Thursday, March 08, 2018

Another Strange Message

Rocky Mountain Bicycles Solo 70. Image courtesy of RMB
Another gravel/adventure bike hits the market. This time from mountain biking stalwarts, Rocky Mountain Bicycles. I posted on the bikes yesterday on Riding Gravel so I will not go into a ton of detail on the bikes here. Click the link if you would like to know about the finer details on this rig.

Okay, now for that famous disclaimer......

NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

So, I get a lot of press release stuff. These come from one of two sources, most generally. One source is the marketing departments of the brand in question. The other source is generally an agency that may represent several brands and handles all the media contacts, press release stuff, etc for those brands. Okay, so one of the two, but generally speaking, all press releases have a lot of images, excited language that speaks to romanticized feelings that marketers think consumers may relate to, and some dry, technical data. You learn how to read these after a while. Much of the hyperbole and strained metaphors are easily picked out and tossed aside for whatever "meat" they decide to throw you. Usually, it ain't much. But you have to see the details that matter and cast aside the rest as "marketing fluff".

Yeah......this is what a lot of folks will do with this bike. Totally. Image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Then there is the "marketing fluff" in the imagery. Take this shot of Sam Hill raging a corner on a canned adventure Rocky Mountain Bicycles had him do with a photographer along a route from Montana to the Mexican border. It shows him up on the bars, sliding through a corner, dramatically roosting dust and dirt into the air. I'm sure a few Rocky Mountain Solo bikes will get used this way. Maybe......

But just as the language of marketing has a lot of stuff that isn't very realistic, so too do the images of marketing. Of course, this isn't relegated to bicycles either. Literally everything is sold to us in unrealistic terms, and yet we swallow these strange messages as if they were totally true. I mean, can't you see yourself shredding that corner in the remote Western wilderness with that dramatic Sun flare making you look heroic? 

Ah! Consumers! We're an odd lot.

They dubbed this color "Billy Ocean Gloss". Hilarious! Image courtesy of RMB
As far as the bike goes, yeah..... Rocky Mountain did a great job on the geometry, in my opinion. I like that most of the line is sporting slacker head angles. The XL gets a 72° head angle, but everything below that is 71° and slacker. "Three Pack" bosses on the fork is another awesome touch. I don't think that a tapered steer tube carbon fork with gigantic cross section, straight legs is the way to go. I'd be really surprised if that fork didn't act like a big lever on the top and down tubes instead of being compliant. Compliant forks seem to be out of fashion these days, even though that is exactly what a gravel bike needs. If you want to know where this talk about front suspension for gravel bikes comes from it is because designers have been scared away from doing compliant forks by legal departments and testing standards. I don't think it is even possible for such a fork to be included on a bigger brand's bike anymore. Thus the jackhammer carbon forks we typically see. Don't believe for a second that they "absorb vibrations". That there is "marketing fluff", my friends.

I don't blame these designers for using these forks because, probably, their hands are tied. I think it is unfortunate that we cannot figure out how to do this without fear of people breaking forks and damaging themselves though. That is disappointing.

There was one other weird message in the press release, which had me scratching my head, but isn't an uncommon thing in these deals. There was a heading which read "Ultimate Comfort". Hmm.... So, you might be thinking how this rigid, carbon forked, aluminum framed rig is going to accomplish that claim. Then you read on......and they don't tell you. Nope. All the paragraph contained under the heading was a bunch of technical details related to frame through axles, chain stay length, and dropper post compatibility, although neither bike is offered with a dropper post.

What?! 

Strange messages indeed!  

 

6 comments:

Jason said...

A compliant fork may not withstand the rigors of the action depicted in the dusty image! Especially when fully loaded... :)

Guitar Ted said...

@Jason- Or it could. Why not? Decades of touring cyclists would agree that it can be done. ;>)

Rob E said...

Aesthetics plays a big roll in it also or at least that is my take and I am just as guilty as the next person is not more so. I've made comments about a fork not "looking right" or not matching up with the diameter of the head tube. As the head tubes get bigger in diameter so do the forks to please us OCD aesthetics people.

Tyler Loewens said...

I actually don't mind that sort of Marketing. Heck I haver had to do that sort of cornering on a fast gravel descent before. Nice to know the bike can withstand some abuse.

Robert Ellis said...

That unrealistic marketing stuff is dreamt up by people who don't even ride. They are even being paid big bucks for it!

Andy Rae said...

@Jason @Guitar Ted ...or manufactures could fit Redshift's Excellent Shockstop? Still wondering why this hasn't been fitted as standard to some of the smaller makers bikes yet.