Sunday, July 19, 2015

On the Defensive

It is at this point in the game that I am beginning to see the ill-effects of the industry's constant attempts to sell you more shit. It seems as though every bike shop in America has become nothing more than a store front for Bicycling magazine.

The Golf Digest of cycling

This unfortunately, is EXACTLY what every customer who walks into a bike shop sees and it is slowly but surely alienating every single one of them. Given my background dealing in high-end bicycles I can tell you this; catering to the social elite and their constant need to consume what the industry tells them is rapidly pushing out anyone who does not want the same for themselves.
Because your inventory consists of bicycles that start at an average of $1,000 and up, customers find themselves shopping by price rather than getting what they actually want.*

When your customer has to state aloud that "I'm not a racer or anything..." it is clear that they already feel like they do not belong.
I hear this all the time and I get it, but I really don't want to hear it. I know that you "aren't an avid cyclist" it is clear by your tremendous gut and dust-covered bicycle that you don't often ride and your labored breathing from the walk in from the car tells me that you are "just getting back into it..." I am aware of these things yet I am still met with the awkward exchanges as I have to explain that even the cheapest tires are $20 because this isn't 1975, which happens to be the last time they were on a bike. 

"I just need a tire man, I'm not a Racer or anything."

-I know, that's why I am selling you a 20 dollar tire. I am only trying to help you, I promise.

*In my experience, the customers around here are split into two groups;
One wants an affordable, practical bicycle that offers an upright position and a comfortable seat and if they can get it in a certain color, they will buy it every time. 
Probably the Best selling bike in the shop right now.
The other group wants exactly what they see in Bicycling or under their favorite Pro Tour rider. They don't care what it costs and if the color is the same as the "Team" edition, then that's all the better.
There is a problem with both of these groups however, as even the most moderately priced bicycle with all the features one may desire may still be out of their budget. They turn to internet retailers and often end up with a shitty, overpriced, and heavy bicycle that is half the price but almost litterally, half the bike. 

 They deserve better.

The other group, however has "fuck you" money and is not afraid to use it.
He, unfortunately thinks he knows what he wants because he was "reading on the internet" but still needs me to tell him. 
...He won't listen. Ever.

In what may be the single most classic case of Fredom, this example spells out perfectly what happens when you let them make choices for themselves.

  This Fred Sled is wrong on so many levels starting with the fact that the $3,500 custom frame (1) with a top of the line drivetrain (2) was is too big for the rider which is why the saddle is so low (3). That on its own is not that big a deal as a larger frame helps even out the relationship of the bars and saddle however, his saddle being "slammed" forward on the rails to get a shorter "reach"


in addition to his ridiculous cockpit setup (4,5,6) leads me to believe that he has the "fuck you" money of group the second group, but wants an upright position like those in the first group. There are a host of problems that arise when a road bike is set up in this way but a simple back of the envelope calculation would suggest that his group should be riding one of these

at less than a quarter of the price and subsequently eliminate most of those issues.
...and therein lies the heart of the matter. None of you are racers nor should you try to be by. When you tell me that you want "X,Y, and Z" but then go and buy the A, B, and C because the industry told you to or because your friends will make fun of you, the bike will be wrong for you and you can't say I didn't warn you. As an industry, we have to do more keep this from happening but as long as shops continue to go high-end, they will continue to grow further from their customers and sell you what they have and not what you need all you have to do is let go of the idea of what you think you want and let me help you.

Remember, Hybrids need riders too and you likely need one.
After all, you're not a racer, remember?


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Breaking News (if you like news from a week ago)

In John Oliver fashion, I am delivering news to you that is more than a few days old. News which is really only relevant to those within earshot of my voice or say, my BookFACE page but sadly after what looked like a hopeful future for the event the organizers of Bike the Bend have decided to cancel it. 

The story goes something like this: The Lady Organizer decided not to pay a portion of the money owed to the police department for their overtime after what she basically described as laziness on their part at last year's event. [Read the whole story here

Then they were encouraged by the local FOP to give up the overtime pay they would have received to work at the event and were asked not to support it to send a message to said Organizer. The message was clear enough, as I eluded to in a previous post yet volunteers stepped up in a big way to make up for the lack of Police participation. 

So the event went well, I thought, no one got hurt and I got to take my wife around the city on her first 30 mile ride! 

Then they cancel it. My first response was one more genuine curiosity than it was bewilderment. 


I understand both sides to be honest but I would have to say I side with the Police on this issue as they were promised a level of pay which the other party did not deliver. The "over worked" argument is bullshit if you ask me and likely a thinly veiled attempt at making a stand without coming right out and saying "Hey Lady, you screwed us, so screw you." 

That aside, its just bad business and bad Karma. So she's getting the proper level of disrespect here is all I am saying but I still cannot wrap my brain around how easy it was for them to just give up on something that is good for our community. It doesn't cost the city a dime, not one, and it promotes the city itself by taking you to and even through some of the best places it has to offer. 

What's more is that the Mayor of South Bend really just sat back and let the Chief of Police (both are cyclists I might add) hammer it out on his own rather than taking an active role in helping both parties put aside their differences. That is the saddest part to me; the Mayor has done great things to improve the attitude and overall life style of his city and has done so with very little resources. For an event like this to simply be discarded because of bad blood is disheartening. It says to all of those who fight for bicycle advocacy; "if you don't get your way, give up." What does that say to the kids that love this event because it is the one day a year that they get to ride bikes with their family in a safe atmosphere? 

"Tough shit kid. Suck it up!"

They'd have had a year to figure this out but instead they simply said "fuck it." I just cannot get over that.

For now, I just hope that someone is working feverishly to restore the event in one way or another so we don't lose this opportunity to come together and play bikes.