Dude, they totally sold out.


If you haven’t noticed, I like NOFX. I’ve been enjoying their music for a long time. Back when I resided in a dingy basement, I would sit and listen to Truck Stop Blues on cassette for hours. That was until I got a cd player and then I began to amass as many unheard-of bands that I possibly could.

At that time in SG, there was a little music store that also did piercings in the back. It was called the Underground. We would go in and peruse all the cds. Stuff we had never heard of, bands that sounded kind of cool. Their big thing was they didn’t stock music from any big record labels. Hence, the underground moniker. The small group of friends that I had that were in to punk rock, we reveled in knowing or having music that no one else had ever heard. It was kind of a badge of honor to have a cd that was hard to find. I’m mean, who’s ever heard of Link 80? Well, I still have their cd.

The Underground went out of business pretty quick.

This was the time when Punk was quickly becoming a household name. Bands like Offspring, Green Day and Rancid were selling records like hot cakes and you couldn’t throw a studded bracelet without hitting someone who was listening to punk on their Discman. I can remember trying to get mosh pits started at church dances to the likes of Self Esteem and Welcome to Paradise. It was the time of the Great Sell Out.

Any band that got remotely popular or could even keep time could score a record deal and most of them did. What these punkers didn’t take into consideration was that their appeal to the underground was that they weren’t on the radio and people had no clue who they were. It was sort of like a reverse elitism. Find shifty music, claim it as your own, that you “found” it. And the first time you hear anyone else listening to them, throw the music away and tell everyone that “they totally sold out.”

If you think about it, it’s kind of a fucked up mentality to have. You hold something dear and when it becomes something great, you shit on it. Of course, this has a lot to do with the punk rock ethos, the DIY lifestyle, Nihilism, whatever the fuck you want to call it, it is what it is. I’m not gonna sit here and type out that bands don’t sell out. I can’t stand any Offspring album past Smash, and Smash is only somewhat bearable due to the teenage nostalgia. Their music changed. And it’s hard to wonder what it would have been like if they weren’t so widely accepted.

I cannot lie, in many ways, I subscribe to this ideology. Music does change when musicians suddenly have shit tons of money. When they are no longer worried about where their next meal comes from or if anyone is going to listen to their music. Cutting your teeth on desperation, it’s hard to suddenly be able to switch to writing without it. And so we hate those who have made it.

Of course, there’s the whole DIY part of it as well. Controlling the creative process from start to finish, is a big deal. And punk music is built on that foundation.

One of the reasons I love bikes so much, is the DIY ethos that tends to go along with them. Need to get to the store, pedal. You don’t need some gas company to sell you something just to get around. It’s the biggest middle finger you can give to the current system that has failed in so many different ways.

It’s interesting that right along side that DIY ethos, the same elitism appears. Look at fixed gear bikes. They are the epitomy of DIY. They are simple, require almost no maintenance and as an added bonus, you can run them brakeless to get that “badguy” mojo going. These aren’t new, they were around forever, actually since before freewheels, but as soon as they became popular they were hated along side their human counter parts, the hipster.

When it really comes down to it, it’s about feeling special. Being elite because you are doing something different and then being pissed when everyone else thinks it’s cool.

A great example of this was the tirade mounted on Drunk Cyclist a couple of days ago about carbon fat bike rims. http://drunkcyclist.com/2013/12/08/sunday-spore-d2-treatise-carbon-edition/

I’ll wait, go ahead and read it.

Notice the paragraph about blaming “YOU that’s really ruining it for the rest of us.” Yup, someone’s pissed that what they think they started and were in love with is now popular. Fat bikes are the new fixies. You can’t peruse the interwebs now without happening upon someone’s blog about fat bike adventuring. I for one, am stoked about that. The more people learning to suffer their way through an adventure the better. Until I start seeing YOU out there and then I’ll be pissed.

But I digress. The rant goes on to how it is people buying carbon rims that has ruined the industry because now some poor schmuck of a kid can’t buy a nice bike for what can be saved in a few months. And this keeps that poor kid on the couch, doing nothing.

I understand this sentiment. It was just last week that we were discussing how the price of bikes has skyrocketed, but what we are willing or able to spend on bikes hasn’t. A high-end bike now costs close to $10,000. I have a hard time swallowing any price over $2,000. So yea, I get it. I get that your pissed that you can’t afford the highest end bike any more, but carbon fat bike rims aren’t to blame. Look at your wage. When was the last time you got a raise? In the past 10 years, have your wages increased 5 times? Probably not.

