Tuesday, March 7, 2017

if you're trying to make a point, at least make the right one

On the Facebook group for Rivendell owners, someone recently posted a short video of a new bell he'd installed on his Rivendell bike.
It's a lovely bike. And I wouldn't have given the video a second thought, except for the response of another group member, who took great pains to point out, vis-a-vis this article, that the bell in the video is a Chinese copy of a US-made bell.
The US-made original design: $50
The Chinese knock-off: $16

Mister pro-USA, trying to look cool, did a few things wrong in this situation:
a. He overstepped his bounds by criticizing someone else, making assumptions about him, and then telling him how to spend his money. Not everyone who owns and rides a Rivendell bike got it by being the first owner and ordering it custom. Or if they did, the money could have come from someone or somewhere else -- in my case, my Rivendell was paid for by an accident settlement after my previous bicycle, and my hand, were totaled in a collision. You can't know about this stuff, and if you don't, then don't talk out of school.
b. He missed the point entirely, one you won't know about until almost the end of the article: The US-based designers never filed a patent before they launched their crowdfunding campaign. They figured they'd have time to tweak their design before ramping up production. Their mistake: As soon as the bell was made available, a Chinese manufacturer obtained one, dismantled it and proceeded to make a nearly-exact knockoff, and then sell it at a little more than a third of the original bell's price.
If you snooze, you lose.
c. The even bigger point -- and it's a sad one -- is that, in real-world terms, this guy is more than a little late to the ball when it comes to touting more expensive US-made products over cheap Chinese knockoffs. Sorry, but that ship sailed, well, forever ago. And there is no going back until the entire world reaches Peak Oil or something like it. Because we're all used to paying less for everything and now, well, we demand it.
Or, if we'd rather skip the middleman, we scavenge through the growing mountain of cast-offs that too many folks contribute to by constantly upgrading and swapping in ever-nicer, and newer parts in their quest for The Perfect Bike.

If I sound a little like I'm biting the hand that feeds me, perhaps I am (except that it's been awhile since that hand actually fed me, and honestly I just don't care anymore).

Now that the only wrenching I do is on a voluntary basis, fixing up bikes for those in need, I find that my entire perspective on The Perfect Bike has shifted. Yes, I still ride a Rivendell, and I will until it's broken or stolen, or I'm too old to swing my leg over a closed-frame bike anymore. If any of those things happened I'd start again with a cheaper bike, and assuming it fit me well and was comfortable and safe, I'd make do. Because in the end, a bike is a bike as long as it works. And if it doesn't work, I can probably fix it.

Because as time goes by, I suspect that the perfect bike, as long as it fits you and rides comfortably, is probably the one you already have in your basement or garage.

Happy riding!

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