Thursday, November 2, 2023

Cycling is the new.....

 Cycling is the new...what?

Image copied from HERE

Zio Lorenzo was thinking about the state of cycling just the other day and now this? Who is the customer for this? $15K seemed to be the price-point for industry "bling-mobiles" with another brand announcing one seemingly every month. Sales are down post-pandemic on bikes priced for the masses so is this the answer? I guess the rich always have money to blow.

Zio can remember back when he got into cycling in a way more than just riding his Schwinn Supersport (basically a Continental with aluminum rims) around for transportation. He bought an SR "Semi-pro" with the then-new Shimano 600 groupset in the mid-1970's. The "bike boom" was perhaps just ending but the gasoline crunch had yet to happen.

Cycling for fun was kind of a hippie thing back then and when Zio bought a real racing bike and pinned-on a number most of the participants showed up in beat-up "econobox" cars worth far less than the bikes on top of them. Greg LeMond was winning in Europe by this time and it seemed everyone embraced the Euro-centric idea of cycling.

Things were going well until LeMond hung up his wheels. A new American fellow came on the scene with very different ideas on Euro-centric cycling. While he may have embraced it at the start, he soon became a "kick their ass, eat their cheese" xenophobe...a textbook ugly American.

American cycling seemed to change too. The hippies or blue-collar cyclists seemed to vanish, replaced by hedge-fund managers who were way into the "you are what you buy" mentality. Zio saw this first-hand at the bike shops he worked in. Before this, someone in the market for a pro-quality bike would spend some time discussing it with us as we figured out what would be the best bike for them. Most of the time it was built-up from the frame with components chosen by us and the client.

But once "BigTex" came on the scene cycling changed. Sure, multi-national sponsors had come in due to LeMond's success but this was different - clients now came in and almost demanded the "best bike" as if there was such a thing. Zio remembers a client insisting there must be such a thing since the moto mags would declare a certain make/model of moto the best and he'd go out and buy one. Surely the same was true for bicycles!

"Tex" wrote a book titled not-about-the-bike but now it WAS about the bike! Things have only gotten worse since then and now we have a $25K e-bike for these hedge-fund managers to enjoy.

Before you think Zio is throwing-in-the-towel and saying there's no hope for cycling...there's (at least in Italy) the vintage movement.

All the old hippies are here perhaps? And some young ones too? For sure the people who made cycling what it was and something both Zio and Heather became interested in all those years ago are here. One could claim it's "You are what you ride" here too, but it's very rarely something you spent a fortune to buy. It's usually something special, maybe your father's bike or a barn-find you lovingly restored.

So each time Zio is dismayed by news of the next "bling-mobile" he can go downstairs and admire his lovingly restored and now well-used vintage Bianchi or Heather's vintage DeRosa. Both are here in Sicily with us now, ready for La Barocca.

No comments:

Post a Comment