Thursday, October 29, 2009

BSNYC Interview: Dave Koesel of Felt Bicycles

(In an "Australian Interview," it is customary for the interviewee to strike the interviewer.)

In yesterday's post, I commented on a pair of new marketing videos from Guru bicycles. I did so not because I have any problem with Guru as a company or because I have any problem with their products. They're just a group of people who make and sell racing bicycles. Similarly, while I often make fun of bicycle marketing in general, the truth is even the most mendacious bike company probably wouldn't register on the scale of corporate unscrupulousness or greed. I mean, there are companies in this world that have sold poisonous baby food, so telling a bunch of recreational cyclists that a bike will make them faster really isn't all that bad. As cyclists, we need people to make bicycles and sell them to us, and marketing is an integral part of that process. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just that sometimes this marketing pushes the boundaries of truth, in which case it becomes offensive, or else the execution of the marketing veers off into the realm of the ridiculous, which was the case with the Guru videos. And as far as the execution of marketing goes, it's a creative endeavor like any other, and I believe strongly that all creative endeavor is subject to criticism and ridicule. Even more importantly, marketing is the art of making people want things that they don't really need, and this is inherently funny.

I'm not really a part of the bicycle industry, but I write about cycling so even I participate in bicycle marketing. Beyond this blog, I write a column for "Bicycling" magazine, and while they let me write whatever I want they are arguably a marketing-driven publication. Also, not too long ago I wrote some text for the "2010 Knogalogue" (Knog are a bunch of Australians who invented the "hipster cyst"), which you can download and read from Knog's website. (Just turn the sound on your computer off first--Knog follow the European Internet tradition of assaulting visitors with music.) You may enjoy what I wrote, or you may be disgusted that I engaged in a "collabo" with Knog. Either way, Knog simply wanted their catalog to be entertaining, so they traveled the world and took a bunch of pictures and then asked me to write some text about those pictures. Making fun of Knog in their own catalog sounded like fun to me, so I agreed. I'm sure some readers will feel differently, but in all, I think it's mostly harmless.

Last week, I wrote a post called "The Irrelevancy of Time," and it elicited a strong reaction. Clearly, while we all have different thresholds for marketing, many of us have strong feelings about the way bicycles are designed and sold. In fact, one reaction came from Dave Koesel, the road brand/product manager at Felt (I used their "Fixie" line as an example in my post) who took issue with some of what I had to say. As we corresponded, it occurred to me that this would be a good opportunity to have a person actually involved in producing both high-end road bikes and urban fixed-gears explain to all of us the process of designing and selling them. So I asked him if I could interview him, and he graciously agreed.

Be assured my intent here is not to promote Felt; rather, it is to provide some additional insight into a subject that comes up frequently on this blog, and to allow readers to draw their own conclusions. If this is insight you don't want, then I hope you'll at least forgive the departure. And if you do want it, and on top of that it also makes you want to buy a Curbside, all I'll say is I recommend at least taking off the top tube pad. It's basically just the trendy bike equivalent of a pie plate.

Thanks to Dave Koesel for taking the time to respond, and thanks to everyone else for reading.

--BSNYC/RTMS





What's your background in cycling, and what's your favorite kind of riding to do today?

When I was a young boy, my father would come home every summer with a bike he’d collected from the side of the road destined for the city dump. We would disassemble the bike and rebuild the hubs and headsets, free the chain of rust, and even attempted rebuilding a freewheel. My dad always was able to repair whatever was needed to make it functional. He built race cars and made metal sculptures among other fabricating talents, and repairing a bicycle was a good lesson for me he’d insist. My bikes would often have one or two of his custom touches, like handmade handlebars, or welded in top tubes and new paint jobs to convert a girls frame to my own. I remember turning 12 and being given the freedom to leave the neighborhood for the first time. I’d ride all over the county exploring new roads and discovered the joys of getting around by bicycle. I began racing just for fun in an occasional duathlon or MTB race in my early teens. I was seriously hurt on a mountain bike ride and later decided to focus on road racing during my college years. I’ve spend the last 15 years racing on the road and track and I still enjoy competing occasionally, although my favorite rides today are getting out on the local MTB trails with my kids and their friends: introducing them to the same joys I discovered around their age.


What's your background professionally?

I started working in a small mom and pop bike shop in high school and eventually managed the store until moving away for college. I began road racing more seriously in college where I went to work at a high end pro shop in Ann Arbor, MI called Cycle Cellar. It was a great place to work with the very best equipment and mechanics on staff. It was there where I learned steel frame fabricating skills, and while I never sold any of my frames, I did build a couple road frames, and a full suspension MTB frame. I moved on from Cycle Cellar and together with Dennis Pontius, Gary Guzialek, and James Huang (of cyclingnews.com fame) opened Two Wheel Tango. I worked at Two Wheel Tango through the late 90s when I began my own independent sales representative group. I worked with a variety of brands including Colnago, Ciocc, DeBernardi, and Orbea bicycles, several clothing lines from Craft, Nalini, and Biemme, and component brands Ritchey, Tufo, Zipp, and many other small specialty brands. During this time I continued to race on the road, track, MTB, cyclo-cross and even a few tandem events. I had been upgraded to a Category 1 but realized I didn’t have the talent to make bicycle racing my career and stopped racing consistently in 2002.

How did you come to Felt?

In the winter of 2001, Felt had emerged with a line of complete bicycles and I reviewed what their plans were for sales representation at the Interbike show. I had an interview with company president Bill Duehring and began working with Felt in 2002 as a sales rep for Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. After growing the territory and looking to expand my coverage in the area, I was offered a sales management position in Felt’s Lake Forest, CA office. I accepted the job and moved to SoCal in October, 2005. After a year as the regional sales manager, I began to contribute to the product development of some of our emerging categories for Women, Triathlon, and track. One year later I was promoted as the product manager for all the road models and was the product liaison for our professional cycling teams and athletes. As my tasks encompassed areas of product development, sales and marketing, I earned the title of ROAD Brand Manager.

What's the history of Felt, and how large is the company in terms of employees and volume?

We’ve got this covered here on our site.

What are Felt's long-term goals as a company?

From the very same link above:

"Our mission is quite simple: To design, develop, and deliver the best bicycles in the world. Period."

If I'm a road racer, why should I buy a Felt instead of a Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, or Giant?

Now here is where I could get into trouble with our sales and marketing guys, but the fact is you shouldn’t buy a Felt instead of a Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, or Giant if one of those brands makes a model that better suits your fit requirements, better meets your budget, or has a retailer with greater after sale service. Buying a bike is so much more than a downtube decal. Felt makes 4 different geometries in our ROAD line up. F, Z, AR, and ZW models all have different fits, design intents, and a wide range of models, but even our extensive line up doesn’t cover every possible option. Does Felt make comparable model to most of the ones offered by these brands? Of course. I feel the Felt AR1 may be the best example of technology in our industry. The design and execution of that model amazes people outside the bike biz. From the CFD and wind tunnel development of the frame, fork and seatpost shapes, to the Shimano Dura Ace Di2 group, the bike represents what bicycle technology is capable of. I think the Felt Z85 might be among the most versatile and the best bang for the buck road bike on the market. Our women’s line of road bikes range from $700 to $7000 and we offer full carbon models with women under 5’0” tall. I could go on and on going into details about each bike in our line. Despite our coverage in the road segment, it is possible that some people simply want the integrated seatpost of a Giant TCR advanced or the LiveStrong Livery of the Trek, or perhaps the Specialized suits a need for a 105 bikes with a triple crankset. Maybe aluminum is your frame material of choice or Campagnolo your favorite group. Cannondale offers a few high end models with these options.

Felt has a long history of making high performance road bikes, if one of our models suits your needs, you’ll be very pleased and soon agree we’ve done our homework. Felt isn’t the only brand making innovative bikes. Nor is Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, and Giant. It is crowded at the top and emerging brands like Kuota, Ridley, Focus and others are making nice bikes as well. It is a great time to be shopping for a road bike. Consumers have plentiful choices, each with their list of advances.


Felt started out as a pretty specialized brand but now has as wide a range of bikes as any of the big bicycle companies. (Felt has a café and a cruiser line!) What's behind this approach?

