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Posts Tagged ‘SRAM’

The Sea Otter Classic was this past weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway here in Monterey, CA. Since we live here, my wife and I had the oppurtunity to ride seven miles up the road to visit, watch some racing, and check out arsenals of products, services, and organizations all related to cycling in one way or another. A day pass was $10. We thought about riding in the Gran Fondo, but we figured we ride around here all the time, and $95 can come in useful in so many other ways. I still want to do it next year. Maybe I can work with Riders One to get some riders into other races as well. These guys are just getting going and I like the direction they’re moving. More on them later.

The raceway itself is a 40 foot wide strip of smooth pavement about 2.2 miles in length that forms a loop among the steep foothills of the Santa Lucia Range. In the middle of the loop are hills perfect for mountain bike racing, and flat areas for exhibits and festival activities. Surrounding the raceway on all sides are eight campgrounds, perfect for indulging in four days of nothing but bicycles, beer, and more bicycles.

I kept my eyes out for signs of sustainability, but didn’t find much. The Sea Otter Classic itself however is apparently dedicated to “sustainable development” as read in their mission statement:

“The mission of the Sea Otter Classic is to make people’s lives better through participation in sport and recreation and through celebration of an active outdoor lifestyle. We will accomplish this mission without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy the benefits of a sustainable environment.
We have been committed to sustainable development of the Sea Otter Classic for 20 years. This concept encompasses ideas, aspirations, and values that will inspire all of us to become better stewards of the environment and that promote positive economic growth and social objectives. We understand that environmental protection does not preclude economic development and that economic development must be ecologically viable now and in the long run.”

I’m not sure I buy it. I’m sure there are some good intentions, but when it comes down to it, there is nothing very sustainable about the event besides getting more people on bicycles and promoting bicycles in general. Encouraging riders to actually ride to the event would have been a good first step. They could’ve offered a discount or something. I understand folks came from all over the world, so cars are expected, but how about a sign at the entrance that tally’s the weight of carbon all those cars used to climb the three mile long hill to get up to the raceway from the highway. We did see at least a few companies who are serious about either reusing materials, or using sustainable materials like bamboo. Cyclelogical was selling shirts made from recycled materials, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company ran their coolers with solar panels, and Calfee had bamboo bicycles on display. Pedro’s, a company that takes pride in its biodegradable products had a bike washing station and Clif bar is reusing wrappers to make bags. These are clearly moves in the right direction, but there is a lot more to be done. OK, enough with the babble, here are some photos. The whole album is at the bottom with some race photos and shots of the site.

I also get up close to another bamboo bicycle, this time made from bamboo laminate. Besides bamboo, Renovo also builds bicycle frames with other types of woods such as Padauk, Black Walnut, Port Orford Cedar, and Curly maple. They claim to use only sustainable sources of wood, originating mostly in Oregon, and their claims about wood taking the prize as the best material for making a bike frame are well argued. They are also beautiful. Here are some nice shots:

The fella in the backround is the Renovo artist. He’s been making bikes like this for about a decade. CNC maching is used to carve out the frame halves. Notice the butting in the seat tube! They are a small operation with just a few folks churning these beauties out. Here are some more photos. The laminated bamboo bike is the Panda and is the “economical” Renovo at just under $2k.

For one of their Panda bikes they used a belt drive instead of a chain. This drive system does not require lubrication and is being used more and more. The major drawback, of course, is that it is a belt and the bike has to accommodate the installation by allowing the opening of the right rear triangle. Not a problem on Renovo since all their chainstay to dropout connections are bolted together. I’m not sure what I think about this yet, but time will tell its story.

We also some some bags made of old tires and tubes from Totally Tubular Design in Santa Cruz, CA. Creative!

You’ll find more photos including some from the races we watched and of the site in this Picassa album:

Sea Otter 2010
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If you travel the online world of cycling its hard not to come across Competitive Cyclist. They are the keepers of all things “high end”. This includes repair work as well. As I’ve eluded to before, a common perception among aficionados of the high end, is that if it’s a couple seasons old, its time for some new stuff. I’m not sure where they get this idea. Hmmmm, lets see, it couldn’t be that the major companies in the component industry come out with new products every single year and need their marketing departments to get consumers to buy the new product and ditch their perfectly working older model for the sake of performance? could it? In order to stay competitive with each other, these companies believe they need a new product every year, and they need to convince us that the stuff we already have needs to be upgraded. That way, we buy it, they make a profit, and their sale numbers are better than the competitions. When Campagnolo came out with 11 speed Super Record, I was reminded of that MadTV skit about razors. Now, of course, Shimano has electronic shifting. What’s next? I’m all for innovation, but not for making stuff just for the sake of making stuff.

Here is a bit of evidence that marketing goes a long way to make sure planned obsolescence stays part of their game. Listen to what Andy says about his old group! Its quite clear from this video that the folks over at CC could care less about the sustainability of their products. All they seem to care about is selling top shelf bikes and bits in as large a quantity as possible. You still riding that Ultegra groupo from 2004? Whats wrong with you?

In case you couldn’t hear him, this is what he said: “…and since my Dura-Ace 78oo was a few years old, it was the perfect time for me to shop for new components…”

So, if your components are a few years old, you better hop right on over to CC and pick up yourself some brand new components that will be ready for ditching in just a few years time! What a deal!

I’m ashamed this sort of marketing goes on in the cycling industry. Why not sell a product that is ethically sourced, will last forever, is completely serviceable, performs well, and is as innovative as I need it to be. I would pay a little more for that!!!! To boost sales, the companies could invest in lobbying in order to pass laws that make our streets more cycling friendly. They could also invest in advocacy programs and community bike shops that strive to get folks riding bikes. This would mean more people riding bikes, thus more customers for them to sell their goods too. As of now, they focus their attention on the top shelf riders, and count on all the other riders to keep upgrading, because maybe, just maybe, that 11th cog will get you that Cat 1 status you’ve been dreaming about.

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