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Old 09-20-11, 10:04 AM   #1
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Bling and Being Noticed

There is another thread here where the OP is debating buying a Chris King headset vs a lower cost one and the concept of "bling" and having others notice and admire your bike has been raised. So, do other riders notice and comment on the high-zoot items on your bike? I'm not questioning the durability, reliability or functioning of top tier components, just are they noticed by others.

I have a '06 Litespeed Tuscanny with all Campy Chorus components and a CK headset. This bike is almost 6 years and 20,000 miles old and has been on numerous club and organized mass rides so lots of other riders have seen it. There have been a few who commented on it being a Litespeed (mostly other Litespeed owners) but absolutely no one has mentioned the Campy group and the headset is also completely ignored despite having "KING" in bold letters around both cups and the top cap.

So, my question is are we kidding ourselves that having boutique components impresses other riders or are we just paying a lot for no recognition.

Last edited by HillRider; 09-20-11 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:13 AM   #2
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Like a lot of things in life, it depends.

A very savvy and experienced cyclist is gonna notice your Campy groupo and Chris King headset, even if they don't comment on it. The headset is gonna say to that cyclist that this is somebody who knows about great and dependable products. At least, that is what I'll probably say to myself if I see your bike.

On the other hand, unless we have a conversation about it, I could easily deduce, based on the totality of other items on your bike and your "riding style" that you probably inherited the bike from your wealthy uncle
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Old 09-20-11, 10:21 AM   #3
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There are some who notice this kind of thing and some who don't. More important than if they're actually noticed or not is what the owners want to project.

When I started racing decades ago, there were some who we called the "Bike of the Month Club". These guys were always riding the newest and "coolest", whatever someone one a Grand Tour, or World Championship on. The rest of us were riding the same old bikes year after year, and if anyone in my small circle showed up with something new, we were asked how bad the crash was.

For me not much has changed, all my bikes are years old, well ridden and showing their age to varying degrees. They're all well spec'd and suited to their purpose but very plain vanilla. (don't even own a CK headset) For me cool is riding a bike that works better than it looks.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:30 AM   #4
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I do notice the bling. And I do comment, usually with praise and some admiration. I think it helps those who spent the money feel good about their acquisition. It costs me nothing, and it's a great way to start a conversation. Do I envy their bling? Not usually. But if someone has a very nice utilitarian setup or they have a really nice bike and ride it a lot, I do take mental notes and observe their use to gather stats on how good their parts really are and whether the purchase has true value. It helps me in decision making in the future and makes me more knowledgeable about a part that I have never owned.

I might add something else to consider about bling. And that is, if you know or suspect that only a few people will notice the bling, does the esteem of the few knowledgeable few give you greater satisfaction, or are you happier if everyone turns heads, knowledgeable or not?
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Old 09-20-11, 10:30 AM   #5
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I think there are relatively few who really know what they are looking at with the wide variety of high end parts whether they have a bling factor or not. I'm not a big fan of bling for the sake of being noticed myself. I buy components for their functional reliability and performance for the price therefore my bikes tend to have an odd mix of components not necessarily packaged together in bike showrooms. I know I'm talking to a knowledgeable person when they notice this but I could care less about bling for bling's sake and fortunately, I have not seen much of that.

I do know a few status seekers who will buy the best of everything and seem to concentrate on "the look" only to put very few miles on their equipment. I even went on a camping / MTB trip with a guy who was quite apprehensive about going for a ride because he had just cleaned his bike. If my MTB isn't dirty, it's because it is March and I just finished getting it out of the shed after storage for the winter.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:32 AM   #6
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For me cool is riding a bike that works better than it looks.
I could not have said it better if I tried.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:39 AM   #7
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On the other hand, unless we have a conversation about it, I could easily deduce, based on the totality of other items on your bike and your "riding style" that you probably inherited the bike from your wealthy uncle
At my age (69) any wealthy uncles I may have had are long gone and I've become the "wealthy grandpa" to my grandkids! The bike is admittedly a splurge but after putting 70,000 miles on it's predecessor, I decided to treat myself. I didn't expect many other to notice and they haven't, at least not verbally.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:55 AM   #8
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I have a wheelset with the polished White Industries hubs. I am always suprised at how many questions and comments I get about them. I didn't buy them for looks, I was avoiding an aluminum freehub and thought I'd try something different than the Shimano hubs on my other wheelsets. But people seem to love those shiney hubs.
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Old 09-20-11, 11:11 AM   #9
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I could not have said it better if I tried.
+1
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Old 09-20-11, 11:27 AM   #10
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Older CK headsets were made before they Bought the laser etching machine,
now you have to specify Soto voce, a subtile 2 shades of the same color ,
so logo is not so glaring..

I have a plain looking CK threaded HS on my touring bike.

Recent Bike friday has a Black Gripnut HS, the logo looks like a matte finish
a bit lighter, dark grey
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Old 09-20-11, 11:45 AM   #11
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Hillrider, A bike that demonstrates a quality, attention to detail build is what captures my attention. The components are rather secondary as is the frame's manufacturer. The best use of CK pieces, IMHO, was a bike I saw in Galveston. A 'high mileage' older mountain bike.