Plus, look at what is available on the market right now. My first “high-end” bike cost me $800 on employee purchase. Meaning that I had $800 to spend and I got myself a nice hard tail that I rode till it broke. The replacement frame and parts that were upgraded are still in someone’s garage. The bike is still around.

Just the other day, I took notice of an $880 Rockhopper and was blown away by what you can get in a fairly entry level hard tail these days. Hydraulic disc brakes? Yup. Shimano drive train? Yup. Descent suspension fork? Yup. It might not have the same “level” of components as my 1996 Marin Indian Fire Trail, but it sure has a lot more bang for the buck. Is a kid gonna be cool rocking the Rockhopper? Maybe not, but he could certainly race it until it broke and have a shit ton of fun on it. So yea, bikes can cost $10,000 but you don’t have to spend that much to have fun or even be “serious.” And that price is retail. Spend that on an employee purchase and you’ve got yourself a pretty kick ass ride.

I thought you might need a break.

I don’t see how carbon rims are ruining it for you. I only see you being a fucking elitist who doesn’t want to not be able to afford the best of the best, just because you once could. So somehow dentists are to blame for ruining the industry. Whatever.

About the same time that Drunkcyclist was sounding off on some shit that didn’t make any sense, BikeRumor posted the longest post of all time. It was tirade on the bicycle industry, discounting and trying to run a shop.

revoltingcogs

http://www.bikerumor.com/2013/12/06/revolting-cogs-give-the-people-what-they-want-in-lethal-doses/

I get the sentiment. I want to shrivel up in a ball when someone starts a conversation with me about how they are a great customer (even though they haven’t spent a dime in the store in years) or that they are a serious racer (even though no one has ever heard of them). I want to shrivel up in a ball because these introductions are usually justifications for why I should be giving them a discount.

Number one rule when dealing with a customer who is asking for a discount, Don’t explain to them that it is not in your best interest to give them a discount. A. They don’t give a shit. B. They are asking because it is in their best interest to get a discount. By explaining to them that you can’t because… you are setting yourself up as being the polar opposite of what they want, not where you want to be when attempting to sell someone something.

The story is a customer calls, says they are a big deal and are “willing to buy today” if only they can get said bike at a discount. Said tirade maker, explains to the customer that it is not in his interest to give the discount and then hangs up when the customer continues to push the price issue. I have a couple of issues with this. 1. Usually, “willing to buy today” means I really want to buy this today. I’m calling because you have it and I want it. 2. An over the phone customer asking about price is shopping around and they want the best “deal.” A deal can mean lots of things, but that’s for another post.

Let’s instead look at the customer and why they are calling you. If a customer calls and asks for a particular bike, in this case a “Santa Claus Teabag” (Santa Cruz Tallboy, I’m guessing) it means that the customer has done some research and their research was probably done online. They don’t want you to hold their hand and walk them through the process, they already did that and they have probably been looking at the bike for a while, lusting over it and having some growing stoke. They want that bike. The reason they are calling you is because you are local and you have it.

Convenience is the biggest reason people shop locally, not for expertise, not for service, for convenience. (Just ask Leisure Trends)

So this customer has been perusing the interwebs and has found the bike they want and you have it. They also quickly learned that, yea it can be bought online and they can probably save some money by doing it that way. And this is where I have a huge problem with this rant, the reason the customer is asking for a discount is because the brand you are carrying is available elsewhere at a discount.

The rant continues of how the rant-er later saw the customer on the trail on some “big brand bike” and he was stoked that he had “dodged the bullet” with that customer. As if the customer were to blame.

Out of curiosity I found this guys bike shop because I was curious as to what bike brands he carried. http://revolutioncyclesnc.com/goods.html. Good on ya for supporting the little guy because they don’t do the same for you. Look at those brands, with a couple of exceptions, they can all be purchased online for a discount. And the ones that are too small to be sold that way can pretty much be sold through any bicycle retailer. Don’t get me wrong, every one of those companies makes good bikes. I own an All City, have owned Niners, Raleighs and Surlys. The problem is that all of those bikes are bikes that your customer can easily find elsewhere and at a discount.

So yea, the manufactures are to blame, but so are you for stocking brands that don’t protect their dealers.

