I remember when a bicycle of mine sighed out its last breath.

I had gotten the bike for free from my sister’s friend back in high school, a brown ‘70s cruiser pulled out of a backyard. Not wanting to waste money putting new tires on such a crappy old bike, I did the more reasonable thing: I cut the rotted tires off and rode on the rims. I’d seen this in Good Morning, Vietnam a while before, I think, and I figured it would be fun.

Advertisement

It was.

But the screeching, sliding, sparks-shooting madness that ensued only lasted so long before the rear wheel spokes started to ping out of the rim. One day, after mounting one of the few hills in my Central Valley town, the bike sunk down under me, giving an audible sigh as the metal fatigued.

Advertisement

I will never forget hearing my bike’s last breath.

Advertisement

This anthropomorphized moment from an inanimate object came back to mind after I read this rumination by reader think carbon when asked how many times the automobile has died:

How can something which has never lived truly be alive? But alas, what does it actually mean ‘to live’? Does a 996 not feel pain when its IMS bearings fail, resulting in catastrophic engine failure? Does an Allroad not suffer from indignity when driving around on a sagging suspension, forcing its owner to commute to work in an A4 loaner car? Does any car with a CVT transmission not feel shame when idling next to any car without a CVT? Does a Murciélago not feel a troubling sense of accomplishment when its engine catches on fire, its power locks simultaneously fail, and its douchey owner is burned alive in the very car he spent 1/1000th of his trust fund to purchase?

I know I have seen a broken car look back at me, filled with sadness and disappointment. Have you ever seen a car suffer?

Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove


Contact the author at raphael@jalopnik.com.