Answers From A Bottle

Stevil Kinevil, oh thee of the treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom, I must, on bended knee if necessary, request that you might please bestow some of either upon me.

Please, PLEASE tell me why in the cycling industry today, one is almost legally obligated to go to a custom builder to purchase a bicycle without disc brakes?! What if I want a bike that’s simpler, easier to maintain, and more elegant and better looking, and should theoretically cost less? Why do I have to go pay significantly MORE to buy that bike, since the only place you can find them is from a custom shop? (Concession to the benefit of supporting small business here. Obviously, that’s a positive.)

I can’t be the only person in the ENTIRE cycling galaxy that doesn’t descend twisty mountain roads in a pack of dozens, or pedal a bike up some steep singletrack on a mountainside and let gravity carry me downhill of its own accord. 

I simply cannot fathom (someone might try and talk about economies of scale here, or lean manufacturing, but I’m not buying that crap. Not for a second) why the bicycle industry felt the need to replace almost every set of perfectly capable rim brakes on every bicycle they sell with ugly and expensive dick (yes he said it) brakes. It’s just maddening. 

Now you might just ask yourself why I find this situation so maddening, and you might just tell me to get over it because that’s just the way it is. And you’d probably be justified in doing so and finding someone else who needs real help. Totally get it, that’s just fine. I’d understand. I was just wondering what your opinion on the subject was. Maybe it’ll help me just get over it….

Thanks! JS,

Mr. JS,

I don’t know how long you’ve been lurking around the bicycle world, but from my perspective, and experience over the last several decades, I see that a good portion, if not nearly the entirety of the bicycle industry is built on a foundation of planned obsolescence. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but some of my friends who have one or both feet in motocross say the same thing about their world. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Virgo, and my people are known for their aversion to change, but I could write volumes on the subject. Saddles, hubs, bottom brackets, helmets, glasses…. I have, in my years, found just the style, model, or design that I prefer above all others, and sure as I’m writing these words, as soon as they make the scene, just as quickly they disappear, and ultimately are replaced with something similar, but quite often, not as cool. Why does the bike industry have to constantly reinvent the wheel? At the risk of over-simplification, it seems as though it’s due in large part because if they didn’t, nobody would be convinced that they needed to buy the new doodad or wizbang, and companies wouldn’t be making the monies. Can I ride the absolute shit out of my old clapped out steel, canti-clad whip, that has the stem with a 26.0 clamp? The bike industry doesn’t think so. This of course isn’t to say that technological advancements are a bad thing. Quite the contrary, and my stable of varied, and in some instances, technologically advanced bikes can testify to that. What I am saying is that there are so many designs, such as a caliper, or well-adjusted canti brake, that were absolutely not broken, until the bike industry decided they needed to be fixed.

Dear Stevil,

I pine for the olden days of just Italian or English threaded bottom brackets. For the love of dog, why are there so many bottom bracket standards?


Hi Brian,

I’m with you. As I addressed to a degree in the above response, the bike industry’s mousetrap has been improved so many times, I can’t tell if I’m coming or going, and as someone who at one time fancied himself as a pretty sharp mechanic, because of all of the ‘standards’ that have been introduced over the course of the last ten years, I spend more time with my head in my hands than I don’t. I never wanted to be the crotchety old wrench who would spend hours shuffling around my shop, and muttering under my breath about the good old days, but here we are.

Hello Mr. Stevil,

I consider you a real triathlete – mountain biking, curly-bar off-road and skateboarding. My questions are, have you done all three in a single day as a “Stevil” triathlon? When you wake up in the morning how do you choose which one to do on a given day? And finally, which is your favorite for drinking cheap beer before, during and after?

Regards, PJ.C.

Hello PJ.C.,

Remember Fisher-Price’s The Adventure People? They were little plastic action figures who had ski boats, and camping gear, and Jeeps, and they’d go hang gliding, and zip-lining, and dirt biking, and because I was a horny little kid, they would also occasionally do some dry humping. They were my world when I was small and I loved them dearly.

In my imagination, their energy was boundless, and I was positive that when I was old enough, I was going to do all of those things too… But then I finally did get old enough, and I found more often than not, I was just too tired, broke, or both to be an adventure person myself. Having said that however, a handful of years ago I was visiting my parents in a little town on the central coast of Oregon called Yachats, (where, by the way, my mom was the mayor for two terms). During my time there, I had an absolutely dazzling schedule. In the morning I’d do a road ride on these endless paved logging roads that wound up from the ocean all throughout the hills. While I was out, I would scout jeep trails, and after returning home, would eat lunch, get in my bad ass ’84 Toyota pickup, and go four-wheeling. Then, after narrowly avoiding getting stuck, or toppling my truck off the mountain, I’d come back home, grab my mountain bike and hit a bunch of the local trails before once again coming back home in time for dinner. It was all ridiculous fun, and still stands among my fondest memories.

As for which bike I get on, it’s the one I feel inspired to get aboard that day. There’s rarely any rhyme or reason to it, and since I generally don’t ride with other people anyway, I can always make the decision on the fly. Somewhat similarly, the beer in question is inevitably whatever I’ve buried in the woods. The only constant is it’s the cheap, canned kind.

Anyway—otherwise, there have been instances when I’ve been able to go mountain biking in the morning, and skimboarding in the afternoon, or recently I can sometimes swing a ‘cross ride in the morning, and then go skateboarding in the afternoon. As the years go by however, and no matter how much I protest, I keep getting older. Anymore, a trifecta will almost always have to include a nap.

Want to know how to live life to the fullest? Send your questions to: Stevil[at]

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  1. Miki Vuckovich says

    Always nap last. You wouldn’t want to drown, you know.

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