Monday, 21 January 2013

Retro - Why?

Not a great deal has been going on over the past week on the cycling front here at Purple Towers...or on any other front come to that. 
Due to the bad weather that we have been having, most things in the UK seemed to grind to a halt...airports..rail services...buses.... 
Even quite a large number of schools have been closed much to the enjoyment of the youngsters who have been able to play with sledges in the snow instead of having their daily dose of education.... 

There has also been the usual hand wringing and moaning  regarding the problems that the bad weather seems to cause us all here in the UK compared to other countries, where we are told, everything functions to a perfect clockwork precision in spite of the snow.... 
I tend to think that a lot of it tends to be something to do with the costs involved in investing in extra equipment to keep everything moving in bad weather when it happens relatively infrequently, unlike the countries and places that we tend to be compared with.... 

It's not unlike me really....When we get a coating of snow I often think that I would love to have a 'fat tyre' bike so that I could get out and ride....however...knowing that I would only use it on the rare occasions that we did get some snow I am not prepared to spend the money required to buy one....I would rather spend the money on road bikes and kit and pedal away indoors on the static bike when the weather turns bad....
And that is exactly what I've been doing over the past week....  Pedaling away indoors I have still been managing to get a good two hours a day of  specific zone training completed and currently I am feeling pretty good about my progress.

As I have mentioned in previous posts...spinning those pedals indoors gives me lot's of time for 'thinking'...often a dangerous thing for me to do....
One thing that passed through my mind this morning was... 
'Why is it that Retro is so popular in an age when things are superseded and upgraded almost as soon as they become available?' 

Take photography...Touchscreen controls are all the rage and yet a number of manufacturers are selling very large numbers of cameras described as retro with buttons and dials to control aperture, speed etc rather than having these controls buried within the depths of a digital menu. 

It's similar with bikes, although in the bike world it tends to be more about a retro look mixed with all the benefits of the latest technological advances...
Why is the retro look so popular? 
My Tifosi has a nod to the retro in appearance with it's paint job and colour mixed with modern gears etc... 
For me it is a reminder of what bikes tended to broadly look like when I was a kid and started riding..so it's a bit of nostalgia... 

 Similarly with the cameras...I was brought up with cameras with dials and buttons with which to control the settings...it feels comfortable and things feel in the right place, unlike all the magic of the touchscreen...so again in my case it's all about nostalgia and what feels and looks right based upon when I first started using cameras.  

But why would someone forty years younger than me buy either the camera with the buttons and dials, or the bike with retro paint job and traditional saddle and bar tape etc? 
It can't be nostalgia in their case...after all they haven't got that personal connection with the style or look. 

Help me out here guys...Do you like the retro look?  If so, what is your excuse?

13 comments:

Peter Roberts said...

Retro- living the dream. Reynolds steel, down tube shifters, 27inch wheels, the sort of stuff ridden by legends. Black and White photography, zonal schemes. And then in the tea shop you can believe you are chatting to Ansell and Tommy. Discussing the developing cocktails used in film, sharing the pain of that last great mountain. For a while, you too can be a legend, just living the dreams of retro time.

Chandra said...

Trevor:
A very thought provoking post! I really enjoyed it.

I don't have a personal connection to some of the retro bikes that you may be thinking of. I have ridden my dad's bike from the 1940s; an English Raleigh, single speed, roadster. I do buy old things, that are usable, because I strongly believe that they were made of high quality.

With cameras, if you want the real experience, I wouldn't buy anything except one where I have full control of the camera. Digital is okay, given its benefits in terms of cost.

I still use fountain pens, which I have to fill-up with bottled inks, such as Quink, Parker, Chelpark, Mont Blanc, etc. Go figure!

I believe in "Old is Gold" :)

Some may buy retro things, just to be different too. What do you think?

Peace :)

rlove2bike said...

I live in area where we can have winter starting in lat October and it can go into April, although the last couple years has been easy. I will tell you it doesn't always run like clockwork.

Retro...I can take it or leave it. I must say though, I would like to have an old road bike. I had a new 3 speed Montgomery Ward Hawthorne I would love to have now. It's heavy and slow but I still would like it.

Thanks for the thinking post,
RL

Marsha said...

