Retro Style at CES

telephone.jpg Walking the aisles of CES, I noticed some audio equipment and telephones that were made in a style that recalls the Forties and Fifties without exactly mimicking a particular item. This reminds me of all the Rivendell Bicycles styled bikes popping up bikes that are made to look vintage while still taking advantage of more modern features.

The Rivendell commune might disagree with me, but it really isn’t about lugged steel being superior despite the advent of carbon fiber. It’s about style. If it wasn’t, would Grant Peterson be obsessing about curlicues on lugs? I think not.

But am I saying that’s a bad thing? On the contrary, I say why not go all out?

I’d actually like to see something really creative in full steampunk style.

For those of you more fluent in Japanese, you can see the webpage with this bike here and the graphic artist Range Murata who designed the bike here. Apparently, you buy this bike from the Gallery of Fantastic Art (GoFA) in Tokyo.


Rivendell’s pretty lug work is pure aesthetics. As you know, lugged steel is cheaper and rebuildable.  The componentry is not as mush modern as it is optimally functional - that mark was hit back in the 80’s.

Grams can be removed more economically from the wasteline than the frame.

I think lugged steel’s ability to be rebuilt is a little over-rated.  Any damage harsh enough to destroy a tube often damages the lug.  You either end up replacing the lug or spending a lot of labor to reform the lug (if possible).  Either way, I don’t see a significant savings in labor repairing a lugged frame versus a TIG’ed frame.  For a lower cost lugged frame, it doesn’t make economic sense to try to repair.

Lugs are pretty and nostalgic, qualities which have their place in cycling.  But it’s style.


The bike industry, also has a lot of “what’s old is new.” Back in the day, the days of merino wool kits and leather chamois, seat masts were in style. Just like the Treks et al of today . . .  they were attempting to stiffen the frame with a tall seat tube and stubby stem.

Coming out of Interbike this year, I was amazed by how many different ways, “push epoxy into carbon fibers weave and then heat it” is described as something amazingly breakthrough and that no other company is doing.

(You’ll also find the “describe the same thing in a different way”, in an overwhelming amount with LCD TVs and what people watch on their LCD TVs at CES).

By all accounts the handcrafted bike biz is flourishing, whether it’s steel lugs, Ti or even carbon, that handmade quality is in demand. Aesthetics are a differentiator and being different is marketing 101, even if it’s not all that different.

Forget the bikes for a second, I wanna know more about that phone! :D

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