Stranger in a Strange Market

A Note from Fatty: Thanks go out to Adam, Dug, Jill, Jim, Kent, Brad, and Bob (and mgrinrr, who had the initiative, good sense, and moral courage to self-tag, thus innoculating against leprosy), each of which has been wise enough to avoid leprosy and get in on the ground floor of what I predict will be the most awesomely successful blog meme in the history of awesome blog memes. Surprisingly, both Dug and Jim made the distinction between giving up ice cream and giving up gelato. Coincidence, or separated at birth? You decide.

A Late-Breaking Note from Fatty: Bike Snob NYC has wisely elected to avoid leprosy. Read his response here.

There are certain memories that stick with you forever. One of mine is my shopping experience for my first serious mountain bike. I had no idea what I was looking for, but the manager of the bike shop — Scott Calhoun — was someone I knew, liked, and trusted.

“What bike should I get?” I asked.

“This one,” he said, indicating the Specialized Stumpjumper M2.

“Well, what bike do you ride?” I asked.

“This one,” he said, indicating the exact same bike.

That sold me.

Since then, I’ve moved from being the guy who needs to ask a trusted expert what bike to buy to being the guy (notice I didn’t say “trusted expert” when referring to myself) other people ask. I know most of the brands and models, and if I don’t know, I can quickly find out.

I’ve become so comfortable with bikes that I’ve forgotten exactly how strange and confusing shopping for a bike must be to someone looking to buy their first (or second, or whatever) serious bike.

For example, take a look at these two bikes:

 langster

tarmac

You, of course, can probably tell that there are masive differences between these two bikes. The one on top is a singlespeed. The one on the bottom is carbon. The one on top is clearly a ride-around-town bike; the one on the bottom is for serious racing.

But try this experiment: show the above two images to someone who doesn’t know anything about bikes. They will probably note that both bikes are from Specialized. They may think the decals on the top bike look a little bit cooler and that the one on the top comes with pedals, while the one on the bottom does not.

They probably will not deduce that the bike on top has an MSRP of $690, while the one on the bottom has an MSRP of $8500.

OK, to be honest, I also am a little bit dumbfounded at the price on the S-Works Tarmac SL2. I mean, no matter how much awesomeness they add to the bike, it’s still just a Specialized. Isn’t owning a Tarmac SL2 is like having the most awesomely tricked out Toyota Corolla in the world?

OK, I’m drifting away from my point in a big way, here. I need to reel myself in.

Back to Novice Land
Today, I was reminded of how confusing it is to be a rank novice shopping for a new bike, because — once again — I am a rank novice, shopping for a different kind of ride.

I’m in the market for a scooter for Susan. No, not like this:

vespa

More like this:

odyssey

You see, Susan hardly ever asks for anything. And she even more hardly ever asks for anything big. So when she, this morning, said she’d really like to have something that would let her ride around the neighborhood so she could walk the girls to school, or go with us to the park, or otherwise just get around without having to be pushed or driven, well, I was immediately all over it.

Until, of course, I got completely overwhelmed by the price range, feature variety, and incredibly variance in brands and models, even as I could not tell any difference at all between a $700 scooter and a $4000 one.  

I mean, it’s worse than not knowing which scooter brands I should be looking at. I don’t even know what kind of questions I should be asking. I’m like the guy who comes into a bike shop, interested in buying a bike to get in shape, but to whom it’s never even occurred that there may be different kinds of bikes for trails and pavement, and that maybe I should know which I want to do.

Do I want three wheels, or four? I dunno.

How long should I expect the battery to last? Beats me.

Which brands are the most reliable? No idea.

What’s a reasonable top speed? Or should I even care?

Does it even matter whether there’s a light system and traffic signals? I don’t think Susan’s going to take this thing downtown (I’m pretending here that Alpine, UT has a downtown).

What I need is a trusted advisor — someone who can just tell me the right scooter to get, because they know all about this kind of thing.

Which is, frankly, why I’m writing this post. The nice thing about having a few thousand people check in on you you daily is that there’s a good chance someone out there is a mobility scooter expert. So, scooter expert person, supposing that price isn’t really an object, what scooter should I be getting for Susan? (Please feel free to email me and we can go into details.)

And to the rest of you: Thanks. When you bought jerseys or sent in donations, you made it so I can get Susan as nice of a scooter as I think she deserves, without worrying much about cost.

And besides, no matter how nice the scooter, it won’t cost a third as much as a Tarmac SL2.

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