Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grey is the new Black

  Well it happened. The internet created a whole new wheel size and dealt a death blow to 26 inch wheels. Most if not all manufacturers are dropping the 26 and going with the tweener size. I blame MTBR. Here you have a bunch of computards who in effect type more than they ride. Sheldon Brown wanna be's lauding praise because they said so ( uh, yea I see the irony duh.) The internet has no fact checks built in, they are not typing a research paper. Hell, we the reader are just as guilty because we drink it up like free beers at a work party.

  Like road disc brakes, the industry jumped on board tweener wheels. Not because of pure market demand but because no one wanted to be Yeti. Remember? Yeti was the manufacturer to call 29er's clown shoes. Yeti missed the boat and lost a crap load of market share. Finally coming out with a bandaid bike that was rather unimpressive and did nothing but save face and fill a major void in their line up to keep dealers placated. Not happy, just placated. Big mistake, they know it now, and might just admit it if you have enough single malt. No one wants to do that with 27.5/650B. ( shit that wheel size is so damn awesome it has two names).

 Road bikes. Shit. These damn things are coming with Hydros? Flat land mechanics rejoice. You have struck gold in service revenue. Bleeding these is easy peasy. But we all know road bikers are far more fearful of maintenance than their dirty counter parts. ( I mean mtn bikers fools.) So rejoice in this. Us mountain state mechanics are sighing a collective " OH FUCK". Why? Well, let me tell you.
 Flat out, people don't know shit. On a daily basis we are bombarded with," my brakes make noise." Yeah, we know they do. They are Avids, and you probably thought you could drag them all the way down the hill from Snowbowl. You can't, don't care what brake it is. The problem lies elsewhere.    People are not taught the right way to ride bikes anymore. Don't believe me? When was the last time you jumped in a group ride? The finer points of riding in a group have been lost. Technique has gone the way of the 26" wheel. Johnny come lately will sit up mid pack to check his watts, never mind he just air braked the whole pack behind him. Freddy will over cook a corner, missing the apex, and brake hard while turning too late. Skill has been lost and no one wants to teach it anymore.

 I was getting into the road scene a few years back. I started by joining the shop group rides after work. I had zero skill, negative technique, and was completely oblivious as to my general rolling disaster. I thank my fellow workers for bringing me the knowledge needed to not be a total hack. Taught me how to corner, how to brake, and more importantly the finer points of etiquette in group riding. Best lesson was to sit back and learn. It's painfully obvious that most people are no longer provided this education. It's just get in go fast and to hell with whatever.

 Same mentality happens in mountain bikes. Strava tards blowing you up on their descent as you wrongly assume they are going to follow the rules of the trail. Rules? You mean the sign? That is for "other" people. Plug in, tune out, and rip it. No etiquette. No skill. No fucks given. Poor braking skills are evident here as well. Hydros have great ability to save a noobs ass, which in turn causes more of them to think they have actually acquired skill. In fact, they have acquired nothing but can cost us sooooo much.

 All this rambling does lead to a point.

 Who's job is it to educate? The shop? The sales person in a shop? Or the wrench? As a sales person you are trying to sell product. Bottom line is that is what you are there to do. Sure, a GOOD sales person will make many friends and educate many people on product simply by answering the questions asked. No one asks how to ride anymore. No One.
 As a wrench we tend to see the end result of poor skills and education. Sooo many times we have seen cooked pads, glazed pads, and completely gone pads. Those people are missing something and eventually it could cost them harm. I mean physical harm not wallet harm. Try stopping when you have no pads left at all. Try stopping when you have a mirror finish on your pads. Hell every one of us has had the loud squealing, honking, brake syndrome. I know for a fact most of us are embarrassed and tend to stop using the brakes to avoid the noise. I did.

 Skill. Education. Two things disappearing from our sport at a rapid pace because the industry is changing technology at a better rate than its education practices. I for one am guilty. But in all honesty I am trying. I DO explain the correct way to brake to a customer who has glazed their pads. I DO explain the finer points of looking over your bike to see if the pads need replacing. I try very hard to remove the mystery of wrenching. It really is easy and hard at the same time. But how in the world are we ever going to get anywhere when people won't even lube their chain and go out for a ride with a thousand angry birds chasing them?

 You guys have the new Red 22 in stock?



  1. OMG This is spot-on brilliant. I, for one, ave an entire stable of bikes with 26"/559 wheels exclusively. I don't ride any other size, and I am hoarding as many extras as my limited storage space allows. And I count my lucky stars that I bailed on the industry a year ago, just as tweener wheels were starting to be shoved down everyone's throat. (Damn, you Jan Heine; it's all your fault.)

    An industry colleague put it brilliantly in an interview a couple of years ago when he said that 650b was an answer to a question that none of his customers had yet asked. Well, you can bet they'll be asking now, albeit at veritable knifepoint. Screw 'em all. I'll be in my little bicycle bunker, clinging to my stash of 26" wheels for dear life. When the weather clears a little later today, I'll take my late 80's BStone (26" wheels, cantis) out for a rip in the wet dirt. Ride on!

