Recently while looking though PDW’s Tumblr site I found an image that I liked.
Instead of stealing it and claiming it as my own (which I’m pretty sure is standard protocol when using the Tumblr), I gave the young man depicted therein corpse paint, and then claimed it as my own;
This is proper use of the internet.
Continuing on, the other day I was having a phone conversation with Handsome AK who currently holds the position of OEM sales manager at Shimano America, and we began discussing, as we occasionally do, bikes and parts and why things work and why things do not. He was telling me about a belt drive bike he recently assembled, and I responded by saying I thought the advent of belt drives was addressing a problem that never existed.
The discussion then turned to the cyclical nature of products which are marketed to the bike product buying public and how transient the bike world generally is. Say you have someone who is relatively new to the bike world, (six years or so) and they have the perspective of someone who has seen and heard everything the bike world has to offer in those six years. They also spend their fair share of time reading forums and basing their ‘expertise’ not on practical experience, but rather on the opinion of others.
Then they see this;
(Product review in the new issue of Paved Magazine.)
The reviewer writes “the unique shape allows the rings to offer a harder gear ratio on the rider’s downstroke and an easier ratio on the upstroke, which helps eliminate the dead spot in the pedal stroke and increase power.”
That concept sounds awesome, and for the small price of $300.00 you can get some for yourself. The previously mentioned person then presents this on their blog, or website or podcast or fanzine what have you, which is read by a whole slew of other people who have no perspective and suddenly a considerable percentage of the bicycle public thinks they are looking at the new hotness, and they are all standing around patting themselves on the back for being present when the most revolutionary of parts were introduced.
Now then, I have had some pretty major blows to the head in the last twenty years and certainly have done nothing for the health of my synapses in terms of my alcohol enthusiasm so I could be mistaken, but wasn’t this the exact platform that was used when introducing Biopace?
Why yes, as a matter of fact it was, but it would appear as though the entire bike world got hit on the head with a coconut, thereby erasing it’s memory completely, and allowing this old pony to be trotted out once again.
I mean, when I worked in a shop, this concept was a punch line. We would regularly call competitor’s shops and ask if they had any Biopace track rings in stock to see if the person on the other end would actually go look.
Just when the motocross world starts to pull away from us in terms of planned obsolesce, we pull a one-two punch like this.
As long as I am wearing my complaining hat, I will include an email I got from Yafro;
Want to start ranting about Amazon now or later?
I know I am a self-righteous fucker but I already would not buy anything from Amazon. First they bitch about having to pay sales tax which, you know, pays for roads, police, fire department, etc. Then they come out with phone apps and marketing encouraging people to go into book shops and price check everything and buy it all on amazon (kind of like people used to do with the Nashbar catalog in the bike shop except Nashbar didn’t tell you to go into a store with the catalog, have the shop answer all your questions and then order it from them because it was cheaper).
Blood pressure rising, must stop.
I have to admit, the additional extra super surprises I got to send outwith all of the Bandit jerseys (if you didn’t get one, that means someone at the fulfillment house kept it and they are in New York, which means it’s out of my hands) came from Amazon, because I couldn’t find any place that had 100 fake moustaches.
But the best way to combat this sort of thing is to simply not give them any business.
Uh oh. I feel a schpeel coming on;
Buy your hoohas and wizbangs at the local hooha and wizbang store, but certainly, and I have a feeling I’m preaching to the choir here, but for Dog’s sake, support your local bike shop.
I also have a bit of advice for owners and employees of said local bike shops, which is based on a conversation I had with El Captain Sportypants at some point after a not-so-favorable experience in one.
He had mentioned that when traveling, he liked to stop by random shops just to see how they were laid out and what sorts of products they had. Being a self respecting bike nerd, going in and perusing local shops is a force of habit anyway.
He also would chat up the proprietors, saying nothing of his involvement in the industry, but really just to gauge the temperature of the business. He’d also said how surprised he was when occasionally the mechanics and/or the sales people would be generally kind of douchey to him.
