10.14.2005

tools: more specifically the specialization of tools
this morning I had some email correspondence with a cycling friend
in that email conversation this person spoke of some things he had witnessed while skating in a local skate park
he questioned the merit of a BMX bike whose seat has been lowered so much that the bike has lost its ability to do much more than jumps and tricks
he then went on to question the trials bike and other very specialized machines

well.... a Phillips head screw driver does not work in place of a flathead
a mallet is not used to pound nails
there is a saw for wood
there is a saw for metal
and it most certainly gets more and more specific than that

the specialization of the bicycle is no different
some bikes are "multi-function" while other bikes are designed for a singular purpose
here is how I responded in my email

the bicycle has evolved
the trials bike is not good for much more than trials
the downhill bike is not so good for anything more than downhill
a cross country mountainbike would not do well in a road race
while a road bike would fare no better in a XC event
the kids in LA make their low riders so low that the cranks can not turn
they need to kick their feet to move
but the specialization of the bike for function is different than adaptations for fashion

cars have dragsters that can not make a turn
sand vehicles that would not work well on the road
H2s that never do more than pick up the dry cleaning

the list goes on

as far as lowering the seat...
well there would be no other way for them to make the jump
I recall in snowboarding there was a movement that was very similar...
the removal of the "high backs" from the bindings made it impossible to carve good turn yetallowed for contortions on airs that could not be done with the rigid binding pressing against the calve
this was a change that I tried... enjoyed... then went to a lower back on my binding
so that I could still carve turns and still make grabs (what few grabs I was able to do)


I have no opposition to the specialization of each tool
there are skateboards for ramp
there are long boards for cruising
each may be able to attempt the task of the other but the specialized tool is the right tool for the task

the same extends to snowboards and of course bicycles

those who ride recumbents call standard bikes "wedgies"
try taking a recumbent off road
heck... try taking a recumbent off a curb

each specialized bike maximizes the potential for each task
pushing the limits of that discipline
we have seen that in the Le Tour de France there are different bikes for different stages
achieving the greatest speed with the greatest efficiency
should there be a rule that each cyclist must start and finish on the same bike with the same equipment?
I think not...

so as much as I can appreciate my friend's question of the BMX bike with its low seat and lack of functionality
I feel that not all bikes are designed to be utilitarian
I say embrace the differences
thank the specializations for their ability to expand the freedom of the bicycle
let their be competition
let their be solidarity

oh yea...
this friend also left the skate park craving his old BMX bike
which he may pull out of his parent's garage
which he may ride with the seat lowered such that he can not pedal comforably
but he will be able to play in the park with

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