Lisa...My Design Style when I made my Pee-Wee Herman was..like the above song:
I got a very interesting question from a reader concerning a post from a few years back. Her question was "You said you made a ghetto version of the Pee-Wee Herman back in 1985...what was your design style then compared to now?" The answer to that is multu-layered I guess, however, back then I lived in the ghetto so my designs reflected the things that I held dear. Our values, good or bad, are almost always learned. Back then, I had a hero who happened to be one of my sister's boyfriends. His name was Jerry Sallis who we simply called 'Jay Sal'. At that time (most certainly not now) represented EVERYTHING I wanted to be:
1) He was one of the few men I knew who had a job (granted he was stealing $$$ from both of them)
2) He was always dressed nice and had $$$ in his pocket.
3) His car was always clean and he LEANED so hard in it!
4) Jay Sal could cook too!
5) His command of ghetto slang was unmatched. I can still hear him saying "What up cuz?" In the drawl that was uniquely Jerry.
Jay Sal was GHETTO FABOLOS nad I wanted to be also. He was my role model and growing up in such an environment, positive role models were rare. Our sense of what is and what isn't important, our values are sensory driven in our formative years. When many of you hear this, you will think "Oh my goodness, how could he believe that?" Next time you see one of those programs on TV where they are asking you to give $23.00 per month to help feed a hungry child, notice that some of those children are drinking polluted and discolored water while others are eating spoiled food from garbage dumps. They do this, like I, because if that is all you see and are looking for a way to survive or fit in, you work with, eat, and imitate those around you!
Cadillacs, chrome, and FLASH was the order in my neighborhood, and my bike design reflected this. I tell you what, I will remake that bike EXACTLY as it was then and post it this spring. Until then, for those of you out there who feel like an outsider because of the way you dress, act, or other, be who you are because the worst thing any one of you can do is to not be......UNIQUELY YOU!
"Complain if you want..BUT THIS BLOG IS MY PARTY AND I'LL WHINE IF I WANT TO"
Every once in awhile and even though I am a design genius, I give an opinion, which 99% of the time turns out to be fact. However, although you may not believe believe this, 1% of the time I am wrong! Keeping my term Provolution' in mind, I am VERY HARD on those clowns who design stupid looking bikes in the name of INNOVATION. 99% of the time, the only thing they are innovating is the tooling that it takes to make their wacked out designs. This tooling tends to be expensive, which wouldn't be a problem IF their designs had any hope of seeing the marketplace where they could recoup the investment in tooling.
In this case, IF isn't even relative! I thought about posting a few of these idiotic designs but I have determined that my blog space is to precious to put forth such stupidity. Well.....now that I have that off my chest, back to the subject at hand. I found a rendering of one of these designs (futuristic) which my dear readers falls into that 1% category described above....but the design....DANG! This blog is 2.5 years old and I do not remeber saying this about ANY futuristic looking design, but I have to say this about the above design: "I saw the funk, and it WUZ GOOD!"
Yeh, I know, me, your fearless Blogger has to eat CROW. Me, your fearless Blogger has to admit this thing. But as I always say "A brotha like me didn't know what he didn't know." To you Bicycle Design Innovators (or so you call yourself)- Please don't email me waxing philisophical again about the value of what you do! Cause...as that song says "This is MY PARTY and I'll cry if I want to!"
"SQUADRA is built to exceed the expectations and demands of our customers. Simply put, our mission is to make the best gear and offer the best service. It is time to further our company's personal growth and nurture the development of our own brand," quotes Dan Weatherford, Founder and President.
This company was licensing someone else's brand. Short tutorial on licensing. One company, the licensee, (usually a manufacturer) pays a royalty of say, between 4%-6% to what is called a licensor for the priviledge of selling that particular brandname. For instance, TREK is licensing the name Greg Lemond.(although Lemond can't keep his mouth shut) TREK uses the cycling greats name to sell bikes, Lemond gets a fat check. I tell you what, I saw the deal and alot of it is based on actual bike sales, but Lemond set it up with what is called a 'Minimum Royalty' which says "Even if yu don't sell one bike, you need to give me $180,000 for 10 years!"
Anyway, this company SQUADRA, doesn't want to sell someone else's products anymore, so they threw the lincensor off the boat and decided to go it alone. My only issue is this; why doesn't SQUADRA cut the BS and say what they are really thinking instead of putting out the above quote?! Dan, Mr. President of SQUADRA, your products and customer service aren't gonna be any better than anyone of your competitors and if you think it is, you are only going to frustrate yourself! I am a partner in a company and I know for a fact that it is a good thing to push for great customer service with your employees, but don't think you are fooling the Public with that WEAK press release statement! You could've come up with something a little more original, don't you think?
