Some observations on planned obsolescence.

lunchbreathdevelopmentcycle.jpgGraphic courtesy of the exceptionally talented Tobias Lunchbreath.


Today we’re going to kick things off with a feature I’d like to call ‘Why Doesn’t The Goddamned Bike Industry Just Stop While It’s Ahead?’, which assuming the person who so many years ago demanded that I ‘just stick to bikes’ is still reading this site, will be quite pleased.

You see, I have been hit with regularly occurring disappointment when it comes to finding a favorite product that I would be quite happy to use for the rest of my life until the bright minds in the industry’s think tank pulls a fool move like termination of production. What this leads to is people like me, (or possibly just me) ending up having to hoard, or worse yet, scour the Ebays to fulfill my need. Starting at the top of my list, the first bone to pick is with Ritchey Logic, or should I say Richey Illogic? (That’s what we in the biz call a ‘zinger’.)

As I noted upon the completion of my All City build, I swapped out the stock bars with a very fortunate acquisition of a pair of Ritchey BioMax Comps;
biomaxprecrash.jpg
As fate sometimes giveth, it also occasionally taketh away, because as I was noodleing along at nearly a snail’s pace the other day, I clipped a pedal and was slapped to the ground as if donkey punched by God herself. Upon regaining my verticalness, I noted that I had bent the holy hell out of my new bars on impact.

As soon as I returned home, I began searching for a replacement pair (46 cm wide, with a 26 clamp diameter if anyone’s asking), but to no avail. Gonesville, man. No dice.
Secondly, Sean from Soulcraft built me a beauty of a bike a couple of years ago called the Dirtbomb, and as it was, I had a selection of their 700×42 tires called the Zed. Sean built the rear end to accommodate those 42s, and when time came to replace my treads, my insider at Ritchey notified me that they had ceased production of them, and that there were none left on the premises.

I’ve continued my search for 42s, but aside from the Conti Reflex Steel, and Maxxis Wormdrive, neither of which possess a tread pattern I’m terribly enthused about, I can’t find squat.
Luckily as a token member of the Soulcraft team, I am very fortunate to get in on the Panaracer gravy train, though due to the stay’s width, and my initial tire selection, it turns out their 45c ‘Fire Cross’ tire is just a smidge too big, so as it stands, I have to resort to keeping a 38 in the back.
Which brings me to item number three in our sorrowful list.

I have had a long and passionate romance with the Wilderness Trail Bikes line of tires, and most especially, their 38c Interwolf;
interwold.jpg
The tread design was perfection, and unlike many of my favorite cross tires, the rubber compound was durable enough so as to not wear through with only a handful of miles on the pavement. (I ride my bike to my bike rides, therefore, sometimes spend time on pavé. Weird, I know.) These too have gone the way of the Dodo, and my previously secured stash is now exhausted.
Number four may still be available, though has generally proven itself illusive to find. While it is a small item, has always been one of my favorites none the less. It’s the Cateye bar plug.

It may seem curious to some that something as simple and seemingly mundane as a bar plug could possibly worm its way into one’s heart, but these have, and for one simple reason; They rule.
cateyebarplug.jpg
They are relatively low profile, and are absolutely bomb proof. They do a far better job of protecting your bar’s ends than the stock schlock that comes with tape, and will not, under any circumstances fall out.

For number five and six, I can’t neglect to mention Campy Record hubs;
IMG_3215
and Caramba Double Barrel cranks;
carambadbcirclea.jpg
They are sheer perfection, so ‘nuf said.
Luckily, I have a few pairs of each, so for the mean time, I’m set.
Number seven has been a serious bee in my bonnet for the last three months.

Hands down, my all time, ALL TIME favorite helmet was the Giro Pneumo;
giropenumo.jpg
They were extraordinarily well vented, second to none in comfort and best of all, didn’t look like a salad bowl on your head. I have been blessed for many years to be on the receiving end of an assortment of Giro products, all of which I have used and abused until they had to be retired. I had two black Pneumos in my possession, the first of which was badly damaged in last winter’s crash, and the second was destroyed at the end of my recent Oregon trip when my bike fell on it.