Perhaps a bit odd, but since I went retro with DT shifters (actually if it were a complete bike rather than a frameset it would originally been available only with DT shifters) on my old Cannondale I have had more comments than when it had integrated shifters. DT shifters seem to intrigue cyclists these days.

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Old 09-20-11, 12:08 PM   #12
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My thoughts on the subject are pretty simple: the stuff that's on my own bike(s) is for me to admire, not to impress others. And that's an honest statement. I like nice stuff, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of having it on my bikes. If someone comments on it, that's cool, but it's not at all why I have nice stuff.

What I do find that gets other folks' attention is riding something a little unusual, not necessarily blingy. When mountain biking, I get quite a few comments about my rigid fork, most everyone these days uses suspension for off road riding. I have too, but that's for another discussion. FWIW, that bike is equipped with a CK headset, and no one ever mentions that. I mention it sometimes just to illustrate its durabillity, pointing out that this is the third frame this headset has been on, it's outlasted two other mountain bikes.

When I'm riding my lugged steel Pinarello, I do get a lot of comments, most everyone tells me how nice it looks, others will appreciate it because it's a rather old school frame, etc. It's got nice parts on it, but not over the top. But again, it's a little different than the norm, and it gets attention.

I have a nice Jamis touring bike and a Surly Long Haul Trucker, too, and I'm very proud of those bikes for their functionality and the way I've equipped them for their purpose. I've turned the Jamis into something that looks pretty blingy, I suppose, and I do get a lot of comments on both of these bikes; but again, it's more because they're different than the norm than because they have bling.

Last edited by well biked; 09-20-11 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 09-20-11, 12:12 PM   #13
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My bikes tend to be inundated with anti-bling.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-20-11, 01:49 PM   #14
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I am betting that you will get more comments with some nice sparkly handle bar tassels.
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Old 09-20-11, 01:54 PM   #15
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I always get comments on the spokey dokes...
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Old 09-20-11, 02:08 PM   #16
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I always get comments on the spokey dokes...
I traded all mine for an artisanal alligator hide and tweed chainstay protector.
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Old 09-20-11, 02:12 PM   #17
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I traded all mine for an artisanal alligator hide and tweed chainstay protector.
Sweet.

The spokey dokes are more than stylish as they serve a valuable purpose as stall indicators...

Because I work with bikes and build them I probably pay a little more attention to things and will often comment on a particularly nice build or use of really nice components and should point out that a CK headset is not a boutique item... it is some seriously well made kit.

What will really turn my head is high quality vintage parts... old Campagnolo headsets are a thing of beauty inside and out.
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Old 09-20-11, 02:45 PM   #18
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My bike is a metaphorical chest beating/mating call. All it's bits are specifically chosen to increase it's attractiveness to a mate, and assure my alpha status among other cyclists. I also wake up and stare at it longingly every morning...sometimes I lust over it.

The only bling on my commuter is reflective tape, the only bling on my custom tourer I specifically chose is the good luck charm zip-tied to my brake booster.

They're bikes, nothing more.
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Old 09-20-11, 03:01 PM   #19
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My bike is a metaphorical chest beating/mating call.
Now that's a great quote!
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Old 09-20-11, 03:05 PM   #20
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I am betting that you will get more comments with some nice sparkly handle bar tassels.
Hmmmm.... now there's an idea.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-20-11, 03:29 PM   #21
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Older CK headsets were made before they Bought the laser etching machine, now you have to specify Soto voce, a subtile 2 shades of the same color ,
so logo is not so glaring..
That was sort of my point. My CK was purchased before they offered the low key logo so it shouts KING all over itself in high contrast. Even at that it's rarely noticed and never mentioned.

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.....should point out that a CK headset is not a boutique item... it is some seriously well made kit.
I referred to it as "boutique" because it's far more expensive than many other well made headsets and is a status item to some. Being boutique doesn't prevent it from being extremely well made and functional and indeed, mine is.

All of the postings so far have been very interesting. We all know riders who buy the most expensive and flashiest things they can find to try to impress their fellow riders and others who go out of their way to do the opposite.
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Old 09-20-11, 04:27 PM   #22
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I was on a group ride this summer when a couple of riders at a rest stop commented on my 2006-ish Mavic Aksiums. They had mistaken them for Ksyriums.
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Old 09-20-11, 04:44 PM   #23
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Everyone here rides a Cervelo, Tarmac, Orca, Noah, or Dogma so it's hard keeping up with the Jones'
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Old 09-20-11, 06:15 PM   #24
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Everyone here rides a Cervelo, Tarmac, Orca, Noah, or Dogma so it's hard keeping up with the Jones'
One of the guys I ride with has a carbon Pinarallo and between the wavy fork blades and the garish paint job, it does indeed get noticed and commented on. It's also fitted with all Campy Record components but no one but he and I seem to pay any attention to that detail.
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Old 09-20-11, 06:48 PM   #25
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I notice that kind of stuff but rarely comment on it.

I've found the bike I ride that gets the absolute most attention and comments is my 1968 Raleigh Sprite that I have $100 into. Some people just because it's a clean old classic, others notice the 5 speed SA hub and original Brooks saddle. My bikes that cost 10x that much, never a peep.
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