Bike stores in Japan – Why do they do it so well?

As written in a previous blog, I’m just so impressed with what the Japanese cycling fraternity manage to put together.  Keirin racing, a very solid recreational and club cycling scene, Pro racing and of course a World leading fixed gear and single speed culture which is NOT the supremely style-driven and fad-tastic scene that is slowly but surely firming up its grip on the cycling and not so cycling minded, but a way of life. As for life changing, I’ve witnessed best friends who weren’t into riding have their bike collection explode upwards of 3 or 4 bikes in the 5 years since they first decided a bike was for them.  JBeez, Jonny P, Tom Boner, Wada-sama: you’re all guilty.

I came across this supremely tasty shop in Osaka this week while trolling the web for a place where I could lay my slippery mitts on a Panasonic Keirin track bike (If I see you riding this, I’ll rob you and take your ride- I saw it first and you can’t have it).  A local bike store was attempting to jam me for $200 for a 1960’s Universe track frame (rusty, no less) and when I was negotiating prices I was told it was $200 firm ‘because it has horizontal dropouts’.  Erm, yeah, like this is the only frame that has them- so rare.  Needless to say I found a shedload of groin-swelling ideas on the net, but if you want to waste some of your time when sitting at your desk, go here:  www.tracksupermarket.com. Very creamy indeed.  We’ll be on the blower to them next week to see if we can get a load of our stock up for their warmer months.

lovely spotty Panasonic NJS

one of track for an unknown Keirin racer- sick

Umm, yep. Made to order Panasonic NJS very much on my rader. Made in Nara, Japan by the way.

Check out their blog and see the quality of work they are pumping out.  Seriously good gear getting built up.

Peace.

Buddah

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What’s the best road bicycle training tyre?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been shooting off mails to my buddies on various parts of the planet asking them to tell me their most trusted, most dependable, most comfortable, most bestest priced training tyre.  This question is particularly relevant now we are riding into different seasons.  For us down here in Australia, it may be time to begin thinking about taking the slicks off and getting something a little more grippy on your hoops.  All you freaks up there in Japan, the US and Europe, you’re probably thinking the opposite, if you even give a damn.

Are tyres even that important on a road cycle?  It’s a question that many people who are new to the sport ask.  All I could say in response is that next time you are on the treadlie, take a look down at the contact points between you and the ground.  Do this when you’re cruising at 30km/h and then take another peek when you are descending at 80km/h.  Important….. that’s an understatement.

Here’s 5 of my tested and trusted faves.

1. Continental GatorSkin

compliant, hardwearing, grippy and all that shiznit

My favourite long distance tyre.  Has everything you need.  It’s fast, good puncture protection, grippy, lasts for ages.  The only downside with these is that sometimes the threads peel off from the sidewalls.  Just look after them when you’re putting them on.  Sweet tyre and reasonably priced.

2. Continental Ultrasport

$20? yep. Any good? yep!

I had to get a pair of these when I saw them for $20 odd on Wiggle.  3000kms later and they are still going strong with only one puncture.  That’s pretty damn good if you ask me.  They aren’t visibly the most attractive tyre, not the best made, but they are comfy, hard wearing, grippy and CHEAP!

3. Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick

colours stick out like dog's balls

You’ll be surprised by the mileage you can get out of these puppies.  Far from expensive at $25 odd, depending on where you get them from.  Slick for all you punks up there in the Northern Hemisphere who want to train on a slick now the misery of Winter has abated somewhat.  Give ’em a crack if you need/want the pony colour scheme on your single or fixed gear cycle.

4. Vittoria Rubino Tech

looks grippy, is grippy

You’ll be surprised with the way this tyre runs in a shitty Winter season.  Freakishly cheap at less than $20.  I’m guessing something like 5000kms were racked up on these last Winter and they did really good with puncture resistance.  They’re not fast, but they wear well, come in a range of colours if you are that way inclined, grip like a hungry monkey on a banana and may have one of the most comfortable rides I’ve experienced.

5. Michelin Krylion

twice the price, half as good

You’d think that paying $45 odd (at best) for a training tyre is going to go a long way to ensuring it’s good tyre, wouldn’t you?  You’re wrong.  I’ve run 2 sets of these and I can’t justify the price.  They’re fast, for sure, but you don’t need uber speed when you’re training, and if you’re looking for a race tyre go buy some Vittoria Corsa’s, pop in some latex tubes, pump ’em up to 14o psi and jizz yourself stupid.  These Michelin things are purportedly built for training and miles but they cut easily, square off quickly and are expensive.  Almost $90 if you are tempted to get them retail.

Have I missed anything?  You got a better suggestion?

Peace.

