(Via a reader)
This past Friday I administered a quiz, and if you chose the wrong answer you saw this video, produced by the Department of Defense:
It's worth revisiting this video, if only because it really does distill the American attitude towards bicycles and cycling as neatly as anything I've ever seen. Basically the idea is that riding a bike is tantamount to suicide, even if you have a helment and lights like this person does:
And that what you really need is a pair of Lycra half-shorts, a Dayglo safety vest, a helment, and a spelunker's helment light:
This is just your country reminding you that if you're not driving a car then you're merely pending roadkill, and implicitly suggesting you shouldn't even bother in the first place.
Also in Friday's post, I mentioned that the latest incredibly specific bicycle the bike industry wants to convince you that you need is the "gravel bike:"
So you've got a road bike, and you've got a cyclocross bike. Why do you now need a gravel bike? Well, nobody knows, including people who sell bikes for a living:
What Makes a Gravel Road Race Bike?
The question of what exactly defines a gravel road racer is a legitimate one. Even some dealers on hand at Bike DealerCamp in Utah, who were ogling over the two Tamland models, were asking the same question. Gravel road races have long been more about customizing an existing bike in one’s stable, such as a cyclocross bike that can clear extra-wide tires, but with the number of races rising and more riders seeking out dirt-road adventures, so too has the demand for dedicated gravel machines.
Compared with its traditional road brethren, the Tamland has a longer wheelbase thanks to longer chainstays and a slack head tube. The head tube of the Tamland, like you might guess, is also taller than other Raleigh models and the steel fork touts 50 millimeters of rake.
The bottom bracket is lower than a cyclocross frame, or even some road models, to keep the bike stable on bumpy, uneven road surfaces.
The Tamland has mounts for fenders or a rack, so while Raleigh’s newest model is intended for gravel racing, it would also make for a great touring frame, commuter bike, or would even be a good option for someone wanting to experiment in cyclocross racing.
It really must be hard to sit around a room figuring out how to tweak a certain type of bike just enough so that people think they need them, but not enough that the tweaks make any real difference. It must be even harder to shop in a bike store these days:
Customer: "Ooh, that's nice. Is it a cyclocross bike?"
Salesperson: "No, it's a gravel bike."
Customer: "What's a gravel bike?"
Salesperson: "Well, it's like a road bike, but it's got more tire clearance and a more stable geometry."
Customer: "Like a cyclocross bike."
Salesperson: "Well, kind of, but it's a gravel bike. Remember Brick Tamland from 'Anchorman?' 'I love lamp.' Hilarious!"
Customer: "Right. So can you do a cyclocross race with it?"
Salesperson: "Well, it's a good option for someone wanting to experiment in cyclocross racing, but once you actually start cyclocross racing you're going to need an actual cyclocross bike. For that you'll want the 'Fantana.' Remember 'Sex Panther?' Hilarious!"
Customer: "Right. So what's the difference between experimenting in cyclocross racing and cyclocross racing?"
Salesperson: "A skinsuit and buying another bike you don't need."
Customer: "Fuck this, I'm leasing a Hyundai."
I blame disc brakes for all of this. They're like sun-dried tomatoes were back in the '90s--just put them on the same old dish and all of a sudden it's supposed to be something new and exciting.
This is not to say the Tamland doesn't look like a fun bike--it certainly does. It's just that the older I get the less able I am to keep up with the hair-splitting. Similarly, I used to like hardcore music (remember, I'm old), as well as some of the other subsequent subdivisions of "core" music (metalcore, speedcore, grindcore, blahblahblah) but by the time they got to sun-dried tomato core I was like, "Fuck it, I'm listening to Teddy Pendergrass."
Still I'll take any of this disc-brakes-and-a-movie reference bike marketing over this Budnitz nonsense any day:
A reader forwarded me this, and I was horrified to learn that Old Man Budnitz "loves" me despite the fact that I've done my best to make it clear that I vociferously object to everything he represents:
Bikerumor: What could you do without?
Paul Budnitz: Bike snobs (not THE Bike Snob. We love him!).
Bicycle people tend to have strong opinions, which is a good thing — but there is sometimes a general intolerance for new or different ideas.
For example, some people gave us flack when we started out for making city bicycles that cost more than $300. As far as I’m concerned, if we’re going to elevate bicycles to the level of high art and engineering, like a BMW car or Moto Guzzi motorcycle, we need to be willing to invest in that. Also, there’s enough opposition to cyclists from the outside. In any case, time and a myriad of good reviews seem to have solved that issue for us on its own.
As bicyclists ought to support one another, whether you’re riding a fixie you built yourself from a bike shop’s dumpster, a vintage Raleigh you bought at a flea market (beautiful!), or a high end boutique bicycle like a Rivendell, IF, Beloved, or one of our bikes.
People who don't like Budnitz bicycles are not intolerant of new and different ideas. They're intolerant of self-fellating design douches who have no ideas and who think they invented the expensive city bike. I mean, I suppose there aren't a lot of other companies taking the high-end custom 29er and stripping it of all offroading capability, but that's only because that idea is completely stupid.
Of course, it's possible he doesn't love me, and when he says "THE Bike Snob" he actually means this kid:
(Spotted by a reader at RAGBRAI.)
Though I bet if Old Man Budnitz tried to "high five" him he'd get a kick in the "pants yabbies."
Lastly, via yet another reader comes the best kind of bicycle marketing--the home-grown type you find on the eBay:
Can post it or you can pick up from either Middlesex, Slough, Bracknell or Reading ( depends where I hang out durring daytime).
No Pick ups at evenings nor night as i'm a bit busy polishing frame holder :).
I'm sure you are, eBay user "zdunor." I'm sure you are.