Today's world seems overcrowded with disposable, slick, mass-produced objects of dubious quality. Many younger people turn to retro as a statement of their rejection of this and a yearning for an era of craftsmanship. Didn't we do the same thing? It seems there is always an era, usually 30-40 years before the present, that seems so very much better than today...

Marsha said...

Don't miss checking this out.
http://urbanadventureleague.blogspot.com/2013/01/retro-grouch-pioneers-geoff-apps.html

Retro seems to be a big topic this week.

Big Oak said...

I love my retro (I prefer "vintage" for no good reason) bikes - 1981 and 1986 Treks. Although I will by a newer one in the next year or so.

I miss my old Minolta 201 camera. It was a great piece of engineering.

I shudder (shutter?!?) at the cost of developing film the old way now that I can simply download my photos to my computer. But I can't hold them in my hand the way I used to, either.

I hope the weather improves for you soon. I applaud your 2 hour per day trainer rides! I can manage about an hour per day, max.

Steve A said...

I heart snow. Speaking of which, I'll be expecting a review of "Bike Spikes" when they make it your way.

adventure! said...

I think Marsha nails it on the head. Also I think as our world keeps on spinning faster and faster we start to yearn for the things recently gone, things we may have not fully appreciated in their time.

As for Retro (as in "old") bikes, for one I like the looks. And there are so many out there! Do I want a nice '80s ridgid-frame mountain bike? An old three speed? A lightweight Japanese road bike? We've got lots of options. Back during the height of the Bike Boom in the States, you basically took what you could get in the new department, since there wasn't much used unless you wanted a heavy American cruiser.

RANTWICK said...

Retro - For me retro styles and looks kind of feel like cheating. I understand why people like it, it just isn't for me.

On the other hand, a "vintage" bicycle that has been well maintained or restored to its former glory just seems "right" to me rather than "cool". I like those a lot.

Does that make any sense? I'm not sure it does...

Trevor Woodford said...

*Peter Roberts*
Great words and great thoughts Peter...I think you have captured the way I certainly feel about it very well.. A bit of imagination is a pretty good thing to have I think.

*Chandra*
Glad that you enjoyed the post Chandra... I do agree that there was a quality and longevity built into products from the past...Today things have a very short life and seem to have a built in obsolescence.After many years of using Leica cameras I do now use digital models but they are rangefinder style with dials and buttons just like the past...

*rlove2bike*
I am pleased to hear that you have your winter transport problems too and that things don't always run like clockwork like we seem to be led to believe over here...

*Marsha*
Seeing the ridiculous crowds that wait overnight at an Apple store when a new product is released, one could be forgiven for thinking that no one has an interest in things from the past...However you are right about the way the world seems full of mass produced items of dubious quality... I always like to hold on to things that I buy and am never too keen to upgrade to the latest version. Thanks for the blog link by the way. I do follow the blog in question, but had not got around to checking that post out yet..

Trevor Woodford said...

*Big Oak*
Minolta certainly made some very fine products....As you say it is a lot cheaper with digital than it used to be with film...
Most of my general shots I just file on the computer, but if I go out with the intention of producing some decent shots I do usually print them out....Black and White only in most cases though...

*Steve A*
I am not keen on snow these days either Steve..When I was a bit younger I looked forward to it..going into the mountains to do some hill walking and wild camping surrounded by all the white stuff...I must have been mad!!

*Adventure*
You are so right...I would love things to slow down a bit...be just a bit like it used to be when I was younger...Things in all manner of ways, change so rapidly these days that I do find it all pretty frightening..As you say it could well be a case of trying to link into those days gone by when things seemed to be a lot slower and more reliable.....

*RANTWICK*
Things from the past certainly last longer and the styles are reminiscent of those slower times...Mind you they are not always as efficient as a more modern item...I do like the efficiency of modern technology but don't like the production quality or the built in obsolescence.

Jim said...

Because there was a time when things were meant to last, and if they needed repairing, there were parts to fix them. Now, everything is for throw away. It's wrong. Everyone who knows anything knows it's wrong. Which is why "retro" is attractive. It hearkens back to an era that everything was meant to last, and you should fix it yourself and keep it working. It's a beautiful thing, and I support it.

Trevor Woodford said...

*Jim*
That's how I see it too Jim...
The sad part is, that if we value longevity...ability to repair...etc so much, why have we all allowed the throwaway society to take over in the way it has..?