Archive for the ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’ Category

Demonic

March 29, 2021

The Mud Stud will have to settle for getting sick air on his own bike.

As plague restrictions loosen their grip in some jurisdictions, some of us may be eagerly anticipating the rubbing of elbows with kindred spirits at bike festivals.

But if any of these Gatherings of the Tribes actually occur, they’re liable to be strictly BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike). Because there aren’t any demo models to be had.

As Niner Bikes’ Zach Vestal told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, demos are designed to drive consumer demand, which is already off the charts. Why hang a giant pair of carbon-fiber tits on a bull market?

“It hasn’t made any sense for us to maintain a fleet of bikes for people to ride when people are buying bikes at a pace we’ve never seen before,” Vestal said.

Added Yeti’s Kyle Rajaniemi: “We’re really focused on making sure our dealers can maintain their sales momentum and deliver bikes to customers.”

The good news is, with the Ever Clear finally pried free of its impromptu anchorage, container ships won’t have to sail round the Horn to your friendly neighborhood IBD.

Talking about ‘Mons’

January 2, 2021

Msgr. Richard “Mons” Soseman.

Diane Jenks, a.k.a. The Outspoken Cyclist, has posted her chat with Charles Pelkey and me about the late Msgr. Richard “Mons” Soseman and his generous, thoughtful contributions to our daily coverage of the grand tours over at Live Update Guy.

Our segment kicks off about 33 minutes into the show. Steve Frothingham, editor in chief of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, gets things rolling with a discussion of the year just past in the bike biz and what we might expect in 2021.

Thanks to Diane for giving the Padre, Charles, and me a little corner of her chat room. You can give us a listen by clicking here.

All boomed out

December 18, 2020

After a long and oddly fruitful year, some bike-shop owners are deciding it’s time to step away from the table while they’re still winners, according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

My man Steve Frothingham reports that the year was both good and bad for a lot of businesspeople. Good, in that they moved a ton of product, made a bunch of money, and dug out from under a mountain of debt; bad, in that it left them fried, dyed and whipped to the side.

“We’ve done well, I don’t want to mislead anybody,” said one retailer. “It just did start to feel like we were in the store-running business instead of the bicycle business. I realize that the store-running business is where the industry is going, but maybe our talents are better used elsewhere.

“And I have to say, we’re just exhausted.”

Some are changing their business models. Others are selling outright, in some cases to Trek. That’s the route Hill Abell and Laura Agnew took with Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, Texas.

The two announced the sale yesterday, then spoke with Ken Herman at the Austin American-Statesman.

Bicycle Sport Shop had been suffering a downturn until The Bug® turned bicycles into a must-have item.

As a consequence, 2020 has been “absolutely phenomenal, which allowed us to pay down all of our debt and to actually pay our people more,” Abell said. “So it’s been a really good year for the biking industry if you’re a decent operator.”

Despite the banner year, Abell and Agnew were still looking for a way out, and found it in Trek. The four Bicycle Sport Shop locations will close Jan. 17 and reopen a few days later as Trek stores. The store-running business, as the fella says. So it goes.

Anybody else seeing their favorite local shop go corporate … or just go?

Zoom ’n’ shrooms

March 26, 2020

Some driveway artiste was trying to cheer up the passers-by, if any.

I had a Zoom video chat with the BRAINiacs yesterday. My first! Look at me, being all like hep to the jive an’ shit.

The meeting was late in the day, and I burned a whole lot of daylight indoors doing whatever the hell it is that I do around here lately, so instead of kitting up for a ride to the Dark Tower to resupply Herself the Elder I went out for a brisk half-hour limp around the ’hood.

You can see company coming a long ways off out here in the Sandia foothills.

Distancing was social, and I seem to be limping faster, so, yay.

After the Zoom session I test-drove a couple new recipes that met with Herself’s approval: mushroom quesadillas and arroz verde.

For the quesadillas I used flour tortillas and Monterey Jack rather than corn torts and mozzarella. Also, I baked them in the oven instead of frying them in a pan.

For the rice I went with a blend of mild/hot Hatch chile instead of poblano and jalapeño.

Them was the ingredients I had on hand. And y’know what? It did not suck. Didn’t take any pix because I was too busy eatin‘ them sumbitches.

The Zoom thing was cool, too. I got to see some people I haven’t seen in a while, and nobody sneezed on nobody.

• Meanwhile — confusion reigns over whether bike shops are “essential.”

Antisocial distancing

March 21, 2020

The outside is still there. We’re just not making as much use of it lately.

No child likes homework. And damn few adults like working from home full time, once they’ve given it a whirl.

Oh, sure, some of us are cut out for it. Truth be told, without the option to work remotely, some of us wouldn’t be remotely employable.

So as you noobs open your laptops on the kitchen counter, launch Skype, and settle into The New Normal, remember the Old Abnormal. We’re still here, in our three-day beards, unbrushed teeth, and soiled yoga pants, taking regular meetings with the voices in our heads.

We pioneered this shit. Homesteaded it, you might say. And we like it.

So, welcome to orientation.

First, the bad news: The voices in your head are not the ones you’re used to hearing around the water cooler in the office.

