A few people have asked me if I was planning to attend Interbike next week. I wish I could be there, but I am flying to China this weekend for a product development trip. Since I will be on the other side of the world for a couple of weeks, I will have to follow the developments at Interbike from afar. I know that Fritz will be in Vegas covering the show for Cyclelicious and for Commute by Bike. The Hugger crew will be there as well, so I plan to check that site for updates (by the way, the Mobile Social that they are co-sponsoring sounds like a great time). Needless to say I will also be checking in with the Interbike Times blog to get the “official” scoop on what’s happening at the show. I will also be checking Interbike TV when I can; I am especially looking forward to another episode of the Spokesmen podcast live from Interbike next Wednesday. If any of you readers will be at the show next week, I would appreciate any tips and/or photos of interesting designs that you can send my way.
As has been the case with my past trips, posting will probably be light while I am away. I will be working long hours and my access to the internet may be inconsistent. Before I leave though, I want to pass along a few thoughts about subjects that caught my attention this week.
I probably shouldn’t open up this can of worms right before I go, but I will. So far on the blog I have only mentioned the reissue of the Campagnolo Super Record group briefly. I haven’t ridden the new group so I can’t speak to its performance, but aesthetically the group just doesn’t appeal to me at all. Yeah, I know that there are some really loyal Campy fans out there who probably will say they love it, but honestly can anyone tell me that these components look good? I know it has a bunch of carbon bits, but the rear derailleur has to be the clunkiest looking one that I have ever seen. As I have mentioned before, I used to be a Campy fan in the late 80s and early 90s, but I have been using Dura-Ace on my road bikes for many years now because I just like Shimano’s design better. Campy makes great components and I would love to give them a chance again, but they need to step up their industrial design efforts to win me back as a customer. I mean, old Super Record and C-record components were really nice, even elegant, products… so what happened? Maybe it is just me though; am I not being fair to Campagnolo? If any of you disagree about the decline in Campy’s design strength over the last ten years or so, I trust you will leave a comment to let me know. By the way, these photos are from Erik K, who has several more shots of Super Record parts on his blog.
Robb of Mountain Biking by 198 recently recorded an interview with Dave Turner of Turner Bikes. You have to sign up for the blog’s newsletter to hear the interview, but I think it is worth doing so. I like Turner bikes and I really enjoyed the interview, but I want to play devil’s advocate and take issue with something that Dave Turner said. Aesthetics are no doubt subjective and he pointed out that he does not like “stylized swoopy tubes” that are curved just for looks. OK, I get that; I don’t like over-designed bikes either and I believe it is usually better to keep things simple. Sure, I happen to really like some mountain bikes that he might consider curved just for looks- the Ibis Mojo and the Specialized Epic carbon are two that first come to mind- but I understand where he is coming from. He goes on to say that he considers a bike to be a tool not a product that needs to be “styled” like a hairdryer or kitchen appliance. Yeah, I agree that bikes are tools. Then again, hair dryers, kitchen appliances, and really any other object that people use to accomplish a task can be considered tools as well. Automobiles are just tools for getting around, but very few people would argue that “styling” is irrelevant in that industry. I would not defend the practice of compromising a product’s functionality based on a styling decision, but I do believe that design is the most important differentiator between products when other factors are viewed as equal. The best consumer products are usually the result of close collaboration between industrial designers and engineers. Whether we are talking about bikes or anything else, people want products that do the job they are intended to do, are simple and straightforward to use, and are visually appealing. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
OK, back to work for me so I can be ready for my trip. Stay tuned for posts from China sometime in the next couple of weeks.