Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Does Your Bicycle Want to Be Named?



I was visiting friends who had given their 5 year old daughter a bicycle for Christmas. They encouraged her to come out and show it off to me and the other guests. Shyly, the girl wheeled it out to the garden. Purple. Princess decals. Streamers. Training wheels. And already splattered with mud - a good sign of use!

"And have you named the wee bike yet?" asked the mother, probably for my benefit. In reply, the girl gave us both a look suggesting her patience for adult displays of stupidity was being thoroughly tested.

"Oh mummy! The bike doesn't want to be named."

This statement was so unexpected, that my first reaction was to burst out laughing. I then thought how interesting it was that, on some level, such a young child showed an awareness of anthropomorphism, including the fact that naming objects is done for the benefit of the people naming them rather than the objects themselves.

Then on my way home, I remembered the comment again and considered it more literally. Because really, I can relate.

While I do tend to name my bikes as a matter of habit/tradition, I have noticed that in practice not all bicycles actually suit having a name or being referred to by name.

For instance, technically my Brompton is called Belinda Maze. But I never actually call it that, either out loud or in writing. I refer to it as The Brompton. That seems a little impersonal for a bike I have made the most use of over the past 4.5 years, but for whatever reason it never really "wanted" to be called by name. Go figure.

On the other hand, my DIY 650B bike is most definitely Alice. "I'll take Alice out today." "Remind me to pump Alice's tyres." "Have you seen Alice?!" and so on.

The naming of the aforementioned bike was actually unintentional, and a little spooky. It was my second or third ride on it, late October 2014, and we had an early frost. The road was glazed over with icy patches and as my tyres rolled over them, the Tom Waits song Alice popped into my head - remaining there, stubbornly, throughout the ride. Then later at home, my husband asked teasingly, "Will you be naming this bike?" I said that I probably would, but hadn't thought of a name just yet. "She looks like an Alice," he said.

Other names were chosen in a far more straightforward manner. My Claude Butler mixte is named Claudia. My Mercian is Mercy Anne. Some manufacturers do make it easy!

I am always interested in others' bicycle naming practices. Do you name your bicycles always, never, or sometimes? Do you actually refer to bikes by their names?

Whether a bicycle "wants" to be named we might never know. But the possibility cannot be discounted.



45 comments:

  1. I only have the one bike, but I've never thought of naming it (unless "my bike" is a name). When I gave this some thought, I thought it was because I was male, and men just don't name inanimate objects. This is demonstrably untrue, though, as I know some men who have named their guitars, cars, etc. I have no idea what the motivation is to name things (and no opinion about it, either); possibly to have a simple way to refer to things?

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  2. Most of the bikes i own or have owned have had names. Generally they're names that they "grew" into. Often the names i gave to bikes before i'd ridden them enough never really took. (i also have named cars i've owned.) We name ships, so why not bikes?

    However, a friend of mine who was a racer and bikeshop wrench had a livestock-owner's attitude towards that idea: if you raise chickens intended for the dinner table, NEVER give them a name. To him, a bike was a disposable item, and best not to get so attached to them as to give them a name.

    As an aside, does anyone her assign gender to their bikes? Traditionally,ships are "she." Another friend always called her bike "he."

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  3. My bright red Achielle omafiets is named Sassy, and she only ever goes by that name. No one ever calls her "the Achielle" or "the omafiets." She's always Sassy. My other bike, which actually gets more miles, is a Bianchi Volpe, unimaginatively named "Vixen." Vixen almost always gets called "the Bianchi." I love them both, but the Bianchi just doesn't particularly care to be called by name.

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  4. My Pedersen- Named "Freja".. Nordic Goddess of fertility.
    Rivendell Cheviot- " Longwooler" Found by A google search for popular names for sheep.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne- "Nola Joy", named after a very important lady.
    All have decals on the bikes with their names .
    Just Fun!

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  5. I name my bikes. My partner-in-grime does not (tho' the car has a name) but is happy to refer to my bikes by their given name.

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  6. Some get names some don't... no clue as to the why or whynot.

    Aaron

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  7. My lovely orange Bike Friday has a name, "Poppy". However, she usually just gets called "bikey" as in "Heading out on bikey, see ya later". In fact, the only time I use her name is when I'm thinking of getting an upgrade "Poppy needs a new ....". Maybe psychologically justifying a purchase for a "friend".

