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Old 04-06-2014, 09:00 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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The more I think about it, cyclists kinda fall into two camps the way BMW drivers fall into two distinct camps.

The first camp is comprised of people who truly love the ride of the cars. These are people who know everything about the gear ratios, the type of air filters used, the power distribution among the wheel base, etc. They will often buy older models (particularly older M series cars) and sacrifice immensely for the love of the ride.

The second camp is generally comprised of people who know little about the mechanics of their vehicle, but they do know it's associated with high status. They may care somewhat about the ride, but they're not going to tinker with it too much. They're mostly concerned about the way they look to other people. This is the type of person who drives a 7 Series.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:04 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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I don't fall into either.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:34 AM
 
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Not disagreeing with you, but isn't this true of most things?
A 10 year old Toyotra does the same thing as a $100k Mercedes or BMW, it goes from point A to point B.
I can go to my corner bar and have a $1.50 PBR or across the street and have a $6 microbrew.

My personal opinion of why recreational biking is more a middle & upper class activity is based our pay structure. Lower paying jobs tend to be more physically demanding and leave little desire for physical exercise at the end of the day. For me, sitting at a desk all day requires a good workout at the end of the day. YMMV





Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Cycling seems like one of these activities that's egalitarian on its face but can take on an air of exclusivity rather easily. In this sense, it's a bit similar to tennis.

It really doesn't cost much to play tennis. You can go to your local Costco, Walmart, K-Mart or Target and pick up a racquet for $30 (cheaper than a bike). Pick up a six pack of Penn Extra Duty balls on sale and you're off and hitting. Most courts in the U.S. are free (and many suburban apartment complexes have them).

So it seems cheap and simple enough. But the deeper you delve into the sport, the more quickly the costs escalate. A Babolat Pure Pro Drive or a Wilson Tour 90 can easily set you back $200. And of course, the pros have multiple racquets, so most people buy 3 or 4. Then you need a bag for your racquets. That's a $100. You can't just walk onto the court wearing regular clothes; you gotta look the way Federer does. That's $180 for the shoes, $90 for the shirt and $50 for the shorts. The socks are $22. Then it's not enough to hit at a public park. All of your friends play at clubs that feature teaching pros and have clay courts (which are expensive to maintain).

Of course, anybody can play tennis without spending this type of money (recreationally, that is, competitive tennis at the highest levels costs hundreds of thousands). My point is that there's a culture around it that's a bit snobby and exclusive that many people buy into, even though one can technically play the sport on a daily basis without spending more than $20 per month. Cycling, in my experience, is a bit similar. While not really exclusive in theory (and practice too), it has a culture that's developed around it that is a bit snobby and pretentious.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,257 posts, read 26,226,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddyline View Post
Not disagreeing with you, but isn't this true of most things?
A 10 year old Toyotra does the same thing as a $100k Mercedes or BMW, it goes from point A to point B.
I can go to my corner bar and have a $1.50 PBR or across the street and have a $6 microbrew.
It's a little different because you have something that, in theory, should be the same (or close to the same) across all socioeconomic classes. Soccer (in the U.S.) is the perfect example of this. On the one hand, you have a grassroots soccer culture that's overwhelmingly dominated by Latin American and African immigrants. Go out to Corona Park in Queens and you will see tons of Hispanics and other immigrants playing pickup games. On the other hand, you have a soccer culture that's largely white and upper middle class, and unfortunately, that culture tends to be the dominant one here. Outside of the Hispanic/immigrant community, soccer is perceived to be a "rich kid" and "elitist" sport and there's data that supports this perception.

So it really makes no sense that something that can be done on the cheap (cheaper than basketball, baseball or football) has a reputation of being a largely white, suburban and upper middle class sport. But for whatever reason, the sport in this country has a certain cachet with the upper classes, and seems exclusive to the lower classes by default. It shouldn't be this way, but that's the way it is. Demographically, club soccer players, club tennis players and cyclists tend to have a lot of overlap. Even on the recreational level (again, the technical instruction required to play competitive tennis would cost a lot of money and 90%+ of pro tennis players come from wealthy families), the sport garners the interest of the upper classes in a way some other sports do not.

So, in conclusion, it's a cultural/status thing. It's no different from going to a bar and seeing someone with an FC Basel jersey on who probably couldn't name the five best goalkeepers in the game today to save his life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddyline View Post
My personal opinion of why recreational biking is more a middle & upper class activity is based our pay structure. Lower paying jobs tend to be more physically demanding and leave little desire for physical exercise at the end of the day. For me, sitting at a desk all day requires a good workout at the end of the day. YMMV
I don't agree with that at all. You see tons of poor Hispanics playing soccer all over the place. And the average pickup soccer game is 1,000 times more physically demanding than riding a bicycle for a few miles a day.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
What's interesting is that there are more Hispanic riders than Black riders in a city/metro where there are many more Black people (and Blacks are generally more affluent...among the most affluent in the nation actually). The article below raised questions about this phenomenon, but didn't really make any effort to provide answers.

