Who Is Bicycle Pubes? We Chat To The Instagram Star

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If you’ve not yet discovered the frankly bizzare and often hilarious Instagram account BicyclePubes yet then you are missing out on a whole heap of bike industry parody and satire wrapped up and delivered by the power of memes, hairy balls, and poop. We ‘despatched’ Hannah and Anglo-American translator @Fahzure to go and investigate the man (or woman…. but definitely a man) behind this rapidly growing account to gain some insight into what childhood ‘event’ has driven him to rip a new one for so many bike brands…

Who is Bicycle Pubes? As I take off the blinder hood that is a condition of the interview and arrive at a backwoods chalet that must be somewhere within three hours flight of Portland, I hope to find the answer to this question. Greeted by his two excitable Pomeranian trail dogs, René and Hershey, I’m shown into a room where Bicycle Pubes is warming down from his morning WattBike session. Beads of sweat form on smooth calves – Mr Pubes clearly likes to stay in shape. Perhaps the rumours of trail running are true – as he unclips and loosens the BOAs on his S-Phyre shoes, I’m sure I glimpse the blackened toenails of the regular runner.

Art meets fart. It’s cerebral stuff.

After a quick shower off, he reappears dressed in cut-off jeans and an old Outcast t-shirt denying that either activity is the true cause of his svelte physique. ‘I have one of them up-down standing desk thingies at work. It’s always down and I always sit, but I have to imagine it’s doing SOMETHING.

It’s not clear if there’s a housekeeper, a butler, or a silent partner. I never see anyone else there during my visit, but a pot of tea awaited my arrival. I wonder whether the WattBike was just for show, but the sweat appeared genuine, though it could have been isopropyl alcohol to ward off poison oak.

In any event, the tea comes laden with sugar cubes and milk, and reveals itself to be Earl Grey (yes, he trades hard on stereotypes). The chocolate chip cookies displayed on a doily lined plate complete the picture of an American trying too hard to make the British journalist feel at home. It’s a move that seemed at odds with his irreverent Instagram account, where it seems no one and no brand is safe from mockery.

The Pubesmobile, built by Dear Susan for NAHBS 2019. Image credit: Brad Quartuccio

Perhaps the tea is in itself a parody of Britishness, an art-meets-commentary installation to sit alongside the Instagram posts and Dear Susan Pubesmobile sculpture, built for NAHBS 2019?

There’s a political undertone to some of Pubes’ posts, and his defence of his support for Planned Parenthood through the Pubesmobile auction could only be described as robust. Among the curly pubic hair graphics and flesh tone balls, real life actions such as the auction – and the building of the Pubesmobile bike itself – reveal that there’s intelligence behind the tomfoolery. Does his audience get it? I wonder how his posts are received and he says ‘I used to lose about 10 followers immediately with each post, then gain about 20. So always moving forward. Plus when you pass 10k, you don’t even get to see the people fleeing from your bullshit. It’s glorious’.

Who is bicycle pubes
More followers than Brant

Working on the assumption that, in person, Pubes wants to be liked, I politely drink the tea, but refuse a refill, keen to move on to his studio. He leads me past a series of closed doors, down some wood and ironwork stairs, and into a damp basement, again making me feel quite at home.

When your work is online and you spend hours carefully crafting your designs in Photoshop, natural light is a hindrance. In lieu of mountain views and blue skies, should Pubes look up from his (standing or sitting) desk he’ll see an array of cork boards, pinned with an apparent collection of draft designs. There’s a proliferation of testicles, but no boob pics, and no dodgy calendars. It’s no paperless office, and a crayon on a string hangs beside what appears to be the final stages of a patent application for some exciting improvements to braze on construction. A neighbouring pin board suggests that a newly standardised spacing for bottle cage mounts could well be on the way.

Tiny F*cking Frame Bags, for Bike Packing With Barbie?

The influences and parallels between his work and theirs are obvious, but I wonder who he favours: Banksy or Turrell? The answer comes quickly ‘Banksy because I dream of tagging the world with peeps and poops.’ It’s this kind of profound insight that has garnered him such a social media following, and there’s mention of a potential Ted Talk on being a successful influencer, though it’s not yet clear whether that will take place at Singlespeed Arizona, or Dirty Kanza.

He remains tight lipped about whether the ‘Tiny F*ckin Frame Bag’ winners might be launched as a commercial partnership at the same event, and won’t be drawn on whether that partner is Rapha. He’s happy to claim the crown of influencer though, and when I enquire who he considers to be the top bike packing influencers, he dismisses others: ‘Oh I regard myself as such. I don’t bikepack. But holy f*ck I influence so good.