So my advice to independent bike shop owners and employees is this;
Don’t be a dick.
I’ve done my time working in the trenches, and I understand how frustrating it can sometimes be, but the long and the short of it is that the buying public is coming to you for your knowledge, insight, and experience. You have the unlimited power to make these people excited about supporting your business, and equally excited about riding a bicycle.
And these people have friends, and those people have friends, and by doing your part at your shop, you can conceivably steer all of those individuals towards you and the business you represent.
I will conclude this rant with a story. Several years after I stopped working at the last shop I wrenched at, a young woman approached me in a grocery store. She asked me if I at one time worked at X Shop, to which I reluctantly said yes, thinking she was going to tell me about how I didn’t tighten her hub nuts and her wheel fell off in traffic which resulted in a several month stay in a hospital or something.
She went on to tell me how I had repaired a flat tire for her and then brought her into the shop, showing her how to patch a tube herself, (an act I made a regular practice of with customers when time allowed.) She said that that simple gesture gave her a new level of self confidence while on her bike and then offered to buy me a twelve pack to which I enthusiastically agreed. Getting free beer aside however, I was touched that she remembered our exchange, and that this seemingly mundane experience made such a big impression.
While showing a person how to fix a puncture might not guarantee as many tube sales in the future, it does lock them on as a committed customer who has an allegiance to your shop, and keeps them from going to Amazon or any other number of mail order businesses, which obviously bodes well for you and your paycheck. Beyond that, it helps build community and real live relationships with your customers and that can’t be replaced by anything, no matter how much it’s on sale for.
Now that I have had the opportunity to get that of my chest, hows about a viewing of the 2011 Bilenky Bicycle Works Junkyard Cross Race?
Ironically, or not, Bill from The Crosshairs (who was actually responsible for the production of the video) emailed me just a short time after I found it and had planned to post it here anyway;
If you’re interested in this sort of thing, my video from last Sunday’s Bilenky Junkyard Cross is up here.
It’s rad and all that.
That just feels good. Then again anything with The Dirtbombs as a soundtrack is gonna worm its way into my black heart.
Clearly great minds think alike.
Before I take my leave, I implore you to sign yet one more petition.
This one involves the SOPA and the Protect IP Act.
Personally, as an enterprise that exists exclusively on the internet, I can’t begin to say how damaging these acts have the potential of being;
If you are confused by these acts, you can brush up on the short version here.
“SOPA explicitly states that companies will be liable for everything their users post. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Wikipedia, or any sites that allow user generated content CANNOT exist under these laws. Immediately after this bill is passed, you will see the media mafia (MPIAA, RIAA, etc) replacing websites like Wikipedia with commercialized encyclopedia software. Mainstream media outlets will not cover this bill because they are the ones lobbying for it.”
Please, please take a second and make your voices heard.
Furthermore, Eric came though with a bit more info just moments before I pulled the trigger on today’s post;
Noticed you tweeted about SOPA today. In addition to all of the bike/beer/punkrawk related blather I engage in, one thing I take very seriously is censorship – I’ve been working on a project about impunity and violent censoring of journalism for a few years now, and of course SOPA and Protect IP are big targets of recent research. Handily, I have another blog dedicated to the project, and we’ve been slugging away at posts including a ton of info about the pending doom and gloom – and what can be done to stop it. Swing on over to this post, and if it tickles your political ticker, check the rest of the blog. There’s a lot of stuff about things other than internet censorship, but SOPA’s been a big focus the past month.
As ever, keep on keepin’ on. And thanks for the Stache of Steel plug. In honor of non-conformity, I’ve elected to keep my flavor savor going – let’s hope keeping the net going is as easy a decision for folks to make.
A bill so nefarious has the capacity to prevent us from simply expressing our opinions, enjoying the freedom of speech, or maybe even from stealing images from other people and photoshopping corpse paint on them, and that my friends just wont do.