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  8. One of my bikes is Rosinante,we have fun together !A motley steed, Campy Centaur MTBgroup on a LHT !Best of the season !

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  9. Name 'em sometimes. It's fun. My wife does too: Vivian, jJenny T. the Milk Runner. My Bottecchia fixie was called Gina Bambina, shortened to Bambi.

    We both have Bromptons, and, like yours, ours remain nameless, though we are habitual bike-namers. Something about Bromptons, perhaps? Or is it just that we built up the other bikes by hand, but that the Brommies are box-stock?

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  10. When I think of things that are given names by their owners, my first instinct is to say that the persons must be quite passionate about their items to want to give them a name. And, yet, I am as passionate about bikes as anybody I know and have yet (in 35ish years of riding) to ever desire to name any of my bikes. Or anything, really. As a young man with a brief flash of interest in cars and the hot-rodding thereof, it was expected among my friends that I should name my car, as they had theirs. I begrudgingly offered up a name that was used briefly, by others, but I never could be bothered.

    It's not a practice I find odd, or distasteful, or any other negative. It's just something that never "clicked" with me. My kids; daughter1, daughter2, and daughter3 think I'm weird.


    Wolf.

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    Replies
    1. Well, for people with lots of kids or bikes there's always the Roman method. Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius, all mighty fine names arrived at just by counting.

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  11. I have experienced the same phenomenon with my own bikes. I used to try and name them all, but while some took to their name almost like they had been christened, with others it just sounded forced. The bike I ride most is an old dutch Gazelle, I've had lots of adventures and fun on it but still just call it 'The Gazelle', whereas I had an old banger of a Winter Bike a few years ago that acquired the name 'Mary B', everyone who knew me ended up calling it by that name; it's still used by my parents and brothers as a spare bike and never referred to as a bike, just always 'The Mary B'. :-)

    Incidentally I have an old 650B (Flandria), also no named, by far the most comfortable bike I've ever ridden, unfortunately both in weight and gearing it's unsuited to lumpy Irish roads, so I'm considering converting a lighter 700c frame to 650b but struggling with wheel selection, any suggestions? I've seen some vintage style wheels but if possible I'd like to try something more modern/lighter but everything seems to be build for disc rather than rim brakes.

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  12. My bikes all get names, but sometimes it takes awhile before they reveal themselves. The same with genders; for instance, my dignified old DL1 rod-braked roadster was simply called "The Roadster" for most of our first year together. But after riding "him" for a few hundred miles, and seeing the way others reacted to him, it became apparent that he was royalty - hence the sobriquet "His Majesty, King of Bikes" - shortened to "His Majesty" now. The Gitane Gypsy Sport that I stripped down to the frame and built into a classic French velo de ville was obviously a "she", and I immediately named her "Gypsy Bleu". The Ross Aristocrat path racer is now called simply "Boss Ross" - definitely a "he". And so it goes.

    At the risk of sounding a bit daft, all of my bikes speak to me this way. It must have something to do with the long hours spent building them up - none of them are ever left as-found, bought, or otherwise received. Once I know them that intimately, they MUST have a name.

    -Rambler

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  13. I've never named my bikes or felt compelled to until recently buying a Rivendell Clem-L. Rivendell had previously called the step-over version "Clementine", which I dearly loved, so I call her "Miss Clementine" in defiance, in gratitude for the lovely style, and because I can't spit out "Clem-L" with any ease.

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  14. Poor kid! Having to parade out Christmas gifts for the peanut gallery brings back some bad memories. I did notice a few new, little, bike riders out on the trails a couple days ago, getting those shiny bikes all muddy and broken in but some of them were desperately trying to keep up with parents and did not have smiles on their faces :(

    No, never called a bike anything other than the name already on it, but that doesn't mean I'm boring or not special ;)

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  15. Although I think some people are likely more naturally inclined to name personal objects, I think for a lot of people it's either some form of natural circumstance that leads to a name, or it's an understood connection to an object that pushes a desire to lend a name. I think this usually comes something like an attachment from day building a bike up instead of buying one, or having a bike that is with you all the time, on travels etc. I think though, wether people do it or not is often based on how sentimental they are. That sentimental nature is very important, and makes it more likely to develop attachments to inanimate objects in a way that we place extra importance in them. I've named several bikes, as well as e few cameras, but never any cars or other vehicles.

