work FC!

  26. Comment by old guy who likes to ride | 01.28.2014 | 6:58 pm

    “Say it instead of (or at least before) “on your left” when you’re passing people.”


    I like it.

  27. Comment by NancyJBS | 01.28.2014 | 7:21 pm

    A happy post, indeed!

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed this opportunity. But no more! Strangers have been kind enough to say this to me and it has always made me float a little lighter and roll a little faster. Dance better too.

    Because I am a cool Instagrammer, I’ve come to know that “dope” and “sick” are good adjectives for just about anything a sub-30 something cares about. Don’t use them both in the same sentence unless you are very experienced with the terms, however.

    Anything we can do to cause WBR to see the wisdom of a MoN ambassadorship, Fatty?

    And I have Katie’s phone # if you really really need it, @davidh-marin,ca
    For a price.

  28. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.28.2014 | 8:20 pm

    @NancyJBS I believe we have Katie’s numbers from last year’s Stumpy. If I can’t find it I’ll teach you my stitch in the ditch technique, how’s that.

    @Fatty’s Rebecca’s Private Idaho registration now open:

  29. Comment by Vanessa | 01.29.2014 | 3:28 am

    Such a nice bike fatty!

  30. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 01.29.2014 | 3:30 am

    Eric L. said: “I’m a bike fiend – always ogling bikes. I’m always saying “nice bike” to folks. I particularly enjoy when I see someone riding a well loved old-school steel bike like an old Peugeot PX-10 or ancient Raleigh.”

    Or a classic Schwinn Paramount.

    Me too, because those kind of machines *were* the top end when I first got into the sport.  Even today I’ve still got my first 1977-vintage Trek with the 53l-DB frame and the old-school Japanese componentry (as a struggling college student there was no way I could justify the cost of Campy) and am occasionally out there putting some miles on her.


  31. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 01.29.2014 | 6:05 am

    I am a firm believer that the important thing, ultimately, is getting on a bike and riding it. A nice bike is a bike that is ridden.

    It was so cool to be riding a vintage (read 1992 frame, 26″ wheels, rim brakes) Ti bike in Leadville last year. I got so many compliments on the bike it was crazy.

  32. Comment by Daddystyle | 01.29.2014 | 8:15 am

    All bikes are cool. Winning is an attitude, not a podium finish. Enthusiasm is contagious, Spread the 2 wheeled love!

  33. Comment by Daddystyle | 01.29.2014 | 8:19 am

    What I ment to say, before my enthusiasm got the better of me was:

    “Nice bike, I’d ride that.” Keep up the good karma Fatty

  34. Comment by brewstuh | 01.29.2014 | 8:54 am

    Great post, Fatty.

    Two years ago, I returned to cycling after a seven year hiatus. Doing my first metric century of the season, I was riding my trusty bike that was nearly 10 years old. Club rides were a gawk-fest for me as I marveled at all the new carbon framse and wheels. During the ride, I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for fluids. Before going in, I leaned my bike up against a neearby store window, alongside a few newer, higher end bikes. When I came out of the DD, the owners of the other bikes were standing there. They told me they waited for me as they didn’t want to leave such a nice bike unattended! Kind words that re-affirmed my bike love!

  35. Comment by Flyin' Ute | 01.29.2014 | 10:17 am

    Great post Fatty.

    I love the thought of all bikers trying to uplift others.

    The world has enough negative and competitive people in it always trying to one up each other. It is sad.

    Your tip is awesome. I am going to try even harder to use it to make others feel better and spread happiness around.

    Keep up the good work.

    If we all do this than the biking world will stay cool. We don’t need it to be hijacked by the same people who have helped ruin other sports with their negative attitudes.

  36. Comment by Jerry Pringle | 01.29.2014 | 11:30 am

    Great Idea – I will have to try it when I’m out riding!

    By the way, how’s the Tour of Sufferlandria coming? I made it through Stage 4, Stage 5 is tonight after work.

  37. Comment by Welnic | 01.29.2014 | 11:39 am

    Hey, this is a really nice blog!

  38. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.29.2014 | 12:53 pm

    Well Fatties, our resident cycling gastronome is tipping us to another cycling adventure. And when I suggest ‘adventure’ there’s a lot to do. Ride with George, DZ, BobKe, and Chris Carmichael. Try your hand…knee…hip, back, or scapula crashing with Christian VandeVeld.

    Food, food, food, wine, and film. I’m sure Elden would go if it was a ‘yokel’ event.

