A Deep Patina

It was Grant Petersen that first coined the term beausage in reference to bicycles (some say he invented the term, but I swear I heard it elsewhere back in the 70’s). According to the Urban Dictionary, beausage is, “a synthetic combination of the words beauty and usage, and describes the beauty that comes with using something.” Good examples of beausage are Yo-Yo Ma’s cello and this cockpit of a vintage Mercedes. Beausage comes from consistently using something, while taking great care of that thing, over a long period of time. Beausage is not the result of carelessly abusing something and prematurely wearing it out.

Many of the bikes I’ve seen described as having beausage are pretty beat up. I’ve seen bikes with badly scratched and chipped paint, dangling bar tape, and even rusting frames, all described as having beausage. I don’t get that. Maybe a better word to describe these bikes would be abuseage. When I think of beausage, I think of a Brooks saddle polished to a high sheen from long use, or shellaced cork grips wearing through to the raw cork, or primer showing through at the top tube from being lightly brushed by knee warmers for 10 years.

There are tangible rewards for using a high quality tool or instrument on a daily basis over a long period of time; with familiarity comes understanding and fluency. Taking great care of that tool only adds to the rewards. A chef has his treasured knife, a musician his treasured instrument, and yes, even a bike rider can have a treasured bicycle. The great beauty in beausage is that it cannot be bought; no amount of money, no amount of buying and selling bikes will produce that deep patina that can only be acquired through long use and mindful care.

Note: This article was originally published on the Recumbent Blog in November 2007. From time to time I’ll reprint pertinent articles from the RB here on EcoVelo.

4 Responses to “A Deep Patina”

  • andy parmentier says:

    having mercury robbing me of breath, and flat feet robbing me of breath (resulting in bad posture and sunken air cavity) my intuitivity led me to the beautiful coast (starting with lake michigan) and when i read discovery magazine december ’04 issue letter to the editor by a scientist about how the ocean needs iron, i renamed the sea my iron lung. it’s a windy place.
    one’s need is another’s gift to fulfil. i had also become enamored of my tour easy frame, the long wedge looked to me like an ocean wave. so i renamed my bike iron wave (no, i really named my bike sir costalot!)
    i had read about a poor black woman who prayed to rise out of poverty. in a dream, she was given a special formula for hair dressing. cutting to the chase, she became a millionaire pretty rare, and she did’nt lose her generous heart. she bought her daughter a cadillac (amongst many other endowments) and the car cost 1380 dollars, and MY mom bought MY tour easy. a trade in that gardner martin himself sold me. it was 1382 or so dollars with the shipping. i remember those glorious numbers. and once or twice while riding i’ve been told
    “nice cadillac” i’ve got a black bike. once a young black kid asked me “can you ride that thing no hands?” i had JUST gotten the hang of that..so i stuck out my wings

    -andy purple passion red iron dust on the blue ocean waters

  • Croupier says:

    Beausage is Glen Hansard’s Guitar: http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/070827/glen_l.jpg

  • Alan says:



  • Charlotte says:

    I think for me the best example of beausage is the shoes of a ballet dancer:
    Shocking what it takes to get there…

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