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Breakup letter

Dear mountain bike industry, I think it’s time we face up to it. After a good long time it’s just not working out any more and not to make you upset, it’s not me; it’s you.

In the early days, our relationship was fantastic. It was exciting, dynamic and filled with new and wondrous things… man, were you a good romp. Being honest, it stayed that way for a good long time. We travelled the world, partied and made friends; all the while you kept things fresh, dynamic and I made sure I kept the interest going, it was a dynamic relationship.

But things started to wane. When is hard to say but I noticed it some years back. For some reason you started to think I would not notice, offering me the same thing in a different wrapping but guess what? I  did notice. Somehow while we’ve been together, I’ve matured and moved forward, yet you have stayed the same. Turning up in the same outfit, be it in different colours over the past years, is just no longer enough. Noticing you doing it only made it worse, I just didn’t say anything. Where once our conversions were dynamic and tantalising, they have become dull and endlessly repetitive. And the romance, well….

The deal breaker though has been the past year. Finally enough is enough and I’m leaving…

What?

You want a reason?

Do I really have to tell you, or are you now so blind to what you’ve become you just can not see it?

Well OK then, here are just a few recent examples of how your misguided behaviour has led us to where we are now…

650, 27.5″, I don’t care what you want to call it, it’s a sham. You did a fine job convincing all our friends that your 29″ outfit was the new best thing. You know I was skeptical but I came around and conceded that yea, at the right party, it’s a killer. But 27.5… seriously? You know I did the calculations, you saw me doing them that night. 5%. That’s how much better 27.5″ is at very best and for most of us, less. Yet you have forced everyone to accept it, holding hands with some of the most dysfunctional guys in the club. I’ve put up with your silly white lies for years but this is something special – a whole new level of self delusion.

35mm bars. C’mon! I’m a big guy, you know that. Yet have you ever, and I mean EVER, seen me flex my 31.8’s? Have I ever come home to you and said that my bar and stem is flexy? No, not once since I took up your offer of 31.8. But now you’re telling everyone in our circle of friends that they should, no, will eventually have to buy a new stem and bar just because you think 31.8 is no longer where it’s at. You make me sick!

And let’s not get started with your latest friend carbon fibre. Sure, your marketing mates are having a wet dream over this but let’s be honest, who ever said marketing people knew anything about anything? Face the truth here, you know the technology is not new, or great or even mysterious. You love carbon fibre as a frame material not because it’s better but because it’s easier for you to make, and you can charge quite a bit more for it.

What? Oh, don’t try that old line with me. Carbon is half the work and requires less factory floor skill….

Really? You are still going on about that? Well here, let’s write a list….

Metal frame (see pretty pics):

1. Do the design and engineering.
2. Forge and/or Machine up all ancillary parts.

3. If required, butt the raw tubes.
4. Form the tubes (if they have shape, then hydroform or cold form them – so buy tooling for each tube in each size you need).

5. Cut and mitre the final tubes.
6. Jig the tubes and all ancillary parts.
7. Weld by a trained and qualified welder.
8. Align where needed.
9. Clean/finish.

10. If aluminium, heat treat.
11. Realign if needed.

12. Clean again, fill surface imperfections and paint.

Now your carbon frame (see pretty pics):

1. Do the design and engineering.
2. Forge and/or Machine up all ancillary parts.

3. Make the tooling for each frame size and any shared frame elements.

4. Order cut pre-preg carbon fabric / fabric socks.

5. Where needed hand wrap smaller sections.
6. Place cut fabric / fabric socks and hand wrapped parts into mould and heat under pressure.
7. Remove complete or semi complete frame then assemble and bond finished parts where needed.

8. Where needed, clean, fill imperfections and paint.

See what I mean? Carbon’s easier, cleaner, requires less factory floor technical skill and has less room for screw ups. There are some very classy ways you could have chosen to wear your carbon skirt, after all it can be exceptionally sexy, but as seems to be the way with you these days, you went for the cheap floozy look, leading people on to believe it’s superior to metal frames when in fact all it is is simpler and easier for you.

Shit, there’re as many and maybe more breakages with carbon frames than there are with your last new besty, aluminium – it can’t be that great!!

Then there’s disc brakes. Remember when you first came home with them? I was so over the moon with you. Yet here we are, more than 10 years later and you are still trying to get them right! I mean, this is not rocket science, the technology has been around for decades but how is it that you, for some reason, still can’t seem to get them right and yet each year bring out another set, supposedly better than the last year’s? I mean, do you see this sort of behaviour from your big brother, the moto industry, or even your distant uncle the auto industry? No. Why? because to them, it’s a done thing, they made it work right, so why keep on fucking with it? If I didn’t know better, you’re doing it on purpose….

Want to talk about how you’ve sold the lie that air as a spring is better than an actual coil spring? Telling people coil’s are the cheap, budget alternative… The Ohlins’ down the street I bet would have something to say about that.

And 1×11….? Do you really need that 40 or 42T up back? Maybe just try riding some more? I certainly don’t recall the hills getting any steeper all of a sudden.

But worst of all, this relationship has become all about you and what you want. Everything you seem to do these days has no purpose other than to fuel your self indulgent behaviour, regardless of the costs to those around you. So I’m leaving. I’ve had enough of your stories, tall tales and new circle of self centred friends.

Oh, yea, I’ll still be around and we might bump into one another. I’m just tuning out to your relentless screeching and tuning into those more sane friends that told me ages ago to leave you behind – there’s a whole world out there that does not need partners like you…

g

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