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A nothing label or nothing customers? Clothing brands that succeed for reasons unknown.

This is written with all due respect (kind of) to the businesses mentioned (As per Buddah’s last post about Carman’s, we love to share the good companies we come across too).    These clothing brands are sold worldwide, although that doesn’t mean I like them. In fact they remind me of the time I walked into the wrong pub and saw an entire rowing crew of Toffs (in Henley by sheer coincidence!) still in their spandex rowing suits, drinking Pimm’s at the bar after a race whilst discussing Price Harry’s new pink jeans and their favourite convertible Jaguar. Sickening. But nonetheless they are selling globally, which is what we are working to do. I am just genuinely interested to know what the process is for coming up with some of their products and what makes people want to buy them? Help me please?! Tell me why!!

Golant, Belnik, Coads, Garker, Kruggar, Plugged, Cran, Gwallon, Ardstraw, Desky, Bebop, Burst and my favourite Mulfra. These are the names for one of these brands CURRENT range of t-shirts. I don’t have room for the other 10 pages of similar tripe they have come up with. Ok ok…just one more….Reflex…..oh and Sandbar….I can’t STOP! Maybe they can explain what all this means. Are they just joking around, are they stoned?

This one is called a ‘walsden’. It’s available on their website to buy right NOW..

Please tell me your thoughts on this?? To me it screams ‘WE CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING NEW OR ORIGINAL, SO WE ARE GOING WITH “BRAND NAME + THE WORD ‘TRACK’ + SOME NUMBERS” WE HAVE PLENTY OF STORES AND PEOPLE WILL DEFINITELY BUY THIS SHI(r)T FROM US… p.s we aren’t telling you where it’s made either.

This took us hours to come up with

Now maybe I am being a little cynical….we are just a new brand and some people might not like what we are doing, but we are still consumers with an opinion. Somehow these brands are just there….not sure WHY or HOW, but they are in the shops. They are spreading like Cane Toad’s.

Actually that could be a brand, ‘Cane Toad’….hmm…No lets go with ‘Bench’. Funny story behind them. I found out just recently in fact, that this brand was started in a Grade 3 English class in Belgrade by two 7 year old children who were trying to use the word ‘Bench’ as many times as possible but attempting to disguise this from eachother by distorting the ‘n’ or by putting the ‘bench’ in a different location each time. Incredible….7 years old…who would have thought it would become a global ‘fashion’ brand.

We distorted the 'n' on the word 'bench'.

We put this one on the back...see....haha

What makes this ‘fashion’ to some people? How is writing the word Bench on some bad fitting sweatshop cloth a ‘brand’? I would rather wear a plain t-shirt personally.  Maybe they made good stuff once upon a time, or else they wouldn’t have got to where they are now….or did they?

We changed the shape of the word Bench again.

Could it be that once something is on the shelf, enough people will buy it because they don’t know any better? If you put the same 2 t-shirts from China next to eachother, one for $50 with ‘bench’ (I know I’m getting sick of the word too) on the front and one without for $5 do you think people would realise they are paying $45 to have ‘Bench.’ written on their clothing?

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How do we to find the fixie, single speed and cycling t-shirt market?

I don’t read fiction.  Maybe I should start, it could cause a spike in my imagination, but then I would have even more trouble maintaining a coherent passage of thought. Most of what I read involves marketing (I’ve just polished off Seth Godin’s Purple Cow which I recommend) or straight up business.  I read these kinds of books because that’s all I am really interested in, or more specifically, I’m interested in my businesses, their products, and how to get them moving out the door.  With IHC the product is shit hot:

Australian made, organic cotton, printed really well in Sydney, we tested the build and they are perfect.

The packaging is shit hot:

US made made ball chains, swing tag plus sticker goodness

Attention to detail is bang on:

15mm fold label on the lower hem-also made in Australia.

Public response has been awesome.  We had a cracking conversion rate at the UCI Masters event Saturday gone, and we sold 2 tees to each customer in the majority of cases.

Setting up early on Saturday at the UCI World Masters qualification on the Perth foreshore.

Our customer service is pretty damn good too:

I wasnt driving or riding, so naturally, I was drinking.

