July 26, 2012

Cycling and Technology - The product review dilemma

Early in my blogging career I did a few product reviews. These sorts of posts generally garner higher amounts of traffic, presumably from people trying to do research on products they are considering. I stopped doing them for a while because I realized that the reviews I liked reading most were the ones where someone talked about a product after using it for a long time. They tended to give an unvarnished view of the product because over time the novelty wears off, excitement wanes, and the true utility and craftsmanship of the product can be seen. I was only motivated to write about things that were brand new because I was still hyped up about them. I decided to give it a rest and think about it later.

I don't want to be some sort of corporate shill, or worse, the pawn of a corporate shill, by mindlessly touting the latest goods from some company just because they sent me a trial product. I also don't want to do reviews just to manufacture hits on a blog. But my sport is cycling and cycling is a sport based on technology. Imagine the sport of running without technology. Without shoes a runner can still run. In fact, it's the latest fad in running. Without a bike, well, there's no cycling. So, discussion about technology related to cycling is, I think, crucial for those in the sport. In fact, I think part of the reason I like cycling so much is because it is such a blend of technology and human powered sport.

What I've decided to do is to selectively discuss (not promote or market) various cycling related technologies and talk about how I've used them in the process of cycling. In fact, in some cases I may not even talk about a specific product, but rather the technology generically. I almost did a review about a pair of bike pants I love, but the manufacturer doesn't make them anymore (I knew I should have bought the store's full inventory at the time). But now I realize that I can talk about those pants and their features and what capabilities they have that can be found in other cycling pants also. A discussion about cycling pants, as mundane as it seems, is helpful for people trying to figure out cycling pants (beyond the part where you figure out where the legs go). Each of these technologies are part of an ecosystem of technologies all related to making this chub go faster on two wheels. So, I'll talk about how they've helped me achieve goals, or where they fell short. And, I'll only do this for things I've used for at least a year.

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