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Gear Prudence: Over the last few months, I’ve put together my ‘dream bike’ build. Piece by piece, I selected the exact components and a pretty expensive and rare frame. I put in the order for everything and proudly posted my parts list on Facebook. About a week later, I got a message from a friend of mine who said he’d always admired my taste and that it inspired him to order essentially the same exact bike. Him copying me, especially after I put so much time and effort into selecting everything (especially the very rare frame) seems so wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t be mad about it, but I am. How do I tell him that what he’s doing is not cool? —Brazen Imitation Kills Excitement Toward Wonderful, Individualized Novelty
Dear BIKETWIN: Obviously the best way to tell a friend that you disapprove of his action is to write to GP, hope he reads it and realizes that it’s about him, immediately sees the errors of his ways, cancels his order, and makes some flashy public apology, perhaps involving a Jumbotron. Or, you could just talk to him about it like normal person. But before you do, figure out the root cause of your frustration and whether your verdict of “not cool” behavior is accurate.
You posted your bike build on Facebook. Maybe you expected everyone to praise you for your good taste—which, other than spreading agitprop and learning how racist friends of friends are, is pretty much the only reason to be on there—but you had to have realized that sharing something on social media hardly sends the message that it’s a closely guarded secret. You put the info out there and your friend (who admires your good taste!) pounced without doing any of the work of spending months poring over bike parts. You can’t be too mad about this—you’re the one who told him about it!
That said, nobody likes a copycat. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but you don’t want to be flattered—you want to be the guy with the badass unique dream bike. Your friend swooping in after the fact and getting the same one feels bad because it diminishes the specialness of your bike. You saw the bike purchase as the culminating event of a long-term process and a reflection of your personal expertise, and he reminded you that, nope, the bike is an object, no more special than any other object that can be bought. Of course this hurts your feelings, and you can tell him as much, but don’t lose sight of the most important thing: No matter what he does, you still get your dream bike. Maybe it’s not one-of-a-kind, but it’s yours. —GP
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