Wednesday, May 14, 2008
When Coca-Cola elected to roll out New Coke and then backpedaled like a messenger in traffic only to introduce Coke Classic, one of the great crimes of pop culture was committed. How could anyone mess with so simple, so perfect an item as Coca-Cola? If you doubt the severity of the crime, drop by a kosher deli and get an imported Coke with actual sugar in it. The pleasure centers of your brain will be bathed in the soothing kiss of pure sugar. You will smile. You might even hum a jingle.
Coke Classic proves that some things shouldn’t be messed with, either by the producer looking to make a faster buck or by competitors looking for hunk of market share. There’s more to be said for consumer service than gets said, unfortunately.
The inexorable march of progress catches ideas both great and awful in its maw. As it happens the bike industry has been particularly susceptible to the awful idea. From indexed steering systems intended to help you carve the perfect arc to automatic shifting systems guaranteed to keep you at a cadence of 85 rpm, lots of bad products get made for bicycles each year.
It’s hard to imagine that so innocuous an item as a rim strip would give anyone cause to think twice about how to insulate a tube from a rim, but once you’ve experienced more than one faulty rim strip in the same ride, you’ll find yourself out for blood with the vengeance of a clean cyclist accused of doping.
I’ve had rim strips melt in a hot car and cause double flats. I’ve had the new polyester ones slide and expose spoke holes, giving me a succession of flats. I’ve had the butyl ones break and expose nipples, causing shockingly sudden flats.
Each of these incidents could have been avoided had one precaution been taken: Spend the extra money on Velox rim stips. Able to withstand pressures that a would render a blow dryer lethal, the seemingly ineffectual adhesive on the back of the rim strip secures the stip in place sufficiently. I’ve never experienced a rim tape-related flat when using Velox rim strips. And at this point I’m frustrated enough with the others that I’ve thrown them all out.
I’m all for making things better as innovation remakes our world. However, products that don’t offer any noticeable improvement shouldn’t see the store shelf. Any reasonable person might surmise that a superior rim strip could be produced; cut the weight and improve the adhesive’s stickiness and you’d have a home run, right? But in an era of constant innovation, surprisingly, no one has managed it. Stunning when you consider Velox has been around longer than the folding clincher. A lot longer.
If someone actually invents a rim strip that improves on the Velox, I’m all ears, but until then, I’ll pay retail—no team or club discount, no industry bro deal, just straight retail; it matters that much.
Call it my insurance policy.