That big brand bike your customer bought, I bet he didn’t get much of a discount and it was easy for the dealer to keep it that way because it wasn’t easy for him to find discount prices on that brand. So yea, it’s cool to support the little guy and hate on the big brand, but when it comes down to it, which one is going to help you make more money? And isn’t that what your whole post was about?

In the bicycle world, there are really only two brands that are doing well. The big S and the big T, everyone else is sinking at differing rates. I went over this already, so go read it if you didn’t the first time, http://mooseknuckleralliance.org/2013/10/the-state-of-the-industry/. The other part of the discounting equation is the retailer and how the product is presented and sold.

There’s a freedom in having zero responsibility. The less you have, the less you have to worry about. 

There has been a recent shit storm caused by a Cease and Desist Order that was delivered to a small wheel manufacture in Canada. Notice, I said small wheel manufacture for a reason, the order has nothing to do with his bike shop. Said small wheel manufacture happened to label his wheels after a famous race in France. Unfortunately for him, there already exist wheels that were named after that race and the name has been trademarked for use on bicycle components.

Take the internet shit train and you quickly arrive at a social media shit show of the little guys coming out of the wood work and calling foul. As a bike nerd that has had the pleasure of working in a shop where we have been able to continue to grow and that this has allowed me to continue to work in the industry, I’m thankful for the brand protection the big S takes so seriously. It makes my job easier.

And having been to their corporate headquarters and ridden on the lunch rides and seen all the bikes lined up in the hallway and the atmosphere that is alive inside that building, I have to say there is nothing soulless about that company. I would enjoy working there.

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0523/opinions-rich-karlgaard-innovation-rules-hippie-capitalist.html

I like NOFX. I have enjoyed listening to their music for the better part of two decades. They are big. They don’t have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from or where they will be in a couple of years. Have they sold out? I don’t think so. They have never signed a contract with any record label. Their punk rock attitude has never changed and it’s the same four guys that have been playing together since close to the beginning. Yea, they’re successful, but that’s no reason to hate ‘em, it just means they’ve made it. And they made it by doing things their way.

That’s probably the biggest middle finger you could ever give to the system.

P. L. and R.

 

This entry was posted in Industry Commentary, TBIF. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Dude, they totally sold out.

  1. Kevin Christopherson says:

    Nice article. I feel your pain. I want to support local shops, but can’t drop 5k on a bike. Luckily, I like to work on bikes, so my M.O. is to buy used bikes and rebuild them buying parts locally as I can.

    Kevin

  2. Watts says:

    Oi Mooseknuckle,
    Sincere thanks for reading the poorly organized Biketumor piece. And especially for sharing it and weighing in.
    Good points regarding the customer relations. I don’t disagree with you. I use that case specifically because it highlighted a certain kind of customer. And in this instance, it was definitely less a case of him wanting a discount because everyone gets one on that brand and very much a case of “I’m a big deal. Cup my balls.” I know, because I’ve dealt with him before on other things and it’s always the same. But that doesn’t come out in the “article.” Which is fine, because it leaves it open-ended enough for some discussion.
    It’s funny, because I wasn’t even really talking about the bike brands I carry when I was calling out online discounts. Certainly Noner and Santa Claus have been guilty of that, but we do well enough with the brands that it’s not a huge deal… more just a shitty little thorn in our side.
    When I say that I’m committed to the small, independent shop, I’m not saying that I don’t like shops that carry big brands. If one was available in our town, we’d definitely have that talk. I’m really just saying that I like shops that avoid the homogeneity of being branded as whatever lines they carry. Shops that have their own direction and vision. While T and S might not see it that way, I think that these shops have more potential to grow the brands and promote cycling than a company store.
    That’s all.
    The companies that I’m calling out for trying to win the race to the bottom are really the parts manufacturers. If you’re in the shop world, you know exactly what I mean. If I Q doesn’t have it, then Wiggle probably does…. and for less. How and why can that be the case? Something isn’t adding up.

    Hey man…. thanks again for reading. Dig the blog.
    And dig NOFX. I bought “ribbed” when it first came out and thought, “the music is really good, but the lead singer kind of sucks.”
    When “White trash, two heebs and a been” came out, I thought, “Wow….This is pretty awesome.”
    And when “Punk in Drublic” came out, I thought…. “F*** yes!!!”
    And they just kept getting better.

