Financial Cycles: Bikes is Big Business

Hi, everybody!

Do you like "bi-keen" in New York City?
Do you like receiving stuff for which you don't have to pay?
Are you proficient in the maintenance and repair of German made air-cooled automobile engines?

If you answered "Fork yes!" to two out of three of the above questions, I should remind you that later today I will be dispensing free Knogstuffs (while supplies last) at a secret time and place which is as follows:

Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge

Also, I found a few t-shirts, which I'll give away too:

The catch is they're all size XL, which means you either have to be a size XL, or else willing to wear a t-shirt that's way too big for you, or else an able seamster or seamstress who will fashion the t-shirt into a pillowcase, tapestry, or punk rock butt-flap.

I'm not sure where exactly I'll be on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge, but just look for someone who looks slightly addled and extremely disheveled who's sitting in a folding chair next to a Surly Big Dummy with an Xtracycle PeaPod LT and loaded with Knog products.

Then give him $20 and he'll tell you where I am.

Lastly, remember, while everything's free, you must (must!) present a coupon in order to receive anything. Think of it as organized looting.

Speaking of looting, a reader informs me that, in the United Kingdom, cycling generates three billion sqiggly "L"s with lines through them for the economy:

Three billion whatevers-they-are is something like US$5 billion, which is a lot of of bike stuff, though it will only cost you $4billion if you order everything from Nashbar between now and Sunday and enter coupon code "PLUMMETING-GNP." Also, sales of bike stuff is only part of the story, since it turns out that people who ride bicycles are more productive in the workplace:

The report says that regular cyclists take 7.4 sick days per year, compared with 8.7 sick days for non-cyclists, saving around £128m through reduced absenteeism, with projected savings of £2bn over the next 10 years.

See that? Cyclists aren't shiftless non-conformists looking to subvert the system, smash capitalist greed, and undermine the status quo. We're actually good little consumers, and we also give more of ourselves than non-cyclists to the soulless corporations for whom we work. This allows them to extract that much more of our hearts and spirits, which they can then render into more profits for themselves so that their executives can receive bigger bonuses.

Yay, "bi-keen!"

So, like, maybe we can have a few more bike lanes now? Or not. Sorry, I was just asking. I'll get back to work now.

But if cycling is big business in the U of K, it's even moreso in Croatia, where a reader tells me riders are so flush with cash that they are "rubbing" Mercedes cockpits:

Not only that, but they've got matching Mercedes leg shields too:

Notice the exquisite hand-stitched artisanal curation of the Mercedes logoway:

And since cyclists the world over have such formidable buying power, this entrepreneur should have no problem whatsoever raising the quarter of a million dollars for his self-inflating bicycle tire:

Here's the pitch:

Imagine taking your bicycle out of the garage and never having to fill up the tires or even check the pressure. Or imagine yourself being able to change your tire pressure on-the-fly with a simple adjustment from the handlebars. Our project is to bring two self-inflating bicycle tires to market, the City Cruiser and City Pro. Both tires are intended for the urban cyclists and both tires incorporate the patented PumpTire technology.

Gosh, yaaah! That would like totally make bi-keen even more ahsome! Can you explain it to me in greater detail in an video?

A number of people seem to think that there's one crucial obstacle keeping people from riding bicycles, and that if they can remove it then millions more people will ride and then they will become rich. Moreover, every one of these people seems to have a different idea of what this obstacle actually is. Some people think that it's the greasy chains scaring people away, so they market bikes with belt drives, shaft drives, no drivetrains at all... Others think it's the Lycra or fixed-gears or general competitive vibe that's so off-putting, and so they sell comfy bikes in pretty colors and invent imaginary countercultures like the "slow cycling movement." For this guy, though, the big obstacle is pneumatic tire maintenance, which ironically has not prevented the entire Earth from being overrun by automobiles. Anyway, with his invention, you'll never have to go through the huge inconvenience of topping off your tires every month or so ever again:

Why Bicycle Tires Lose Pressure

Bicycle tires lose pressure due to air molecules diffusing through the rubber sidewalls. This requires cyclists to fill their tires on a fairly regular basis due to the high operating pressures (up to 120 psi) and thin sidewalls of most bicycle tires. PumpTire solves this problem by incorporating a pumping mechanism directly into the tire. And this means ... fewer pinch flats, no more pumping, hands stay clean, less time getting ready and more time on the saddle.

Of course, what he fails to take into account is that most people can figure out how to put a little air in their tires if they feel squishy (triathletes excluded, at least based on what I've seen), but what they do have trouble with is repairing punctures while they're riding--you know, the nails and pieces of glass that cause all the air to escape. When this happens, regardless of whether they're riding a regular tire or a "self-inflating" one, they're going to do the same thing they do in their cars, which is stand there looking helpless until someone comes to help them. Plus, the sorts of people who don't know how to top off their own tires are also the sorts of people who leave their bikes sitting so long that the tires go totally flat between rides, and I doubt even a "self-inflating" tire will inflate itself if the bike is unrideable to begin with.

This is not to say his invention is not clever, but it does seem to be a rather complicated solution to a highly specific and extremely minor problem. Then again, just imagine how smug you'd feel if you knew your tires were topping themselves off as you moved your neighbors by bike--especially if you were also the first Clevelanders ever to undertake a bike move (as forwarded to me by another reader):

Mazel Tov, Cleveland, on this, the occasion of your Smug Mitzvah. Perhaps PumpTire guy should create a special bike-moving tire, which would allow the mover adjust the blow-off valve depending on what he or she is hauling at any given moment. "Hold on, I think I just bottomed out! Can we stop for a minute? I need to set my valve to 'ottoman!'" Sure, stopping a smugness convoy like that can be irritating, but it does give everybody time to drool over each other's cargo trailers:

This was an obstacle for us, because as much as excitement is building around biking in Clevelandtown, there still aren’t a whole lot of carfree Clevelanders, and those are the types to have the fully-loaded drool-worthy cargo trailers.

It's a good thing the sorts of people who drool over cargo trailers also tend to have highly absorbent beards, or else they'd get saliva all over the furniture.

Speaking of body hair, yet another reader tells me that the Movistar professional bicycle cycling team has recently signed a new rider, though apparently his kit is not ready yet:

Forget low spoke counts and crabon rims; he's such a retrogrouch he thinks the entire concept of the wheel is gimmicky.

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