I didn’t want pizza. It didn’t matter to me that my father, grandfather, uncle and two cousins were all going to have pizza. It didn’t matter to me that the way you buy pizza means that everyone kinda needs to eat pizza. I didn’t want pizza because I didn’t like pizza. Simple, right?
Not so fast. I need to add that I was a child at the time, young enough to still be struggling with long division, and pinheaded enough to insist that I didn’t like something I’d never tried.
The adults of the group (as well as my cousins) held firm and I was given the obvious ultimatum: fine, don’t eat pizza, but you won’t eat, either. Once the pie arrived I was egged on a bit—just try it—and lo, behold, I was sold. I mean, it’s pizza, right?
That is but one example of a thing I didn’t like before I’d tried it. Of course, that wasn’t the last time it happened.
When Shimano first introduced STI, I remember joking to a friend that I didn’t need it because I had the ability to reach my downtube whenever I needed. I knocked mountain bike suspension because I knew how to absorb shock with my arms and legs. I knocked disc brakes because I didn’t want a frame’s flex pattern to change, because I didn’t want the bike to weigh more and because … oh who knows.
In each case, once I’d had a few hours in on those innovations, I believed, just like the kid who didn’t want pizza. For me, the lesson has been to stop knocking anything until I’ve tried it. That’s why I can go to town on cauliflower. I’ve tried, again and again.
I’ve been seeing pushback against a variety of technical innovations, from carbon clinchers (which haven’t been ready for prime time in all cases), to electronic shifting and on to disc brakes and even fatter tires. I’ve exposed my own foibles for a simple reason. I claim to be an avowed modernist, someone who loves new ideas and yet, even I can shoot down a fresh idea, so I have empathy for the resistance anyone else may feel.
But this is where I have to be careful. I hate conspicuous consumption. I won’t own a bike just because it’s the hip bike to own. In my duty to you as a reader, I’m constantly balancing my mission to present what I find interesting or noteworthy against the danger that RKP will start to seem like a shill for manufacturers and our reviews like a long parade of “native” advertising. If you don’t buy another bike in your life, and confine any future purchases to tubes, tires and chain lube, that’s fine by me. RKP exists to feed your jones for cycling and hopefully keep you both excited and thinking about this sport—even if you don’t agree with everything we publish. We just want you to keep riding.
But here’s where I will make a plea on behalf of the manufacturers (as well as our comments section). More and more IBDs are hosting demo days. It’s a great service that the online retailers can’t match. It’s a wonderful chance to experience all that new technology. Give ’em a try. The most rabid denunciations of both electronic shifting and disc brakes seem to come from those who have yet to try them. I think the conversations around electronic shifting and disc brakes would be substantially different if everyone was speaking from an informed perspective.
So why bother with the new if not to feed the capitalist belly? Because I fundamentally believe that all these innovations have the ability to help make the experience of riding a bike fresh and give us back some of the stoke that first drew us to cycling. That’s where flow lives, hides. And if there’s one thing no one can argue against, it’s personal fulfillment and satisfaction. A better bike can make for a better ride. A better ride can make a better day. Enough better days adds up to a better life.