Archive for the ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’ Category

Barbarians at the gates

November 26, 2017

Semper felinus.

An old friend and colleague, Steve Frothingham of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, popped round for a short visit yesterday, bringing his special lady Diane and their two largish dogs.

The chair recognizes the Minister for Photography.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) immediately declared a red alert, and he and aide-de-camp Miss Mia Sopaipilla stationed themselves at the sliding glass door leading to the back patio, both of them puffed up to Death Star size.

Mister Boo, a 4-F, conscientious objector and suspected canine sympathizer, was interned in the kitchen, where he sang “Kumbaya” softly to himself before nodding off to dream of lunch, snacks and dinner.

Once the invaders had retreated the all-clear was sounded and the commander and his staff assumed a more relaxed defense posture. That is all.

Finally, Friday

November 17, 2017

Early in the week the Fuji Touring Disc and I got our kicks on Route 66.

It’s been a productive week around the old rumormongery.

I edited and shipped two short videos for Adventure Cyclist; continued my evaluation of the latest review model, a Fuji Touring Disc; and wrote a column and drew a cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Cha-ching! Just back that armored car up to the vault, boys, and start shoveling. I’ll be on the patio contemplating my investment portfolio.

Speaking of which, I see our national leadership is dancing merrily with the ones who brung ’em. It can’t be much longer before there’s a new agency working hand in glove with the Eternal Revenue Service, the Department of Spare Change, which sends agents round to root through your pants pockets, sofa cushions and swear jars. Hand over those nickels and dimes, Gramps, you lot would just piss it away on housing, food or medicine.

Don’t worry, soon it will all come trickling back to you. Why, look, what’s that there, on your shoe? Looks like it’s raining on somebody!

Last Roundup in Sin City: Batter(y) up!

September 25, 2017

The Tern GSD in mango.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (MDM) — To e-bike, or not to e-bike: That is the question. …

We all know the e-bike is the latest and greatest entry in The Next Big Thing™ sweepstakes. Previous contenders include mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, single-speeds, city bikes, cargo bikes, fatbikes, etc., et al., and so on and so forth (thanks for playing).

Some of us think you can’t sell a certain subset of Americans a two-wheeler if it doesn’t have an engine — and sometimes, not even then (Harley sales hit a five-year low last year).

That said, in comments Comrade Herb warns: “Let’s all be careful and not snark too much about e-bikes. Lord [knows], anything that gets people out of the house and out from behind their SUV’s wheel is a good thing. And if it keeps my local bike shop alive I’m more than happy to go along with the addition to the two-wheel choices.”

And Consigliere Larry adds: “I’ve boiled my e-bike opinion down to this: E-bike instead of car? Wonderful. E-bike instead of bicycle? Not so good.”

Maybe this is the ticket: When it comes to commuting or cargo, a little electrical assist is preferable to dinosaur drive.

CyclingTips tech editor James Huang said on Twitter yesterday that he’s been living the e-cargo-bike life since January 2016, adding: “No other bike in the fleet has as big an impact on my life as that one, no question.”

The bike that most recently caught his eye was the Tern GSD. James first saw it at Eurobike, and the rest of us saw it at Interbike, and I have to admit it was impressive. With MSRP starting at $4,000 the GSD can haul kids, and cargo, and it can tour — the Bosch motor with dual batteries is said to have a range of more than 250km, which is further than I plan to travel on my meat-powered machine today, or even this week.

But questions remain. Who’s gonna buy it? And who’s gonna sell it?

I’ve heard some folks say the e-bike is a natural fit for cycling’s aging demographic, which means they’re hoping to pitch it to the same faces they’ve seen under helmets since hairnets were cool. Others say the e-bike is attracting an entirely new customer.

And still others want nothing to do with the goddamn things, wary of the sales-and-service downsides of becoming an early adopter. Some of these folks might be stuck holding fatbikes they can’t unload, or worried about the rules, regulations and fees that Big Gummint might decide to tack onto these beasties should they begin turning up on America’s streets in quantity.

Are these shop owners missing out? Ceding TNBT™ to specialty e-bike retailers, or motorcycle dealerships? Yamaha’s in the game now, and the bike biz is basically a rounding error on that balance sheet.

What are your thoughts? Anyone out there own an e-bike, or sell ’em? Give us the buzz in comments.

Last Roundup in Sin City: Pipe down

September 24, 2017

A brief but fierce rainstorm welcomed me back to New Mexico.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (MDM) — I didn’t expect the bagpiper.

I was just settling into my room at the luxurious Hamster Inn & Suites in Kingperson on Friday afternoon when I heard a faint but unmistakable bleating.

“Who in billy hell would be listening to the bloody bagpipes at the luxurious Hamster Inn & Suites in Kingperson on a Friday afternoon?” I asked myself, being alone in the room save for the voices in my head, one of which may very well have been playing the pipes.

I put an ear to one wall, and then to the other, but couldn’t locate the source. And then I looked out the window.

