Using the only criteria that matter — the ones maintained by the 12-year-old boy in the back of our brains — what was the absolutely most cool/awesome/dope/fly machine in human history? It wasn’t the P.K. Ripper or the 917K, cool though they may be. Nor was it the AR-15 or the Cigarette boat driven by Sonny Crocket. It wasn’t even the F-104 Starfighter, although that is the plane I would buy if I won the lottery tomorrow.
The apex machine, the alpha dog of technological achievement, is surely the SR-71 Blackbird and its “Oxcart” sibling. It went faster than the missiles fired in its direction and it made Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter look like a Toyota Yaris. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to the “Hidden Figures”-style movie to be made about it where we find out that the Blackbird was invented not by a bunch of nerds with pocket protectors but rather by a diverse team of women’s studies majors, bronies-of-color, and MS-13 lieutenants. Good stuff.
The SR-71’s hull was made of titanium, a necessary inconvenience that required a massive amount of duplicity on the part of American intelligence agencies and/or corporations. Titanium is the king of metals: strong yet ductile, inert and hypoallergenic, able to withstand more heat than the other options in the craftsman’s arsenal. I have lived the vast majority of my life with various different titanium bolts holding me together.
There is little that titanium cannot do. Having saved the world in the Cold War (for a while, anyway) it is now ready to save the world yet again, in the greatest battle humanity has ever faced.
Although I received my first under-the-skin titanium upgrade in 1988, it wasn’t until recently that I bothered to use the metal in my bicycle builds. My skatepark bike features liberal quantities of Ti in its cranks, bolts, and other small parts, and in the near future I’ll be swapping the front end out for one of Mike Laird’s first all-titanium forks.
Last year, I took the plunge and bought three new titanium bikes from Lynskey, in Tennessee. If you know much about bicycles, then you know that the Lynskey family founded Litespeed, the original purveyor of frames in this particular material. Our own Ronnie Schreiber is a long-time Litespeed owner who covers thousands of miles a year on his early example. Today, Lynskey is probably best characterized as the blue-collar titanium bike-builder. The people who have real money are far more likely to buy a Moots, a Seven, a TiCycles, or one of the micro-builder products out there.
If they are particularly conscious of aesthetics, however, they might end up with a Firefly. This East Coast builder does some ASTOUNDING things with anodizing and polishing. If you want an $8,000 bike that looks like a $15,000 bike, they are the obvious choice.
A few years ago, I had Firefly cook up a batch of anodized titanium headset spacers in various shades of green for my skatepark and BMX race bikes. That got me on their email list, which is how I found out about Ti Straws
Perhaps you’ve heard about California’s ban on plastic straws. Like most legislation of this type, it nontrivially damages the lives of unpersons (in this case, the disabled) in exchange for a little bit of heroin-grade virtue signaling. The “science” behind it came from a a nine-year-old’s school report. Oh well. You’d better just learn to “move on” and accept it. Under no circumstances, citizen, should you allow yourself to look at other, similar laws in a critical fashion as a result. MOVE ALONG. Do you really want to go to jail for handing out straws? Of course not.
(A brief aside: Handing someone a straw in Santa Barbara will get you more jail time than the amount of jail time that Professor Eric Clanton got for hitting seven “Nazis” in the head with a bike lock, which was zero years, zero months, and zero days. Some of those “Nazis” weren’t even aware they were Nazis until they got hit. Now they know.)
Those of us who want or need straws will now have to provide them ourselves, although I wonder if perhaps the free heroin needles distributed so liberally in California couldn’t be “upcycled” for the purpose. Certainly they would do in a pinch although the flow rate would be low. You can buy USA-made stainless-steel straws from Mulled Mind on Etsy.
Ah, but who would have a stainless-steel straw if titanium straws were available? Not the twelve-year-old boy in the back of your brain. He wants a titanium straw. Last month, Firefly Bicycles announced on Instagram and via e-mail that they would be making a limited number of titanium straws using some leftover material from their fabrication operations. Each straw was a custom order with an optional anodized tip in the color of the customer’s choice. They were $20 each including shipping. The timeline of Firefly’s communications with its customers went something like this:
Hour Zero: Would you like to buy a titanium straw LOL we are gonna do a few if anybody cares
Hour Twelve: Okay, the order response has been strong, we are going to honor the ones we have and close up the store in a bit
Hour Twenty-Four: Alright, everybody, the straws are all sold out, no need to keep calling, we are done with this for at least a few years
Hour Thirty-Six: ENOUGH ABOUT THE FUCKIN’ STRAWS DID ANY OF YOU IDIOTS REALIZE THAT WE SELL OTHER SHIT
Hour Forty-Eight: sound of 155mm artillery fire in the distance
Needless to say, I got mine. As with any other non-plastic straw, you have to be careful about not breaking your teeth or impaling your palate with these Blackbird-strong bad boys. I’d be very surprised if any TSA checkpoint let you carry them aboard, although I would also be surprised if the nudie-booth scanner could see the ones you’ve sewn into the inseams of your pants. I like the color of the anodizing, which in my case is a bright green, and the color of the material, which is the same dull but complex grey I treasure in my bicycles and in my IWC Ingy. So far, it’s been a good purchase and I would recommend them to anybody willing to wait until Firefly restarts production sometime during President-For-Life Pence’s fifth term. Follow Firefly on Instagram for advance notice of the next batch. You won’t be sorry. They are amazing machines.