You can sit on a one-legged stool, but 4 equal legs offers a much more stable platform. With a line of high performance road models, we only appeal to the dealers that can support a full line of bicycles and a 2nd high end brand, or a dealers that only focuses on ROAD, limiting our dealer base and sales options. BMX and Cruiser sales are a big part of our brand, and the beach communities and the shops these models are sold in are often a different outlet that our performance models. When we introduce a line of bicycles, we make them uniquely Felt. That is to say, even our aforementioned cruisers and Café models use our own frame designs, with our frame shapes, tubing profiles and wall thicknesses, and other proprietary parts.

You had some issues with my post called "The Irrelevancy of Time." What were they?

I was surprised to see you come down on the brands and guys that market and grow their brands, while you embrace other products that seem stagnant and use some clever spin to explain why they only offer one model or one product altogether claiming they are “keeping it real”, when it may be just as accurate to say they are “keeping it undercapitalized."

There are countless examples of annual innovations in cycling and the jump in selling price only reflects the technology used to produce and develop these bikes now. 10 years ago there were a handful of guys designing with FEA [Finite Element Analysis], now it is commonplace along with CFD [Conceptual Fluid Dynamics], Fibersimulation Layup, wind tunnel testing ($15/minute in SDLSWT), and advanced composite materials.


The most important thing written about the bike biz in 2009?* From an unexpected source: Bikesnobnyc. He's not his usual cynical-comic self here. Rather, it's his take on something that has long driven us batty: The bike industry's annual need to issue new model years on everything. Please, industry, quit devaluing our inventory investment in August every year!

*[This strikes me as kind of like making the best burrito in New York City.]

It would seem at least one retailer feels that a yearly cycle works against them. What do you think?

Model years seem to be a necessary evil. We suffer the same fate as the guys in retail stores with carryover inventory being sold below our cost at the end of the year. While many of our models do not change year after year, we do update most of our performance line as the component brands introduce new products, technology advances, and market conditions evolve. It would make more sense to me to introduce new models in January of that model year, not June/July/August. Sales are soft in January for much of the country and inventory levels could be kept low for reduced overhead in the slow months and ease of inventory for tax reasons. Stopping the influx of new models during the busiest part of the selling season is logical, but it takes a unanimous effort on the part of everyone industry-wide. We can’t seem to agree on a bottom bracket standard, let alone a universal product launch date.

In 2007 Felt introduced the Curbside. How did that bike come to be?

The Curbside was a creative exercise executed by collecting ideas from a couple decades of fixed gear riding and emerging color, fashion and cycling trends. Felt has made a track bike for about 15 years. Jim Felt used to hand build custom oversize aluminum rigs for customers in the 90s and when it came time to launch the Felt brand globally, the Tk2 was a great addition. The Tk2 developed a fan base among fixed gear riders, but it was never intended to be a well mannered bike on the road. With ample toe clip overlap and super steep angles, the bike just wasn’t suited to novice riders. As single speed mountain bikes grew in popularity and many Felt employees spent their off-season on their fixed gear road rigs, we decided it was time to make a purpose built single speed road bike. We blended the handling of our F-series road bikes with a slightly taller BB and the sloping top tube of our Z-series frames. We developed an FSA road crankset with the outer chainring replaced with a cyclo-cross style guard. Wheels were assembled with flip-flop sealed hubs and bulletproof ACS Chrome-moly BMX freewheel and genuine Dura Ace track sprocket running on a KMC Rustbuster chain. Long reach front and rear brakes were added to the frame to allow for huge tires (up to 35mm) or fenders. We added our BeerNuts tool so the lack of quick releases didn’t prevent a speedy flat tire fix.* Finally we sprayed on matte gray paint with small understated graphics, the perfect camouflage to blend this new bike in with the rest of the urban landscape. I had ridden a variety of fixed gear “Franken-bikes” for commuting and logging winter miles for 15 years and never had a bike with so much utility. My Gitane Track bike was never drilled for brakes and was plagued with French threaded everything, My 3Rencho couldn’t fit tires bigger than 22mm tubulars, My Panasonic rusted through those super thin Ishiwata 019 tubes after only a couple Michigan winters. This new Felt model was named the Dispatch, and the initial reaction from our dealers was mixed. All of them understood the concept, but many of them asked for a version that was closer to the bikes they saw in downtown SanFran, or Chicago, or at the beach in SoCal. The Curbside was the evolution of the original concept and used the bright contrasting colors, cut down MTB handlebars, and as an homage to our Slipstream Argyle, a custom saddle and matching top tube pad.

*[When it was introduced some people pointed out that the design of the Curbside's track end required either a socket wrench or Felt's special tool to loosen or tighten the axle nuts.]

Felt's "Fixie Series" now consists of four bikes and a frameset. One would assume this is due to substantial sales. Can you share any numbers, or at least give us a sense of the growth in this segment?

Like the first two models, these later models were built on the demands of dealers and consumers. Our Brougham provided a Chrome-moly frame offering with real cold-forged 144mm BCD track cranks. The Gridloc was the culmination of two years of working with Sturmey Archer on the development of the re-introduction of their 3 speed fixed gear hub.

Who buys Felt's "Fixie Series" bike? Is there a particular age, gender, or city with which they are especially popular?

I think like most of our models they appeal to a wide audience. They have been well received by our dealers in all of our major markets in the USA as well as Japan, Australia, Germany, UK, Canada, etc.

Part of the fixed-gear trend's appeal seems to be that riders enjoy customizing their own bikes, and the Felt line-up would seem to pre-empt this behavior by pre-customizing the bikes. Do you think this is a danger, or is this what the market seems to want?

Our complete bikes are an out-of-the-box alternative for retailers and consumers that would prefer to buy a packaged product. For those that want to build up a frame with their own parts, we make our Brougham, Gridloc, and Tk2 as a frameset. I understand that a large part of the fixed gear market is creating something unique. I admire the guys that spend time finding a vintage Masi or Merckx frame and adding their own creative touches. I know that for some a new frame doesn’t appeal to them and the thought of a complete out of the box bike is out of the question. Some people are the same way with their computers or houses or hamburgers. I am thankful there is room for both.

It would seem that a bicycle as simple as an urban fixed-gear doesn't necessarily need to be updated as frequently as a competitive road or mountain bike, and aesthetic changes are easy and cheap for the rider to make. Do you think that allowing a bike to become "venerable" or "classic" by leaving it unchanged for a few years can increase it's appeal in that the bike does become "dated?"

The fixed gear models do not follow the normal pattern of Interbike introduction and 10 month model years. Our Curbside went two years without a color update, and the Brougham has only ever come in gloss black, although we are adding a raw color later this winter, but the black bike remains as it was introduced a couple years ago. I’m not sure a bike can become “classic” without other historical factors. A 1972 Chevelle SS could be considered a classic, so could a 1972 Corolla, but I doubt the same person would find them to be equally representative of a classic 1970s performance car. There is little chance anyone would consider a 2007 Corolla a classic.

What do you think the future will bring for urban fixed-gears?

I expect the growth to continue and for more brands to use these models as a medium to express a more creative outlet. Initially there was a “race to the bottom” it seemed with many brands trying to find ways to create a $259 fixie. Now there are new bikes like the Gridloc, Roll, Ritchey Breakaway...

Are you noticing any new trends now?

I am pleased to see the variety in the offerings and the influx of new brands making Urban Fixed Gears their medium for creativity.

Will Felt make a fixed-gear freestyler?

Felt is fortunate to work with amazing BMX street riders like 2 time X-Games Gold Medalist Scotty Cranmer and Josh Betley. Both of these guys are riding Felt fixed gear bikes for some high speed urban transportation. If we were to tackle the freestyle segment, you can be sure our experience with BMX, Street and Flatland bicycle production the last 10 years will pay dividends.

What are a few of your favorite bikes ever?

That’s a tough list to create. I’ll narrow it down to just bikes that I’ve owned. I could name hundreds of models that have inspired me and that I’ve admired over the years.