There he was, three floors below, all kitted up and marching about, not so much listening to the pipes as playing them.

Turns out there was a firefighters’ gathering at the hotel, and also a Teamsters’ meeting, but I’m going to guess our man was affiliated with the former as I don’t believe the bagpipers have gotten themselves organized yet.

The final day of Le Shew Bigge proved uneventful, as it always does, and so after a hot lap to see if I’d overlooked anything I fled south and east to Kingperson, where I finally got a decent night’s sleep.

The rest of the trip was without incident, save for the inevitable construction slowdowns peppering I-40 and one exasperating 10-minute stop just outside Ash Fork caused by a mechanical (not mine). These were the only downsides of flying Air Subaru. All departures were as scheduled because they were unscheduled, the only person dragging me around was me, and my luggage didn’t wind up in Lesser Spaminacanistan when I reached my final destination.

“But Your Dogship!” you may expostulate. “The show! The show! Did you see anything that delighted you no end?”

Why yes, yes indeed, I did notice one thing that put a smile on my lips and a song in my heart. And here it is.

Th-th-th-that’s ALL, folks!

Last Roundup in Sin City: A rendezvous of strangers

September 22, 2017

Everybody’s working for the weekend.

LAS VEGAS (MDM) — Every morning I get up a little later, and a little slower, and every morning the line at Starbucks gets a little longer, and a little grouchier.

I remember the women working this location just off the Luxor lobby. We’ve seen each other for three mornings in September for years, and I always tip massively, because nobody should have to deal with me for free first thing in the morning unless they’ve committed some outrageous sin, like saying, “I do.”

So I get my cuppa, with smiles and light banter for dessert. One asked if they’d see me tomorrow, and I said, no, I’ll be checking out, and she wished me a safe journey home.

I didn’t tell her that we’d never see each other again, because once I snap that pic of Sin City in my rear-view mirror, I will never come back to this place, not in this life. But I will remember these women working their 21st-century assembly line, building new mornings for strangers, one cup at a time.

Speaking of sunny smiles, I caught up with Larry over lunch at Rí Rá yesterday. He knows all things Italian, but had a few questions as regards the menu at this Gaelic beanery in the Shoppes at Mandalay.

“What do the Irish drink?” he enquired.

“Everything,” I replied. Hey, you gotta swing for the fences when they pitch ’em slow like that.

On Wednesday my Adventure Cyclist comrades Alex Strickland, Nick Legan, Rick Bruner and Your Humble Narrator passed a couple pleasant hours discussing the eternal verities and remembering Mike Deme over Mexican food at the El Dorado Cantina.

You may recall from our 2015 coverage that the El Dorado adjoins a “gentlemen’s club,” but as in ’15, we restricted our activities to the side of the joint where everyone was keeping their clothes on.

And the show, you ask? It’s the show. A little smaller, a little less vibrant, and surprisingly short on bikes without batteries. But we managed to find a few unenhanced models suitable for the adventurous cyclist, and we’ll discuss those in greater detail further on down the road.

Next: Leaving Las Vegas.

Last Roundup in Sin City: Luxor-ious

September 20, 2017

The golden idol of Mandalay Bay stands watch over the empty pools of the Luxor.

LAS VEGAS (MDM) — A long march through the desert that ends at the Luxor is exactly backwards. Moses fled the pyramid-builders for many sound reasons, and I expect the accommodations were high on his shit list.

Everything in the joint is old, faded and noisy. Like me, only more expensive.

Granted, it was early Tuesday afternoon when I slouched in, but there wasn’t much of a crowd. Nevertheless, checking in involved the usual fraud, bunkum and clusterfuckery, because this is the Luxor, and the room is ridiculous because likewise.

Vegas does not want you bunkering up in its hotel rooms committing journalism. It wants you out in the open, where it can get a clear shot at you. Thus there is no desk for the serious scribe, or even an unserious one, just a tiny, battered circular table with two stained, scarred “plush” chairs that are too soft and low for the comfortable generation of fake news.

There is, however, a phone next to the toilet. One never knows when the urge to conduct an ambush interview may arise.

“What the hell are those sounds, O’Grady? Do you have a Berkshire hog in the room with you again?”

There is a TV the size of a billboard because of course there is, and I turned it on once to see if there really was a Fireplace Channel (there was). No coffeemaker, of course, because there are a thousand Starbucks in the feedlot downstairs.

And no matter, really, because Le Shew Bigge is a mile away from here, in Mandalay Bay. It’s a long march through the clangor of a neon desert, and even at 6 a.m. a Marlboro haze hangs low, like many a throbbing head.

Sheeyit. Moses had it easy.

Next: Le Shew Bigge.

Last Roundup in Sin City: Kingperson

September 19, 2017

Welcome aboard, and thanks for flying Air Subaru.

KINGPERSON, Ariz. (MDM) — Yes, there it is, the obligatory shot of Ye Olde Hometowne in the rear-view mirror.

