Friday, December 10, 2010

Bike-Shaped Objects: The Court Jester Has No Clothes

Pal Scott of fivetoedsloth has already beaten me to the punch regarding Ikea's bike-shaped object (BSO) giveaway (drat, I'm slower than a sloth!), but those bikes have me thinking.

First, I come to bury the BSO, not to praise it. As a bike person, I find these things pretty darn abhorrent, and what I've seen of Ikea's example is no different:


Just off the top of my head, I see two tons of one-piece crank, plastic pedals, a bizarrely over-designed frame (sorry, what was wrong with the double-diamond again?) and some pretty cheap parts. On the bright side, it doesn't have any cheap suspension to fail, so at least one tiny neuron in my Luddite brain is flashing out a happy signal. I certainly won't be wasting any of my precious garage space on one.

But, bike elitists of the world, let's take a good look at ourselves and our obsessions for a second. When you think about recreational pursuits other than biking (assuming you do), are the same ridiculously high standards applied?

I'll flay myself as an example. Every once in a great while, all common sense leaves my mind and I decide that maybe I should give running a chance. I know darn well that, like a bran muffin, this urge is going to pass (and like the bran muffin, the results won't smell so great). So do I go to the highly-touted local running shop Fitness Sports and get fitted for some high-quality (and pricy) pavement-pounders by a member of their experienced staff? Uh, no. I go to a generic big-box sporting goods store and buy the shoe equivalent of a Huffy. Now, the real runners out there will probably use the same arguments on me that I use on big-box bikers: The lousy shoes are contributing to the lousy experience, thus if I were to graduate up to real shoes, I might become (shudder) an enthusiastic runner. Still, knowing myself, I know the odds on that outcome versus "expensive shoes collect dust in closet", so I stick with my cheapies.

Example two in the self-flaying: Racquetball. Before I broke my leg and got even slower afoot (which didn't seem possible), I was a quasi-avid chaser of the small ball in the enclosed room. I have a darn fine racquet from an actual racquet store, but only because said store was a former employer (they sold bikes in the back), I could play a lot of high-end demo racquets for free, and I got employee pricing on the one I finally bought. But if I look at myself honestly, that racquet was a silly indulgence. My game was so lousy to begin with, I was never going to make those strings really sing. I could have walked into that same big-box sporting goods store, picked up the Magna of racquets, and got just as much enjoyment out of chasing the ball with it. 

Shoot... I started out ready to bury the Ikea bike, but now I think I might be defending the ugly bugger. After all, for most normal people (i.e., not me) the joy of bikes is turning the cranks (even if they're heavy one-piece junk) and feeling the wind on your face -- the rest is just navel-gazing and lug-licking. If the Ikea bike can give someone that rush, then more power to it.


Scott Loveless said...

I found out some new gossip about the IKEA bike. Rumor has it that Kent manufactured these dogs. Taking a quick look at Kent's "adult" bikes: and it looks an awful lot like the Shogun Shockwave, sans 3-piece crank and suspension fork. A bit of Googling suggests that the Shockwave sells for about $170 retail. Since IKEA specified a rigid fork (actually a bonus) and a one-piece crank (not so much), it looks to me like their employees are getting a ~$130 bike for Christmas. Considering they bought nearly 13,000 of these BSOs, I'd guess they didn't pay more than $60 or $70 per unit.

Steve Fuller said...

IMO, this is truly the christmas fruitcake of bikes and truly shows what IKEA thinks of their employees. The money would have been better spent by giving each employee a gift card to the local grocery store or making a donation to a local food bank.

bikelovejones said...

You forgot the part about the, ahem, gratitude of a few IKEA employees:



Note that both sellers insist their bikes are "RARE". Didn't IKEA give away 12,000 of the things? That's some radical math. So is the idea that the first listing, with two days left, is up to over $200 in the bidding.

I want to see what kind of floor lamp the winning hipster tuns this thing into.

Iowagriz said...

My take is that IKEA looked at the bikes as an advertising expense. $12k for ask of the press they got (good and bad) is a pretty good deal.

"Magna of running shoes", that's me as well.