An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Save the world — with just a blowtorch, a bike, and a video camera!


It's no secret that we're big fans of Specialized, but the company has been noticeably absent from the current corporate chic of throwing down for bicycle advocacy. Now that even Dynacrap has written a big fat check to Bikes Belong, it's about time for the Big Ess to do something more than just design the world's best cycling gear.

And so they are: Today, we learn that Specialized is sponsoring "Innovate or Die," a YouTube-enabled design competition to build a "pedal-powered machine" that will save the world. Or at least that's the conceit. (Warning: That link may be the most earnestly histrionic thing you're likely to see today. Listen to the wind of the spinning globe! Or is it the sound of 3 billion ghosts on a burnt-out planet wishing they'd ridden bikes? It's the Al Gore of cycling advocacy websites! Not that that's a bad thing, mind.)

It's not a terrible idea, but the stakes are kind of low: $5000 to the winner, along with a new Specialized commuter bike. And while we don't want to be cynical about this -- hey, the bicycle drive train is one of the most powerful simple machines ever devised, why shouldn't it be able to save the world? -- we feel like maybe the killer app already exists (it's the bike itself, d'oh!), and it would be a more noble thing to promote the use of an existing technology all over the world -- sorta like Kona's Biketown initiative or SRAM-Trek's World Bicycle Relief, rather than throwing a little Black Label Bike Club party.

Bully for your pedal-powered blenders and washing machines, but it's the automobile that needs replacing, and its natural replacement -- the bicycle -- doesn't much need to be reinvented.

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