Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I really haven't fallen off the face of the earth...

...But there were a few times during the past week where I could have if I really wanted to.

I recently returned from a week-long vacation to Bryce and Zion National Parks with my mom. We did lots of hiking (probably about 35 miles worth over the course of 5 days) and I really didn't do much bike riding to speak of. I did manage to go over the bars while road riding in Bryce due to a really, really lame rider error, but we won't talk about that.

I did see lots of spectacular scenery, experienced a bit of an unexpected snowstorm in Bryce, and took lots of fabulous hikes. Zion is by far one of my favorite National Parks; I managed to scale the famed (and strenous) Angel's Landing trail for the second time over the past year.

Anyhow, today was my first day back at work and it was, needless to say, crazy. I do have a couple of new posts I'm working on, so I'll try to wrap them up soon.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Zen and the Art of Bicycling

Somebody sent this to me the other day and I thought it was pretty cool:


A Zen master teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”
The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes, I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back! The teacher praised the student, saying,”You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over as I do.”
The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path.” The teacher commended the student, “Your eyes are open and you see the world.”
The third student replied, “When I ride my bike I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher praised the student, saying, your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”
The fourth student answered, ‘Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings.” The teacher was pleased and said “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”
The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle”
The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student and said,
“I am your disciple”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All-new Flightline bikes

When I first started this blog way back about 3 months ago, I posted something about "inexpensive" versus "cheap" and talked about some new bikes we were working on called the Flightline series that were going to replace our popularly-priced V-Series bikes. We opted to give these bikes a face lift and a new name...they just needed some "oooompf". One of the goals I set out to achieve was to aesthetically create bikes that even though they were inexpensive, wouldn't look cheap.

Well, we finally got some of the all-new Flightlines into our warehouses and they are shipping to dealers as we speak. It's been really exciting to see this project come full circle into completion...and I'm even more excited to see how our dealers and consumers react to them. Of course I am somewhat biased, but I think they turned out pretty damn cool.

Here are a couple views of the Flightline Two (formerly V2):

And the Flightline Sport (formerly V3):

And the soon-to-be "it" bike amongst 6-year old girls across the country...one color option of the Flightline 20 (formerly V20):

I don't know, but I think these are some pretty damn good-looking bikes that all retail for less than $400. No more el cheapo-looking tw0-tone paint jobs with motocross-inspired graphics. These have a more sophisticated look to them. Needless to say, I'm pretty stoked about them.

We'll be posting the entire Flightline series on our website just as soon as they all become available.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Sea Otter Classic...come what May!

This morning, I got some of the best news I've had in a long time...the Sea Otter Classic is moving to the month of May! May 1st through May 4th, to be exact. Afters years of slogging around Laguna Seca in a veritable quagmire, somebody finally got the hint and said, "Hmmm...maybe we should move this event to a time when the weather might be a little better". To whoever came up with that brilliant idea, all I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I remember when Sea Otter used to be in March; rain was pretty much guaranteed not to mention fog, wind, and general coldness. Once it got moved into April, I'd say rain was likely at least one of the four days; wind and cold is a given. Hopefully, by moving the event 3 weeks later, the likelihood of better weather will be far greater.

It would be one thing if Sea Otter was still being billed as a primarily a race event; then you just deal with the weather. That's racing...it goes on rain or shine. But over the years, Sea Otter has been promoted as a festival; boasting a big consumer event, non-competitive rides, and of course, some racing too. For the 2007, the Eurobike folks got involved and it was touted as the one of the largest cycling consumer events in North America.

Since Sea Otter is no longer just a "race event" where the promoters simply say "like it or lump it" when it comes to bad weather, when the focus is on consumers, the event takes on a whole new meaning and must adhere to a different set of guidelines. Much like shopping at Nordstrom or any other nice department store, people are far more likely to shop there when they feel like they are getting good service and having a positive experience. Who wants to go shopping in the mud, wind, cold, and rain? I'd be willing to bet that the weather at this year's Sea Otter kept more than just a few folks at home curled up watching Saturday Morning Cartoons. And taking this a step further to expo vendors, speaking from experience, when the weather sucks and gets all your product wet and muddy, it's hard to see much value in attending.