    Will it lure him out of his winter hibernation, away from the ‘typewriter’ (archaic)

    Paul Guyot ?@Fizzhogg 4h
    Just learned one of my fav chefs @ChefChiarello not only rides but has a Gran Fondo! @BottegaGranFond #cycling #food #wine

  39. Comment by PNP | 01.29.2014 | 1:30 pm

    I’m enjoying hearing about the vintage bikes that are still on the road. I have an early 80s Bianchi Randonneur (touring bike), all original including the tubes in the tires (that still hold air!). I don’t ride it, mostly because it’s too tall for me and always has been, and now that I have two bikes that fit, I’m spoiled. Still, it’s a beautiful machine and I keep it because I love it.

  40. Comment by Jim Bangs | 01.29.2014 | 3:01 pm

    I once had somebody remark to me, “Nice bike, it could do so much more than what you are riding it on.”
    Then he zoomed off.

  41. Comment by Dave T | 01.29.2014 | 3:03 pm

    See fatty your repair skills are better then you think great job. I gave the “that’s a nice bike” shout out to the guy on the Trek Madone I pass on the trail today I he said thanks, nice. @Doug(Way upstate NY) I still ride my 1998 Litespeed and get the occasional nice vintage complement.

  42. Comment by EdwinH | 01.29.2014 | 6:54 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if the ability to acknowledge fellow cyclists on a city street or narrow trail in the middle of nowhere is some advanced skill that requires many years of experience. Grey hair (or lack of) seems a great predictor for a nod, g’day or handle-bar wave, whereas the invincible 20 or 30 somethings in bright colored kit appear to be oblivious of their fellow cyclists?

    Or maybe grey greets grey and 20-30s only greet other 20-30s?

    Grey haired dude.

  43. Comment by rich | 01.30.2014 | 9:00 am

    Great post Fatty and I do this too!
    Love the fact that you, with your self describer lack of skills, were able to help an obviously new rider…nice job!

  44. Comment by Slo Joe | 01.30.2014 | 11:09 am

    Neat post. Have said “nice bike” many, many times. Your post gave it betterer meaning.

    I ride a recumbent and get tons of “Cool Bike!” from kids….not often, if at all, from the older cyclists. :O) They give me mainly blank stares.

  45. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.30.2014 | 7:18 pm

    If you are locked up in your ‘pain cave’ please skip this. If not check out the link supplied by New Zealand Eve…and pack your bags.

    Thanks Evelyn

  46. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.30.2014 | 11:30 pm

    @NewZealandEV my apologies “Evelin

    Don’t know if FoF’s saw this but Katie, yes THAT Katie, is on board for The RedBell100 Team Fatty Coalition….rock’n the northwest:

    Comment by Katie | 01.20.2014 | 12:45 pm

    Geez, So sorry to be late to the @BostonCarlos and Red-Bell 100 party. I’m now jumping up in my cube (well, it’s not a cube but it’s 3 desks together overlooking main street in Golden, CO) at the idea of having a TEAM FATTY at the Red-Bell 100! Here are my thoughts:

    Registration is right now $75 (through 1/31)
    There is also TEAM FUNDRAISING capability so it’d be really easy to create a Team Fatty. I’m obviously biased but we hear great things abou this ride: the route and community vibe are both great.

    If someone would be interested in being “team captain”, I would work with you alongside my great colleague, Jen, to ensure Team Fatty wins the team title.

    So happy to hear the enthusiasm for this idea!


    Nominations please:

    Steve Banks
    Mark in Bremerton

    And the winners are……..?

  47. Comment by Karen | 02.1.2014 | 12:05 pm

    I walked into a bike shop with my bike 2 days ago and was greeted with, “Wow, do you race?” “No” I replied sheepishly sensing where the comment was going. “Well, you have a nice bike.” As in WHY do you have a nice bike if your unworthy self does not race. Because I like nice bikes! There is a fine line between I like your bike – therefore I like you, and why does that bike reside with you?

  48. Comment by Jase | 02.7.2014 | 3:46 pm

    The people who really need to read this post are bike shop employees.
    So many times you wheel your steed in there and when they look at it, the corners of their mouth move down, their top lip curls up, their brow furrows, and you can sense them biting their tongue.
    Like if you wore a shirt with a really smelly stain to dinner.

    If they could just learn to say something nice about an old bike, such as:

    “That looks like a really trusty bike – I like to see a machine that’s been treated well enough to last a long time!”

    Then they might have a lot more customers in the non-carbon bike market!

  49. Comment by Rideon | 02.9.2014 | 12:22 pm

    So true, as I have recently moved and find myself working with folks who have little or no interest in my bikes, that’s ok I accept it fine. Started a blog and site to reach out and connect with other bike folks and as much as I enjoy reading comments of appreciation it’s not the same as hearing it from a stranger while riding in Portland for example. Very good post. Thanks. P.S. NICE BLOG, very good quality and fun, kinda like complementing on a bike? Cheers!


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.