Royal 3 speed (made in England by Raleigh IIRC)
Gitane/Omelenchuck mid-1960s Track bike
Eddy Merckx 7-11 Track bike ridden in ’92 Olympics
Croll Custom 853 Road bike
Jim Felt T2 TT bike
Coppi Galaxy Altec
GT Superbike III prototype
GT Titanium Edge Track frame w/ Hooker Fork
Colnago Custom Rabobank Dream Cross bike
Ritchey BreakAway Steel Road bike
Felt DA Track prototype
Felt Tk1 prototype
Felt F1 2009 Tour de France edition
Santana Fusion Tandem

250 comments:

1 – 200 of 250   Newer›   Newest»
Billy Reid said...

=first

Billy Reid said...

i'll let someone else round out the podium

Benjamin said...

I post from a land down under.
Cadel Evans memorial top ten finish.

Dog Shot said...

Early today. I'll take 3rd.

Anonymous said...

4th

Dog Shot said...

Doh!

Martin said...

top ten?

Anonymous said...

Whatevs.

Anonymous said...

hooyah

Benjamin said...

Still time for the Aussie contingent to read the article and round out the top ten.
When will you write about your brand new Felt road-bike snobby? I hope for everyone's sake it's di2 equipped. It's only fair.

bikesgonewild said...

...whil i may have not made the podium, i still think this borders on "obsessive-compulsive" territory...

RB1 said...

i wouldn't be surprised if CFD stood for 'Computational Fluid Dynamics' rather than 'Conceptual Fluid Dynamics'.

CFD could be used to optimize the burrito. I suspect the result would be a sphere. Conceptualize that.

Benjamin said...

The burrito keeps its integrity.

Stupid Name said...

Wow, "buy stuff that I dont need or want, that is funny"?

Why yes it is, when you write it, not so much when Felt writes it.

Anonymous said...

rb1

lets take a closer look to your spherical cow/burrito.

Suface area is important in a good, epic, burrito. Because (as you know I'm sure) a sphere can be thought of in terms of a maximum volume/minimized surface area form. When assembling an epic burrito, good ingredients (good=costly extras) such as guac and s.c should be spread around on the tortilla first. If a spherical burrito was being assembled these ingredients would be woefully inadequate towards the middle.

Anonymous said...

Great post yesterday and today Snob.
All the miniscule advancements and shave a gram here and there nonsense is ridiculous. At the very beginning of yesterday's "self congratulatory windbag session" the man hit the nail on the head "The human body represents the mainstay of drag". If the goal is to be the fastest, lowest drag yadayada we would all be riding recumbents. The facts are out there- just look it up. Funny how a hudred years ago the UCI vilified the recumbent and banned it from racing after an average joe spanked all the top wedgi riders. It all had to do with marketing even back then. All the makers were producing diamond frames and it would be too much trouble to change to somthing new.
I have and ride diamond frame bikes too. love all kinds. It is funny how recumbent riders have beards.

Anonymous said...

NOT PODIUM!

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CZSR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

Chad - Hellloooo ?

Disgruntl Ed. said...

Our women’s line of road bikes range from $700 to $7000 and we offer full carbon models with women under 5’0" tall.

A full carbon bike and a petite woman for $7000 or less. Impressive.

krexus said...

is anon@12:19 PM anyone else's first exposure to Recumbant Conspiracy Theory?

Chris said...

"Our women’s line of road bikes range from $700 to $7000 and we offer full carbon models with women under 5’0” tall"

For $700 I can get a bike and a short woman! Will Felt be updating these "womanways" every season too?

Benjamin said...

I'd like my crabon woman with a beefy bottom bracket

Wes said...

And plenty of clearance.

JClev19 said...

Correct me if I'm wrong here - seems like his excuse for incrementally changing Felt bikes every year for a new release is basically that, "hey, everyone else is doing it, so we jumped into the cash-pot too!!"

Reminds me of another sector of the economy that recently ate the sh1t sandwich. Which company represents the bike-Bernie Madoff?

Wes said...

And preferably a drilled front end.

hillbilly said...

computers, houses, or hamburgers...sounds like a good name for a band.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

Snob did a feature on a Jewish line of bikes a while back. Maybe that one?

CommieCanuck said...

This interview establishes Snob with the new title, "The Larry King of cycling".

You should have used a "Dateline" style bait and trap.

"And boom goes the dynamite!"
-Alfred Nobel


Computational Fluid Dynamics in cycling is a high tech method of quantifying the "hair of the frog".

mander said...

Damn interesting stuff snob-snob. I still think felt are pretty lame but feel edified by your letting them talk about their side of things.

Chris said...

Did Snobby just apologize to GURU?

CommieCanuck said...

Guru, Colnago, Cervelo, FELT...none can still explain why a frame that costs ~$300 to build in labor and materials is getting $3000-5000 retail.

While FELT guy is right that everyone is now apparently using CFD and finite analysis, the same results could be had from just copying the crabon layup of a Cervelo, after all, in the theory of computer-aided design optimization, everyone everywhere should come up with the same answer.



That answer is: "Beefy".

CommieCanuck said...

or "Schlongtacular" if using a Mac.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised he was surprised by you coming down on lying for profit. Me thinks he doth not know you too well, nor your readers.

hillbilly said...

hmm, can't download the Knog whatever fancypants thing they call their catalog. which is fine, since the home page made me want to toss all my cysts.

Anonymous said...

EDIT HYPE

alex said...

"You can sit on a one-legged stool, but 4 equal legs offers a much more stable platform" This seems allegorical to modern bicycle design, a three legged stool works just as well, plus it doesn't wobble. The forth leg is there because it looks good or useful.

Udder said...

Snobbie wrote: "marketing is the art of making people want things that they don't really need"

I'm afraid you're wrong about this, marketing is all about about identifying needs and catering to them. Buyers never buy something they don't need, it's just that the need may be an emotional one vs. a practical one.

There is a need being fulfilled when someone buys a racing bike even though they are not racers. It can make them feel powerful or secure or more adequate.

Anonymous said...

isn't 'guru' some kind of sanscrit thing? what does it have to do with cutting edge crabonification?

I agree with the general consensus that the rider is the big parachute of drag, and that no matter how aero the forks or one piece seatpost/frame, the fact is that the air is hitting my big gut. so if the teardrop shaped unpadded and heavily acronym ed handlebars slice through the air like a razor through pink-undergarment-wearing man leghairs, it hits my big gut soon after.

ant1 said...

"And as far as the execution of marketing goes, it's a creative endeavor like any other, and I believe strongly that all creative endeavor is subject to criticism and ridicule."

You should be ashamed of yourself for starting a sentence with and snobby.

that's my criticism and ridicule for the day.

grog said...

Chalk it up to literary innovation.
It's a lovely red asterisk. It's better than BeerNuts.

-dean said...

This reminds me of when I wrote a scathing Yelp review of a LBS, then when the owner contacted me, I played nice and said I'd take down my review.

ant1 said...

Udder - "Buyers never buy something they don't need"
I could understand saying they never buy anything they don't want, but saying need really stretches the definition of need. maybe if the thing they need is to spend money. if people didn't buy anything they didn't need, things would never go unused. Restaurants would never throw away uneaten food, fruit would never go bad in my kitchen, I wouldn't have a bunch of use/worthless unused bike parts lying around... Filling a preexisting need is one aspect of marketing, creating needs another. I need a razor to shave, but do I really need 5 goddamn blades? or would 5 single bladed razors be more useful?

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

Was there a threat of lawsuit, did they kidnap a family member? Your capitulation has ruined my lunch.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Mingus the Mechanic,

What capitulation?

I'm sorry if you did not enjoy the post but I cannot be held responsible for your ruined lunch, especially if that lunch consists of a sub-par burrito.

--BSNYC

ant1 said...

while i don't use it all them time, i don't have a problem with capitalization.

ant1 said...

and being french, don't have a problem with capitulation either.

ant1 said...

all THE time. apparently I do have a problem with spelling.

frilly said...

That knog intro is very well-written. Nice job. And that picture of you is just adorable, love the rolled up cuff.

Not so much their marketing ploy of nudity and drugs. I think its rather obvious that the dude's saddle is lacking the correct anatomical cut-out. Was the taintometer really necessary?

Anonymous said...