So to the folks at Sea Otter (just in case any happen to stumble across this post)...thank you for moving the dates for 2008 into a (hopefully) warmer month. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather WILL be better and if that's the case, you'll likely see an increase in attendance. Want some more tips on how to increase your attendance? OK, there wasn't anyone here to say yes or no, so I'll give you a few that I came up with:

  1. Ditch the entry fee. OK, parking was free this year, but who cares? Do you know how many groms were trolling around the parking lot begging for unused wrist bands because they couldn't afford the entry fee? Think they aren't valid customers because they can't afford it? Think again. Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 2000) boasts a combined spending power of about $150 billion. Aside from some of these kids, how many people do you think opted not to attend knowing that there would be a fee to get inside the gates?

  2. Get real with race entry fees. I went to Sea Otter this year thinking I'd like to race singlespeed just as I had for the past several years. When you go to Sea Otter to staff a booth, early registration really isn't an option since there are staffing issues that need to be worked out. My race entry fee, combined with the late fee AND the one-day license fee pushed the total damn near $70. I ended up not racing. Truth be told, it wasn't the outrageous fee by itself...I was getting over being sick and the weather was supposed to be bad on race day, but the fee just compounded it all. If the fee were more reasonable, I probably would have bucked up and raced but $70 is a lot of money to shell out. I'd be willing to bet more than a few people opted not to race due to the high fees as well.

  3. And speaking of fees, get real with the expo fees. As you know, you damn near doubled expo fees on us this year. The cool thing about Sea Otter is the fact that you had the little start-up companies exhibiting side-by-side with the big guys. I know of companies who are still in business today who got their humble beginnings selling at Sea Otter years ago. Let's keep it that way! Consumers come to see and buy new things...why disappoint them? If you keep jacking up the expo fees, you WILL price some of these people right out of your event. Speaking for myself, I came damn close to not attending this year because of the increase. When I mentioned to Skip Latham that it was simply not in my budget, he very graciously granted me a bit of a discount to keep Haro's attendance. I hate to say it, but a huge increase in Sea Otter expo space isn't going to be in my budget next year either. I simply cannot justify to my boss why the cost to attend just doubled. Am I getting anything more than I have in years past? No, I can't say that I will. Do yourselves a bit of a favor...take a look at bicycle sales statistics from a reputable industry source like BPSA. You'll see that the cycling industry isn't exactly growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, bike sales are down. Profits are down. Most companies within the industry are looking to REDUCE expenses, not increase them.

OK, well I'm done with my little rant. I hope nobody walks away from this post thinking I hate Sea Otter. I don't. I love the event. For the most part, the promoters have done a fine job at keeping Sea Otter a first-rate event. However, even the best job can still be done better. I'd really like to see Sea Otter remain the wonderful, inclusionary event that it's been for years attended by cyclists of all types, racer or otherwise. Don't give people a reason NOT to attend your event. Moving Sea Otter to May is definitely a step in the right direction. Let's keep on walking, shall we?


Monday, May 7, 2007

Just because it feels good.

Geez,it's been almost a week since I last posted something. My apologies to my 11 fans out there who take the time to drop by my blog and read my ramblings. I've been down with a little bit of a cold which kept me home from work for a couple of days last week, so I've turned in some early nights lately which has kept me from doing much blogging.

Just before I came down with my little case of Bird Flu or whatever the hell I caught, I had the opportunity to initiate one of those little random acts of kindness that Oprah Winfrey and all those other humanitarian types seem to get so much press on. No, didn't build a school for underprivileged girls in Africa or anything like that, but I did give bikes to a couple of deserving neighbor kids.

Best friends Anthony, 9, and Amber, 7, are two awesome little kids in my neighborhood whom I've noticed had been riding these itty, bitty little bikes that were just WAY too small for them. Both of their parents were aware that they had outgrown their bikes and asked me what new ones would cost. With money being really tight for both of these families, the Moms sort of cringed a bit when I gave them a price and said one something about going to Wal-Mart for the $49.95 bike she saw last week. No way. No Wal-Mart bikes allowed in my 'hood.