The marketing and promotional effort has been pretty solid also.  We’ve featured in Bicycling Australia, Ride On magazine, featuring in the up coming Ride Cycling Review, coming up soon in the UK’s Cycling Active Magazine, tweeted and blogged courtesy of Treadlie Magazine, we’ve got a sexy facebook competition running now (like our page and enter the draw to win our entire range), this blog is going in the right direction, featured on sites like Edy Piro’s Coolfinder.co.uk (peace, Edy), been dissed in a post or two on London Fixed Gear and Single Speed (www.lfgss.co.uk), we’ve been networking well with Acclaim Magazine agreeing to run a little competition (Thx Alex, looking forward to coffee in Melbourne around the Shoe Fair), got over 20 shirts to pros at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide this year, hooked up with the Fixed Gear Girl Taiwan, and, gee, what else…. I’m sure there’s more…and the Iron Horse Flickr site.  Oh yeah, gotta make some more calls to a store in Germany tonight.  Oh, and current World Champ and all round legend, Michael Freiberg is basically getting some Iron Horse sponno goodness.  So you get the picture,  the marketing is getting done.  But, and it’s a really big but, (not butt, or booty, or whatever else you’re thinking) our web traffic isn’t really cranking like we’d expect.

Top notch/slightly sexy marketing material has interested a lot of mags weve approached.

As of last night, we have overhauled the copy on www.ironhorseclothing.com.au, adding in some internal links, a bit of a SEO catch blurb at the bottom of the page, and I will build an eBay site this week just for extra spider web action.  Getting anyone who is in the market for a fixed gear, single speed or bicycling tee must come across our site! Gotta get that traffic flow up.  Our conversion rate is so solid, most of our customers have re-ordered (one of them bought another 2 at our stand on Saturday) so the product side of things is in hand (we’ll get more edgy next design run) that leaves a problem in the web traffic space to work on.

Subway DC boss Tanya obviously likes my bike, and me, but the owner says no- and we refuse to stock just anyone..

Books are good, in theory.  Read one recently written on marketing and they will all say target a niche.  We’re targeting a niche, we just need to find them and tell them we’ve got what they’re looking for!

Any ideas, anyone?

Peace.

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Speedism: Rules for Riding Fast whilst high or drunk

Speedism, common affliction for riders in possession of bikes weighing less than 40 grams.

1. Make sure all facets of your bike are functioning, on both structural and mechanical levels. Do not attempt to fly down any road, freeway, hill or footpath unless they are working perfectly. There is only the prospect of being fed with a spoon for a year or at the least a broken fibula waiting for anyone foolish enough to skip this step.

2. Ensure your aware of which brake lever pulls which brake and the pressure required for emergency braking maneuvers. At speeds greater than 20kmh a front brake jerked suddenly will throw you over the bars and into a fatal swan dive. At best you may eat 10 metres of bitumen, if your lucks running low you may have a facial encounter with a semi being piloted by a brute who’s just slurped his first bag of grade A on his way to Darwin.

3. If it’s unavoidable and you are going to wipe-out, make it big style and cannonball right into your immovable assailant. If possible whilst mid-air, lob any illegals or booze into the darkest corner you can spot. Once the cops are crowded around your crumpled body you do not want to give them cause to drag you into the back of their wagon. Brown paper bags to conceal your sizzle are advisable when on route home from an establishment. If your only option in that moment of midair madness is to throw it in the direction of some streetside diners, at least nobody will find any shards in their Carbonara.

4. The most advanced rule, which requires extreme discipline and willpower. Avoid, at all costs, the temptation to take your carbon lightweight racer anywhere that you may be persuaded to indulge in alcoholic pursuits. It is advisable to keep a rustbucket handy for such occasions, particularly Sundays. Your sister’s bike is a suitable vehicle, fat tyres, a basket for storage of flammables and a step over frame to avoid any embarrassing falls and alerting the law. There is a new fad emerging in the backstreets of Tokyo for professional Keirin riders to drink copious amounts of sake, whilst watching sumo wrestling, before mounting their racers for a black market gambling operation. More and more tourists are falling victim to these jacked up speed machines, as they wander around looking for the tiny sashimi bar listed in their tour books in some obscure address. Being plowed into by a Japanese pedaling furiously with legs like pillars is not on most people’s itinerary’s. Save the carbon horse for daylight hours.

5. Diet should be monitored in the lead up to any potential ride post good times. Carbohydrate intake should peak around 2 hours prior. Guinness should be avoided at all times, it’s liable to cause you to fall asleep early into your journey home, rendering you incapable of reaching your destination. Tequila should be taken in the last 10 minutes to ensure you are charged and alert before riding at 30+ kmh on busy sidewalks. Coffee should be consumed on departure, black only. Milk is for babies.

6. Don’t do any of this.

 

 

 

thanks Hunter.

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What’s going on with pro athletes….?

Yannick, legend! quote: "What a monster! I want nothing to do with him. All that money and he never has time to smile. He gives the game a bad image." — Yannick Noah, on another pro player

Maybe it’s the pressure, expectation or just the grind of having to be on top of your game everyday just to compete….but I don’t see many professional athletes looking like they are having a great time. Where did all the characters go?