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  16. Betty (shopping), Mrs Peel (road) and the MTB (or Crystal Peak). I bought the first 2 myself and my husband kindly bought the last one for me which I have struggled to name. I think colour can be highly instrumental in the naming process as well as one's own invested interests.

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  17. My cars have occasionally ended up with names, but bikes seem to resist it. The exception was a red Trek 614 I had that was known simply as “the red Trek” until it was painted green as the result of a frame repair done under warranty. After that it was named — with a nod toward Prince — The Trek Formerly Known as Red.

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  18. I named a bike only once in my life, but years later I wanted to sell it. Because the bike had a name, It felt like I was selling a beloved old dog. Heart wrenching. I'll never name a bike again.

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  19. I wait until a name occurs to me. I always feel like it's a bit of a game, to try to guess a bike's name until I finally get it right. As if the bike already has a name and I'm just trying to discover it.

    A cream-colored Austro-Daimler/Puch mixte: Minx, because she was a classic beauty and the word "minx" makes me think of Old Hollywood starlets.

    A newer Fuji Roubaix roadbike: The Shady Lady, after a bucking cow at a rodeo, because the bike is small but fierce. And she likes to throw me whenever I don't unclip in time (because of course it's always the bike's fault...;).

    A white Peugeot mixte: Crown, because the plastic on her front dymo light throws a beautiful pattern of light on the ground that looks like the pointed peaks of a crown.

    A graphite Soma Buena Vista mixte: Nocturne, because she feels like music - fast, nimble, and dancing when we're out on a for-fun ride, but steady and graceful when slowed by weight.

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  20. It's been done before but "Sir Velo". On the Strava equipment list "Le Vélo Noir". Other bikes are Romany and Caddie. To commemorate our old pet dogs. Romany is tourer and Caddie a CAAD10.

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  21. "The good bike" and "The getting to work/getting about bike"(between jobs) but both very definitely ladies.

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  22. I've experienced the same thing. My 1975 DL-1 loop frame was to be named Rosemary but during the first year of ownership, I kept calling her Rosalynn by accident ... so I capitulated, and Rosalynn it was. The rest of my classic Raleighs have also found names, except for the Twenty, which shall remain The Twenty.

    As for manufacturers making names easy, my red Lotus Excelle mixte somehow had some difficulty having a name forced upon it. Lola first came to mind, but I thought it was a "cop out" because it sounded too similar to the brand. I never felt comfortable calling it by name anyway, so I have given up to calling it The Lotus, and it works.

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  23. My bikes all have names, though my favorite one is "The bike with no name." A Cannondale Saeco. One of my bikes actually has TWO names, just as the lady in Vertigo did.

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  24. They all have names. Some do not introduce themselves to us.

    Cheers,
    Will
    William M deRosset
    Fort Collins CO

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  25. What if my bicycle does not want to be named even though I insist on doing so? Does this mean we will not get along because I do not respect its wishes? I'm beginning to think my bicycle is sorta like nature, completely indifferent to my little world. I've friends who name their guns, too. They love those guns. Sigh, as I look at it I'm thinking it's comfortable with being just that, a wonderful collection of parts and labor with no need or desire for a personality.

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  26. In some cases, an object's name is self evident from the get-go. Case in point: When we bought our Toyota Prius in 2008, we named it Peewee. When I bought a Trek mountain bike a year or so later, the last new bike I've ever bought, by the way, its color was listed as Root Beer Brown. My wife christened it "Rootie." And the 1975 Raleigh Sprite that Clair took off to college, the bike that launched my career as the neighborhood bike fixer-upper? We call it Rollie. Sadly, most of the other bikes in the herd have yet to reveal their names. My moustache-barred commuter is simply "The Bridgestone." Perhaps "Grant" would be an appropriate name for this one. My winter bike, the one with the studded snow tires, internal gear hub, dynamo lighting and hub brakes? It's informally known as "Stumpy." Good thing I don't have any kids. They'd probably go unnamed until they reach high school.

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  27. I had once own a Surly named Heathcliff.