It's laudable to allow Felt to respond to criticism here, but my sincere hope is that this has not been the first step on a slippery slope, at the bottom of which every time you write something funny about a bike company it is followed up by an article in which said company is given free reign to write such pamphlet-worthy drivel as "from the CFD and wind tunnel development of the frame, fork and seatpost shapes, to the Shimano Dura Ace Di2 group, the bike represents what bicycle technology is capable of" in your blog.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:54pm,

I wouldn't worry about that--although you may not like my new video, "My Dinner with Guru."

--RTMS

Fritz said...

"...whil i may have not made the podium, i still think this borders on "obsessive-compulsive" territory..."

Well at least you are aware of it that is a step in the right direction
LOL

rezado said...

And, I was late due to the snow.

Anonymous said...

Agree with MingustheMechanic. I fell asleep in the middle of this puffball piece of puerile pap and struck my nose against the keyboard. This is not, repeat IS NOT up to your usual standards, suh!

Udder said...

Ant1:

I stand by by my assertion that you cannot create a need, it has to exist already, however irrational it may be.

Your examples of unused items or food do not disprove this, they're just examples of over supply or poor planning.

Your excess bike parts fulfilled your need to buy at the time (and ads or marketing may have triggered these), however worthless they may be to you today.

Not sure what you're trying to say in your razor example but, yes a simple single edge razor will get the job done and many buy them but the real need the marketers of those products may be fulfilling is for the buyers to feel thrifty, or practical, just like the need being fulfilled when someone buys a $400 Braun electric may be to feel superior, privileged, pampered- or whatever.

ant1 said...

snob, i think you crashed the knog site. they can't handle your popularity.

Anonymous said...

Snob, I am going out tonight to buy a FELT based on your subliminal commendation of the bike. Who signs your pay check......

ant1 said...

Udder - I'm about to get a little too pseudo-philosophical here, and do so very badly, but where do needs come from then? Are you saying there always has been a need for electronic gear shifting? or did that need come about as soon as the derailleur was invented (by some dude named shimano, if I'm not mistaken)? are needs god given and only enter our conscious when certain precedents are met (as in god created the need for Di2, but we never realized it until the need for a derailleur was fullfilled)?
did someone not create a need when they invented the snuggie?

Anonymous said...

Subliminal condemnation of Felt? Or the Felt guy's list of favorite bikes? Both?

Anonymous said...

How much will Lance pay you to interview a Trek company drone?

Anonymous said...

He jumped the shark!

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

Snob, i say capitulation, allowing felt to respond to your critique seemed forced and out of character. It seemed like big brother sensed you stepping out of line and quickly put you back in place, and you sound a lil bitter and defensive about it.

How dare you challenge and question industry, now you must give felt time on your own damn blog to spread some bullshitication all in the name of what? fairness? Are you now going to give every missed connection author, every hipster or Mavic and Steve Hed space to respond. ( ok I'm being dramatic)

So my lunch wasn't ruined( I'm the only vegetarian allergic to beans so most mexican/soutwestern food is a no no.)just a lil cold.

When you do jump, the shark will be so gigantic I'm afraid you may never clear it. But in the words of prolly- you still my boy. I'm still a fan.

Russ said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDW_Hj2K0wo

Jim N said...

"As cyclists, we need people to make bicycles and sell them to us, and marketing is an integral part of that process."

No it's not. Bicycles existed before "marketing". I got my first bicycle without having seen an ad for one. I wanted a bicycle because I had seen bicycles.

Marketing exists because people want to sell a lot of bicycles (and other things) to people who probably don't even need (for many definitions of :need") a new one.

Strayhorn said...

Excellent article - thanks for confirming that marketing types spread the same BS whether they are selling bikes, bombs, or Buicks.

As for getting a C-dale with Campy: good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

m the m - i kind of agree with you, but find it ironic that you mention prolly, who has to be one of the bigger whores on the web....i like em, but integrity isn't his middle name.

Anonymous said...

Who are you going to believe here, the guy paid by Bicycling, Knog and Lance - or the guy who works for Felt?

Anonymous said...

Where's the tough questions, Snobby? Why not ask him a follow up question like, "So are those questionable technological advancements you make every year necessary to the average cyclist? Do the seconds you claim the wind testing saves the cyclist matter to anyone other than a top pro?"

Anonymous said...

im skippy the interview.. those books of statements look a bit too rehearsed

ant1 said...

mingus - this big?
http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Shark-Mauls-Great-White-Fears-In-Australia-After-Shark-Bitten-Off-Stradbroke-Island-Near-Brisbane/Article/200910415419981?lpos=World_News_Carousel_Region_3&lid=ARTICLE_15419981_Shark_Mauls_Great_White%3A_Fears_In_Australia_After_Shark_Bitten_Off_Stradbroke_Island%2C_Near_Brisbane

sorry for the crappy link.

flaco said...

agree with anon 246, have no prob with you interviewing him, but you really lobbed puffballs to him

BikeSnobNYC said...

Mingus,

There's no "Big Brother," there's just me. I wanted to hear what he had to say about his company and how he sells his products. I've done exactly this before, with Aerospoke and with Mission.

If anything, the "capitulation" would be my not posting something I wanted to post for fear of being criticized. (I certainly expected to be criticized.) As far as the interview itself, it will either reaffirm or dispel whatever previous notions you had about Felt and their marketing--assuming you cared at all in the first place, of course.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

"puerile pap"
-of or pertaining to a child or to childhood.

hey that's really gross. You have gone too far sir, I bid you GOOD DAY.

ant1 said...

Snob - I was wondering how the interview was performed. Did you send him a list of questions and he sent you back his replies, or was it done in a more face to face like manner, with a Q then and A, then the next Q... type of session?

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

Can you say honestly that you were satisfied with his answers, answers to some easy ass questions at that.
Yes you've given ample time to aerospoke and mission but if I'm not mistaken the entire question of marketing and the industries form of planned obsolescence wasn't the topic that spurred your critique of them, and c'mon snob his answers had links to the website, they should pay you for ad space.

And i do care about felt, i was seriously contemplating a nine solo.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Ant1,

I just sent him some questions and he answered them. Had I kept honing in on specific points it would have reached "epic" (in the Rapha sense) proportions.

--BSNYC

hillbilly said...

hey ant1- you're signed up to do atlanta? that's great!

I plan on yelling at all of the runners to get the hell out of the bike lane.

ant1 said...

hillbilly - i think that for the atlanta one, the wheelchairs take off first, so there won't be any official runners in the way. But I'm sure there'll be other people for me to be rude to. I also plan on using the volunteer jersey I'll be getting to continue riding the around the course and yell at the runners to get out of my way. They told me to bring a whistle. I don't know what's wrong with those people. They're closing down the streets and telling me to ride my bike around at unsage speeds yelling at people and making a bunch of noise at 7 in the morning. I hope I get to yell at a cop or two.

ant1 said...

unsafe, not unsage. nevermind. i like unsage better now.

yogisurf said...

A very fair interview. Insight into the bike industry that I would otherwise not read about. I don’t mind hearing the other side now and then. I bought the bikes I own based on perceptions of quality, performance, weight and in one instance colorway.

I can’t believe, though, he left the Worlds Greatest Madone and the Lone Wolf’s USA track bike off his favorite bikes list.

Anonymous said...

just sounded to me that felt is fearful of BSNYC's following and that losing the BSNYC market would be of Cadel Evans neutral support change proportoins

CAMPIONE CYCLES CALGARY said...

Udder!

It is refreshing to see that at least one lonely soul still believes in free market capitalism despite the recent melt-down.

Your assertions, however, are unverifiable and are therefore ideological. Your position is compelling but I don't buy it.

Meanwhile, perhaps you can stop by my home and explain to my seven year old daughter why I will not buy here another Barbie. She already used the "if I didn't need it they would not have made it" argument against me. I need backup!

Is that bike Felt? It is now!

yogisurf said...

Damn, I have white handle bar tape on this bike. Seemed like a good idea....then it got all dirty.

Anonymous said...

Too much aerodynamic drag in that long-winded interview. Had to stop reading midway though. Assistant monkey is shirking his editing duties.

itsnotfunnyanymore said...

Seriously?!
Alley 'Cross?!

Anonymous said...

Felt should have had the class to take the criticism and let it be. This reaction makes it seem like they dropped their ice cream cone, started crying about it, and you bought them another one. Screw that. THEY drop their ice cream, they can either eat it off the ground or use their allowance to buy more.

ant1 said...

yogi - I agree. His apparent lack of awareness of the lone wolf bike and the world's greatest madone shows how far out of touch with the real world the bike industry is. sad.

