Passion is an expensive word

We, and many other bike industry people and companies, are often described as "passionate." This applies to a bunch of other "do what you love" kind of industries, too. There's danger in this descriptor.

Last night I rode with a friend I hadn't seen in a while, and he asked if I'd gotten a new bike. I was riding my old cross bike, and told him so. My regular road bike, I explained, was saddled with a 5 year old group set that had seen too many miles and too little maintenance. The rear brake caliper piston was stuck and the brakes needed to be bled (again - circa 2015 Force hydro brakes are not the ultimate incarnation of the art), and it the bike would be sidelined until I found time to deal with it. "But you're a mechanic!" said he. "Well, to be precise I'm a wheel builder, and beyond that, when you get done with Navy Intelligence-ing at the end of the day, how much Navy Intelligence-ing do you want to do when you get home?" "Touché," says he. 

As this article in The Economist points out, jobs can't ask for 100% of you. There is a need to compartmentalize, and save some of "you" for yourself. We touch the flame of too close to that very often. Nearly continuously, I'd say. Where do we stop and the company start, and vice versa? It's a drag, to be sure. There's the whatever-you-want-to-call-it-I-guess-ethical "I want this to be as good as it can possibly be for everyone who's chosen to spend money with us," and its cousin "I don't want people to wait" and the whole extended family. Then there's the pragmatic "one bad comment or bad experience can harpoon a whole ton of goodwill" piece.

We're bad at saying no. Just yesterday I ok'd a no cost, way too late to come without a cost to us, switch in hub color. This is the second time this month. We should charge for that if we were sane, as there are monetary and time and pain in the a$$ costs to us, but for whatever reason "passion" makes me make the wrong decision. 

Though we appreciate the sentiment behind people describing us and the work we do as "passionate," we're here to tell you it's a fine line and we can't necessarily take it as the compliment it's meant as. This business will drive you insane. 


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  • Dave on

    Thanks all. This felt a little bit like dropping a grenade into our living room and walking out, knowing how much our “passion” is involved in people’s appraisals and expectations of us. But at times I do wonder about my ability to stay healthy and sane doing this how we do it. I realize there are people who would take 7 figure transactions and be totally blasé about it, but when people take +/- a grand out of their pocket and give it to us for bike wheels, we’re really very very far from blasé about it. It gets to you over time.

  • Noel on

    Hey I feel you—- even when you are doing something you love, sometimes it’s necessary to say “enough”. Otherwise you burn out and the whole enterprise falls apart.
    For what it is worth, I’m grateful that there are businesses like yours— it makes me feel much better to spend money with you guys than with BIG CORP NAME HERE.
    Also: I think you should tell people they can’t change hub colors at a certain point—- that seems reasonable. We are all over-indulged with choices by the interwebs, which leads to some idea that the perfect choice will lead to happiness. That’s a fantasy: we’d probably all be happier if all hubs were black, or silver. We’d just buy wheels and go ride, instead of obsessing about the color of our hubs.
    However, I love the green I9’s on my GOAT’s….

  • Jeff on

    For what it’s worth, the passion or whatever you want to call it is why I buy wheels from you guys. When I buy running shoes, I go the local shop that lives and breathes running. I’m always glad I did. Likewise, when I need/desire new wheels, I come here.

  • Mike on

    I work in IT…20 years ago it was exciting to also work on my own computers and do software development on my own home because it was fun…now my gaming is on consoles instead of a gaming PC because consoles generally “just work”, my PC is a Mac because I got sick of rebuilding my hard drive from viruses or a bad Windows patch, and all our devices are I"somethings" because they all tie to our Apple IDs and the last thing I want to do when I get home is deal with technology issues for me or for other people…


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