Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Christmas Bike

We have sent more bikes out the door that are destined to be christmas presents this year than ever before.  That kind of thing is great in our eyes.  Many of my christmas memories center around bikes.  Bikes are a perfect christmas gift: they are enjoyed for seriously long periods of time (rather than the 5 to 10 minutes it takes to exhaust the fun of some battery operated thing), they can actually improve your life (lose weight, get in shape, meet a bunch of new friends who are into bikes, set you on life-long trajectories of seeking dodgy employment opportunities in bike shops where you make vain, half-hearted attempts to not spend you ENTIRE pay check on bike stuff, etc...), and they seem to spark that glisteny-eyed wonderment upon the first recognition of the gift bicycle beside the tree that few other gifts can give.

(OK, my grandfather gave my grandmother a new car for christmas one year.  Big surprise and a total bitch to get under the christmas tree, but a big christmas surprise nonetheless.  Bikes make that kind of mark and are far easier to hide)

The disturbing trend though is that the vast majority of christmas bikes we have sold this year are for adults.  One kid's christmas bike has been purchased.  Unfortunately, I think that many people are getting the Wal-Marget/Dick'smart bikes for their children.  I understand that kids outgrow stuff.  Owen needs a new pair of pants or shoes like every week right now.  But I also place a premium on getting the most for my money.  Pay good money, get good product, get good return on investment.  We buy good quality stuff a little big, Owen wears it until we can't stuff him into it without drawing the attention of DSS and then we have a perfectly good item that we can resell on consignment or pass on to a friend with kids.

The same goes for bikes.  Last christmas, Owen got a Specialized Hot Rock 12" wheeled bike.  He's ridden the hell out of it and I haven't done a thing to it since I built it, except air up the tires and raise the seatpost.  The bike is in great shape and would last for a couple of more kids if we were so inclined (which we are NOT).  But the great thing about buying a quality bike for a kid is that they will outgrow it rather than destroy it.  When the kid outgrows it, you have options.  You can sell it or trade it in at the bike shop for the next size up.  It's win-win!

The most infuriating thing is people waxing nostalgically about their childhood bikes from the 50's and 60's and then complaining about how expensive bike shop bikes are.  Those childhood bikes were high-quality and expensive in their day!  We hear people talking about years and years of use that they got out of these bikes, but then they want to buy a dept. store bike that is designed to last for 50 miles of use (since the average dept. store bike only sees 10 miles of use in its lifetime).  Sad. Why not buy something you'll enjoy riding?

In the future, if you really want to make a christmas gift of a bicycle, visit your local bike shop, spend your hard-earned cash on something of true value, and then watch the recipient enjoy their gift for years to come!
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