Let me tell you something else I KNOW you haven't thought of. In the very near future, customer service is going to shift from the 'Front Desk' to the 'Back Office'. All I am encouraging you and your team at Squadra to do is BE YOURSELVES! Take this opportunity as you roll out your own brand, to 'Rollout your own company culture.' There is NOTHING WORSE than something as unoriginal as your press release, I mean, it is right down pathetic. As crazy as this may sound, instead of of saying all of that...well..nothingness...you should have just said "SQUADRA...COMING SOON!" At least this little bit of information as compared to your press release sounds a bit less regurgetated! Or tell the truth;
"SQUADRA has decided that we can not only make better products than Castelli, who was our licensor, but we have taken the last several years, really not given 100% to our Licensor because we have been developing our own brand, picked up and improved on their practices, and will now do what is best for our own company! Why should we keep giving them 4-6% when we can keep it for ourselves and not drag our feet, and give you, OUR FUTURE CUSTOMERS, BETTER PRODUCT."
Hell, at least be real with it. You tell the public what they can expect from you AND you let Castelli know out front "We are going to CRUSH YOU!" You think Castelli doesn't know? Also, how are you going to make 'The Best Gear.' What does that mean? I hope it is manufactured somewhere here in the U.S. baby boy! I have this little old blog, many,many,many readers, no college education to speak of, but one thing I will not be is unoriginal...SQUADRA...these people read my blog, not because it's is a GREAT OR NICE LOOKING website, not because I gave them some 'Line' like you did in your press release, but because I am real! Read some of my posts, check out my language and my flow...All I am asking is, "Now that you are dumping Castelli, who IS SQUADRA?" Communicate this to us, we, your customer want to know.
I also want to save you the effort of saying "Well, you don't know what it is like to launch a company or brand." Sure I do! It is because I do know that I can sit here and write these things. It is because I know the importance of seperating yourself from the pack that I can say these things. It is because I know when you are launching, every word that comes from your mouth Dan can make or break your profitability that I can exhort you to stop the BS!
Mr. President, I understand, even better than your Executive Team,why this time between the break from Castelli and yur launch is SO CRITICAL..You are stepping away from a known quantity and gambling on an unknown brand name, even if it is your own. This isn't merely the next 'Step' for SQUADRA, but it is a 'LEAP' into uncharted territory. A message has to be genuine, not that crap you released to the press. Take a breather and figure out what GENUINE looks like to SQUADRA! Good Luck!
"This was so true-WE LOVED US SOME Donkey Kong & Pac-Man"
Since I bought a home in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, I often look out
but the window and have been very disturbed at the lack children playing outside on warm days. There was a time when that is what we did, we played outside, made up games to play, and usually, especially in summer, outside from sun up to sun down. Those days are long gone I guess. When dealing with our youth today, I found one of the reasons why. VIDEO GAMES! If you are 30 or over, you may remember your 1st experience with video games. They were typically in stores, laundry mats, or small arcades. 3 of my favorites were Bezerker, Frogger, and Donkey Kong. I still remember the music that played on Donkey Kong, it was funky! In the late 1980's. Superstar Will Smith came out with a Rap called 'Donkey Kong' and the music was that of the video game.
In one part of the rap Will said "I brake into the arcade, screamin and hollarin anticipating putting $25 dollars in." He went on to say "I was out of control, I didn't bring quarters, I bring $10 dollar bank rolls." Real or not, this same addictive behavior has gotten a grip on many of our children today. They don't have to go to the store or arcade to play anymore, the addictive product is in their homes. I am not hear today to 'Wax Philosophical', but there has to be a connection between the kids today not going outside to play, ride bikes, childhood obesity at an all-time high, and video games. As off base as it may seem, I believe the biggest competition facing the kid and junior bicycle markets is the advent and growth of home video games and gaming systems!
O.k., video games are here to stay, we know that. Nevertheless, I believe that there is an opportunity for the big boys, IE Pacific Cycles (They own the Schwinn and Mongoose brands among others) Huffy and the like to take back some of that market. The video game industry in the U.S. generates anywhere from $3.4 Billion to $11 Billion per year depending on what expert you choose to listen to. The way our culture is today, if parents give most kids a choice between a video gaming system that costs $300 (not including a variety of games) and a $100-200 bicycle, kids are going to choose the video game. MOST HAVE BOTH!
There is a way to take back a fair portion of that market though people! I wrote in an earlier posting that the bicycles today do not line up in style with an Urban audience in fashion, music, hairstyles etc. What if someone could come up with bicycles that line up with this audience's taste in culture. When I say line up, I mean in "Name, imagery, mags and wheels, floss, HISTORY" and the like? Bicycles will never fit in with this audience if when they go to purchase it, the attitude is "Oh, that is a nice bike" as opposed to "Dang, I gotta have that!" What type of product that isn't being currently produced can get that type of reaction? I will let you know in my next posting.
Yall know I love me some Scraper Bikes! I just checked their site and it seems they had...A CONVENTION OF SORTS! I tell you what, these cats, the Trunk BOIZ love what they re doing and they found a way, despite their circumstances to do something BIG! I admire their grit and their hustle. What is more I am hoping the CEO Da Champ is entering into some big time promotion relationships with other companies! Champ, you and your team GET IT! Their are companies out their spending MILLIONS per year advertising and can't (although they desire to)reach that niche you have in your back pocket MAN!
