Crossing the Chasm ... to fat bikes
(updated: Apr 9, 2014)
There is a book, called Crossing the Chasm, which sets the standard when it comes to the behavior of the market in terms of acceptance of new technology products. The chasm is the gap between the type of people who are the early adopters and like to try new things (the enthusiasts and visionaries), and the mainstream market (also called the early majority), where the meat is in terms of product success. Most companies fall into the chasm when seeking market acceptance of new products. The book is all about how to maximize your chances of getting across that chasm.
I am here to tell you that there’s an easier way than creating market strategies and doing all the things the book recommends. At least in the cycling world, which is becoming more and more high tech. Just give all your new cycling crap to me. I’ll tell you if it’s gonna be big or not. Because I am a visionary. Every bike and component that I have liked has become mainstream.
Let me give you a few examples. Then I will discuss the one that really irritates me.
1. Disk brakes
2. Tubeless systems (non-UST, like Stan’s)
3. Grip shift
4. Single front chainring
5. Lock-on grips
6. Dropper posts
7. Big tires
8. Wide bars
10. Fat bikes
And there are more examples. At the time I started using these new products there were basically very few others. Take tubeless systems, for example. I actually met Stan when he was just getting started. We lived in the same town. We rode together. So naturally I went tubeless before anyone else, and it worked. Now everyone rides tubeless. Coincidence? I think not.
I’ve been running single front chainrings on my bikes for years. Now SRAM comes out with 11-speed. SRAM is a great innovative company. Soon others will copy and it will trickle down and everyone will be riding single front chainrings. The front derailleur’s days are numbered.
I’ve used the Gravity Dropper seatpost years (still have it) before anyone knew what the f--- a dropper post was. How do I know? Because everyone would point to my seatpost and ask what kind of suspension post is that. Now everybody has a dropper post and every manufacturer makes one.
I have used lock-on grips forever. I read years ago in a popular mtb mag that they were one of the worst mountain bike products. What!? Boy were they wrong. Everyone uses lock-ons now.
Which brings me to the fat bike market. See, I’ve always liked big fat tires. When I stepped up to the 29er (I was an early adopter there as well), I wanted the biggest fattest tires I could get for it. But nobody made any. Now they are making 2.4s and 2.5s for 29ers. Why? Because you’re riding off road over stuff, that’s why? Would you take a Prius with those skinny wheels off road? No. So why would you ride 1.9s and 2.0s on a 29er, unless you ride bike paths?
So then I was at Interbike when Surly first introduced the Pugsley. One demo ride and I was hooked. I had to have one. So I ordered one when I got back home, and I’ve been riding it ever since. I ride the piss out of it. Now all of a sudden everybody wants a fat bike? Is this what I get for posting pictures and stories on the Internet about fat bikes for years? I wonder. It’s a good thing but it just irritates me because people cannot decide on their own whether they like it or not. They have to have everyone else decide for them first, in other words, legitimize the market for them before they will decide they need one. Otherwise it’s a fringe and they don’t want to be a part of a fringe group. They want to go with the majority like vanilla. When that happens, then they can look down on people that are still trying to ride mountain bikes in the snow with studded tires. They become like roadies … like when I show up on a fast group ride with a bunch of elitist roadie snobs wearing kits and they see me on my heavy old school Masi commuter bike and they look down at me like “Who is this guy and what is he doing here?”
Yes, that irritates me. But that's exactly how the product lifecycle curve works. Just go read the book.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you what I think where mountain biking is going in the future…
Wheel sizes are going back to 26 in. Mountain bikes and fat bikes will merge together, such that mountain bikes will have wide rims and sport 3.0 and larger tires. Alternatively, you could say that fat bikes are going to take over, and everything will be a fat bike. Once the wheel and tire weights come down there’s no stopping it. 29ers and 27.5ers will become obsolete. Suspension forks for these fat wheels will be the inverted type, with massive front axles, to give the stiffness and light weight required. People will be riding bikes that look like motocross bikes but be under 30lbs with full suspension that will just mow down the terrain. You will all be riding fat bikes. Resistance is futile.
That’s where I think things are going.
1. SBA said...
I posted this last night, and today I see this:
It's happening already!
Apr 10, 2014 @ 10:39 AM
2. Sir Twerks-a-lot said...
You just described my town's cycling scene; a herd of sheep. They have to be told if something is cool and have no confidence in trusting there own feelings. If somethings cool, it rings your bell, it compels you because you are having fun! You shouldn't need outside approval or groupthink sanctioning.
Apr 12, 2014 @ 10:38 AM
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