As soon as it happened, I called Mr. Blacksocks with the news and a request on bended knee for a new one, but as it turned out, they were well out of stock, and after an exhaustive search on the internets, I’ve come up empty handed.

Number eight doesn’t have so much to do with bicycle technologies, as much as it does the general schizophrenic nature of the optics industry. As a younger lad, I could regularly be found with a pair of Arnette Threats perched atop either my helmet, or the bridge of my nose.
Happily I had two pairs.

Sadly my then girlfriend/now wife found her way to sit on them both.
After numerous hours spent attempting to find a replacement pair, I had all but given up until recently when I (for no reason in particular) asked Hugga Potato if he might happen to still have a pair laying around. As it turns out, he did and after digging through one of his many piles of piles, produced a set which I now proudly claim as my own;
arnettethreats.jpg
Now If I can only remember to no longer store them in, on, or under any enticing looking seating surfaces.

In light of my general run of luck when finding a steady diet of that which I love, at times I become adept at building a stock pile. I am almost used to the fact that anytime an item comes down the pipe for which I have a true, and intrinsic affinity, I end up procuring as many of them as I can. Cases in point of course being the WTB Deva saddles and my highly coveted collection of Rock Shox seat posts;
awholelottasaddles.jpg
Likewise, upon finding out that Trek was stopping production on my very favorite backpack, I bought five of them;
newtrakbaginnbag.jpg
This was a good thing as after five years of relentless abuse, it ends up looking like this;
beattoshittrekbag.jpg
Which if it was a Fütbol fan, would resemble this;
The-Greatest-Blow-of-All-Time-vomit-1559.jpg
Though this particular individual’s blow out may have been planned, it is anything but obsolete.
newlittleskull.jpg

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24 Responses to “Some observations on planned obsolescence.”

  1. Crank November 24, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    XTR thumb shifters. Covet.

  2. Mike November 24, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    Add the old Ritchey/Dia-Compe cable hanger to that list too. Down to my last Interwolf tire. My favorite fat cross tire.

  3. Hugapotato November 24, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    I’m standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you here, Stevie. I, too, have an affinity for a lot of Ritchey products. including the Biomax 46 on my own cx bike. And if you’ve been a good boy, I might have a line on some Zed 42’s for X-mess…

  4. MM November 24, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    Mythos CX come in 40c and 42c. They work really well on the trail…

  5. DoorMatt November 24, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Wish the industry would stop the madness, I feel like the Grim Reaper of bike components. I will bring the whiskey to the InterWolf wake (once mine are dead). I love those tires. Heck, even my beloved steel Salsa LaCruz frame is no more.

  6. Case November 24, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Deva saddles? Check. I have the line for you Steve and I understand your devotion. I have three on bikes and more in reserve. I also think I can scare up a pair of 46c 26.0 bars, not Ritchey but good none the less. Also, I have opted for 12g shotgun shell casings for my road bar plugs. They fit perfectly, never slip, look badass and are readily found for free on the wooded grounds of ‘Merica.

  7. P.libb November 24, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    I can’t believe you found a pair of threats. I have lamented their passing for years. Sigh, now I just cry when I go fast.

  8. glenn November 24, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    Schwalbe makes some 700 x 40 tires that might ease your pain. I’ve been riding the same pair for about 4 years now. They are getting a little thin, but don’t slip in the snow yet. Or mud.

  9. reverend dick November 24, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    +1 interwolf.
    Mark Slate: hear us roar.

  10. rik November 24, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    good hoarders never run out…

  11. FunkyLaneO November 24, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    I used to have one of those Trek Backpacks, loved that thing, perfect size, perfect fit, didn’t make my back sweat. It is dead now and I will probably never own another one.

  12. ben November 24, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Hell, pretty soon they stop making anything that I actually like. I can imagine the conversation now…
    “Gee, product X has been a total hit. We’ve made tons of money on those, and people love that stuff. It’s hard to even keep up on production. We better discontinue that, it’s too popular.”

  13. clark November 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Props to Case on the 12gauge bar end plugs. I’m gonna go make a couple, right now.

