Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cafiend, International Bicycle Consultant

A brother in law living in Europe (neighborhood of Switzerland or Austria, he gets around) has been tapping me for advice on a bike purchase.

This morning, looking at links sent by Euro Bro (in law), I noticed how the mushroom cloud of "innovation" from the mountain bike boom has actually led to some meaningful design improvements as the better ideas have clawed their way to the surface of the avalanche of mixed blessings generically referred to as progress.

The examples are far from isolated. Most of the niche bikes of today owe something to the discoveries and even more numerous rediscoveries of the mountain bike boom. Some of the progress, in internally-geared hubs, for instance, was tangential to the direct thrust of mountain bike development, but some interest came from the desire to have multiple speeds without vulnerable derailleurs. What does not work for a mountain bike ridden hard in rough terrain still does excellently for a transportation bike in a more refined urban environment. Yes, I know cities have some hideously rough streets, but no one is clawing up a rough singletrack or hucking a huge drop. Not often, anyway.

Many bikes fly the "retro" banner. They work because that outmoded concept was never wrong, it was merely set aside for something that was either more fashionable or suited to a niche that was currently more popular. Many of the retro offerings hearken back to what made the mountain bike so appealing: it was a general purpose bike. People like a general purpose bike. They want it strong, durable, light enough, as simple as possible and with both a long shelf life and a long usable life.

Racers and performance riders of any sort have always been willing to sacrifice longevity for various other important qualities that enhance performance. The sporty enthusiast has tried to mix some performance with the practicality. The well funded enthusiast might even have a finicky greyhound or two in the lineup. But the foundation of a durable cycling culture has to be a durable cycle. Cycling should be a long term relationship.

Now I just have to figure out how to turn some income on free advice.

3 comments:

Ham said...

Coincidentally, I was musing along similar lines http://cyclesafeandhappy.blogspot.com/2010/03/three-days-three-bikes-three-routes.html

Banana said...

free advice ? it's called a sales pitch. You give your advice--meeting the customer's needs with material good and services and buy parts at whoesale , sell them at retail and charge an hourly rate for service.

You don't necessarily have to compromise your integrity, but if say.... you need a new transmission in a car something you can always sell someone something that will 'last much longer' or deliver "far superior performance for just a little bit more money"

banana

and umm..... get the money in advance when dealing in foreign currencies.

Colin said...

Here is the bike in question:

http://www.retrovelo.de/paulalfine.html

I am very happy with it indeed -- it is a substantially faster and more maneuverable bike than I thought it would be -- and it's more than comfortable enough for the dirt trails around here, which are a part of a Swiss national MTB route. The Schwalbe Table Tops filled to 3.5 bar do enough suspension for what I (and most folks who don't ride rocky trails) do.

You should totally be their East Coast distributor.