Well before the 'concept' of responsible service of alcohol, this guy drank 52 beers at high altitude on the way to a cricket tour of England, the pinnacle of cricket. His teammates competed with him and the winner was announced by the planes captain.

Perhaps I am wrong, maybe they are all smiling inside. Thinking about the adulation and the cash rewards that come with being a modern day professional athlete. I don’t know about you but when I see these athletes with diamond earrings, Beckham style tattoos and $400 hairstyles it makes me long for the 80’s + 90’s…..when sports stars were cool. They did it for enjoyment, they had a laugh and went for a beer after the game.

all smiles.

I personally don’t want to watch some emotionless robot competing, someone that’s been on the tennis court since they were 2 years old or locking themselves away to be the best and never put a foot wrong. I want to see Shane Warne in the papers boozing one day and taking 5 wickets the next morning. I want to see Mike Tyson with his pet Tiger talking shit before he lets loose like a manic in the ring.

Higuita 'El Loco' with a characteristically crazy 'Scorpion kick save'. Known for his eccentric playing style, taking unnecessary risks and ACTIVELY trying to score goals as the goal-keeper....legend!

I think it’s time for a lot of sports & athletes to take a step back and make things fun again, that’s what sport is there for right….?

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Where’s the bikes? A solitary Gazelle touring bike in Fremantle….

I think I may cry.  This was the only bicycle in Freo today.  Tied up all by it’s lonsesome… a forlorn Dutch Gazelle.  Why aren’t there more of these gorgeous little bikes in town?  Booo Hooo!

lonesome little Gazelle from the Dutch bicycle mob made me sad

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IHC bikini photoshoot teaser…

There’s no way we are going to let any of you see all of the photos that we shot at Cott early last Friday….. We’ve got a bundle of campaigns coming up and we’ll be rolling the best pics out slowly.  Danny, Tom and I can’t thank Carla enough for being such an awesome model.  At the beach at 7am sharp, all the right kit, great attitude and a HUGE smile- we had a ball.  Thank you!

sky blue Iron Horse Clothing Logo tee

assistant Tom doing a stellar job!

Iron Horse Clothing jersey yellow Spokes tee

Iron Horse Clothing road rash red Logo tee

Superb light at 730am…

white Bike Lines tee

Iron Horse's best selling Handlebar tee-cracker!

jersey yellow Time Trial design looks better on Carla than most

bangles, sunnies, rolling up sleeves, make-up, camera!

Australian made, 100% organic

we reckon it's the details that make our customers buy again....

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Casual gear for all riders, fixie, single speed, utility- whatever! Iron Horse photo shoot 3

you can see why the Handlebar design is doing really well. get 'em quick here

Crazy to think we have already been rolling for 3 months….madness, madness I say!  Here are some pics from our latest shoot out the back of very reputable cycle shop in Western Australia.  We thought we’d mess around a bit and get a bit more of a rougher edge in ths shoot and appeal more to buyers looking for fixed gear or single speed clothing– whatever is.  Oh, and before you dis the white balance or exposure, these have not been processed or changed in any way!

Iron Horse Line and ever best selling Handlebar design

Time Trial design in a Cervelo TT frame

Iron Horse's Handlebar design on some old tubage

hung like an iron horse

mini label and detail on our Logo shirt in wicked jersey yellow. it ain't that bright!

Spoke design in road rash red and white. cracking tees, innit.

lost inner tube. now say that again out loud.

konfused about which to shoot next.

Got any ideas for our next shoot?  We have another planned for this coming weekend- think we will get some ladeez booked for the occasion…..  ;o)

Peace.

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A week in the life of my camera!

critical inner quad stretch ensures elasticity in the aging body
nice little number tucked away in UWA

While shooting this bike, a cute little duck came a wandering by.  While attempting to shoot both the duck and the bike in the same frame, a plastic bottle full of chocolate milk came flying in from the left, just missing my camera and hitting my foot.  I turned around to see a mad man who began yelling at me.  (in a peculiar no-origin retarded American accent- Corky anyone?) “Hey man, leave that duck alone, man!  Look!  He’s like all crippled and shit!  That’s cruelty to animals, man!  I’m gonna call security!”  I fell over laughing, so did the 10 onlooking students.  He had ‘security’ on speed dial, pressed the button and ran off.

moreton bay fig tree at UWA gives true meaning to the word beautiful
‘Jun’ was moving between trig and calc classes in the time/space continuum. He told us he saves 73 minutes per week in doing so.  You get an A+, Jun.  Well done.
Shimano gear from back in the days of quality- even on the cheapest of bikes.
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