Dabbling in marketing management might be damaging for his soul, but it helps keep him in touch with trends in bicycles and technology. Despite holding a degree in Graphic Design, Pubes continues to work hard at staying relevant, providing regular commentary on technological developments in the bike world and making unsolicited suggestions for bicycle design improvements. I enquire about the best process for designing a bicycle frame: ‘Copying what Specialized does and changing it just enough that you’re out of reach from their army of lawyers’. It’s forward thinking innovation like this that keeps Pubes at the cutting edge of design.

While we do take the time to look at some ongoing prototype work, including elastomer-formed Super Supple Suspension Spokes (SSSS), he’s quick to recognise the good work and innovation of others. Compliments such as ‘OMG that e-reign for sure with its big beautiful e-balls. They hang with elegance’, or that ‘$3,000 sproing doing fork that looks like a Lauf and the robot from Judge Dredd had a baby. It’s fine’ may not be quite the phrases that make it into print ads, but it’s the kind of commentary that commands respect across (most of) the industry.

He dismisses rumours of a trademark dispute with Eric Barr over the rights to use the brand ‘bicyclepubes’. ‘Oh there’s no discussions with attorneys because I am Eric Barr. Eric Barr is me. I think’. This claim seems dubious, since Pubes is happy to state that carbon is better than steel when it comes to making bicycle frames because ‘sometimes you gotta throw your bike in a f&cking lake.’ Also, his hands are aged but soft – those of a desk worker, not a master welder or trail builder.

The double spacing in our written correspondence suggests an age greater than his face – has he perhaps had a little work done? I let slip mention of his failed application for a post as designer at Ellsworth, and the bitter reply prompts me to switch up the conversation and stick with the latest MTB tech developments. How is his AXS-XTR-Rotor shootout coming along? ‘Inconclusive. All archaic methods of shifting, if you ask me. I’m holding out for the springwater-actuated Paul Comp system coming in 2030.’.

Who is bicycle pubes bike store
‘The Pile’

Feeling that I’m losing his good will, I ask to see his bike collection. It’s displayed in a pile on one side of a double garage. On the top of the pile is a bearclaw buck macho ‘because it’s titanium and makes me appear important and successful. [On the] bottom is this god damn 1988 Ibis trials bike that I bought off ebay after a few too many chardonnays. Shameful purchase so it stays at the bottom forever. Bikes go in a pile. Unless you a fat cat who can afford those Park Tool hooks. Not me tho. Pile.’.

On the other side of the garage is a vehicle, covered in a large tarpaulin – there’s a lot of bat shit around, so it seems a wise move. I wonder if there’s a Chevy Lumina under there, but no, ‘[It’s a] big, stupid pick-up truck barfin out coal farts. With a sticker of Calvin peeing on free health care.

bicycle pubes campag
It seems Mr Pubes like Campag.

Despite the soft hands, Pubes must undertake some of his own bicycle maintenance, as there’s a work bench and collection of tools to one side of the pile display. Perhaps he wears gloves? Or, has he just found the perfect t-shirts for cleaning oily hands? ‘Rapha shirts are best for this, but only if you record yourself cleaning your hands in black and white with Explosions in the Sky playing in the background.

I turn back to the pile and am prompted to ask what is the correct treatment for people who don’t line up their valves with their logos? ‘They are the bravest of folks and don’t play by your rules. The correct treatment is to listen to what they have to say. It will change your life’. Every single one of Pubes’ valves is perfectly aligned.

bicyclepubes bike collection
Also display only.

There are some interesting machines in the pile, including a ‘76 gold Race Inc. with a DG fork, blue Webco Mags and matching blue naugahyde pads with rusty snaps. I’d like to venture out on that one, but apparently it is only for show. Of course, since I’m not allowed to know my true location, a ride isn’t possible, but I wonder if, in future, we might ride together. Where would we go? ‘To the closest place with sandwiches. I don’t even care if they’re good sandwiches, just get the f$cking sandwiches in my mouth. This year. No waiting’. I make very good sandwiches (just ask Jez Avery), though carrying them on a ride might constitute bike packing and since I’m beginning to suspect that Pubes is both hangry and hostile, I avoid trying to set a date. Instead I suggest we retire to the kitchen for a few quick fire final questions and some final scene setting photographs.

sandwich
I make better sandwiches than Pubes does tea.