I beat it for Interbike yesterday, deciding to drive to Kingperson (“Gateway to Laughlin-Bullhead City”) instead of overnighting at Flagstaff as per standard operating procedure. Perhaps I collected an undiagnosed head injury when I stacked it into the cholla a while back.

No matter. Here I am.

As per usual I-40 was filled to overflowing with speeding asshats, aggro truckers and construction projects that made the trip through Arizona feel like motoring to the Colorado Belle Casino in Laughlin with your blue-haired granny at the wheel of her ’72 Mercury Marquis (75 mph, 45 mph, 75 mph, 45 mph).

Plenty of Florida license plates on the RVs, all headed away from the place (imagine that). And it seemed all the truckers were piloting Volvos while the civilians were herding Mercedes-Benzes. There was even one red Lotus with a vanity plate (MIAOU). I felt distinctly plebian in the rackety old Furster.

After seven hours behind the wheel I wasn’t interested in exploring Kingperson’s culinary jungle so I hoofed it down the street to a Five Guys Burgers & Fries. Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” was on the joint’s playlist, followed by “Walk of Life” By Dire Straits. Somebody had my number.

This morning I had to flee the breakfast nook at the luxurious Hamster Inn & Suites due to some horrific oinking coming from the teevee. When I returned for a second cuppa it was still going on and I was compelled to jam fingers into both ears, which made carrying the java problematical.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

Word from Rumor Control is that yesterday’s Outdoor Demo was sparsely attended and that the traditional rending of garments and gnashing of teeth awaits at the Luxor registration desk.

I think I’m gonna need more java. LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEEEEARRRRR YOUUUU!

Next: Sin City.

That Voodoo that I do

September 10, 2017

The Voodoo Nakisi, parked up near the Pino Trail outside the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer for a lot of yis, but for me, it’s always Interbike.

In the olden days, when I was still a man instead of whatever it is that I am now, I would have already squeezed at least one cyclocross under my bibs by the time Le Shew Bigge rolled around.

Your Humble Narrator working a barrier at one of those long-ago cyclocrosses.

But my final race was in 2004, and as the Last Roundup in Sin City approaches I’m mostly rolling around to no particular purpose, on whichever bike amuses me at the moment, free of licensing, race number and organizational responsibilities (that first race of each new season was usually the one I promoted).

This aimless pedaling about keeps me out of the office, where the temptation is to overload the wagon like some dumb-ass pilgrim lugging all his proud-ofs to the frontier.

Do I want to do any podcasting from Interbike? Video? If one or the other, or both, which MacBook do I take, the 13-incher or the 15-incher? Thank God I’m down to one functional camera. That’s one equipment-selection decision successfully avoided.

Unless I want to buy a new camera. …

No, goddamnit, knock that shit off. Confine yourself to the bloggery. Avoid the hernia.

I always think it would be fun to do something different, and I always wind up doing the same damn thing — wandering around with a pad and pen, talking to people, an informal process that can be knocked all to hell by these consarned newfangled ee-lectronical comosellamas.

It’s all good fun until someone gets hurt. And that someone is likely to be me. If I wanted to carry a rucksack with a hunnerd pounds of gear for money I’d join the damn Army, is what. I got the haircut already.

In other news, Red Ryder has gone to The Big Roundup In the Sky. And no, he didn’t shoot his eye out.

Dude, where’s my column?

August 24, 2017

The homebound leg.

Whew. Finally, chucked another Bicycle Retailer column and cartoon over the transom, just in the nick of time, too.

This fake-news bidness isn’t as easy as some folks would have you believe.

Yesterday the brain-lock was so severe that I had to resort to vigorous outdoor exercise to shake the nickel loose and set the music to playing.

Apparently I wasn’t the only sufferer. The trails were alive with folks running, riding, or simply enjoying a beautiful day in the Duke City.

Today — not so much. Gray, cool and damp, which is to say fine weather for making up stuff indoors and enjoying a rare cup of afternoon coffee.

A fella who’s not making it up is my old comrade Hal Walter. Check out MotivRunning for one of Hal’s stories about his neurodiverse son, Harrison.

Picnic

May 24, 2017

The Soma Saga Disc with a light load at the tippy-top of the La Cueva Picnic Grounds.

The whim of the editorial calendar has left me, briefly, with nothing that needed doing, and since nothing is what I do best, I’ve been doing it, and plenty of it, too.

Yesterday, just because I could, I slapped an overnight load on the Soma Saga Disc and went for a two-hour ride to see how it felt. And it felt pretty damn’ nice, is what.

I have a rolling route through the ’burbs that I favor for bike tests, and despite having 15 extra pounds for company I was enjoying the ride. On a whim I took a detour up to the La Cueva picnic grounds to see how I’d fare with a low end of 30×34 (call it 24.3 gear inches, more or less). And that felt pretty OK, too, though I was down to 3.5 mph at one point (that’s one steep little hill).

Alas, the chores are sneaking back into the picture. I have an All-City Space Horse Disc to review, and that Bicycle Retailer deadline has crept around again, too.

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, of course. Imagine my suffering.