Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Weave The Apocalypse

The weather outside has gotten frightful. I rode downtown earlier in a hoodie and my trusty old Blacken hat and was chilled to the bone. Winter might not be here quite yet, but it's coming. Fast. The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, and that train is the Polar Express. Hopefully without Tom Hanks.

But I'm not here to talk about the weather. Tragically not much has really caught my eye since the last time I posted, but there are a few things:

Tioga D-Spyder pedals. Look, I have nothing against Tioga. I love the Comp III (although it's disappointing that it's no longer available in skinwall), and if they made a 20" tension disk wheel I'd totally ride one. But the D-Spyder is a little disturbing for two reasons: 1) Why release a $100 pedal when the majority of riders are switching to $15 plastic jobs? 2) What's with the spider motif? Seems sort of juvenile (no, not that Juvenile), and juveniles won't be dropping $100 on a set of pedals. Then again, I suppose there are some flush Uncle Fester types out there who need the right pedals to match their Widowmaker sprockets. They're probably the same people who buy Fetish frames and do their clothes shopping at Hot Topic.

Fit four-piece bars. It's one of the worst-kept secrets in BMX: Edwin Delarosa rides Bob bars sometimes. And it's hard to see this as anything but a way to get Ed back on Fit bars. Look at the specs—the Fit four-piecers are nearly identical to Bobs. The only difference is that the Fits have three degrees less backsweep. According to the blog, several team riders requested them. Who, Nate Hanson? (Aesthetically they're different—the Fits have a conventional crossbar—but heck, even the stickers are similar.) SPRFLS indeed.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


It is, at times, unbelievably amusing the lengths a company will go to sell a simple product. Take Tioga's new race tire, for example. "Conceived for unparallel efficiency in transferring pedal power and other rider inputs into lateral motion." For serious? Couldn't they have just said: "Bald tires are fast"?

This has long been a problem in road biking, where carbon-copy carbon frames are often lauded for their lateral stiffness and vertical compliance. Or was it the other way around? BikesnobNYC would know better than I.

Personally, I get more suspicious about a product the more trademarked names and processes that go into it. The more complex a company makes something out to be, the more I suspect that they're just blowing smoke. Multi-Zone Tread Design? Ultimate Traction Control? PermaTread Design? Who comes up with this stuff? Unless it's intended as some sort of elaborate joke—and I don't think it is—isn't it a little too much? Can you read through that entire overblown press release without laughing? I can't.

Somehow I don't seem to recall the Comp III needing this sort of hardcore sales pitch, and it seemed to do OK. Be interesting to see whether the Power Block sticks around half as long. My guess is no.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I think my favorite Obama-related headline last week came courtesy of The Onion: "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job." Like pretty much anything else that runs on there, it's funny because it's true. But hell, check the New York Times—the headlines on there are even better. Or worse. "A Town Drowns in Debt as Home Values Plunge." "G.M., Once a Powerhouse, Pleads for Bailout." "Buying Binge Slams to Halt." Maybe The Onion is America's finest news source after all.

The bike industry is not immune, of course. Costs rise, profits fall, and things aren't the way they used to be. Starting a new company in 2009 won't be as easy as it was in 2005. The bubble has burst, and no one appears to be blowing another one anytime soon. Pretty much the only thing America and Americans have a lot of these days is debt.

On the heels of all that, Brian Tunney brings news of new sanctions for the bike industry that take effect tomorrow. Er, today. Bummer. I'm not sure what "phthalates" even are—sounds like something Bill the Cat would say—but anything that adds cost now is a bad thing. (It also makes one wonder, how much lead exactly has been in bike paint up to now? Don't eat paint chips off your Taiwanese-made frame!) Will Taiwanese frames wind up being more expensive than their American-made counterparts? Will we see a $500 BMX frame in 2009? It's a funny time for Terrible One to start manufacturing frames overseas.

Then again I guess it's a funny time to do much of anything. Good luck, President-to-be Obama. You'll need it.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Look Out Beloe!

Beloe, the BMX-only shoe company that sponsored Jim Cielencki, Nathan Williams and Jim Bauer, among others, is no more. Sad, because some of the shoes looked decent. In somewhat related news, Taj is off Etnies, after a long and (presumably) fruitful relationship. Maybe I should keep my remaining pair of Traumas.

Which leads one to wonder, to paraphrase The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, how many BMX-only shoe companies will survive, and what will be left of them? Maybe Derek Adams should have chosen Little Devil over Orchid. That said, Lotek seems to be thriving, and Inopia was doomed from the start. (Caste, John Paul Rogers's effort, was doomed before the start.)

Look, making shoes isn't like making t-shirts. You can't just bang out a quick dozen and sell them out of your trunk. You need to get molds made, find a manufacturer (most likely in Asia), sort out a sole pattern that doesn't violate any other company's patents, make a heck of a lot of them, and oh yeah, find a way to sell them.

Having never tried to start a shoe company myself, I'd imagine that's the toughest part. It's not like you can just call the people at Foot Locker or Journeys and convince them to give you some nationwide shelf space. And good luck getting your local skate shop to carry them. Not going to happen. But the thing is, the average bike shop won't carry them, either. They're too busy selling SIDIs and Diadoras to road and mountain cyclistsm who a) have money, and b) are less fickle and fashion-oriented. Heck, it's hard enough to find a big-time bike shop that carries BMX frames.

This leaves the mailorders and local BMX shops, who can only support so many of these companies. (It would be nice if they'd drop the skate companies completely the way the skate companies have dropped BMX riders, but then riders would just buy their Adios and Etnies from someone else—it's a tough old world.)

I guess the real question is whether BMX can even support another shoe company alongside Lotek and Orchid. Doesn't seem that way, unless said company has a ton of financial backing and doesn't consider profit to be particularly important. It reminds me of that old joke about what the best way to make a million dollars is—start with two million.

Beloe, we hardly knew you. Good luck to anyone who follows in your, uh, footsteps.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's Been A Long Time, I Shouldn't Have Left You

Or maybe I should have? I don't know. I had no intentions of taking a week off, but there was Halloween, and then the weekend, and then this whole Obama thing, and Mikey Aitken is doing much better, and the thought of being all negative and cynical just didn't seem right. In fact, it still doesn't. But I guess one has to do what one has to do.

Only, what is that? I don't really want to be the Sarah Palin of the BMX world, belittling and you-betcha-ing all over the place behind my frameless titanium glasses. (Heck, I should probably do a whole post on those, huh?) And at the same time, I haven't ridden my bike in—well, a while, and I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. Who am I to say what's right and what isn't? Maybe frames with five-inch seat tubes are a great idea, and I just don't realize it.

Haha, OK, maybe not.

Regardless, though, things in "the industry" have been awfully quiet of late. There's this new complete WTP, but what's there that I haven't discussed yet? Low seat, big bars, integrated clamp, blah blah blah. Sure, the spokes are so widely spaced that the nipples must be right on the edge of the rim, but what of it? And apparently Kink is doing rims of their own that allegedly look like photocopies of another popular rim, but the RIDE website is such a nightmare that I can't even find the photo.

Oh well. I guess I'll just post the best bike ever and leave it at that.

Until tomorrow.