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  28. Some things tell you, some things refuse, and others have no interest or words for it.
    Cars almost always do, the most recent being the cheerful little Subaru, Kiyoko, that replaced the demolished previous Subaru, P'tunia. An ancient mid 60s Toyota Pickup with a half-million miles on it was Rosinante. Other cars never got names, or kept the ones they had with previous owners.
    Bikes- some yes. The DL-1 is Roland.
    Celeste *is* Celeste, whether we prefer to call her that or not. Her compatriot the Raleigh Cameo is sometimes Camille, sometimes not.
    The Raleigh Comp GS resists naming, though responds to a little pedal pressure as if it loves you deeply.
    And the Volpe doesn't seem to care. I have taken to referring to him a (definitely a him) as Signor Crema.

    We'll see what the new project says -or doesn't- about itself.


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  29. My very rare tiny tear drop shaped tubes '82 Nishiki,"AERO",(20lbs.), is,"Pearl",as she's been expertly repainted a Pearl color.It's like riding Japanese Imperial Royalty.

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  30. I name my vehicles in a very simple way: the blue one, the green one, the newest one, . . . coming to think of it, a very boring way. After some alterations, my Kross Inzai will be called Leia Organa. I know little about Carrie Fisher but I know a lot about my childhood memories. Salut i Bon Any!

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  31. I suppose naming 'things' is just an extension of our attachment to them. I agree some bikes develop a name over time, I named my beautiful, strong mountain bike 'Maya', my road bike is 'River Song' - I'm a Dr. Who fan and I tend to ride this bike along a pathway which follows the river.

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  32. Surely saying a bike does not want something is just as much anthropomorphism as naming it. If it were a living creature that could respond or not respond to that name, it would be a different matter.

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  33. Birds of a feather flock together. I think I have seniority here, almost 58 years since the first bike. Which I still have. Never named a bike, never knew any who named bikes that admitted to it. Cars, guitars, house plants have names. Bikes?

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  34. Three bikes, each with a name:

    - 90's Raleigh 12-speed converted to a single speed and then to a fixed gear = Samwise the Fixed Gear (never named as a 12-speed but became Samwise the Singlespeed).

    - All-City Space Horse = Thorondor the All-Road bike (strangely, only referred to as 'the road bike' or 'the space horse' because Space Horse is already a cool name).

    - Fuji Wendigo fat bike = Bombur the Fat Bike (too new to know what it will be called but likely to end up being 'the fat bike' because what are the odds I will ever have two fat bikes?).

    I am still waiting to find my bike-dork/Tolkien-dork doppelganger. Oh what fun we will have!

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  35. Used to have Road Rat and Heart. Now I only have Independence, Indy for short.

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  36. I just call my Pilen bike "Pilen" because the name really fits the bike. Such a clever name for a bike brand. The bike may look slow and heavy but it really is fast like an arrow (Pilen=the arrow). English-speaking friends (I live in Norway) always ask me if I've arrived on my arrow. I always do.

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  37. Names are for for Ships and Trains. Pets at a push, but not bikes or people.

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  38. I have had no reason to "name" any of my bikes, because they all had names when I got them. The Rawlan, the Atlantis, the Clementine, the Breezer, etc. Even in an instance where I have two of something, there's the Black Schwinn & the blue Schwinn. Now if a bike had no name, then I would have to give it one! That said, I do refer to some bikes as masculine & some feminine, but even this can change with my mood.

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  39. "Shirley the Squirrely Surly" is the ol' Cross-Check, after nearly ditching me 100X. not a touring bike.

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  40. I've never had the urge to name my store bought bikes, but when I had one custom made I felt like it *had* to have a name, since it didn't come with one. I'm not very creative so I just named it "Joyita" (Precious), since it was how I mostly referred to it in the first few weeks.

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  41. I have a Trek Hybrid that I call King Louie. I also have an Xtracycle Radish who I call Lola. The name Lola came to me because she draws so much attention everywhere we go that it looks like she's just showing off. Then then the song popped into my head "Her name was Lola, she was show girl...".

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  42. A 1989 Rockhopper called 'Rocky', a 1988 Stumpjumper called 'Stumpy', a 2005 Bob Jackson called 'Bob'. I'm nothing if not completely unoriginal...

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  43. I don't give my bikes formal names. I tend to refer to them by their maker (or brand if manufactured). "Oh, I'll be taking the Lyon on this ride".

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