An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bike of Doom goes on a children's crusade


Our Canadian friend Steve at the Bike of Doom has spent years trying to persuade the world that Dynacrap bikes need love too. Our feelings on the matter are well documented, of course, and we accept that, yes, we are snobs on this particular subject. But we try to keep our snobbishness to ourselves. We wish BOD would do the same with his unsolicited populism, and here I will explain why.

Today, Bike of Doomer lists the 7 deadly sins of Local Bike Shops relative to owners of "Department Store Bikes." And while I have to agree that self-righteous indignation is ALWAYS an ugly thing in any cyclist at any time, I think it' way beyond reasonable to expect LBS's to service department store bikes with a smile and a handshake and an explicit attempt to forge a longterm relationship.

You don't go into a Hell's Angels bar asking them to turn the music down. You don't demand conventional food from your organic co-op. No serious business owner tries to be all things to all people. It's a fool's errand. Perhaps more to the point, the labor costs and opportunity lost is not "building your business," as BOD would have it. It is not free or even cheap to have "some intern or apprentice" do this maddening, low margin work on substandard equipment that will not mate nicely with even the cheapest real bike part.

Does that mean you can be gracious and kind about turning away Department Store Bike owners? Of course. Should you fire your greaseball teenage shopkeep who belittles or berates any potential customer for any reason? It's the least you should do.

One other point I just have to make, and I promise to do it without one word about the baseline dynacrappiness of Dynacrap bikes.

In one especially galling recommendation to all LBS's everywhere, BOD sez:


If you have to, buy the low-end bikes from the Department Store itself, strip the decals, make a couple of judicious upgrades, and sell the thing yourself. Why is it that Department Stores chains have realized there’s a huge market for an inexpensive errand bike, but you haven’t?

Leaving aside the highly dubious rubric of "errand bike" for the moment, let me reply with just one word: Volume. Here's another word, fresh-fallen from the vine of marketing which BOD so lovingly waters: Margins.

The reason department stores can offer those Dynacrap bikes at such attractive savings is due first and foremost to the volume of sales they manage, against relatively low margins. To suggest that the labor, parts, and inventory dedicated to converting even a wholesale Dyncrap into something slightly less dynacrappy -- to suggest that it could actually work on the spreadsheet for your typical LBS -- well, that's patently ridiculous on the face of it.

Bike of Doom, we love you and all you stand for. (Well, the populist Canadian part, anyway.) But now that you've turned to evangelizing, and you expect to convert the whole world to Bike Shaped Objects, we have to take a stand and pronounce the One True Faith: Your bike is a blight on the land. By all means, ride it in good cheer and good health, but for God's sake don't demand that the world turn on its Eternal Blue Light Special for you.


P.S.

Let me just add one more thought to this somewhat addled post.

I think it would be a capitol idea to start a shop specifically for Dyncrap service. In fact, I can think of the perfect location for that sort of operation: Inside a Wal-Mart or a Target store. The fact that they DON'T provide this service tells you about all you need to know about the profitability of that as a business concept.

But seriously, there IS another alternative, and I've done quite a lot of time volunteering in one of them: A community bike co-op, replete with a junkyard and a full set of community-owned tools.

Yes, Bike of Doom -- I actually Danced with the Devil, and fixed countless Dyncraps and donated them to needy kids.

In spite of everything, yes, any bike is better than no bike at all. But not much better, in some cases.

8 comments:

Pinchie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Le Mous said...

Je suis en desaccord, to use some Canadian parlance in solidarity.

Pinchflat, I loves you longtime, baby. BOD, I loves longtime as well.

..and man, lemme tell you. I sure do loves me some pretty, pretty campy that's been well broken-in attached to a sweet lugged frame, (I'm thinking this while checking out my girlfriend's beautiful Vitus no less than 4 feet away that has exactly that. Freakin thing's a piece of French art. It even smells good.)

How about some Rivendell if you're not into the whole retro thing? Something painstakingly handbuilt by a master/apprentice team in Italy? Better yet, state-of-the-art carbon fiber road-bike. Something that the Olympians in Colorado Springs would train on, a scant 50 miles away. $6,000 for a bike that weighs less than a pile of raked up leaves in October.

Or, how about we cut to the chase and recognize that not a lot of people can afford toys like those?

I say toys because in the end, unless you're gonna "go green", give your car to NPR during their annual pledge drive and begin that arduous 15-mile commute on a bike to work, that's what they end up being, right?

(I'm deliberately excluding the racers here, because.. well shit racer guys and gals, you know why. you eat/sleep/breathe bikes. Ya'll get stuff given to you. I'm talking about my fellow-common-man here, not someone that has leg muscles of iron and races the triple-bypass every year, `for shits and grins'.)

