Today I’m going to write about tires.
Well, its not really about tires. Its about choice, and consumerism. Tires just happened to be the thing irking me this week.
I have a bike, it has tires. My last tires cost me about $50 + tax per tire, and they lasted around 4.5 years. I rarely had a flat during that time. Do the math, that was a cracking good set of tires.
This year, my tires began to die. Crack here, wear there, spots and dots, flats. I swapped them around, in the hopes I would get at least to the end of winter on them.
But, alas it was not to be. And at least one of them started to separate from its lining.
“No biggie.” I figured, “I’ll just go get the same tire.”
Nope. Because in that 4 odd year span of time, the company that had made my tire, discontinued it / redesigned it / turned it into something else.
And that something else was a piece of shit.
This happens to me a lot. I try to buy things to last, and even tho I am hard on my things, I care for them, and they in turn, last. But consumerism doesn’t really believe in things that last, it believes in things that are “new” or “updated” or “improved”.
Sometimes, that’s great. Most times tho…it means a downgrade or loss of something that worked for you.
“Ok.” I thought. “I’ll just go find a similar tire, how hard can that be, right?”
In the 4 odd years my cracking good tires were carrying me through things, the cycling industry exploded with tires.
We’re talking specialized tires for everything. Treads of every size, direction, and kind. So many beads. So many linings. Sure, it sounds great. Unless you are me. Because I find being thrown into a vast selection of similar things totally overwhelming.
So, when something I depend on is suddenly gone (tires, shoes, underwear, shirts, etc), it leaves me in a somewhat confused state. There’s a lot of trial and error, wasted money, and frustration. Because I’m not buying something in the moment, I’m trying to find that new go-to thing.
I often wonder sometimes what is the point to variations? Why make so many similar versions of the same thing? Choice is nice, but sometimes it is just confusing. I remember one time going to buy socks, and looking at a wall of socks…and thinking: “That is just too many god damn socks.”
And reviews. Oy. In some ways, the internet has been a god-send on that front, but in a lot of ways its also a hinderance. Reviews can be useful, but they can also just add to the noise.
How you feel about a product, for example, like a tire, and a review you leave is dependent on a lot of things. Like your fitness level, your riding style, where you ride, how you ride, and frankly…what you were using before that.
I feel like all reviews should be required to have people list what they had before they got whatever new thing they got. Because yeah, of course you’re gonna think that touring tire you got is the bomb if you were running stock knobby hybrid tires before it. Get it?
So, did I buy a tire?
Am I satisfied?
Maybe? Sorta? I do not know.
I kind of feel like nothing is going to be as great as my old tires, but maybe I’m wrong and something will stick. I mean, I need tires. Hover technology is not an option yet.
In the meantime tho, cycling industry (and all industries at that), I have a challenge for you: Stop redesigning things so much. If you have a good product, and people know you for it, just keep making that thing.
Especially if its a core thing, don’t magically just change it.
I know the desire to feel “relevant” every year is a strong one. But companies, I really feel that if you make things that last, you will get more long term customers and worth out of that than if you make things for trend.
Or at the very least, you will have less people swearing quietly in an aisle because they suddenly have to start thinking about a thing that was earlier just a no-brainer.
And consumers…yeah I know, navigating the landscape when something is gone, can be confusing. But hey, just remember to pick places with generous return policies.
Tires. I know right? Who would have guessed.