Robot’s Useless Reviews – The Whole New Level

Over the last few years, cyclists and bike companies of all sorts have been taking it to a whole new level. This level is, evidently, not a place I have access to. I don’t even have a key card, so I seem to be stuck on whatever level this is, the one I’ve always been on. It’s sweaty here. I get in the elevator and push a button, but some of them won’t light up for me. Those must be the whole new levels, and they don’t admit riff-raff like yours truly.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to review a thing I’ve never experienced, but I don’t let things like that bother me.

This whole new level seems a pretty exclusive place, like the place at the airport where the pilots go to hang out between flights, or the VIP lounge at Applebees, where the velvet rope is filled with melted cheese (more on that anon).

I suspect the coffee is better on the whole new level, and folks are nicer to you. Once you’re there, all your experiences are of a higher quality, even grocery shopping. Someone comes along to bag your groceries eagerly rather than walking right past you like someone clearly shopping on the old level. There is a cycling metaphor there somewhere (probably not), but I can’t tell you what it is.

Similar to the whole new level, is all the stuff that happens after you “take it up a nach,” which I presume is a reference to nachos. Obviously, all the cheesy, messy chips (i.e. people like me) are on the bottom, and some la-di-da types have the ability to take it up a nacho, up there where the cheese isn’t so garishly melted, where there are jalapenos still to be had, and where it is not so glaringly obvious that you’re headed for diabetes.

What? Oh. Shit. That’s embarrassing.

Well where are these notches then? As a young man I inferred that having them on my bed post or on my belt was somehow advantageous, but honestly, I could never overcome the fear that my mother would be absolutely livid if she caught me carving notches into the furniture. Perhaps that’s the source of my lack of notches to begin with.

In (not at) all seriousness, the bike industry’s copy writers have, in recent history, leaned way too hard on these whole new levels, and on taking it up a notch. Copysmiths, in general, wield hyperbole like fisherfolk back from a successful outing. Every new bike, component, drink supplement, or valve stem cap is the most wonderfulest thing ever, not just an incremental improvement, but a paradigm-defining evolutionary leap, an orgasm-inducing science fair volcano.

Over the last decade, I have probably contributed 200-300,000 words of this very same marketing copy to various and sundry companies who paid me for my hyperbolic concoctions (although often late). In that time and in those words I hope I never once took things to a whole new level, or even up a single notch. I can’t be sure. We’re not our best selves every day, are we?

What I can tell you, even though I myself have never seen that level or eaten those nachos, is that you don’t need that in your life, that striving nonsense, the weathered patina of purchased authenticity. All you need to do is ride your bike and like it. Drink deeply of the electrolyte mix, but leave the Kool-Aid aside. You already have everything you need, on this very sweaty, cheese-clogged level you’re already on.

Join the conversation
  1. bluezurich says

    yes, I just passed you on your uber filament $10k whip with my ferrous based rust Italian bucket with DT shifters. No Key Card necessary.

  2. TominAlbany says

    I’m a little disappointed you didn’t go to a whole nother level here…

  3. khal spencer says

    Planned obsolescence. Car companies have been doing it practically forever to sell product, as they figured out the Model T lasted a long time but profits did not. If you don’t have the Latest Shiny Object, you just are not cool enough and someone’s bottom line suffers.

    True enough; you don’t need it in your life. I’ve been riding a 2005 Stumpjumper, 2002 CAAD5, a 2005 Six Thirteen, a Long Haul Trucker I built up with thirty year old parts, and various other bikes nearly as old as myself. They all cruise down the road quite nicely in spite of a lack of disk brakes, thru axles, eleven speed cassettes, tubeless tires, and whatever else we are being told to go buy. I did get a Ti-bike last year. Mainly as a retirement gift although I never got around to retiring due to Covid restrictions on going somewhere else.

    On another subject, Emlyn and Padraig, there seems to be a distinct lack of all those other voices we were promised on CI. Have they abandoned ship? Nothing against the artistic talent on this site, but I thought there were gonna be some other folks press ganged into the cycling trip around The Horn.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Sorry. I meant to respond to this. I think we have roped in a pretty good crew of other voices for TCI. Ramona D’Viola. Stevil Kinevil. Brian Trdina, Heather Henderson, Micki Vuckovich, George Mount, Patria Vandermark. I’m missing some. There can/will be more when our budget grows, but that’s down to how well we can grow our subscription base. There is a chicken, and also an egg. How they both got here is up for discussion.

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