Another year come and gone with some good, bad and even ugly things that have transpired during the last 364. Since I reside in a middle management job, I think I’ll give you the ‘ol shit sandwich with a thick doughy bout of good surrounding a juicy pile of crap. It is, after all what I do best. Here we go.
There have been some amazing new bikes that have been long anticipated not just by the slack jawed gawking public but by industry dwellers as well. Most notably was the Taniwha by New Zealand company Zerode. A carbon 160mm trailbike with a gearbox is a huge step in the direction all bicycle manufactures should be heading. I truly believe the gearbox is the future that will in ten years time be standard equipment on all mainstream bicycles ranging from DH to commuters. Hope Technology also fulfilled their company dream of building a complete bicycle. A mix of carbon front end and gorgeous machined alloy rear and despite the use of a conventional derailleur, if it’s made by Hope, you know it’s going to be good.
The bad? Well, the bicycle industry in general. Some of the trends that are conjured up in the boardrooms of the big brands boggle the mind and leave me with a perpetually cocked eyebrow. Always walking a fine line of giving us products with just a little bit more than last year but not as much as we were expecting. That was a trick that was invented by an industrial designer in the early 1900’s which was coined “too fast too soon”. The idea being that the public couldn’t handle what said company was fully capable of producing so it ended up submitting a dumbed-down version instead.
The knock-off effect was engineered obsolescence, greater profits and absolute rubbish lapped up by the slow moving book ponderers that bought into the whole scheme. Industry giants that specialise in mountain trekking are by far and away the biggest offenders with prices going up every year and quality of spec rapidly descending in the opposite direction. The top tier of the range isn’t what I’m concerned about, it’s everything else, like, the bikes that real people actually buy. The most notable deterioration in componentry would have to be hubs, drivetrain and overall thought that goes into the engineering of a new model. Simple things like chainline on new, middle of the road bikes is appalling.
Why does this put a bee in my bonnet? Because a bike that functions poorly because the company that designed it couldn’t be bothered with some basic engineering and quality control due to a desperate need for greater margins in an industry that simply can’t provide them and then assembled by a so called mechanic which will inevitably fail may be enough to put someone who bought the thing with the intention of getting back into cycling off riding because it doesn’t work and had no hope of functioning from the get go riles me up enough to want to line the people up who were in charge of the whole thing against a brick wall and spread their feeble, greedy minds across it like cherry pie with an AR-15. In other words, it bothers me immensely that no one cares any more.
Since I promised to end on a fluffy bun of optimism, the greatest thing that happened in 2016 is a small start-up committed to not taking shit and giving you an honest (perhaps too honest) opinion on what’s going on behind the curtain. This little electronic rag is the square peg in your round hole, the tiny cut on the roof of your mouth that would go away if you could only stop tonguing it, the best thing to happen in 2016 is Chainslapmag.com and I’ve never been more proud to be a part of anything else in my life.