Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Soul" Man

Since I have been into the ephemeral attributes of bicycles lately, how about we discuss the "soul" of a bicycle? Does that concept even make sense? You know........."That ol' Salsa Ala Carte really has soul, man!" So, what's going on here? What do people mean when they say something like that?

To straight up say that any inanimate object has "soul", or to be more accurate, posesses a soul, is a little looney. I mean, it's just a bunch of steel, aluminum, plastic, and rubber! Right? Last time I checked, BB King had soul. Heck, even you and I have a soul! So, what gives?

Let's go back to BB King for a moment. When you hear someone say, "BB's got that soul, man!" , they are not talking about the man's soul. They are talking about that elusive quality that oozes out from the man's every pore. That vibe- the feeling that he gives off, especially when he makes Lucille squeal! It's something that you can't grab and get ahold of, but it's there!

And this has what to do with bikes?................ Well, this is what I think people are talking about when they say a particular bicycle company, or bicycle has soul. The big thing here is that this version of soul is totally subjective. I mean, where do you draw the line? Take Salsa for instance. It used to be a small, independantly owned bicycle frame and component manufacturer. Everybody said they, and their products had soul. Now, Salsa is a small, corporately owned manufacturer of bicycle frames and components. Now days, people say the "new" Salsa has no soul. What?!..... I guess it has something to do with who owns it. Then take Ibis as another example. Ibis was sold to an investor group, went bankrupt, and then was brought back by a very passionate group of people, and re-introduced to the market at InterBike, last fall. They did not come back with anything resembling the old steel and titanium bikes they were known for previously, but rather carbon fiber bikes. "No soul", said the old-timers. What!? I guess you'd better not ever change the way you build, or your designs, lest you lose your soul, and go to the devil! Yeah.........whatever! So, yeah, if you want your bike to have "soul", it has to be approved by the Soul Police, I guess.

Look, you can say your bike has soul, mojo, black magic, or whatever you want. That's okay. I don't think a bike gives off any sort of vibe, well..........not like BB King does!

Now that's SOUL, man!

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