Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lead by Following

Industry giant Specialized has suddenly noticed how useful cyclocross bikes can be for general exploratory riding. To make up for coming late to the game, they've named it "freeroading" and will now try to market it as if they had invented it.

We dust off our trusty Surlies and laugh a tired laugh.

The Specialized entry is called the Tri Cross. This was the name for their immmensely popular and convenient road-sized knobby tire back in the mid 1980s, so it's nice to see it again. Now, though, the name is attached to a carbon fiber marvel which will do everything the Surly Cross-Check will do, only not quite as well and for many hundreds of dollars more. Yes, it's lighter, a fact for which you pay, but it's less versatile, with VD. And you get the test pilot thrill of riding an exotic material into circumstances that, engineer's assurances aside, are still being explored. By you.

The industry used consumers to do their R&D all through the mountain bike boom. This served to punish early purchasers for their trust in industry giants, because the componentry they bought as state of the art was quickly left behind by the later, sometimes better but always different, versions.

And the wheel keeps turning.

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