The State of affairs… part 2

After what has been a totally manic week, which sees your truly coming down with a case of ‘cabin fever’, after what seems to be the week of endless rain, Friday night is finally here and there’s nothing on the tube but the wedding stuff.

Looking down at the floor, the magazine lying discarded reminds me what this whole part 2 thing was supposed to be about, after part one seemed to poo on the hot topic of the last week, internet forums.

This week I spent the whole week working on a sales strategy document to present to the big boss at Mountain Cycle. To say that it was a head scratcher is an understatement, and after discussing the pros and cons of what I was thinking with several cohorts in this industry, it proved that it was the only viable way forward. What this proved, to me in any way, is that as an industry, the bike biz is messed up beyond any normal person’s wildest imagination; it certainly is not a place to hang out if you have the slightest hint of sanity… what does that say about me I wonder?

I won’t divulge the conclusions I arrived at, or the strategies I have devised to deal with it but after reading some magazines lately I can’t help but wonder at what point the whole thing will come unstuck. At Sea Otter I saw excess that was truly grand. Sorta funny when you consider that this whole thing is about an object over 1 billion people in the world are trying to move on from. The funniest quote I read during that week related to a very large, very impressive big rig that was parked at Sea Otter. The caption read “and this is why your XX costs so much”. If you know what it’s referring to, you can see the humour and truth in that comment. I can’t help, after the past week of scheming, but wonder what its all come to; just making a cool bike seems to be dead, replaced with something I am not quite so sure about.

But back to the magazines that prompted part 2 in the first place.

I tend to glance though mags, I mean, after 20 years of reading them they tend to be on repeat. I still find the odd article that’s interesting but for the most part, if I find more than one, I, and the magazine, is doing well! So while sitting in the dust of Sea Otter, Dave, a friend who came down to hang for the event, asked if I had seen the article in magazine X that went on about how long your bike should last, proceeding to tell me that apparently, forks should last a year or so. When I got home, I dug the magazine up to see for myself and there it was, a whole article telling me the lifespan of each component on my bike.

I think I had better throw all my bikes away; Dave is in real trouble!

Keeping it brief, the basic gist of the article was that for the average reader, who somehow manages to ride off road five days a week, half their bike is toast in a year, the other half in two. And this was all said with no uncertain amount of authority. What this says about my year 2000 San Andreas that still rides strong is beyond me and Dave’s collection of steel bikes is in serious peril to say the least. I have to ask, what the hell is going on and more to the point, what the hell are people thinking?

To me, and many others out there, if you pay 3k+ for a bike, you expect not to have to replace the entire thing in two years. Sure parts wear out, but major components and simple key ones should tick over for a long time, if you take care of them. I mean, I expect to get at very least 3 years out of a stem, and while I’ll probably replace it before then, because change is good, being told I have to is lunacy. Same with forks… and wheels and cranks… I take it all with a very large grain of salt but it’s those that think the magazine’s word is gospel that’s in for a rude shock.

Madness, and it smacks of someone, somewhere trying to keep things ticking over. After all, that big rig will need new tyres soon.

Here’s a phrase that those in question should learn – ‘sustainable industry’.

On to another article, some of which was good and other bits, again had me scratching. Finally a magazine has come out and said 29ers are not the saviour of the world! It went on to say that even the pro’s are undecided, swapping back and forth, and ultimately, as a platform, it will suit some but not others. This is the best and most reasonable thing I’ve read on the subject yet. But in the same article it said that for ‘trail riders’ there are still no reasonable options for clothing. WHAT? First, what is a trial rider? Is that someone who rides, on trails? Stunning. If so, what sort of special clothing does one need to do this? Apparently XC kit is not right nor is the looser kit. In my own dabbling over the past 10 years, I never realised there needed to be specific kit to ride on trails but now that I do, I’m on it.


It disturbs me more and more the more I think about it. So, I’d better stop thinking about it.

But it’s not all fluff. Riding a mountain bike is still the only thing that puts a stupid grin on my face time and time again. Last weekend proved that, even though I’m carrying 20 days of traveling + one week of being sick around my waist and I really hurt on the climbs. It also proved that technology is great, as riding the new Zen proves just how bloody good a bike can be and just how much more fun it can make your ride. I just think everyone involved needs to step off for a little while, go ride and have a good long look at this beast they are creating, as that happy dog you love just might become that nasty beast that has to be put down.

Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.