Why Don't More Blacks Use DC's Bike Share? - WNYC

I have a simple answer, which is based almost entirely on anecdotal evidence. I just don't think black people dig cycling the way white people do. Among the upper middle class, it's not a trend the way it is among the white upper middle class (which is far larger anyway). Biking, for a lot of people (imo), can be a bit of a status jockeying game. Sure, there are tons of people riding around on beater bikes, but if you walk into the average bike shop in Brooklyn or San Francisco, most people aren't pushing in beaters. A lot of people are strolling in with Cannondales that cost $2,000 or more. And the shops offer a lot of high end goodies like expensive power bars/energy snacks. There's sort of an upper middle class culture that's sprung up around cycling in cities (even though that culture does not subsume all cyclists).
Here in the Bay Area, biking a is for white people. And we have both the hipster crowd, the transportation crowd and the mid life crisis crowd with $2k bikes. In some parts of Oakland those Lycra racer types also attach trailers and tote their kids or go to trader joes.

There is also stuff like scraper bikes, which don't get mainstream coverage:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=geIsWq5xOSE

[this song is pretty hilarious! as it absolutely is like a perfect hyphy Bay Area song, using the lingo that usually used to describe cars, particularly scrapers.]

And Red Bike and Green.

I joined the bike club after a few years in the fence when I won a bike. I have one at my parents place, but it never became a priority to bring it to my apartment. On the other hand I love my dutch style bike, which totally fits in better with my "personality."

In general, the transportation cycling is pretty mixed (based on who I see in the bike lanes), I.e. I usually see a decent number if other black people biking. I don't see a lot of Latinos. But that is more of a function of where I leave more than anything. I don't see a lot of Asians in my part of town, but in Chinatown there are lots of Chinese people on bikes.

I was talking to a guy who happens to be in the board of our local bike coalition. He is an upper middle class white guy, and he lives in a sketchier part of Oakland. If you head a few blocks from his place, you run into all of the stuff Oakland is known for, but his neighborhood is middle class (regular middle class, not upper middle class) and mixed ethnically. He was telling me that the bike coalition skews very white and they are working in getting more diverse. I happened to join, so we were joking on how we were both off stereotype. Most of the members are white people that live in my area or nearby (which is more affluent). And there are few people from his side of town which is more black perhaps hovering near 50%, and is poorer. And few black members. But the guy responsible for the scraper bike video above is also a member of the bike coalition.

I think a big difference is, white people tend to attach biking to part of their identity, they stay in the trends, have several bikes, and are all geared out. Whereas other, non-white people happen to ride a bike but don't consider themselves cyclists.

The other thing is, the bike industry and advocacy do not tend to be very inclusive, bike ads only have white people, affluent ones.leaving out the people who ride by necessity not choice (hmm sound familiar). The advocates tend to be biking because it is green and healthy, and don't necessarily understand what motivates people not like them so the messaging doesn't resonate with other groups, becoming exclusionary.

Also, I think for more affluent black people, probably more so than other groups, bikes are considered towns, and for recreation. There is a lot caught up in status and perception. Driving is an important for of status, particularly when people are quick to stereotype you as poor and worse just because you are black and many people want to put as much distance from that perception and themselves.

*as an aside the brand my bike is from actually makes a conscious effort to be diverse in its marketing and imagery. I have been to the store a few times and the clientele reflects that. Same with the other people I see on bikes by the brand. Broad range of ages and ethnic groups.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I don't agree with that at all. You see tons of poor Hispanics playing soccer all over the place. And the average pickup soccer game is 1,000 times more physically demanding than riding a bicycle for a few miles a day.
Was not talking about soccer, my post was specifically about RECREATIONAL biking.
I believe the thread is about biking, not soccer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddyline View Post
My personal opinion of why recreational biking is more a middle & upper class activity is based our pay structure. Lower paying jobs tend to be more physically demanding and leave little desire for physical exercise at the end of the day. For me, sitting at a desk all day requires a good workout at the end of the day. YMMV
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,257 posts, read 26,226,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I think a big difference is, white people tend to attach biking to part of their identity, they stay in the trends, have several bikes, and are all geared out. Whereas other, non-white people happen to ride a bike but don't consider themselves cyclists.
I think you raise some good points, Jade. I've always noticed cyclists of different races. That's nothing new. What's new, imo, is sort of the culture that's come to envelop cycling to some extent, which comes complete with Cliff Bars, expensive seats and handlebars, and other expensive accessories that aren't really necessary to enjoy a cycling experience. Well, maybe it's not so new, but it's something I never really noticed before until a few years ago.

I bought a new bike a couple of years ago. I had no idea what I was in for before walking into the store. It wasn't just a regular bike shop; it was an experience. It was like the difference between walking into a gourmet cupcake shop and picking up some cupcakes in a plastic container from the bakery of your local grocery store. Tons of cutesy, nostalgia-invoking bikes with baskets and the little bell on the handlebars and stuff like that. The cheapest bike may have been around $500. And the store was just as busy as an Apple store! People were walking in buying $80 bike pumps, $3 Cliff bars, $4 bottles of water, $100 cushioned seats, $200 cycle shoes, etc. It was definitely a place for people who have a lot of disposable income to blow on stuff they don't need.

