Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mysteries of the Interwebs

One of my favorite bike websites is the abandoned little corner of the 'net known as the Bike-Pro Buyer's Guide.

I wish I could tell you what the deal is with this site. It's packed full of excruciatingly detailed writeups of an amazingly wide variety of components. The catch? It's as if the people running it were wiped out by some mysterious alien microbe in 1995, yet the site... kept... running. It always gives me a creepy feeling to surf the guide, kind of like the sailor in Nevil Shute's
On the Beach who has to go ashore to find the source of the random radio signal emanating from the irradiated ruins of Seattle (great book, by the way -- assuming you're interested in a fictional account of the aftermath of global nuclear war, of course.)

So, as long as the benevolent and/or clueless overlords of Bike-Pro's domain will allow, you can don your radiation suit and read a review of Shimano PD-M737 pedals as if they're still current cutting edge (scratch that, there's a mention of the "new" 747 coming out in 1995) from right here in 2009. Not obscure enough? How about 13 different types of "current" bar-ends and another 10 that are described as "no longer made"? Kids, a "bar-end" was an extension we clamped on to the end of our flat mountain bike bars to provide an extra hand position. What's a flat mountain bike bar, you ask? Sheesh, just hand me my cane and go back to texting...

For someone like me with a fetish for all things MTB of the mid-90s, the Buyer's Guide is a gold mine of forgotten memories from a time when just about anybody who could CNC a blocky component and anodize it rainbow colors hopped into the bike parts business. Meanwhile, Shimano quietly made the greatest mountain bike group ever, M900 XTR. Oh, M900, how I coveted you on my $5 an hour mechanic's salary, yet even on employee purchase you remained tantalizingly out of reach (I love how Bike-Pro never misses a chance to describe XTR as Shimano's "eXTRa expensive group of components.") When I think of all the dumb things I bought when I could have been saving for a full-XTR Stumpjumper... sigh. (Though I wasn't
too dumb, since I bought an engagement ring and an LX-equipped Rockhopper instead... and guess which one has lasted?)

Where was I going with that? Dang, even I don't know. Digression! Digression!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Bike Pro catalog was an incredibly comprehensive item. I still have my paper copy, just in case I forget what purple anodizing looked like. :-)

Of course, I've saved other catalogs over the years too. The Cyclo-Pedia catalog was mostly devoid of photos, relying instead on Daniel Rebour illustrations. It had a number of tutorials, teaching new cyclists how to do things such as build wheels, take care of your tubulars, or learn to ride rollers. Very handy!

I guess I have saved some more modern catalogs, such as the early works of Rivendell. There haven't been many other modern bike catalogs that have been worth keeping around, unfortunately.

Steve K.
riding that virtual bike down memory lane in Peoria, IL