Monday, December 10, 2007

You've Been Warned

Back in the day, we'd tear open a bike box, peel off the cardboard tube protectors, cut the zip ties, build the bike, and roll it out onto the sales floor in hopes of a modest profit. These days, things are a little different. There's one extra annoying and shameful step. Peeling off a multitude of goddamn warning stickers.

If you were to pull out a new bike from the confines of its cardboard placenta, you'll usually find no less than four yellow and black stickers cautioning the daring new owner on the dangers of cycling in the modern world. According to the bike companies and their lawyers, we should be shitting our chamois' worrying whether all our bolts are torqued to spec, our frame has been properly inspected for cracks and defects, and our skewers have been properly clamped. If not, death may result from our inattention. Which of course would be our own damn fault because they warned us.

Aside from the patronizing way in which we're all assumed to be one eyed retards with wax in our ears and shit for brains, I find it discouraging to think that we're all perpetually bombarded with how terribly dangerous everyday life is. If it's not shrill warning labels on our bikes, it's vague assumptions of terror on our televisions and newspapers. A sampling of the nightly news indicates that I should be afraid of illegal immigrants because they're either deranged criminals or disease carrying lepers. Iran should be feared because they might gain the knowledge to build a nuke. I shouldn't wash my hands so much because it might actually make me more susceptible to "dangerous diseases".

To all that bullshit, I say "Shenanigans!" Pay attention to the man behind the curtain, because he's also got a great deal on some oceanfront property (in a gated community, naturally) with a fantastic ARM loan to help move you right in.

Back in the day we rode our bikes without fear of our wheels falling off because we knew how to work a quick release skewer. We rode without fear because although all the bolts on the bike might not be to torque specifications, they were pretty close, and that was good enough. We rode without fear even while not wearing helmets because we weren't so caught up in the horrors of what might happen, we were caught up in something else: Reality.


Ron said...

I would think companies are only doing their jobs by putting on those stickers, so that once the damn product is out of their doors they can strip liability issues to a minimum. I agree once upon a time we wouldn't be bombarded so much by warning labels, but legal issues and business have changed a lot these days.

I sometimes like the idea of being warned , such as torque limits and such, but other labels such as oh, road biking is inherently a very dangerous sport and related history, its lame and a waste of printing supplies. For a reference to stupid warning labels :

Ari said...

The modern cylist has become dumb. He cannot figure out the "new" valve, called "french" or something like Presta. He cannot lube his chain, nor change a flat, nor adjust his saddle or bars. The modern cyclist cannot adjust or change cleats on his shoes. Like, um..... there is no interaction between rider and machine. WTF??