Sunday, May 10, 2015

The World Is NOT Your Oyster

Dear Bike Nerds, 

I love you. We all love you. You love bikes. You love bike products. You love bike reviews. You love loving on everything; I know this because I love this. I love your comments! I love your input and your passion. I love that you're in love. I'm in love with your loveliness. But for the LOVE OF GOD, please stop bitching about products unless they directly impact your A: safety, B: health, C: financial stability, or all of the above. No, your sanity does not count. 

Bike products seem to be growing more and more obscenely overblown, overpriced and over-hyped on the daily. We have useless 'standards' for everything from bottom bracket sizes to the NEW! Boost yadda yadda yadda! We have ANT+ technology, bikes that ride themselves and OH MY, is that an inflatable life raft/DH bike/airplane/self-cleaning tire?! Stuff isadvanced. Everyone knows that ENVE wheels cost a grip of cash and that a World Cup winning race bike is going to run you more than an engine-equipped KTM. It's expensive. We also understand that custom tuned suspension and aeronautical space foam helmets are not designed for every level of rider. They're serious equipment. But before you whine that you'll never make more than $13 an hour and that 'the bike industry is pricing out regular folks' who don't need that innovation, please realize one thing: it could very well not be meant for you. 

Yes, I know. It's a shocking revelation; one that has, undoubtedly, rocked you to your very core. The bike industry doesn't revolve around your individual needs. I'm sorry. It must be crushing. 

But while you're processing that piece of information, let's explore the realms of folks who MIGHT be interested in the new XTR Di2. You may not feel that electronic shifting is all that earth-shaking or you could believe that mechanical shifting is more reliable, but there is someone out there who hates the big ring/little ring dilemma and decides that hell, they're just going to upgrade. To that gear-masher, Di2 is worth every penny. Or consider carbon wheels. You may not feel a difference in those wheels, but there could be a guy who has the sensitivity of a baby's bottom and who feels everything -- he's your emo counterpart and he (or she) feels it all. They need the dampening, or the stiffness, or the weight savings.

My point? Just remember that companies don't usually set out to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on R&D, only to have it fail. Someone, somewhere needs that product you're so determined to banish to hell, and they love it. Weird saddle with oddly-shaped nose and cutouts? Yep. Someone uses it. That ugly frame with the stupid geometry you wouldn't be seen on in a million years that's also worth more than your house and car combined? Someone LOVES that bike. While I may not see value in a plastic windshield that mounts to the front fender of a mountain bike, someone in the rainforest has been waiting on that particular genius for a decade. 

Not every product was created specifically for us and not every company revolves directly around your needs as a rider. Hint: there are other people on this planet, and some of them ride bikes differently than we do. Unless it's going to put you in the hospital, out of a job, or on another planet, just walk away. It's clearly not meant for you.

Just because it may not be our ideal product doesn't mean that it's not perfectly suitable for a million other people, and I think we forget that. We forget that trends don't dictate development and that cost isn't always prohibitive. Maybe if we looked at that gel helmet with the Bluetooth-enabled antennae as a different sort of pure brilliance, we might just find ourselves falling in love with more of what we love.


The Bitch.

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