Friday, June 15, 2012

For the Love of Velox Tape

Well first, I noted with dismay one of my prior posts, the title of which suggests I would go off on the commentators who frequent VeloNews, Cyclingnews, Bikerumor, etc.  I so enjoyed my tangent of lovingly criticizing Leonard Zinn that I forgot to get back to bashing the posers, douchebags, luddites, and assholes who feel it's their duty to hate every fucking bike-related post on the interwebs.

Oh my god, Dura Ace is going to 11 speeds?!

Like this exact same thing doesn't happen every 3 to 5 years.

What do you mean I can't get an 11-38 cassette?  I've needed an 11-38 cassette for as long as I've been riding!  Surely the bike companies wouldn't miss out on the opportunity to sell THOUSANDS of 11-38 cassettes?!

Stack and reach?  I've been riding bikes for 33 years, and I've NEVER used stack and reach.  People who do are idiots!  People who DON'T use stack and reach are idiots!  I can't believe every bike company doesn't publish stack and reach measurements for their bikes!  The bike industry is idiotic!

And on, and on, and on, and on.

First, we've talked about planned obsolescence before.  I wanted this to be a Respectable Blog, so I looked for the original post, but I couldn't find it.  Fuck it.  Planned obsolescence, or The March of Technology, will come up over and over again, so just take 15 minutes to read through the pile of shit I've written over the last couple years and you'll be up to speed.

The bike industry is driven by technology and exists in a competitive economic arena.  Products will evolve into a form perceived by most to be better.  "Better" usually means lighter, stiffer, and cheaper.  Sometimes it means safer.  Eventually, I'm sure we'll get into the philosophical discussion of marketing, and which part of the dog wags the other, but not today.  Most people (noted exception - Grant Peterson, whose opinion I respect, though it often differs from my own) agree that bikes are getting better.

What this means is that products are going to change all the time.  Part of that change is adding gears.  Superficially, you can argue that the performance difference between a 10 speed drivetrain and an 11 are negligible, and you'll be right.  But you cannot argue that smaller gaps between gear ratios isn't desirable.  It doesn't happen often, but it happens: you're riding along, either in a paceline or against a headwind on your way to work, and the gear you want just isn't there.  You're spinning either 80 rpm, or 100, when what you want is 90.  Some care, some don't.  But enough people care that component manufacturers are going to keep adding gears.  So don't act like this hasn't happened before, or that it's some kind of insult to your intelligence or athletic prowess.

Second, just because you ride something and like it does not mean you represent a market worth catering to.  No, really.  Sometimes, you're just an insignificant outlier, like my ol' friend Steve-O who wanted the 8 speed drivetrain on his LHT.  He swore up and down that there were others like him, but if there were, Shimano would still be making an 8 speed, touring-specific drivetrain.  The last time my phone shit the bed, I didn't want a smart phone; I just wanted a phone that would make and receive calls and text messages, and that would store an address book.  Guess what.  They don't exist, unless you want to go with the ol' flip phone.  I got a "smart" phone, even though I don't have and don't want a data plan.  Was I pissed?  Sure.  But I was also realistic enough to recognize I'm an outlier, and I sure as shit didn't tell T-Mobile that they were missing out on millions of dollars in revenue because they didn't make the phone I wanted.

But I've digressed.  We were going to talk about the repair that stalled because my shop didn't have anything other than 10mm Velox tape.  Seriously?  I know...  There is more money to be made if you keep inventory lean, and with most distributors being within a day or two via ground shipping, just in time ordering is the new normal.  But seriously, there are certain things a shop worth a damn should just have in stock, and Velox tape wide enough to do a 26" wheel is one of them.  I ended up using the shitty butyl tape, which works, but dammit, that's just something I'm not OK with on a decent bike.  Ah well, at least this shop doesn't give away labor like the last...

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