Wednesday, March 04, 2009

NAHBS thoughts

So I never go to bike shows. Never. I hate them. I spend too much time on my feet, destroy my vocal chords, and start to hate bikes from talking about them so much (which makes you wonder why I post so much to the blog, no?) I posted this in response to the NAHBS show prizewinners on a thread on MTBR. For the record, I think NAHBS is a great idea - but you'll never see me there.

I doubt anyone who attended would say that NAHBS sucks (though of course this statement screams "selection bias"). And I'm probably the wrong person to ask, since I avoid bike shows like the plague (hate traveling, hate crowds, don't really want to spend a nice weekend talking about bikes instead of riding them).

Shows and awards are an interesting problem with bikes - they want to make headlines and draw attention, but if they only give awards to crazy/weird stuff, they risk making the entire weekend into a freakshow rather than a bike show (didn't a highly decorated $3k kids trike win one year?).

The Naked bike is the most "innovative" one there in terms of appearance - but it's pretty much a standard single pivot suspension setup that's been gussied up with chrome and _wood_ (not sure I see the point of a wooden seatpost, except to get attention). Not sure you want to continue too much farther down that road - I'd rather ride most any of the other bikes given awards, personally, because I'm not the type to spend much time looking at my bike while I'm riding it, and I don't trust wooden parts all that much.

Personally, I think that they should *only* give awards to bikes that have been ridden at least a little, and preferably quite a bit - the IF carbon bike that was glued together the week before the show (and may very well never have been ridden) is truly a dumb choice, but I'm guessing not many carbon folks show up, and they can't give Crumpton the award every year.

So no, I don't think NAHBS is retarded. I do think giving out awards is a process fraught with problems, but it draws attention, which is the point of the show. So it's something that they will probably continue doing.

As for me, I'll be out riding.



Anonymous said...

I might be going out on a limb here, but you are probably the only high profile builder/company owner who is actually racing in the Pro class these days. I know IF, for example, has some fast racers who work there, but they are not the owner of the company, or at least the sole owner of the company. Your bikes are very functional for what they are supposed to be: Good riding trail bikes and race bikes. All of the fluff at the show is great, but unless it rides well, it is not worth a dime to me. Keep with what you are good at and leave the rest for the other guys.

Walt said...

I'll take any compliments I can get, but I'll also remind everyone that "pro" doesn't mean what it used to - and that I'm usually pretty far off the back if any really fast folks show up.

Scott Quiring races and does quite well too, I think. And Richard Sachs is a Cat 2 on the road, which is nothing to sneeze at.

I've often wrestled with the question of whether or not racing at a high level helps me design or build bikes. Not sure if it does or not, but it probably doesn't hurt anything.

Plus it means I can get wasted on 1.5 beers during the season!

dirtsurfer said...

hey Walt,
Can't you get some hotty to work your booth so you don't have to?

I think you've done well and despite your lack of attendance, should continue to do well, but why not show off your goods as well?!

That's really what the show is about anyway...bragging rights, right?

Seems the show is good for showing off some "bike art" as you alluded to as well, but also for some recognition...

but I guess you're right in that anybody can put something together that looks like a bike, but doesn't ride worth a crap.

Walt said...

DS -

Are you saying _I'm_ not a hotty?

That's it. You're banned for life.

WW swimsuit/lingerie calendars will be available soon, btw. Order now!

Seriously, I'd probably have dropped $3k to go to the show once you figure it all in, and that's not counting my time, which I think is worth something. I'd rather stay here and ride. That's just me, though. It would be neat to meet some of the other FB's out in cyberspace (I know lots of them here in CO), I guess. But not $3k worth of neat.

Dan O said...

I'm not a frame builder or play one on television. I am however, a full fledged, card carrying Bike Geek with some shop experience - back when the earth's crust was still cooling.

I attended the NAHBS event in Portland last year and thought it was great. Yeah, there was some fluff there. But for the most part, many cool and actual rideable bikes to look at.

It also gave me the chance to look at frames and talk to people who built them in the flesh - not from a computer screen or magazine page. As we all know, most of the high end, small builder stuff ain't stocked at Bob's Bikes down the street. It's cool to see it for real.

As for racing pro, or whatever class, without a doubt that would make your bikes better.

You're the designer, builder, tester and sales guy all rolled in one. That's partly what makes the smaller builder stuff cool - true?

Walt said...

Dan O -

Great point. I do enjoy meeting people in person, and I can imagine that if I were on the other side of the fence, I'd really enjoy meeting the builders. Totally cool.

Luckily, a lot of my business is local, so many times, the customer will drop by, we'll do some design work, and then we'll wander over to Avery for a pint or two. Works out great.