To my readers, I am going to share something with you that that Da Champ, Trunk BOIZ, and I understand that you may not;
1) Pushing your product in Urban Areas requires you to SPEND LESS big time advertising dollars and 'Get Hood' with it like Scraper does it! Aka- a more 'Viral' approach!
2) To my readers in the industry, IF you really wanna penetrate the Urban Bicycle Market, STOP BUILDING BIKES THAT ARE UGLY! Why do you think Scraper is such a popular movement? It is because they took THE JUNK you built, and turned it in to something kids all over the country are doing. They are in Cali and I am in Denver and their is a youngster up the street 'Cruisin on his Scraper Bike!'
3) Partner with Street Promoters, like Da Champ, Trunk Boiz, and Scraper for your 'Viral Marketing'. Not just to go promote, but to consult on your designs. They know what Urban Youth will like and what they won't.
4) This will sound contrary to everything you think you know, however, celebrities aren't the most effective way to promote your products. The most effective way is to design hot products, consistently, that will sell regardless of endorsements. Take some of that endorsement $$$ and stick it into infastructure.
These are just a few ideas, but ideas are the things that GREAT COMPANIES nd GREAT PRODUCTS are made of, no?
The word Provolution is a word that was sometimes used in black churches. It simply means 'Taking the best of the past and bringing it forward into the present and carrying that ideal into the future.' Many other industries do this when designing product. Yet, the bicycle industry seems not to be in step with this. The are many challenges when designing bicyles, but going forward into the future, they are going to have to step up to the plate. There are bicycle design competitions all over the world. I recently saw the 2nd place winner in the Tiawanese design competition held every year. The bike was called 'Wild Buffalo'. This design was HOOTTT! That being said, in the market right now, it was totally impractical for mass production.
If you are wondering where I am going with this, the term Provolution applies. Bringing the best of the past forward into the present requires not that some designer comes up with a new hand brake system, or for design, those things are basic and there are only so many variations of them you can use. The good news is that when one focuses on the young adult, kid and junior bicycle market, kids don't care about innovative design, they care about whether they like their bikes and can they have fun on them! I challenge any of you with children to relay a story to me when you took your child to get a bike and they said "Well mom and\or dad, I really don't like the braking system on this bike and the rear wheel base is 2 inches to short for my taste." I raised two kids and I never heard any of that from them. It is about asthetics to them!
When they look at the bike, will they get excited, or will they say "I wish you would have bought me a video game instead." My next post will deal with the biggest enemy of the bicycle industry today (Video Games and gaming systems). Let those of us who love bicycles and like to design them keep the thought of 'Provolution' on our minds and I promise, the industry will sit up and take notice!
You have got to be kidding me! Check out this trick rider named Aaron Frost. His name is Aaron Frost and he and the man you only know as 'The Fabricator of Funk' used to ride together back in the day. I posted about the 3 trick practices so far;
1) Ghostin- Gained popularity in the Bay Area and basically consists of a person running along side their Adult Trike while it peddles itself...BORING!
2) Drifting- This practice is hot and consists of a number of tricks like prolonged skidding when coming down a hill, and peddling faster than the tire can get it's grip which produces a cool looking-controlled skid! HOOOOTTTTT!
3) Aaron Frost- I don't know what he is doing but for the first time in a LOONNNGGG time people I will give Aaron my "I saw the FUNK, and it was good" Award which is the top honor given to anyone on this site.
These are the types of niche and bicycle sub-cultures which we at Major Taylor will latch onto and bring into the main stream. To all of you bicycle tricj riders and enthusiasts, keep on doin your thang, I am coming to get ya and make you STARS!
As a politician who once got busted doing dirt said, I now say "NO COMMENT."
After some angry emails concerning my feelings on Low Rider Bikes, I have to respond. But first, click on the above video and enjoy. In my post I did recognize that Low Rider Bikes was a niche market and some readers to objection to my opinions on these bikes. To them I say "Hey...get mad if you want to but I still think they are OVERDONE!" That is my opinion and I am sticking to it! I love elegance mixed with simplicity in bicycle design.
Another reader thinks I have a problem with Mexicans. NO I DON'T! I am a black man, born and raised in the cornfields of Iowa, stopped by police because of that, etc. I just don't like Low Rider Bikes, I just think, as I have said in many posts, they are like a steak that stays on the grill too long, OVERDONE.
You guys and gals can keep giving angry responses by I would encourage you to go to the bottom of this blog and sift through pasts posts. I have said the same things about 'Futuristic' designs, I have said the same things abut expensive performance bikes with too many gadgets on them, and a few more. That is the beauty of a blog folks, one thing they are for is posting your opinion, I gave mine....AND THAT IS THAT!
Oh yeh...that sound system thing...I put one (powered by a motorcycle battery) with a tape deck on my design back in 1985!