CommieCanuck said...

I'm afraid you're wrong about this, marketing is all about about identifying needs and catering to them.

CHIA PETS

Udder said...

Ant1:

I fear we're dragging down the forum, so here's my last missive.

I believe we are all born with the needs that drive our behaviors. The distinction I make between needs and wants is that a core emotional need drives you to "want" something.

Snuggie example: Someone may have a need to feel secure or protected, so they want a Snuggie. Or someone may need to feel like an innovator or early adopter, so they buy this new spin on a blanket. Or someone else may feel a need to feel superior or intellectual, so they want to buy one (or 2 for $19.99 if you call now) as a joke to make fun of and show their friends.

This is what marketing is truly about- fulfilling unmet needs that lead to wanting.

Michel P. said...

Maybe a moment of calm in the storm might just be a refreshing break. Have a good read about cycling way back when bicycle shops had a very peculiar scent and atmosphere.
http://www.jimlangley.net/spin/bikeman.html

Udder said...

CommieCanuck:

Chia Pets meet needs. Like a need to experiment, to take a chance, to be entertained, to have fun, to nurture, or maybe just a need to spend discretionary money on something dumb to remind yourself how well-off you really are in the world.

rezado said...

Bottom line

Buy it if - you have two thousand dollars laying around

Dont buy it if - you are a pussy

Hardly said...

Udder - Aggressive, contemporary marketing creates a climate where "wants" - a marginally lighter bike, for example - are transmuted into "needs." The emotional needs you described (security, a feeling of potency, not wanting to look like a douche) are the product of a century long marketing style dating back to the industrial revolution. Marketing allows industry to produce beyond the actual need.

BSNYC/MtheM - Many of the questions, while perhaps not probing the depths, got to the point from yesterday's article, no? But Koesel's remarks read like a guy who's incredibly knowledgable - emphasizing fit and craftsmanship rather than fetishizing technology. His point to BSNYC - which boils down more to the question of "why are you bashing the small guys?" is legit and well posed. The small guys who pay for their own R&D rather than flying to Taiwan and buying other people's frames (a la Neuvation) are going to have higher price points. His Fixies, other than the boutique ones, don't play by the same rules, right?

But the question of "why give this dude air time?" is silly, petulant, and exclusivist (a pretty good summary of hipsters). First, it's a bike blog and the guy can speak to the other side. His answer to why BSNYC should buy his bike was good - you shouldn't, unless it fits. But to deny the other side an occasional voice in the conversation (even if their point ends up stupid) is a sure way to entrench yourself in ignorancetown.

That being said, though, some of the questions were totally like, "what's your awesomest bike, and how awesome is it, and how did you avoid it being not awesome?" Still interesting answers, but a whiff of pandering, perhaps.

ant1 said...

Udder - couldn't agree more about us dragging the forum down:) You make a good point though. I thought I had you by playing the snuggie card. I guess the point of contention, or disagreement, lies in the definition of the need, and the method of fullfillment. While I argue there is no true need for a snuggie, you argue (and correct me if I misunderstood you) that while there may or may not be a need for a snuggie, there is another need that the snuggie fullfills. Which could lead to the conclusion that marketing is finding a need that something fullfills, and invention is finding something that fullfills a need.

ant1 said...

petulant1st!

Anonymous said...

I called this store to find out about some motorcycle boots. They didn't have the ones I wanted but they could order them. He talked too fast...he needs phone lessons on how to lure you into the store, not repel you.

Seanywonton said...

Jim N,
I would argue that any product that is for sale has been marketed in some way. It's a grey scale, ranging from minimalist to a huge campaign like Coca-Cola et al. Even companies with 0 budget for advertising conduct marketing. Just the declaration that something is for sale is a form of marketing.

Snob, I liked the post. I don't think you did it to appease anyone, but saw it as a opportunity for learning, both for yourself and others too. I'm cool with that. I like growth and change. The Knog catalogue gave me my comedy kick for the day.

Stupid Name said...

Wow,

BSnyc you seem to have found a lot of haters out there today.

I found Dave Koesel's interview very interesting, I hope you do the same with the Guru turds.

Unfortunately reading Dave Koesel was a lot like watching sausage made, not pretty or impressive.

Over capitalization is not better, just like under-capitalization is not something to be sneered at.

I dont want to be a hater, and think that the post was great. More important I am not FELT's customer base, and dont need Computer aided design to know what is a good bike. More importantly, computer aided design doesnt make a good, much less a great bike.
It is a tool, not a collaboration.

I ride it, I like it or hate it.
Sometimes it is just meh, like Felt.

Thanks Snobby

CommieCanuck said...

Udder..bullshit.

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us."

Harry Frankfurt, "On Bullshit", Princeton Press. 2005.

If the UCI really cared about the sport of cycling, they would insist tour riders only ride bikes that could be retailed for, say, $1,000-$1,500, and ban those stupid TT bikes.

leroy said...

Yeeesh, some folks need to lighten up.

It's a perfectly fine and interesting interview.

Of course, if it were up to me, I would have asked if they had ever tested a bean burrito in a wind tunnel near an open flame.

Fortunately, it's not up to me.

Or anyone else.

So lighten up.

Just not near the bean burrito wind tunnel test.

Stupid Name said...

"A Sturmey Archer SX3 3-speed/fixed gear hub will let you fly over the hills and the Superlite hydroformed aluminum frame is built for speed".

I take it all back, how can it be a 3-speed fixed gear hub.

Koesel and his company is full of shit.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem to me that Snob is capitulating. To me it appears that major players in the industry are taking his criticisms seriously and trying to justify themselves.
Go Snob GO!

Anonymous said...

OK, OK, I retract the "puerile pap" comment but it pains me to see what appeared to be genuflection toward the corporate machine. Too many people are already out there selling, selling, selling and we need more witty observation, such as that of our beloved Bike Snob.

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

Hardly said, silly, petulant? hardly, spare me the crap and keep it constructive.
Felt and the like have plenty of space and money to bombard us with marketing techniques and ploys, we the consumers however have comparatively far less space and forums for critical analysis. Do you advocate that each time a consumer critiques a company or product then that company with its marketing department and budget be allowed to respond? As to "you shouldn't but it unless it fits", how about "while you are contemplating if it fits let me show you some bells and whistles"

I think I'm just plain ol cranky, trying to get through the 1990 pges of the new health care bill, talk about marketing.

Stupid Name said...

CC is right again.

Tour riders should be forced to ride recumbants, and have beards, that would weed out the weenies.

You would not see a bearded recumbant rider finger banging.

Anonymous said...

"Model years seem to be a necessary evil." After 25 years in this industry I still disagree with that statement...

Anonymous said...

A corporate interview?

Meh.

Jason said...

Weird to realize a couple paragraphs into the interview that I knew and raced with Dave "back in the day" in Michigan.

Kapitan said...

FELT
BTCH

wishiwasmerckx said...

You would also not see a bearded recumbent rider being kissed by a podium girl. She would throw up on her shoes first.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Leroy, today's comments are far too philosophical; thanks for "keepin' it real" with a fart joke.

Dave Koesel said...

MtheM, while you were ranting on the comment board, I "Felt" up your wife.

Astroluc said...

busy days at the office make me late to the line, and by the time I get there everyone has already finished...

ant1 said...

Mingus - It's true we have less space and forums for critical analysis, but let's not forget that this is snob's space, not ours. I don't think anyone is saying companies should be allowed to respond (within our forums). There's plenty of times when companies do not, or are not given the chance to, respond. Snob just chose to do so in this case. Calling it a response isn't exactly correct either. I see it more as snob trying to better understand the point of view of the "other side". I'm sure he took the response with a grain of salt, as we all probably did. It's not out of the realm of possibilities that snob edited some of the responses, or did not post all the questions and replies. Either way, he had a chance to, it wasn't as if Felt was given free reign to counter-brainwash us.
And no matter how evil their marketing techniques may be, they still sponsor a US based pro team that I love watching race. I've benefitted plenty from the dollars they've managed to get out of people using their marketing.
And as anon 4:11 said, it's nice to see that our beloved snobby-poo, along with and/or partly thanks to the readership he's managed to attract, is having an effect on the bike industry.
i have a hard time finding anything wrong with the post. other than the sentence starting with and, that is.