  3. Knuckler says:

    Watts, thanks for reading. I always find it interesting how different the meaning of the writer can be and what the reader actually reads. Case in point, your ambiguity let me run where I wanted to with your “story.”

    I agree to a certain extent. But can’t help but see that a lot of bike shops are piles of shit that don’t do anyone any good. They come in, bring in a bunch of product, discount that product, don’t pay their bills and then disappear. There is a local shop here that is on their third or fourth iteration and for some reason they don’t get that they shouldn’t be in the business and they aren’t doing anyone, including themselves, any favors. I guess you can heap some of the blame on the fact that manufactures keep sending them shit…

    Your shop looks like it has its shit together. I like the revolutionary branding and the feel of your website and wish you the best of luck. If you’re ever in need of some desert singletrack, hit up the Alliance and we’ll show you some fucking awesome trails.

    Peace. Love. and Revolution.

  4. You make fair points, but I think you’re misrepresenting my rant a bit.

    First off, I like the point you made about wage stagnation, and that crossed my mind after I wrote the rant (because, let’s be honest: we’re drunkcyclist, and I’m rarely sober when I write that shit). I wrote the carbon fat bike rim piece in about three seconds (the first one, anyway, with the meme and what have you), thinking it’d be funny. That was about where it ended. Then the backlash happened, and it forced me to think about why I was pissed about it.

    Funny thing is, I’m not even really that pissed. The argument basically boils down to who is hurting the industry and why. And what the industry is. And whether the cycling COMMUNITY was more important than the INDUSTRY. That’s a delineation I didn’t make because rants run long and readers get bored. I’m perfectly happy to ride a heavy steel 29er with low to mid level components, but I think about mainstreaming the cycling industry and I see a few problems: first, since, as you pointed out, wages have stagnated, the industry is pricing out many of the people who should be included. This has nothing to do with bottom line or with feeling ownership of something cool. It has more to do with creating a society we all, in some way, want: more bikes, less cars. Bikes as transportation, not as trophies.

    That said, my rant was over the top, and purposely so. It’s drunkcyclist. We rant. We piss people off. If we’re lucky, conversation ensues.

  5. Knuckler says:

    D2, Thanks for reading and replying.

    After I had posted, I went back and read your post and there are obviously ambiguities that can be argued either way. This is my take, my conversation. And yes, I agree 100% with you that I would prefer more bikes that were meant for transportation and that people rode everywhere, including to the trail head to ride their fat bikes. I also agree that the community is more important than the industry. The community is who we are, the industry is the leach that is riding our backs to make a buck. But fuck it, it is what it is and for most of us, the industry is a way to be a part of that community.

    Anyways, I gots beer to drink, as I’m sure you do as well. If you’re ever in SG, give me a shout. We have some kick ass trails and their are plenty of Drunk Cyclists to ride with.

  6. Roger Levy says:

    You are correct. Fuji treats me great and without even asking, I am selling their bikes 89% of the time. I’m a one man shop, 28th year as owner. I am having a hard time with the image of bikes. Puzzling. T and S are names folks cling to because they think that the big names must be great. Other folks want boutique names like Surly etc. because of the ethic of which you speak with regard to hip new bands which become sell outs. Poor Fuji is neither. Love those guys. Same reps for over ten years. When I rebuild a wheel with DT spokes because rear wheels with cheap spokes do sometimes have broken spoke problems, Fuji rep gives me my cost plus whatever labor I ask for. And most years, the total cost to them for my fixing little stuff is under $200. For a year. I help them by assembling all bikes right; disassembly and rebuilding with better balls, grease and anti seize on all fasteners.

  7. dirty biker says:

    word.
    Well thought out and something I ponder often. My little spat of yellow page deification was just me sitting at work trolling the web and I got fuckin’ fired up…then i looked at boobs and it was all better.
    But the punk rock/bike world correlation is actually something I have been trying to get into words for some time now.
    I heard this song by Two Cow Garage recently and it got me thinking (1:25)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzvicjpAFbU&feature=kp
    “…I wrapped myself up in Black Flag and flew it as my own… but in the end punk rock just left me empty and alone”
    You have never met a more judgmental person that an punk rocker trying to be an individual. It’s my roots too, and I see it happening with bikes and i don’t want it to.
    I don’t think it’s about the big S “selling out”. They did that a long time ago. It’s more about them being a douchbag jock. But it’s an internet filled with opinions…

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