Anyway, the majority of people out there unfortunately can't afford that super-sweet Rivendell touring rig, or the Surly package, much less KNOW even what the hell they are. The crux of the matter is that you've got people who are RELYING on those department-store, wallmart-garbage-wagons that get them from point "a" to point "b". This is what we know, and this is what we see. If it's different for you then you must live in bike-heaven or, like, Portland or something.

Is there a common ground between the bike-shaped-object and the supra-elite? I like to think so, because right next to that beautiful, beautiful Vitus, (which the GF actually used for a short time to MESSENGER on, albeit they gave her so much shit it wasn't even funny) is my trusty steed. My own "Bike of Doom" if you will. A black 1984 Bianchi w/ Shimano 105 components and a well-working drivetrain and transmission, (scrubbed, tweaked and lubed that puppy back from the dead, man.)

It's the BOD because hey, it don't got a cool head-badge, nor campagnolo downtube shift levers, nor a carbon-fiber bottle holder, (nod and wink to BSNYC) and it ain't a `fixie'.

Anyway, point of the matter.. Regarding the last sentence of your second paragraph and entire third paragraph; I've met people like you 're advocating in surf-shops that I used to frequent. I'd watch them tear the crap out of touristas both passive aggressively, (giving the the wrong directions, selling them crap, explaining how the coast is closed today due to high poop-count in the water) and openly, (running them out of the store on a rail because they failed the `cool test' by not being able to name the location of Kelly Slater's 2nd pro/am win.)

Give people a reason to be elite about something and their system crashes quickly afterward, because they become `cooler than cool', automatically judging and rejecting anything below the standard that they themselves, most of the time cannot achieve.

The simple fact remains. Most people ride the garbage-wagons and wouldn't know bicycle carbon fiber/Ti from Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.

We should, nay, NEED to embrace people with open arms and help guide them away from low-quality and provide them with some sort of alternative. An AFFORDABLE alternative.

Instead of treating them as the spawn of the devil, based on what they're riding, smile, wink and say, `Hey, instead of purchasing that low-quality REI model, how about we take a quick cruise through the craigslist ads and I'll give you some pointers on how to find something that's maybe a little more expensive than that, but surely will last you a long time and is well broken-in.'

The only reason I own that Bianchi, is because my GF took the time to sit down and say, `let's find you something that won't break the bank, has some value, will last through your repeated mechanical abuse and has some street-cred.' (God bless her.)

Otherwise I would have picked up a low-end Raleigh, suffered at the hands of elitist bike-store kids and NOT ended up enjoying something that I find to be pretty cool and fun now.

Anyway. Be nice to the BOD'ers, if nothing else, they're far greater in numbers than the rest of you. :)

(Bah, just re-read most of the above and it seems kind of rambly. Disclaimer, I'm home sick today, so have a heart if you're gonna flame this reply. :)

Pinchie said...

Le Mous, beautifully said. I've been trying to say it that elegantly for years now.

I have a Nishiki Concorde or something like that in my garage that was given to me, mint, by a neighbor. It could probably fetch a cool $100 on Craigs List, and compared to a Magna or a Candian Tire, it's worth $500 easy (relative dollars).

My main point is that for every Magna or Canadian Tire, there are at least .5 Nishiki Concordes in some garage somewhere -- an awesome lugged steel bike (bit too much rake in the fork, but hey, whatever... Comfy commuter ride), slap some upright bars on the sucker, never mind the godawful 27 inch tires (spawn of satan) and ride till your smile wraps all the way around your head and meets at the back.

The Craigslist/GF story -- oh, it just brings a tear to my eye. Precisely the antidote to Dynacrap I've been preaching from every dang soapbox I can find.

The Driver said...

From the Le Mous post.

"instead of purchasing that low-quality REI model"

Hmm... Tonight I just picked up my new R.E.I. Novara Randonee. Reynolds 520 chromoly, Shimano Deore Octalink, Shimano LX, Mavic A319S, Stainless spokes. Sure sounds like low-quality to me.

After using my 20% off coupon and year end dividend the bike came to $633. And I'm going to remove the toe-clips and ride wearing sneakers!

Steve at Bike of Doom said...

Great post, and great comments.

You're right, my suggestion that bike shops buy DynaCrap bikes and re-sell them was ridiculous. Hey, I don't try to be galling, it just seems to come naturally!

Anyway, the point of my piece was that if we treat DynaCrap bikes and their owners nicely, it won't be long until they upgrade to real bikes.

I mean really, who can set foot in a bike shop more than a couple of times without succumbing to the urge to own a nice bike?

Thanks for the writeup. Appreciate it.

Pinchie said...

Totally agree with The Driver -- and he/she reiterates the most salient point here: Awesome bikes available for under $1000. (Yes, still a lot... but not that much for a decent NEW bike. Used on Craigs List, easily in the $100 range). That Randonee is a beauty, and everyone has been raving about the REI commuter lines.

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