Hardly said...

MtheM - Touche. I'll echo the cranky factor - too much staring at pixels today. You're absolutely right, though, regarding the fit question. The process is about making the sale (bells and whistles everywhere!), not patiently guiding people toward the right bike. Certain shops/fitters/builders stress that, but given the scope of felt, they're not going to focus on just that. I looked at the bike descriptions on their site a minute ago - pure porn. I mean, i loved it, but definite eroticism.

But as for the question of advocating a constant back-and-forth, the question begs the answer here, right? I don't, of course, though that'd be interesting. Snob got a company tweaked enough to feel they had to defend their work, which is a real victory on the consumer side. If it was a boring interview, i'm assuming Snob wouldn't have posted it, or would have gutted it and paraded the good, steamy innards for our reading pleasure. As for the question of "space and forum," i'm a bit at a loss. it's not like Snob gave him precious column inches, but you're right - the bike industry spams the witless with bike porn, and middle aged men go by 10k bikes for their sunday rides, thinking, "man, all the info out there says i need this or I'm not a cyclist!"

But dialogue between the critics and the industry still seems good, right? The critics say "this shit is dumb." and the industry say "here's why it isn't!" and if they're wrong, the critics point that out. Ideally, that is.

Well, back to it.

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

Very well, i see some valid points, most importantly its snobs blog, which I enjoy daily, hope you all let me play tomorrow, its time to begin the commute home.

Luke said...

"I'm afraid you're wrong about this, marketing is all about about identifying needs and catering to them. Buyers never buy something they don't need, it's just that the need may be an emotional one vs. a practical one."

Buying something based on an emotional need is bullshit-ese for being convinced that you need it. Emotions don't just objectively come from within an individual--they can be solicited and are solicited in advertising. There is no difference between identifying and then advertising a need, and convincing someone to buy something they don't need.

In essence, human beings need very little to survive, but that is beside the point. Snob isn't saying that we should all live in caves and wear fig leaves--he's just poking fun at advertising for our entertainment.

Bad Lawyer said...

Late, to the party as well...great post and commentariat, today.

BSNYC, being a Bad Lawyer, I'm accustomed to being the messenger accursed for the message. You did a great job letting the FELT-rep smell up his narrative all on his own.

Speaking of great cross-examinations check Assistant District Attorney Mary Stone's cross-examination of Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson in the LA road rage case: http://www.velonews.com/article/99655/la-road-rage-defendant-says-he-stopped-to-try-to-take-a

Perfect, pithy, devastating--Dr. Thompson's own words, in spoonfuls fed back to him.

Anonymous said...

You totally softballed him.

Bad Lawyer said...

Frilly,

I was doing some serious RTMS last night and I finally caught up with the fact that you hurt your heel--I'm so sorry, I hope you will be back on the bike soon! Now answer me a question: how many "girls" are there?

Bad Lawyer said...

Thanks for the link to Bill Hicks on marketing! Perfection.

Bad Lawyer said...

Bicycle marketing has existed since the bicycle was invented--doubt it, you don't know your history. Major Taylor began essentially marketing for the local LBS by doing tricks in front of the shop. The Tour de France, Giro and Vuelta arose as marketing programs and exist today as marketing programs. It's obvious from the commentary that the questions relate to taste, values, and ego--and, how much fun can you have with your bullshit detectors.

Anonymous said...

SOFT BALL

Anonymous said...

As seen on TV. Is it a need or a want? After using alien mind melt you believe that you need everything you see on TV and that is the strength in marketing. Also, who gets paid more the salesperson in the marketing department or the tech or builder on the production line?

jolene said...

gordy tolt me he went to san fransicker for the navy and felt this chick and she had a weaner

Bad Lawyer said...

CC--

While I'm waxing grandiloquent--on BS--you had already posted brilliantly on point. My props.

Anonymous said...

The bike biz brass is getting touchy about Snob's posts.
Won't be long before you find a severed quill stem in your bed sheets, buddy.

frilly said...

BL, I've still been able to ride. I haven't been able to run, so my triathlon training had a setback.

Twins.

Fierce Panties said...

True, RTMS does "come down hard on guys" but I remember only one "embrace" and that was the Elite crabon cage review. Have there been other embraces? I've been reading BSNYC since back in the day and I don't recall the embracing of the "stagnant."

Anonymous said...

Build it and they will come.

mosh pit said...

bsnyc,

i am surprised you posted this interview here.
sure he butters us up with some human interest answers in the beginning...
but before long just simply engages in wharton/chicago/yale/harvard/stanford MBA business speak.
and maybe that is the point of this interview... the yuppie guy has infiltrated the industry. because there is money to be had, or was.
but maybe i am jaded, as i made it to Cat 3 at a road racer in the late 90s riding steel lugged Ritchey with Record Titanium. Road dozens of races on the west coast then with, and survived because i was fit and healthy.
so where am i now? i am the douche bag riding the old Schwinn 3 speed in prospect park that you laugh about...

Anonymous said...

duch ebag

BikeSnobNYC said...

Fierce Panties,

In case you were serious about the Elite crabon cage review, I should clarify that I made that one up. I don't think I've ever even seen one of those in real life. (Well, I'm sure there are tons of them in the park races, but I've never noticed.)

I think in the road racing universe crabon is now "real" and steel has gone from real to "stagnant"--though it is still acceptable to use the latter for "epics."

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

Hardly:


... middle aged men go by 10k bikes for their sunday rides, thinking, "man, all the info out there says i need this or I'm not a cyclist!"


I'm sure they do, and by the boatload!

But I ride an expensive bike, and of course I don't think I'm a wiener (who does?), if only because I've been riding maybe longer than BikesGoneWild. I'm not even trying to go extra-fast, I just like having a light, responsive bike 'cause it feels good to ride and my aging legs can make it go that much faster. I generally get about a decade out of a bike, or 40 k miles.

Defensive? You bet!

Anonymous said...

crabon: the viagra of middle aged bicyclists

db said...

The interview is a change-up from Snob's usual stuff, and I appreciate that.

At first I was in the "softball questions" boat, but then I saw that Mr. Koesel was still hanging himself, and became fascinated by the whole thing. So thanks, Snob.

... it will either reaffirm or dispel whatever previous notions you had about Felt and their marketing.

Reaffirmed.

Hardly said...

To be sure, I meant "buy" as in purchase and not "by", as in ride by. Weary fingers...

But I don't mean to bash anyone who buys 10k featherweight carbons who isn't cat1 (i don't, and i'm not). If you've got the cash to throw down and like the feel as opposed to other bikes, sure, why not. But when having the newest technology becomes the focus of the purchase, not the actual positives of the technology as opposed to similar, less expensive bikes, marketing is having too much sway. And when the slight change in tech is a tool to make more money, that's the real issue.

Remember Armstrong's advice to most sunday riders looking to drop their times by purchasing new gear? Lose 10 pounds. For the serious-but-not-pro racer, though, the logic behind the scheme of shaving ounces of your bike will help you win / dramatically change silly, no?

Bad Lawyer said...

Frills,

identical or fraternal?

HalfwayDecentLawyer said...

"Stopping the influx of new models during the busiest part of the selling season is logical, but it takes a unanimous effort on the part of everyone industry-wide."

First, why? Second, an agreement amongst all the bicycle manufacturers to roll out new products at the same time of year would come dangerously close to the pot hole that is antitrust. I'm sensing a fantastic investigative journalism opportunity here, Snob. You could be the Eichenwald of bicycles!

Arthur Fonzerrelli said...

this was a real reprieve Snobby,one suspects you made this guy cry or something for you to give him this much space on your blog to blow his hot air. the guy just misses the point of the "environment" of your blog. he cant expect most of us to care about his double speak.
most of us just ride, straight up.

Thorstein Veblen said...

bsnyc
how come you edited out the part where he said his favorite author was Ayn Rand?

Anonymous said...

build it and they will come.in their pants...

skeletor said...

tomb rder

Felt said...

bsnyc,

what if you were wrong and a blog against late market capitalism and conspicuous consumption was not the path to enlightenment?

urchin said...

