The Stem Boonen Rode

Note: I blame the cough medicine for this post not being funnier. I should’ve used Hans and Franz in place of Mr. T or better yet, “Justin Bieber walks into a shop to get a bike that matches his hair and.” The post is about bike shops and meant to discuss a dynamic that’s gone on since mail-order went online. I think that topic is important. I’m not going to update it now to increase the humor or satire, but hope this note frames it better than “I’m a dick and shop employees owe me.” – Byron

We should have a term for a bike shop redirect. That’s when a shop employee ignores your desire to buy product X and instead wants to sell you product Y or ideally product Z that’s not shipping yet. The employee isn’t motivated by more margin on Y or even a spiff, he’s just convinced that for whatever long list of reasons you’re not privy to, Y is the only viable alternative. You unknowingly demonstrated a lack of cycling knowledge by asking for X. If you had walked in and asked for Z, you would’ve made the employee’s day and validated his long-held beliefs. SWOBO built a business on this formula, but that’s a topic for another post.

This bike shop redirect phenomena has gone on so long, I’ve adapted by saying things like

I want a Continental, 46MM racing tube and will accept nothing else. Do you have that in stock?

Then fake a cell call or indicate with body language I’m serious. I’ll use Mr. T facial expressions with arms folded across my chest or crazy eyes.

No. Not a Ritchey-labeled Cheng-Shen tube or a Salsa version of that or XLC.

I come from a family of immigrants who worked in the Continental factory and I hope to find a golden ticket inside of a tube placed there by my cousin.

The redirect effect extends to people that ask me, “What to get” and that includes friends, colleagues, and spouses. I’ve gone as far as sending them into shops with a sticky note to hand to the shop employee. So when Pam went to get fit on her new bike, I knew that

  1. Physical therapists will always make changes, even if the new bike is measured with lasers and robots to the old bike they fit
  2. The changes include the stem
  3. Stems are pulled from a swap box without regard for the design aesthetics of the bike

Knowing that Pam’s PT would change the stem, I said,

Do not put a ghetto stem on an S-Works Tarmac SL3. When the PT decides what stem length makes the fit work, then go to a Specialized dealer and swap them for another stem of equal value.

You’ve already figured out the punchline of this post. It started with texts while she was at the shop, then a call, and finally a threat the employees overhead

Hand the phone to one of them right now. No Kore, Ritchey Pro, Ringle or Zooka.

The directions were based on keeping the S-Works design in place, but also because the stem includes a shim that adds or subtracts a degree of fit. It’s a system with the stem, cap, and plug. I learned this myself after thinking the plus and minus symbols on the stem cap must indicate something more than your sexuality or if you’re a climber (or not). Mark V validated this conclusion further by telling us, when he was building the bike up, that the - + indicators do not indicate, “Race mode or not.”

Shims and Symbols


A stem that should ship with instructions

Choosing Sides

I’ve been out sick this week with what I’m calling a “twenty-year” flu–the magnitude of which is to be equaled or exceeded every twenty years on average.

Scheduled to join the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast, I sent in this note and asked that it be read in the Golden Voice of a Homeless Man. Donna Tocci later confirmed @Fredcast read it. Cool.

I wasn’t able to muster much work besides laying sideways on a sick bed, watching daytime TV, and telling my family, “I’m not dead yet.”

I was eventually able to scroll through pages of Twitter on my phone, which is both easy and mind numbing at the same time. So I did what spammers do and the corporations who buy your tweets and followed the trends. I’m no sentiment analyst, but the trend on Twitter regarding the article was not, “So what if he did.” It was, “Saddest deception in sports history.”

A few days after the alter-ego Juan Pelota said, “That’s it?” the “Welcome a full investigation message” came out.

I’m guessing the Lance camp realized that being world-champion-winning-cocky to a grand jury wasn’t the best tactic, because the Feds will eventually drag your ass into court like Bonds or have you cry on the steps of the courthouse like Marion Jones. There is a very low threshold for a grand jury indictment and despite what Lance’s team is telling you, if true, there are new allegations in the article.

Late last year, you may have noticed the tone of the Lance and Livestrong tweets were also tuned down from the marketing at the Tour of the 28 campaign. The grand jury and public opinions aren’t mountains to climb or terrible diseases to beat. In this theater, Lance isn’t the boss commanding respect from fearful rivals. There is no “look” to throw at the Prosecutor.

Choosing Sides

What I’m concerned with is the effect of Livestrong and Lance in our community and not whether he’s guilty or not of doping. The cycling community has, I think, chosen sides. You probably have. I don’t know if he’s done dope, but do know it’s the topic we’re discussing in the bike shop, on rides, and online.


I respect Livestrong and what they do. I spoke with their CEO last year. Chris Brewer, Sr. Mgr Development Communications for Livestrong spoke with us at Interbike. I hope to hang with them again in Austin during SXSW.

But that respect is tempered with the need for cyclists to discuss the current topics – the story was hourly news for a day and made the local news.

Whatever the outcome of the Fed’s investigation, I expect we’ll soon seperate Lance the athlete from the philanthropist.

This time, it really isn’t about the bike. But it’s going to affect us all anyhow.

A Logo and Call for Speakers

This afternoon we put out a Call for Speakers for Built, our flavor of a maker, hacker, DIY, Ignite-style event, with the bike as a backdrop. The call included a new logo designed by Scott Benish.


Last week we announced Built with SXSW and have been working on the details ever since. We’ll announce more dates next week, including Bike Expo and WebVisions.

So what is Built exactly? It’s a Make and Tell. If you’re making gear, there’s a story about it and we want to hear it.

Built: Make and Tell

In mid-January, “SXSW”: and “Bike Hugger announced Built”: Since then, we’ve been busy finalizing the core details with the SXSW folks. We have some updates for you, including a new logo and a Call for Speakers.


h2. Built at SXSW

Built at SXSW will feature numerous Ignite-style talks of five minutes in length where those who make and create get to share their ideas with the best and brightest in the Interactive and Film industry. Specifics are:

  • Location: Austin, Texas :: South By Southwest Trade Show’s Next Stage
  • Date and Time: Tuesday, March 15th 2011 at 12:00pm
  • Description: Built is our flavor of a maker, hacker, DIY, Ignite-style event, with the bike as a backdrop.

h3. Call for Speakers/Presenters

Do you have some cool ideas or concepts worth sharing? If so, kindly fill out our presenter form below and let us know what you’re making that incorporates technology and transportation; bonus points for bike-related ideas or robots. If you’re not going to SXSW, and have a good talk, send it in! Because we’ll announce more Built dates next week.

Sugino OX801D

OX801Dtop.jpg Did you know that Sugino makes high-quality road cranks? I mean, not back in the 1980s nor 1980s designs, but right now and in modern external bearing BBs?

A friend of mine brought me a fresh glossy bike mag back from Japan, one unabashedly dedicated to the incorrigibly retro and randonnuer crowd. I spotted the Suino OX801D crankset/BB as a featured item. What’s really cool about the OX801D is that it uses a chainring pattern that they call Compact Plus. Whereas road double cranks are usually standard road 130mm bcd (smallest ring=38-39T) or compact 110mm bcd (smallest ring=34T), these cranks are made in such a way that the inner ring can be mounted on either 110mm or 74mm bcd, which drops the lowest ring tooth count to 24T.

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