  2. While I agree, why am I comfortable in reciprocating no fucks given? Gaper's are a way of living as a result of us all being here in this master plan. And it isn't just the bicycling industry, as errant as it may be. I feel like I'm HORS to your Category 1 essence because this shit doesn't matter. Now go sell Dick some pads. Enjoy taking his money. Ignorance is a beautiful thing. -Gnome

  3. You just can't make this shit up. Keep up the good work.

  4. It's not that people don't want to educate others, it's that some of the newer "others" don't WANT to be educated. They figure that because they dropped $3k+ on a road bike, that the commensurate amount of knowledge has passed, as if by osmosis, into their brains...through their asses.
    People don't want to hear about 20+ years of riding/racing, or turning wrenches, or experience with products.
    Ride a rolling paceline? Nope...GOT it!
    Double paceline? Nope, saw it on a website...GOT it...
    Dress properly for changing weather? Nope...GOT it...
    Bike fit? Gearing choices? How to ride straight, or corner? Nope...they GOT it.
    They've dropped the money and ridden for a year...they've GOT it.
    And don't even TRY to proffer unsolicited advice, nor opinion. You may hurt their little feelings...
    But yet, when the person WITH the experience/knowledge separates him/herself from that group, they are chastised as snobbish...

    Sometimes, it's really not worth the bother...

    1. Arrogance plus ignorance is a bad combination. Just one of the reasons I gave up group road rides: too many fools who thought they'd 'GOT it', but were actually a danger to themselves and others. Add to that the Strava jerks, idiots behind the wheels of 6k pound SUVs texting while driving, and I decided it was time to leave the playing field. I figured that my luck was only gonna hold for so long. BTW, heart-rate monitors foreshadowed watt meters and all the other techy toys. I still recall the first time that some dweeb stopped pedalling because his monitor told him that he'd gone out of his target zone -- disregarding the fact that he was in a paceline -- and that was over 20 years ago. Going back even farther, we sometimes had to have a serious 'chat' with tri-geeks who showed up for fast group rides with their aero bars as early as 1987. Just 'cause Greg beat Laurent with 'em in a time trial doesn't mean that they're appropriate or welcome everywhere.

  5. I couldn't agree more and, like you, I'd rather try to help. For a start, here is a good primer on group ride etiquette:

  6. Hahaha, love it dude, keep it up, this stuff is golden and someone needs to say it!! Its just like building trails, everyone has time to ride their bike, but no one has time to maintenance or even think about what they just fucked up.... Ok, like that makes any sense, thanks assholes, see if I let you onto my trail again!! Same with bikes, its funny how, as I have grown as a wrench, the ignorance and the unwillingness to learn how to fix it for themselves is grossly become the norm, its sad, and hell, I still ride 24"s on my DJ bike, they can go fuck themselves if they think they're going to take my 26"s away!

  7. Learned how to corner on descents from my brother in law. A nice 4 mile technical drop in the rain and a man who knows how to ride. Thanks Ken.

  8. Rants aside ... Are there any good online resources to help new mtn bikers?

  9. John,

    Some call me angry and "the wrench to avoid", couldn't be further from the truth really. So I would reply to you that the place you spend your money should be a good resource to learn things. I try hard to teach people how to fix their own stuff, saves them a lot of money and I really like enabling people to fend for themselves. IMBA is a good start, don't know how new you are. After that your local trail builders probably have a good deal of knowledge to impart, beers, and a few group rides, and clinics to help you feel part of the community. You will probably make friends and have a good time. Trail building is pretty rewarding, and you can learn a good deal about riding simply from building. It's not near as fun, but ripping trail you built is a certain kind of special. I specifically stayed away from too much online resources to get you out and about. Bike riding is about people and interacting directly with them. Contrary to a lot of people's beliefs I really like people and interacting with them. If you need more let me know and I'll try to help. Maybe let me know what region you are in.

  10. Angry Buddhist speaks the truth. D2 agrees.

  11. Nice article but overly angry. You comes off as, "Don't like what I don't like!" attitude. A lot of us like 29ers' and I love mine. I also like my 650b (converted rush). So what if someone buys one or even repurposes a penny farthing to ride trails? (Or road for that matter) At least we're out there having fun and enjoying our selves. So someone has a bike that makes noise and they're using juicy 7's and they don't know how to adjust them. They're riding and enjoying themselves and again that's all that counts. Yes, it's important to learn etiquette when riding especially in group rides, but don't dog the un- knowledgeable. Dog the asshole who is unwilling to learn. All of us (me especially) had to start somewhere..

  12. Hilarious, and exactly what we joke about in the shop out of customer earshot. I work for the same big blue shop that you did in the past... and man it's getting worse. Can't tell you how many times in the past week I've hear this sentiment: SELL ME SOMETHING TO MAKE ME GO FASTER. enough said.

  13. My gut tells me I agree, but I am also probably part of the problem. However, I haven't bought any new stuff. I am still rocking my Santa Cruz superlight mtb sans hydraulic brakes. So you probably won't run into me in the shop.

  14. Thanks very much for this great article;this is the stuff that keeps me going through out these day.

    Heavy Duty Casters With Brakes & Heavy Duty Casters Low Profile

  15. I'm a longtime rider (over 50 years) and former shop owner. I walked into a local shop looking for a new rim to rebuild a rear mtn bike wheel. The smug salesman told me 26 in wheels were no longer standard and nobody uses rim brakes any more. Looking around the shop I could see at least half the new bikes on the floor made a liar out of the dweeb. But I could see the 26" rim I was looking for hanging up so I said "Since that 26" Mavic rim up there is obsolete can I get it for a 90% discount?" I ended up getting it for half off. The bike industry is being really dumb about this. The average bike buyer is not interested in this nonsense.