First up, nice work, snob--I thought your questions were fair and similar to what I would have wanted to know, and the answers, sadly, made me that much less interested in Felt. Business is business, I guess, and until it is not dominated by the idea that lack of growth=failure, the corporate idea of a good product and mine will never meet.

Second, thanks for the Evans video link--gives me another opportunity to mention the road Id--"it's who I am when I completely lose my shit."

"Hi...I'm David Millar...and it's who I am...FUCK!"

Back to the interview, the last straw for this guy is being the umpteenth person calling ACS freewheels 'bombproof.'
Get one wet. Wait one day. Enjoy your new track cog.


Always staring eerily but without much interest,

NPJ

Anonymous said...

I race a Felt BMX. Whenever hipsters see it they get confused.

Steel A. Pinarello said...

I too am tired of pretentious bike advertising, but I think the FELT guy does himself a disservice by jumping to the defense of GURU as a co-palper in marketing. He seems far less pretentious than the fingerringbangers in the GURU video. I mean, he's definitely a bike wonk & knows all the magic wors, but at least in a written interview, he seems a relatively harmless palpista. But maybe he was twirling his thumbringer while answering your questions & just wants to put something in our flowergarden like the rest of 'em.

Anonymous said...

Sell out
you suck at interviewing. Sounded like a bloody commerical. Go watch Frost/Nixon before ever interviewing again.

SuperDave said...

BSNYC, Again thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions. For your readers it may be important for them to understand I did not post on your blog or ask you to submit my comments or viewpoint. To clarify, I never asked for my opinion to be heard.

As to StupidName:

"A Sturmey Archer SX3 3-speed/fixed gear hub will let you fly over the hills and the Superlite hydroformed aluminum frame is built for speed".
I take it all back, how can it be a 3-speed fixed gear hub.
Koesel and his company is full of shit.
October 29, 2009 4:11 PM

I didn't write that catalog quote, but I did specify and work with Sturmey on their hub. It is indeed fixed; as in, no coasting. Fixed doesn't mean single speed and SA has had a fixed gear hub before, the concept is 50 years old.

I suspect it is obvious, but the comment authored by "Dave Koesel" above was not written by me, I'm not clever enough for such a retort.

To the rest of you, when I agreed to answer snob's questions I expected an interogation, not an interview. If any questions remain, I'll do my best to answer them.

Thanks again for reading,
Dave Koesel
Felt Bicycles

urchin said...

SuperDave, you are a good sport.

Snob, sorry to break this to you, but you are now part of the bike industry whether you like it or not...

NPJ

CommieCanuck said...

Tour riders should be forced to ride recumbants, and have beards, that would weed out the weenies.

Plus, no need for expensive podium girls.

Anonymous said...

Dave, enough of the softball questions. It is time you were grilled until you squirm.

Is it true that you left the waitress a 12% tip at lunch today?

SuperDave said...

Anonymous said...
Dave, enough of the softball questions. It is time you were grilled until you squirm.

Is it true that you left the waitress a 12% tip at lunch today?

October 29, 2009 7:29 PM

I rode my bike at lunch today with our engineering staff. I left our waitress 20% last night at Infusion in Ladera Ranch. I was feeling generous as it was my wife's 36.5 birthday.
-SD

Swashbuckling Dandy said...

"Invention is the mother of necessity." I fergit who said that.

I still don't care about Felt. I guess it's a draw as far as I'm concerned, then. There is an awful lot of unaerodynamic bullshit in the comments, though. Maybe a consultant could help?

Anonymous said...

what the hell! I'll show you something you can felt!

Matt said...

An inexperienced interviewer is dragged into broadcasting boring, misleading PR, and loses credibility in the process.
No big deal. Everyone starts with baby steps.
Next time, avoid e-mail interviews. They don't permit follow up, and allow subjects to dictate terms. If the subject has a political agenda, is on one side of an academic dispute, produces schticky artwork, or, worst of all, sells things, the terms will be boring yakity-yak.
Also, decide ahead of time what the point of interviewing the subject is.
Bike Snob has repeatedly called marketers on their hokum. A marketer called B.S.
Forcing him to produce a philosophical defense of foisting $8,000 bikes on lardasses would have been hilarious...
Instead, we got "tell me about this year's product line..."
Interviewing done right is manipulative, hostile, dishonest, unfair, and produces great insights.
Done wrong, it produces marketing copy...

kfg said...

Udder is marketing marketing to create his hypothetical and purely emotional need for the "need" he posits we need.

Very clever; "We see that many people feel trapped. If we play to that and then separate them into the trapped dollar..."

Kill yourself.

P.S. I have no problem with Snobby inviting his targets to have their own free say and hoist themselves with their own CFP crabon fibre petrad.

Stupid Name said...

The podium girls could wear those little amish caps. And be conservatively dressed. Maybe even have a little BO.

Oh thats right, they would make them canadians.

Royal 3 speed (made in England by Raleigh IIRC)
Gitane/Omelenchuck mid-1960s Track bike
Eddy Merckx 7-11 Track bike ridden in ’92 Olympics
Croll Custom 853 Road bike
Jim Felt T2 TT bike
Coppi Galaxy Altec
GT Superbike III prototype
GT Titanium Edge Track frame w/ Hooker Fork
Colnago Custom Rabobank Dream Cross bike
Ritchey BreakAway Steel Road bike
Felt DA Track prototype
Felt Tk1 prototype
Felt F1 2009 Tour de France edition
Santana Fusion Tandem

Does anybody else find this a strange list, for one of the number one road bike sponsors in the pro racing circuit.

Not one bike a real person could buy or use.

CommieCanuck said...

The podium girls could wear those little amish caps. And be conservatively dressed. Maybe even have a little BO.


OOOooo...just got some maple. Hardwood.

Billy Reid said...

This guy sounds pretty smart, but these are the exact answers I'd expect to get from the marketing department of every big bike company.

It was pretty well scripted. Whether he could spew all this copy on his own or whether he got the whole executive board of the company working on it depends on how long he's been spewing it.

This interview will likely go into the MBA manual for those wishing to become (bicycle company) executives.

Snobby, do you give out honorary degrees? I'm not sure if would be for marketing, theater, creative writing, or something else spectacular.

Anonymous said...

Well done, sir snob.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you Felt, your bikes suck

Anonymous said...

is there anyone who can make these fixed gear no brake lock the wheel and skid fudgepackers realize they are letting the world know they are all about packing fudge! If you ride a bicycle without brakes on the road your going to be known as a fudgepacker.

flynn said...

Thank you Snob and Koesel, interesting post.

Seemed like an email interview though, no? I'd be interested to read the old fashioned kind. It's difficult to challenge an interviewee in this format, and he gets off too easily. Round 2?

and I wish I could unread this:
"I am pleased to see the variety in the offerings and the influx of new brands making Urban Fixed Gears their medium for creativity."

Anonymous said...

hahahaha!!! fixed gear fudge packers!

Asterisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Asterisk said...

Snobby,

Thanks for citing me, *, twice in your column. Glad to see my knowledge of burritos and BeerNuts was useful.

That said, I think what I wrote as a comment on your brilliant 20th of October column has come to pass, alas, too quickly:

“Let us know if some self-righteous bike company now wants to hire you as their spokesman because they view themselves as truly innovative, so when they come out each year with a new model, somehow they are immune from and above your criticism.”

I also think that it is important to point out that an interview with a product manager is different from an interview with a CEO, so we have to place the words of Dave in their corporate context. In short, while he may be speaking from the heart, the obligations of Felt management to its investors, even if family owned, drive behaviors for reasons different from those of the product manager. Dave may view the activities of Felt one way, but the business situation of Felt may produce these behaviors for a very different reason, much in line with what Snob wrote one week ago. Having been a product manager at one time and now part of corporate management, I have a bit of experience in understanding these differences.

No question in my mind that Dave the product manager is sincere in what he says and his love of cycling and innovation are true and deep. He is right to be proud that Felt is looking to innovate and bring out advances that make their high end bikes used by pros and bought by amateurs and that these innovations eventually trickle down into less expensive bikes. This kind of success is a thrill for everyone in a company.

