Created By: lakawak on January 2, 2012 Last Edited By: lakawak on January 3, 2012

Nerds like bicycle bells

Any time a movie is trying to portray a bicycle rider to be a nerd,, they ALWAYS ring their bike bell as soon as they get on

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Any movie or TV show that portrays a character riding a bike in a negative way (which is the majority) must have the character riding the typical bike bell like you hear in Queen's Bicycle Race. It doesn't matter if there is no reason for the bell to be rung. Nobody that they need to alert to their presense in front of them. They just ring it to further solidify their nerdiness. An example would be the deputy in Cabin Fever when he rides off after first investigating the cabin. This does not happen in the rare movies wher bike riding is not portrayed as being nerdy (Breaking Away, Quicksilver, even the beginning of Caddyshack.)

This would obviously not apply to foreign films nearly as much, as bicycle riding is much more common in Europe and therefore the movies reflect it.
Community Feedback Replies: 5
  • January 2, 2012
    Needs More Examples.

    Perhaps a trope on stories presenting bike riding as nerdy? I don't remember noticing either one before. I can't think of many fictional portrayals of bike riding at all, actually.

    And I'm surprised people see it as nerdy. I'd have thought that if bikes were associated with any subculture it would have been hippies.
  • January 3, 2012
    Wasn't this in Back To The Future with George McFly? Someone has to confirm, as I haven't seen it in ages.
  • January 3, 2012
    yes...George Mc Fly does it as well. And I am not sure, but I think that was one of the many ways The 40 Year Old Virgin showed his nerdidity. (along with actually signalling properly) Though he may have done it with reason, unlike many who ring it as soon as they get on the bike for no reason whatsoever. But this is the movie that mocks the action of an adult riding a bike pretty directly at least twice in the movie. (First Seth Rogan and then Kat Dennings.)

    Doc does it as well in Back To The Future Part 2 when he is pulling into Biff's driveway to free Marty from the garage. (Though Marty is already in the back seat of Biff's car.)

    So is definitely played off as nerdy pretty often. (I say this as someone who rides 200 miles a week in the summer and over 3500 miles a year.) Too nerdy to drive a car...that type a thing.

    Daniel has a bike, and is mocked for it, but no bell in The Karate Kid. So perhaps the trope is just having a bike often makes you the social outcast.

    The main character in 21 rides a bike when he is still just a math nerd but if I recall, you don't see him ride it once he joins the card counting team. This perhaps has more to do with a lack of money, but movies can portray poor Bostonians without using bikes by having them ride the subway like Good Will Hunting.

    There there was You Me and Dupree where it started off being nerdy, but then Owen Wilson sort of turned it into non-nerdy. (I don't think he had a bell though.) Jan Brady was portrayed as nerdy for riding it to school in the original Brady Bunch Movie, but it was more for the way she was riding than riding itself since she was a kid.

    And the main character in the indie movie Teeth is seen riding a bike. Probably to hammer home the whole ultra-religious, abstinence nerd aspect of her character.

    But definitely most of the time when the character is of legal driving age, if they are riding a bike it is to show that they are in some way a social outcast. Especially if they enjoy it.
  • January 3, 2012
    To a lesser extent, Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day sort of qualfied. Not so much a nerd, but a bit of a social outcast, though willingly.

    Also...In real life...Ed Begley Jr.. But like Goldblum in ID 4, it is more of a hippy, treehugger thing than a nerd thing. (Though one could argue that Ed Begley Jr. is portrayed as a nerd in his brief reality show on Planet Green.
  • January 3, 2012
    Also, Dave in the movie Dave rides a bike...doesn't ring the bell, but the bike HAS a bell. You can see it when he is walking his bike into his apartment as the Secret Service are waiting in his living room to first ask him to double forthe President. Definitely portrayed as a bit of a nerd.

    And maybe Kevin Kline in In and Out as well but I am not sure. And I think Wild Wild West he had a steam powered bike to beat Will Smith's horse. Man...Kevin Kline is a nerd!

    So it definitely sounds like the trope could be that nerds often ride bikes, and that a lot of them have the bike bells or obey all laws while riding. Perhaps that the level of nerdom is directly proportional to the number of bike laws (helmet, bell, headlights, hand signals, stopping at intersections/red lights even when no cars are coming, etc.) he follows