Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Labels, we like labels...

I had originally planned a post similar to this one. Thought about it last week and was going to write it on Monday, the same day that other post came out. But after reading that post and the comments and receiving the latest "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" that had a cover story titled "Surge in 29er sales points to continued market shift," I thought about the concept of a 29" wheeled bike being simply a mountain bike differently.

We like labels. We like to name things. It's how we communicate and describe things. I'm typing this into my Mac, not my computer. I rode my road bike this morning and then rode my cargo bike to work. I enjoy an IPA or a stout. Interesting about beer labels. If you're into micro-brews, it's okay to refer to the beer as the type of beer it is: IPA, stout, trippel, pilsner, porter... Just like with wines. However, if you're drinking a Bud or PBR, you're drinking a Bud or PBR, not an "American style lager."

There are a lot of labels in the bike industry. I've been in meetings wholly devoted to labeling categories. You think it should be easy. But no. It takes some serious time to come up with "XC Sport" and then decide which models fit that category. It gets even more dicey when bike models with the same model name series fit into different categories.

Where last week, I was in the camp of a 29"er being simply a mountain bike, this week it can be whatever you want it to be in order for you to enjoy riding it. I'm okay with a 29"er being a 29"er and not just a mountain bike. I'm not a big fan of "monster cross," but I use it to describe my cross frame in print. Verbally, it's just a "cross" bike. Like a monster truck is a truck with bigger tires, a monster cross bike is a cross bike with bigger tires. The mental picture works.

I'm not a fan of labels in general, but they serve a purpose. A segment of the industry that does need more labels is in the import reporting of bike companies. There, a 29"er is classified as "road" because the rim size is 700c. Time to break down all those categories and add more useful categories so that a better picture of what's being imported and sold is understood. Right now "road" is up 30%. But really that's because the 29" mountain bike category is kicking some ass.

And because I like pictures, we finally have had warm summer weather here. I even left the house this morning without a vest and it got so warm Sunday morning that I removed knee and arm warmers mid-ride!

(What's playing: KWMR Faultline Radio: Random Music Played Randomly)


Tim Joe Comstock said...

Those labels also define the riders, their clothing and even type of beer. When you say PBR, we know who you mean. To some extent, it even defines the personality and attitude of the rider.

I read GT's post and found myself wondering about all those touring riders scattered across the globe who ride 26" because theoretically 700c wheels are harder to come by.

Thanks for the Ride Report, Mike. Reading yours inspires me to get out and do mine. TJ

Alex said...

I am still after one of the "You can't label me I'm a singlespeeder" stickers I have seen about :)

Interesting taking a non-MTBing friend out the other weekend and gave him the Blackbuck s/s to ride...he never once mentioned the lack of suspension, gear ratio, tyre choice...very different to a club ride :)

blackmountaincycles said...

Alex, your observation on your buddy's ride reminded me of an event years ago. Warrants a new post, I believe.