Remember, though, that Dave points out that he has to be careful of what the corporate geeks say: “Now here is where I could get into trouble with our sales and marketing guys…”

Being a corporate geek now myself, there are certain rules that you have to live by in how you manage a company. First and foremost, you have to keep the company alive and so you have to do things first for the bottom line, for what works financially for the investors, not for what is right for the industry. Unless you are making money like crazy, you are under pressure to be cash flow positive and keep earnings growing.

You also have to remember that we are in a protracted recession. Let’s face it, there are too many bike companies out there and not all of them can survive. We know that Cannondale had to shut down production in the US and go offshore, etc. And if sponsored bike races and teams have been collapsing, that is clearly an indicator that bike companies are suffering as well.

So as much as Dave talks about the drive to innovate for improving the riding experience of Felt’s clientele, there is a corporate drive to differentiate both in product features and in perception by the clientele, so that we the consumers can justify buying a Felt over any other of the too many brands, especially as bike sales in units and revenue decline. If you are seen as a me-too company, not bringing out something that helps you go faster, handle better, etc., then why is anyone going to buy your bike, especially when store prices are 33-40% below MSRP by every company? You have to stand out both in innovation and price or you just get ignored and left on the rack. You also have to stand out in marketing so that you get noticed. Otherwise, you lose sales and then you lose your salary and then you lose your job.

So, I think it is fine for Snob to interview a product manager, but I think that we have to see the interview in its context. It would be far more interesting to see how the economy and the excessive number of bike manufacturers influence the innovation and marketing cycles inside companies like Felt. I think this is the point Snob was addressing a week ago and that I would like to see addressed more directly in subsequent interviews, if possible.

*

cyclotourist said...

People, it's an f'in blog.

Get over bad selves.

BLOG READ

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for Cadel Evans! Cadel's effort in the final kilometers is the definition of "Putting the Hammer down!" He flat out smoked it all the way to the finish. Impressive is all I can say

Anonymous said...

Cadel better make room for the tour of california...he will if he knows what is good for him. Will see if a shaman can come up with something that will guarantee top podium of that french tour if he shows up for the california tour

Anonymous said...

This is garbage, get it together man. Is this actually verbatim or did Koesel just write the manuscript out for you?

fed up with the Man said...

asterisk discussed:

Remember, though, that Dave points out that he has to be careful of what the corporate geeks say: “Now here is where I could get into trouble with our sales and marketing guys…”

when i read the felt dude said that, i just thought he is the classic "new" business guy using the "I am being sincere and telling you how i feel regardless of what the machinery feels"...

and having worked in production at the biggest book seller the last ten years i can tell you that is double speak bullshit.

go read some Paul Ricœur Asterisk...

Andy Pandy said...

Felt is a poor mans Cervelo. I rode one once and once was enough. Road chatter would have atleast given me some feed back that the beast was actually moving.

Try swimming Frills, given your new found bouyancy you should fly along like a female chinese olympic swimmer in an illegal skin suit and a vein full of hormones

Beer nuts said...

We have every right to question felt guys sincerity, asterisk.

Thedoad said...

i cant possibly read all those comments so sorry if this is a repeat. Great Entry, but I just wish he spoke more from the heart and less from the corporate checklist. Clearly he loves what he is doing. Drop the sales pitch.

Anonymous said...

come on man! don't be so hard on snob...ya'dig what imz say'n man! a Man's gat'2'eat and somz'time you'z gat'2'do waht u'z gat'2'do!!! pez'out

Anonymous said...

come on man! don't be so hard on snob...ya'dig what imz say'n man! a Man's gat'2'eat and somz'time you'z gat'2'do waht u'z gat'2'do!!! pez'out

belmont sledgehammer said...

Wow -- gonna crack 200 here? That'd be a first I'd seen.

Anonymous said...

hmmm? I was contemplating getting a Felt bicycle...but now I am not so sure. After being part of Bike snobs blog they might think they have hit mainstream and not care so much for the average joe. Perhaps I will have to purchase that Seven or maybe a Serotta after all.

Anonymous said...

belmont sledgehammer? are you the one who thinks hammering it from corona del mar to Laguna and then peeling off constitutes putting the the sledgehammer down

Anonymous said...

women under 5'??? isn't that in the "spinner" classification

Anonymous said...

I agree! expensive bikes should always be custom built custom fit. All this expensive carbon cookie cutter crap is just CRAP! When I see a joker putting around on a madone or whatever the top carbon crap frames are from commodity bicycle manufacturers and they have all the shit that puts the cost of that bike over 4 grand??? I say they are wankers! Under 4 grand...should be under 3 but inflation, then purchase commodity brands. If you have the money, your a fool if you don't take the time to get a custom built bike

Anonymous said...

Shark jumping even more obvious. Stand your ground, that's journalism.

richardjirvine@hotmail.com said...

Well I like the Felt man, he's doing his job and we've all got to eat.

You could get to 200 comments here.

irvini said...

Although I'm with the bloke who said the new model every year is because everyone else does it is a poor excuse.

Santa Cruz don't

Anonymous said...

Frodo Evans is tired of being second and is going to bitch slap his 'mates if it happens again! Hissy fits R Us

Anonymous said...

people really felt it...

Persa said...

I don't know if you've heard, but according to Twitter's blog post (http://blog.twitter.com/2009/09/soon-to-launch-lists.html) Twitter has jumped on the "curate" boat: "The idea is to allow people to curate lists of Twitter accounts."

Just thought I'd let you know what else people are curating besides colourways.

Anonymous said...

Thedoad

For shame. Read the posts.

Anonymous said...

191!

Anonymous said...

192nd

ant1 said...

So, with all this Felt hatred here, can anyone name a bike company that wouldn't easily be pigeonholed into the "evil corporatation just trying to screw cyclists over" category?

Do you think that if you ran a bicycle company you would be any different? Or if you had a widely read blog that you would only give its readers top notch journalism? Seriously people, I doubt snob is trying to reverse the (perceived) wrongs of the bicycle industry, he's just here to poke fun at all of us.

And I bet Dave Koesel knows more about bikes and the bike industry than 95% of the people throwing insults his way on this comments page. And were it not for people like him and companies like Felt, 95% of us would not be riding bikes, since 95% of bikes come from big evil bike companies (I made that stat up, but it sure sounds good to me).

On top of that, since all of us here are so damn smart and can spot marketing bs a mile away, what's the harm in posting the interview (and is was just an interview, not a piece of investigative journalism)? If anything, we should all be thanking snob for getting Dave to sit atop the blogosphere's virtual dunk-tank for us to throw balls his way.

balls.®

I can barely believe I'm now defending the guy. You owe me a free bike for losing any credibility I might have had around here mr. Koesel. I'll take one of those ARs, since those are my initials.

Thanks in advance,

the original carbon-based AR

Royal Dutch Shell said...

Herr Bikesnob,
lots of people like you/love you/dress like you in secret because you tell it like it is. While your following keeps growing, more and more 'important' bicycle industry people who take you to task will give you a hard time. It's honourable that you are playing fair and hearing out Koesel on your blog, however Felt's message already has thousands of dollars of PR and marketing behind it.

Oh well, you still rule.


ps. I bought a Felt road bike (for the same reason most people do- because Ryder Hesjedal rides one, eh), but there is really nothing special about it.

kerry said...

WEll, if anyone wants a 5'3 woman with a aluminum bike(crabon fork), I can be got for over 700 and less than 4000. Bring the Orbea and the second time is free.
Oh and I'm a vegetarian who is allergic to beans, also.So for our date to the wind tunnel to watch new Felt bikes,leave the burritos home. I'm from Cali and admitting you don't eat burritos is like a cardinal sin or soemthing.

All The Italian Sprinters On Alp D'Huez said...

Red lantern!

Within the time limit?

It's true said...

Recumbants suck. Can't climb, can't see sh*t. all that engineering so you can lay down and take it like a duffle bag. LOLz.

ant1 said...

Here's the leadout.

197...

ant1 said...

199...

Stupid Name said...

Back in the back of the peloton, just like real life.
Screw you podium hunters.

"I mean, there are companies in this world that have sold poisonous baby food, so telling a bunch of recreational cyclists that a bike will make them faster really isn't all that bad."
Makes you think what that chinese crabon might be doing to you, doesnt it.

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