The good news? You can tell them to shut the fuck up and they won’t rat you out to HR.

Yes, it’s another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: It’s another bargain-basement broadcast. I used the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic, and skipped the Zoom H5 Handy Recorder in favor of recording directly to the MacBook Pro using Rogue Amoeba’s nifty little app Piezo. Editing was as usual, in GarageBand. The intro music is by Your Humble Narrator, assembled from bits and pieces in the iOS version of GarageBand on a 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Angry shouting and background music (the latter by Doug Maxwell/Media Right Productions) is courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library. Cash register by kiddpark at Freesound.org. Herself was voiced either by Elle Macpherson, Tyra Banks, or Rosario Dawson, I can’t decide.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 12

December 31, 2019

He’s back? Oh, God, no. Wasn’t it bad enough the first time around?
From the December 2019 issue of BRAIN.

Behold the final installment of the 12 Days of ’Toonsmas.

Now and then I think it would be fun to be a columnist as in days of yore, cranking out the tees, and also the hees, for fun and (very little) profit.

And then I think again.

Columning can feel an awful lot like work, and it seems that climate change is thinning everyone’s skin when you’d expect it to be doing just the opposite. Surely some of these squealing ninnies should’ve bled to death by now, the way they announce with outrage ev’ry prod with the bodkin. But no, it seems one wee prick merely arouses another.

Better to have my own little shop here on this unremarkable back alley, well off the Infobahn, where the Twitters and Facebooks roar around and about, one hand on the horn and the other out the window, middle digit extended. However do these people steer? Why, with the knees they’d like to shove in your groin, if they were ever to clamber down from the heights of their machinery, which they will not.

So here’s a toast to those of you who continued to patronize the joint during 2019 despite its lack of modern conveniences, the NO SOLICITORS sign, and general air of disreputability. It’s not easy to find, there’s not much in the way of parking, and you want to lock up your bike in this neighborhood if that’s how you roll.

Mind the Committee of Perpetual Grievance milling about there on the sidewalk. He’ll call a meeting about you if you should happen to tread on his toes.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 11

December 30, 2019

They’re, like, all cargo bikes, dude, sir.
From the November 2019 issue of BRAIN.

The Mud Stud is, like, totally not into, like, your categories, an’ stuff, dude, sir.

He works for a bike shop, so he can only afford one bike. And he makes it do everything, from the daily commute to hucking off cliffs at Deadman’s Dropoff to fetching his SpaghettiOs and PBR from the Grab-N-Git.

He will be happy to sell you whatever it is you have been told that you want, and then fix it when it goes sideways from neglect. But for his own purposes he prefers a spartan two-wheeler that can be field-repaired with a minitool, some duct tape, and a trailside rock.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 10

December 29, 2019

A colleague thought this one might get taped up on a few shop walls.
From the October 2019 issue of BRAIN.

As noted on Day 9, e-bikes have their ups and downs. Like any other bicycle, only more so.

They ask more of their owners — check out this article from an REI master tech in Portland — and of their friendly neighborhood mechanic.

Sometimes, a fella just longs to see one of the old bikes. V1.0. The kind that doesn’t give you much help, but doesn’t give you many headaches, either.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 9

December 28, 2019

Susan Calvin was off when these two rolled off the line at U.S. Robots.
From the September 2019 issue of BRAIN.

E-bikes present both opportunity and challenge for the IBD.

One more bike to sell to the base — the old white guy who already has 15 two-wheelers in the garage but may be slowing down a bit due to age or infirmity, and wants a little assist.

One more bike to lure new customers, who may have found old-fashioned cycling too difficult, or who have decided to replace a car with something greener.

One more bike to service, because the future requires more maintenance than the past.

Our heroes at BRAIN’s bike shop acquired an e-assistant to work on e-bikes, which raises another issue, one familiar to anyone who ever read Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.”

Artificial intelligence will not come to us from U.S. Robots, complete with a full installation of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and overseen by Susan Calvin, Greg Powell and Mike Donovan. It will come from Allied Mastercomputer via Ellison Wonderland, it will have ideas all its own, and it will not be our friend.

“They’re a cleaner better breed than we are,” Calvin said in an interview with The Interplanetary Press. Maybe so. in Asimov’s novels, anyway. But in real life our e-assistants will be made by us, in our image. Frightening.

You’ll want to keep them locked up at night, and not for fear of thieves.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 8

December 27, 2019

I saw it on the Innertubes so it must be true.
From the August 2019 issue of BRAIN.

One way to minimize your exposure to retail ridicule is to order your goodies online and pick them up at your leisure.

I’ve done this with coffeemakers, computer monitors, and even a guitar. And in these strange days of modern times, you can do it with bicycles, too.

Just surf merrily around the Innertubes from the comfort of your own castle, wherein none dare call you Tubby, Fred, or not at all. Locate the steed of your dreams. Then it’s “click and collect.” Easy peasy.

Or maybe not.

Things always look better on the Innertubes. A Big Mac looks like a hamburger. A generic plastic bike looks like winged Pegasus. And Il Fattini looks like Brad Pitt.

Until you see him in the all-too-abundant flesh and realize he looks more like Brad’s second cousin Grease. And smells like his Uncle Arm.