Simple Definition of custom
: made to fit the needs or requirements of a particular person
Continuing in the same vein as the last post, I’d like to further discuss The Bicycle. Think back, if you will, to when you first became serious about riding. It could have been 10 years ago or 10 months ago. Or perhaps you’re just realizing your level of involvement now. Think back to the day – you probably walked into a bike shop and saw the various shapes and colors; were captivated, even, to the point that when you left the shop some long while later, you probably had a bike with you. Or if not, an order placed for one. Or if still not, plans unfolding in your head right then and there; plans for how you were going to secure your Bicycle.
How did you choose? How did you decide on a particular model and, just as important, a particular size?
Perhaps you saw a Bicycle in an advertisement, or beneath your favorite racer. Maybe the salesperson at the shop convinced you on his favorite model. You might have even walked in and fell in love with one at first glance. But how did you know it would fit? Well, you probably asked and tried it on for size. If nothing was hurting after a quick 5 minute spin around the block, then it must have been perfect. After all, it passed the 5 minute test!
As you began to ride more and more, you may have realized Your Bicycle fit you perfectly, or it may have been a terrible fit. Perhaps you swapped out the stem for a different length, threw on a setback seatpost and yanked the saddle sky-high (or jammed it way down) to try and find a comfortable position that allowed you some semblance of performance simultaneously. If all of these failed, if, after all of your last-ditch efforts, the fit was still not working for you, you had an option: to walk away from the bike and procure something new. Maybe you would invest in a proper fit, talk to a knowledgeable rider with far more experience than you or just size up/down and get lucky.
But what if the knowledgeable rider whom you approached was, in Malcolm Gladwell’s definition, a Maven? And what if that particular knowledgeable rider subscribed to a certain ilk of the bicycle industry, a niche which long ago was the only way? I’m referring to the custom handbuilt bicycle. For if your Maven knew of such a bicycle, you could be sure he would not allow you to exit a conversation pertaining to your New Bicycle until he had overstuffed you with compelling arguments of why you should not be handing over your hard-earned clams to Big Bicycle Corporation.
More on this next time.