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The New Gold Standard for the Bicycle Industry: Sustainability

Wednesday Night Worlds, not the WorldTour

The bicycle marketing machinery continues to believe that the World Tour is the gold standard for cycling (behold the new Cervelo S5 with the yellow, pink and red paint job). The reality is that for just about all of us, the idea of riding in the World Tour is a pure fantasy or the remotest of possibilities. Our gold standard is the weekly group ride: the Saturday Morning Ride, The Wednesday Night Worlds or the Thursday morning ride. It may also be the state championships or the national championships. 

Body, mind and then bike

But the industry just can’t let go of its marketing message which is ”If you want to ride like the guys in the World Tour, you are going to need a $14,000 bicycle”. Any experienced cyclist will tell you that ninety percent of a cyclist’s performance is related to the body and the mind with the bike and accessories making up the balance. How many times have you been dropped by the guy on a 2005 Felt? The gold standard for most of us is the weekly group ride, that local annual race or a national championship. 

Affordability over flash

And for those events we do not need the Cervelo S5 World Tour commemorative bike, a Pinarello F series or a Specialized Tarmac SL8. What we need is a bike that is affordable and functional; a bike that is going to inspire us to ride and maybe race; a bike that does not eclipse our ability and skill. Of course, a $14,000 bicycle is the most profitable bike for the manufacturer (less so for the bike shop) and explains why the messaging is conditioning us to believe that we need a bike like that. 

No World, no WorldTour

The bicycle industry marketing machinery doesn’t know it yet, but the new gold standard is about sustainability. It is about how we wean ourselves off of N + 1 (unquestionably the most dissonant and wasteful marketing campaign in history). The new gold standard is about how we use the components and gear that has already been produced, but sits unused in our basements or on a bike in a box in a warehouse. It is about how the industry moves from an expensive and wasteful legacy model built on economies of scale and international supply chains, instant gratification and planned obsolescence to something more efficient, sustainable and circular. N+1 isn’t funny anymore.

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