Consumer Innovation: Putting the Solution Before the Problem

Ever since the end of the Tour de France, cycling fans have speculated as to which team winner of no stages Alberto Contador would join next year. Theories ranged from the mundane (he would stay with Astana) to the untenable (he would abandon cycling altogether, move to Bondi Beach, and take up professional surf lifesaving). Well, after over a week of half-assed guessing, the speculation is over, and Contador has finally revealed that he will join Bjarne Riis's team. From the look of it, they're both quite pleased:

In fact, their countenances bely the sort of spiritual ecstasy generally reserved for those who practice asceticism and suspend themselves with flesh hooks:

I suppose that getting one's hooks into a Tour de France winner amounts to more or less the same thing.

Meanwhile, in other cycling news, a company called "Pants'Fix Trousers Solution" (apparently "trousers solution" is clothing tech jargon for "belt") have asked me to introduce their new "Pants'Fix holder" and new "belt opening system" to my "audience:"

Hello guys,

I would like to introduce you a new brand with design products.

Pants'Fix has patented a few diffrents products worldwide as the Pants'Fix holder (very useful for bikers) and a new belt opening system.

Now we would like to put the accent on our new belt collection the 26 Inches ,belts made with a new openning system and bar tabe available since Monday.

We would be very happy if you introduce it to your audience.

As a sarcastic person with a crappy blog about bikes, I'm occasionally asked to promote people's products, events, causes, or grievances, and while I don't often do so I'm making an exception in this case, only because I think Pants'Fix's revolutionary belt closure technology and colorways are going to change the way we think about pant suspension and retention. Consider this World Champion-themed pant waist securing device:
Now you too can be the World Champion of Keeping Your Pants Up--and you can wear a World Champion wrist-adornment solution to match:

(UCI-themed belt and matching FredStrong bracelet)

Sometimes, however, a belt is simply not enough, which is why Pants'Fix are also working on a suspender set (or "vertical trouser solution") for added security and peace of mind:

(The egg now withdrawn from her posterior, Mindy expresses relief.)

I'm surprised that the "bike culture" has not widely adopted suspenders (or "braces" if you're British or, even worse, have an affinity for ska music and Lambrettas). Having already resurrected the "fanny pack," the suspender seems like the next logical step, since it's yet another useless accessory (unless of course you need to hoist seriously heavy garments, like firefighter pants) that can be made from nylon or recycled inner tubes. Plus, they can also feature lots of pockets to store your overpriced artisanal bicycle tools. Sure, Showers Pass does make a pair, but they're not full-on utility suspenders. (Incidentally, in addition to having suspenders, Mork from Ork wore tight-fitting clothing and aged in reverse, thus setting the template for all of "hipster culture.")

Anyway, it's clear that Pants'Fix have done for accessing one's pants what Look did for foot retention, and really the only problem is finding a bicycle to match. One possibility is this Cinelli MASH Histogram 1 of 3 in existence special "collabo" limited edition colorway trackular fixed-gearified bicycle up for auction on eBay, which I saw recently on fixed-gear freestyle impresario, streetwear enthusiast, and master angler Prolly's blog:

The bidding starts at $3,000, but I recommend exercising the $5,ooo "Buy It Now" option, since you don't want to miss out on the opportunity to be one of only three people in the world with a bike this ugly (Landshark owners excluded):

If the picture's not enough to make you want this bicycle, then the description should finish the job:

Up for sale is a beaaaaaaaaaaaautiful fully built out ( parts listed below ) Cinelli x Mash Histogram Fixed Gear Bike purchased from Project Space Gallery in LA and shipped to NYC where it was built out by the famous Chari & Co bike shop. This has been featured on almost every design and bike blog and magazine and there are only 3 in existence, this being the only 55cm one. This has been ridden but literally under 10 miles, around 7 to be exact. I WILL ship anywhere in the world but it, it will be professionally packaged at the UPS store and sent out. Please contact me before bidding with any questions about shipping quotes. I'm located in downtown NYC and pick up is absolutely acceptable ( and preferred ). Payment is due with in 48 hours of the end of auction via paypal or wire transfer.

I was especially impressed to see that it had been "built out" by Chari & Co., since that's better that simply being "built," and is the kind of serious language usually reserved for porches and home extensions. Plus, while you may not be able to bid with total confidence, you can at least bid with optimism, since the seller is a solid B+ eBayer:

Speaking of the superfluous tooling trend and stuff you can keep in your suspenders pockets, yesterday I mentioned the Monkey Like Shiny 15mm U-lock socket, and I'm still trying to figure out the point of a tool that only works in conjunction with a U-lock:

In an attempt to understand, I visited the manufacturer's blog, where I learned that it's because it weighs less than a Craftsman wrench and that I "don't have to carry it:"

In a world filled with mini-tools and multi-tools and "peanut butter wrenches" and small socket wrenches you can attach to your keychain, it seems odd to use a Craftsman wrench of all things as the portable tool size and weight standard. Stranger still is the claim that "you don't have to carry it," which implies it somehow hovers alongside you as you ride. Either that, or they simply mean that you're free to leave it at home, which is also true of the Craftsman wrench, or really of any of the other myriad tools in existence. Really, the only difference between this tool and those is that the Monkey Like Shiny is the only one that is entirely U-lock dependent. Still, they have won the hotly-contested Sears hand tool weight war, so if you're a department store "weight weenie" then this is probably the tool for you.

I do of course realize I'm in the minority, and that the "bike culture" at large is delighted by innovative trouser solutions and aftermarket U-lock add-ons and quirky tools and designer bags and holsters in which to carry them, and that many people find it thrilling to ride around the city in a state of total preparedness rivaled only by rescue workers and people responding to gas leaks. Tiny tools in particular tap into the "urban cyclist's" deepest fantasy--which is of course that he or she is a secret agent of the streets who has been outfitted with all sorts of gadgetry and special weaponry by Q. Increasingly, they look like survivalists with a lot of disposable income.

Granted, special weaponry can come in handy sometimes, especially in New York City traffic, which Portlander Heidi Swift recently declared feels "borderline suicidal:"

Of course, it feels considerably less suicidal when you're used to it, which is why many New Yorkers feel the need to increase the suicide factor a bit by operating their iPhones while riding opposite the bike lane in heavy traffic and towing what may or may not be a cooler containing a human organ:

This sight is so common in New York City that it didn't even distract the gentleman on the sidewalk from petting his imaginary cat.

By the way, as I mentioned not too long ago with regard to "Bowery Bikes," I find it ironic that so many New Yorkers seem to want to emulate the functionality, ubiquity, and unremarkability of cycling in Amsterdam by purchasing costly Dutch bikes when we already have our own functional, ubiquitous, and unremarkable bicycle in New York City in the form of the "old mountain bike." Here's a good example:

It turns out you can simply carry your stuff around the city on a bicycle without spending a lot of money or being "chic," and people have been doing it for a long time. Plus, as a bonus, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal will even pretend you don't exist.

But things are changing quickly in New York, and with the recent installation of the Flushing Avenue bike lane in Brooklyn the Great Hipster Silk Route is now almost entirely bike-friendly:

Oddly, the more bike-friendly the city gets, the more popular the expensive "survivalist" look becomes. One wonders what will become of New York City cyclists if we no longer have to fight for our lives.

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