  14. dayton November 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Good points, and it’s good to hoard when you know what you like. I always have back up saddles in store.
    But I must comment on what I think is the source of the problem: Model years. Every year there’s the pressure to build a slightly different, but totally the same product. Result? In 2020, we’ll all be griping about how much better our old 9 speed systems worked, but no shop will carry less than a 14 speed cassette.

  15. patbastard November 24, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    That’s a pretty hobosexual collection of RS(rectum saver) seat posts ya got there. Prison is gunna luv you, just not visa versa.
    your poor lil tushy…

  16. reed November 25, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    kind of a weird topic for thanks-having week. just look at all the shit you DO have. yet you still need more? what if nothing new ever came out? hell, i loved my schwinn collegiate for delivering newspapers in 73 but they don’t make them anymore! what’s the saying? i cried that i had no shoes until i met a man with no feet? cheer up lil camper. wtb probably has an even-more-kickass-than-a-collegiate tire for twennytwelve in the works. probably carving a mold right now. one more thing, i think that if you can’t find a helmet after a few hours of searching the interweb, that you actually come out empty HEADED;-) lovey hugs! reeed

  17. Stevil November 25, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    Says the man who occasionally works with King Hoader himself. I don’t need more stuff Reed. I just want more of the same. Therein lies the difference, though I’m resourceful and can make a hell of a batch of lemonade if need be. Besides, if I didn’t post about this,it would have just been more of the same nonsense so you’re welcome for the break from the usual.

  18. mechanicmatt November 25, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    For me its sugino triple cranks, shimano deore/xt thumbshifters, suntour thumbshifters, late 80’s/early 90’s suntour/shimano canti’s, touring pedals, and wellgo bmx pedals.
    Can’t find onza grips, turbo saddles, old shimano/ritchey brake levers, koshki v brakes, early sram 9.0 and 7.0 V brakes and levers, Real Design hubs and levers, Titec Berserkr saddles, old old trek steel lugged frames, and others I miss.
    That picture looks like you snuck up on a gathering of sleeping swans.

  19. b November 26, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    i got an extra set of threats if you ever need. i’m sure we could barter something

  20. jomama November 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Yo Stevil, lemme know if you want a Deva Saddle, one popped up on my local craigslist.

  21. joe g November 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    stevil, I think your observations are good, but as a guy that develops new shit, there’s a couple issues I run into here – because at the end of the day I want to get paid and not just get high-fives:
    one is that people buy lots of shit when its new.
    The second is that when people have something they love and is totally incredible they somehow only get sentimental about it after you decide to pull the plug. But if you were posting “I love new product X” things, people would call you an industry shill, and nobody believes anyone who gets shit for free.
    the third is that tons of people don’t really ever ride their bikes enough to appreciate products that last + years of hard abuse, so keeping shit around doesn’t do a manufacturer much good when there are far more people on the #2 tip of “this new free thing is the best thing ever”.
    fourth is that people tend to get used to certain things and it makes them reject new things even if they are better in lots of ways, i call it “senti-mentalredardation”
    fifth is that nichey stuff basically get bought up by folks who are after it right away, and then things slow down. It’s hard to support slow-moving items indefinitely due to some boring shit, and it makes a catalog HUGE if you keep all your old shit and try to sell new stuff too (see #2 again).
    There’s other lame reasons too, but nobody cares, because all I’ve done is make excuses.
    It is hard to keep track of what is good from all the new crap after you find out what you liked from the last crop, and thats annoying.
    If you can appreciate a motorcycle reference, KTM makes some rad niche bikes – for two years. They figure everyone who wants one got one, and then move on. The upside is that you can get a brand new 2008 model for a killer deal.
    Now if the industry would slow down on the “new standards” tip, we might come out on the other side OK.

  22. cyclotourist November 28, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    I love me some ZEDs. The last of the good ones… I use Devas, too. Get the ti ones for $30 on ebay, same size as Devos if you’re cool with your sexuality.

  23. mattya14 November 29, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    Gotta love a good puke…

  24. innerlighter December 3, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Oh, for a stock of Suntour XC Pro thumb shifters.
    Set to friction, of course.
    meh