I told the kids' parents to just hold off for a couple of days. When I returned to work on Monday, I checked our sample bike supply to see what we had on hand. Sample bikes are generally ordered to take photos of for our catalogs and then stripped down because they are pre-production. I was in luck this time...we had 2 little V24 24" wheel mountain bikes in the sample pile that hadn't been stripped of their parts yet...one in blue and silver for Anthony and the other in pink and silver for Amber. Perfect.

I loaded the little bikes up and took them home with me that night. I called Anthony and Amber's mothers and told them to meet me by my car. As the kids walked up to my car, Amber said, "Oh my gosh, look at that pink bike! Whose bike is that?" I took the bike off of my roof racks and joked that it was for Anthony. He blushed while Amber looked amused yet slightly dejected. When I put the front wheel on the bike and rolled it over to her, her eyes got as big as saucers. Then I handed Anthony his bike. After a few minor adjustments to seat height, they were off and riding.

If I had been a smart blogger, I would have snapped a few pictures, but hey, I'm still learning. It was such an awesome sight. They were so cute as they struggled with learning gears and hand brakes (both came off of coaster brake bikes). And Amber, her old bike was this little tiny 20" wheel sidewalk bike, was having some issues learning to turn a bike with wheels much larger than what she was used to. She practiced diligently with this cute little look of sheer determination on her face. It was priceless.

This past Saturday, there was a knock on my door. It was Anthony and Amber; they brought over some "thank you" goodies for me which included a beautiful bromeliad plant, a bottle of red wine, and nicely written thank-you cards. Amber made her card. I have to tell you what she wrote inside because it was so cute:

"Thenk you for the bick. I rilly lik it, it is so ckonterbl. I rily lik it. And it has my favorit coler it is pinck. And I allso love you as a friend. And God loves you to! Love, Amber" (signed with a little heart after her name.

How cute is that?

It felt great just to do something good for someone simply because I could. No, it didn't save a life or cure a disease, but it sure made a couple of little kids really happy. You can bet they will be riding bikes much more now that they have bikes that actually fit them and they aren't hitting their knees on the handlebars. I didn't do it because I expected anything in return; I just did it because it felt good.
We all need more "good" in our lives.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What Brand Managers Do When We're Bored...

...our imaginations go wild! Thoughts start entering our minds like, "Hmmmm....what if I built up this frame with these funky bars? And what if I put those tires on it? Oh, and how about a set of fenders?". We're combining stuff in our heads that WE think is cool and will look cool in reality. Pretty soon, bike parts start flying around the shop area and an all-new bike is in the process of being born. The good news is it's looking as cool as the images you conjured up in your brain just moments ago. And then you catch yourself asking your co-workers, "Wow, do you think we could sell these things?".

I recently completed a bike project that's been in the works for several months that started out much like that. Well, the boredom part I just made up, but I started dreaming up a funky 29" wheel commuter/pub crawl bike built around our super-successful Mary XC frame. I've been noticing and getting inspired by some of these small builders who have been bringing nichy, fun bikes to market...I wanted to see what people would think of a funky 29er, Haro style.

It started with a Humboldt Green Mary XC frame. I decided since this would be more of an urban commuter bike, a rigid fork was in order. I also wanted gears...there are hills in my area. I went with an "M" shaped set of bars that I thought would be pretty comfy for cruising around town. Then, I found a set of one-of-a-kind handmade wooden fenders on eBay. Of course, you can't have classy wooden fenders and not have a classic Brooks saddle, right? That gave way to leather-wrapped grips (yes, I wrapped them myself) that matched the saddle. I even placed some of the leftover leather bar tape on the chainstay. Other notable cool bits include a Salsa CroMoto stem, SRAM X0 shifters and rear derailleur, and WTB tires and wheels.

I think the end result turned out pretty damn cool. I have to give props to one of our Product Managers, Pat Crosby, for his help with this project. He proved that putting fenders on a bike not designed for fenders is entirely possible!

So I'll stop babbling and let you all enjoy the pictures!