I dig out my notes and fire the questions:

ST – If you had to nominate Greg Herbold, Brian Lopes or Tony Ellsworth to the MTB Hall of Fame, who would it be and what would you say?

BP – Brian Lopes. I would then refer to him as Brian Lopez for the entire speech, because that’s what I thought his name was for the longest time. He would try to correct me and I would ignore him. It would be tons of fun.

ST – Let’s suppose you had a child and every one of their top 10 birthday gift requests was Rollerblades. What would you do?

BP – Break out the old VHS player and my coveted copy of The Hoax. Make them watch it. Ask them if this is what they truly want to do with their lives.

interbike bicycle pubes
It is rumoured that Pubes was banned from Interbike, for wearing ‘Those Socks’ inappropriately,

ST – Why are you still subscribing to Trail Runner Magazine when Singletrackworld.com offers much better coverage of e-bikes and the gravel scene?

BP – Because I love reading about shoes. Who the hell don’t? Talk about shoes more. Everyone wears them. Guaranteed success. [Note: Bicycle Pubes is not Brant. At least, I don’t think he is. Is it easier to pretend to be American, or Northern? Maybe it is Brant]

ST – If your only post-apocolyptic choices were 700X19C or 20X5in, which would you choose?

BP – 700x19s on a track bike. Lay down sick skids through blood and bone.

ST – What do you like to listen to as you work?

BP – Doomy Bong Sludge recorded on a Speak & Spell.

ST – What should we ride if we want to retain integrity and honesty?

BP – Mr. Freeze Ride at Six Flags in St. Louis or maybe somewhere in Texas.

ST – What remedies cramping?

BP – Writhing in pain on the floor while embarrassing yourself in front of friends and loved ones is my go-to.

beer bicycle pubes
Without a bike, this is just shit beer. With a bike, it’s essential nutrients.

ST – What is the best use of a bicycle?

BP – To lay next to you on the trails while you drink, which turns a “why’s this guy drinkin’ in the woods by himself” to “oh he’s riding hard and needs carbs and deserves this.”

ST – Any regrets before you die?

BP – Too many to count. In my early tweens, I remember seeing the last Wendy’s SuperBar I would ever see. I didn’t even ask my parents to eat there, assuming that there would be other SuperBars. That one haunts me.

At the mention of the Wendy’s SuperBar, Pubes’ hunger seems to catch up with him. He opens the fridge to reveal contents as carefully organised as his bike collection. He pauses and sniffs briefly at a can of energy drink. Is it off? No. ‘The mere smell of that shit gives me anxiety. So one quick huff and I’m good to go’. Removing a few more jars, he proceeds to concoct what I presume is a spirulina smoothie, but he corrects me, ‘…enema. It’s just EASY.’

fridge freezer
Mr Pubes’ fridge. We’ll spare you the bath.
cutlery drawer campag
I took a peek in the cutlery drawer.

This reminds me that I’m about to have my head bagged for the long return journey to my flight back to Portland. I’m directed to a bathroom down the hall that any bike shop worth its salt would be proud of. I spray the aged air freshener on entry, and think twice about whether the bar of Dove soap on offer will actually help remove any germs from my hands. There’s a well-thumbed copy of ‘The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Fifth Edition’ for anyone brave enough to touch it or sit on the toilet seat. I try not to think too hard about the name of my interviewee as I catch sight of the tub ring, and divert my gaze to the pictures on the walls.

Who is bicycle pubes
In the bathroom.

On exiting into the hall, where Pubes is patiently waiting for me outside the bathroom door he explains the gallery ‘Those are all pictures of celebrities that I’d like to meet in my lifetime. A blue X means I met them. A red X means they dead and I missed my chance. A black X means I have lost interest and no longer want to meet them.’ There’s a red X on Elliott Smith and Wade Boggs, and black ones on Chuck Norris and Karl Malone.

Assuring Mr Pubes that I washed my hands – I may be a cyclist, but I still prefer a handshake to a fist bump – I offer my hand and thank him for the tour, his time and his hospitality. ‘No no. Thank YOU.’ says Pubes, before gathering up his kitchen concoction and heading into the bathroom.

Not everything is bullshit.

Disclosure

Despite best efforts, no travel or expenses were provided by anyone for this interview. If you like what you’ve read, use code staff-hannah5-19 when buying an annual print or digital subscription to Singletrack. You’ll get £5 off and Hannah might share the proceeds with @Fahzure. Otherwise he gets nothing. Mr Pubes gets nothing but exposure either way.


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