Like I said before, tennis is very much the same way. You could go out and play for less than $30 (better yet, just go on CL and find a free racquet). But a lot of people don't do that. The first thing people ask me is "What does Roger Federer play with?" Nevermind that he hits with a 90 sq. inch frame that has a sweep spot the size of a dime (which he actually abandoned, btw, because he was mi****ting too many balls lol), they want the best. So they blow tons of money on gear and equipment before even knowing the difference between an Eastern and Semi-Western grip. But it's not like they really care about that anyway. Tennis is about Wimbledon, which is in Europe, and the royal family goes there, and Federer is from Europe and speaks 4 different languages and all that jazz.

It's a status thing. Not everybody's into it, but there are enough people who are into it for that reason to make it very f-ing annoying.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,257 posts, read 26,226,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddyline View Post
Was not talking about soccer, my post was specifically about RECREATIONAL biking.
I believe the thread is about biking, not soccer.
And I completely disagreed with your theory. I don't think Hispanic day laborers are too tired to engage in recreational biking when they get off work. If they can play soccer for hours on end, it stands to reason that they could ride a bike too.

If anything, money would be a greater obstacle. Or perhaps time. But if someone has time to play soccer (or basketball among African American men), then I don't see why they couldn't spend at least some of that time riding a bicycle.

I personally think part of it is money. But I also think a bigger part of it is culture. Washington, DC has enough young, black professionals for that demographic to make up more than a measly 3% of Capital Bikeshare's ridership. Not all black people live like James and Florida Evans in Good Times. These are people who could ride bikes just as their white counterparts do, but choose not to.

Also, I brought up soccer because it's very similar to cycling in terms of their appeal to the upper middle class. I was a soccer player and the same trends and culture I notice in soccer I've also noticed in cycling.

Last edited by BajanYankee; 04-06-2014 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,655,359 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I think you raise some good points, Jade. I've always noticed cyclists of different races. That's nothing new. What's new, imo, is sort of the culture that's come to envelop cycling to some extent, which comes complete with Cliff Bars, expensive seats and handlebars, and other expensive accessories that aren't really necessary to enjoy a cycling experience. Well, maybe it's not so new, but it's something I never really noticed before until a few years ago.

I bought a new bike a couple of years ago. I had no idea what I was in for before walking into the store. It wasn't just a regular bike shop; it was an experience. It was like the difference between walking into a gourmet cupcake shop and picking up some cupcakes in a plastic container from the bakery of your local grocery store. Tons of cutesy, nostalgia-invoking bikes with baskets and the little bell on the handlebars and stuff like that. The cheapest bike may have been around $500. And the store was just as busy as an Apple store! People were walking in buying $80 bike pumps, $3 Cliff bars, $4 bottles of water, $100 cushioned seats, $200 cycle shoes, etc. It was definitely a place for people who have a lot of disposable income to blow on stuff they don't need.

It's a status thing. Not everybody's into it, but there are enough people who are into it for that reason to make it very f-ing annoying.
The first bike store experience I remember, was when my dad got his first mountain bike. Like most kids I rode a bike. I had my purple bike and we rode around the neighborhood.

My dad had a 70s era racer bike. I think he got it as one of his, adapting to California purchases. . And he wanted a bike that was better for cruising around the neighborhood with us. So we went to the bike store, my sister dad and I. And he picked out a bike. And then it came with like 12 billion accessories. My dad was always all about gadgets and electronics. So this bike was decked out with tons of gears, a rear rack, a trip, computer....

So that's my first bike store memory. The next one was when it was time for me to get an "adult bike" when I was 13 or 14. I was always the kid who did lots of research and asked lots of questions. But this is also where I remember the dynamic where the store worker was talking to my dad, and not really talking to me about what I wanted. I was always extra confident (around adults even) and was able to let's say steer the conversation to make sure my needs were heard, even in those situations where my voice may have been discounted, and I got the bike I wanted. But after that I felt like bike stores really weren't for people who weren't hardcore gear heads. I didn't go to the bike shop until years later when I had a bike that needed a tune up. And the condescending attitude.

And then i didn't go back until now with my new bike. This place was more like the apple store experience you describe. I like this so much better. It is less pretentious (ok my Bay Area store wasn't too pretentious). Well maybe it is more like the experience was designed like a boutique shopping experience and not for gearheads. It was like shopping for a purse. No one was asking you about how many gears you wanted and what kind of shifter you needed or how many miles you rode a week. It was about "how are you going to use it."

We have both types of bike shops here in the Bay Area, the racer shops with $5k bikes for triathletes. And the hipster shops that sell fixies. And the more boutique like shops.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:52 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,257 posts, read 26,226,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
We have both types of bike shops here in the Bay Area, the racer shops with $5k bikes for triathletes. And the hipster shops that sell fixies. And the more boutique like shops.
The shop I went to was like all three wrapped into one. And fixies are expensive. The same people who buy those are the same people who spend $11 on a gourmet sandwich and wash it down with a $3.50 can of San Pellegrino.
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