Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Separated at Birth, Italics and Bike Industry Trends






Look at these two logos. Incredibly similar right? Both are equally bad. Are the squiggles supposed to signify a letter "P" and some kind of a tornado for both Pinarello and Powerade? Is Pinarello's squiggle supposed to signify Valverde's blood spinning like mad in a shady Spanish doctor's centrifuge? Beyond the blood centrifuge/letter P, the designer for the Pinarello logo had very little work do to. After all, when you sign a contract to have all your frames made by 12 year olds in Taiwan, you also have to sign a contract stating that your logo MUST be typeset in italics. Don't believe me? Just look at the collection of logos below, which Cycling Inquisition's intern put together during her time off from washing my stable of bikes:





All italics. Pretty interesting right? I certainly think so, but let me also clear something up. The few dentists in our readership are probably upset after having looked at the image above. They're probably wondering why I would make a joke about all bikes made in Taiwan, and then show a Serotta logo. I know that Serotta frames are not made in Taiwan. I also don't want to get into any kind of legal trouble...so I'll clarify my previous statement. All bike companies do not have their frames made by 12 year olds in Taiwan. I was kidding. They are actually made by 10 year olds in China.

But let's get back to design. After seeing all those italic logos, you're probably wondering if there's a company that chooses to go against this trend. There is. As it turns out, the most revolutionary bike company in the world is Germany's Canyon. Not only do they not use italics, they actually use the opposite. The rare and dreaded anti-italics.




Why does Canyon feel they can be so different from every other bike company? Are their frames not made in Taiwan by 12 year olds? Have they found some alternate source of cheap or free labor? Oh no. Oh jesus. Whenever Germans start looking for sources of cheap or free labor, terrible things begin happen. I know these things, because there's a good bit of Jewish blood in my veins. It's kind of like having a gaydar, but for totalitarian regimes and the possibility of forced labor.



PS: Zack Morris rides. Thanks Kyle.

26 comments:

  1. really not too apropos your post, but 'festival of lights?' sounds like something that takes place on ice, and features men in tight, sequin-blinged sigfried & roy ensembles.

    guess i shouldn't shit-talk others' (esp. jews) holiday names, since it seems my german-lutheran forebears' most important holiday was called kristallnacht (in italics, of course). ohh... fml!

    anyways, youre top 3 in my bike-blog reading (tied for 2nd w/ bike fag-- bsnyc being fist, oc).

    ps- MI is still #! for teh metals!

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  2. hmmm... it seems typing english and drinking olde english do not a coherent post make! mmmm, malty...

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  3. dZa, you've officially made me feel out of touch. why? i had to look up what "fml" means, so that I could better understand the tone of your post. i thought i knew all the cool abbreviations...turns out i don't. glad i've made into someone's top three list! i don't know about bikefag (what a name!) so i'm gonna' go check him out. again, i feel out of it and uncool for not being "in the know".....ahhhh. FML!

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  4. Actaully only the Wilier logo might be considered italic, all the rest are oblique.

    I nearly bought a Canyon just for the logo...

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  5. Mind you, Nicolai (http://www.nicolai.net) have gone one better with a reverse revrse-oblique.

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  6. Elliot, yes I'm aware of the difference between the two terms, but used the term "italics" as a generally understood term by those who are not aware of typographical minutia. Similarly, the "logos" shown are in some cases not "logos" or "logotypes" at all...but rather "signatures" composed of "marks" and in some cases "logotypes". such is life. the Nicolai ones is pretty nuts...and of course, they're germans.

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  7. Canyon is written thus becasue Cadel rides them. In other words they suck and make really ugly bikes and sponder even uglier riders. I hate Cadel and am ashamed that the first Australian cyclist to make any kind of impresion on the pro tour is a total pansy.

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  8. Cadel is definitely...uh...prickly, and easily bothered. I think that will always be his weakness against guys that can play mental games. Having said that, even I felt bad for his luck at this year's vuelta. He'll be ridding a BMC next year, so prepare for those bikes to start sucking (according to your theory). you'll always have simon gerrans, and heinrich hausler (kinda). not bad.

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  10. I bet Canyons are manufactured in Poland.

    Poland is the China of Europe

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  11. i hope for fans' sake, bmc brings in more than just hincapie. im really tired of cadel bitching about everyone else around him for not getting it done. he may have a point-- he did win @ worlds-- but its just so class-less. and he kind of has a voice like a jockey. perhaps he should take up horse racing...

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  12. what do you mean when BMC's START sucking? If i wanted an over priced piece of shite i'd buy a Cervelo.
    Before all you bastards get angry, i've worked with these bikes and they are TERRIBLY over rated.

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  13. Death Race,

    You may be on to something, I've only seen a couple of BMCs up close, and simply thought they looked unusual and sort of interesting. I really don't know much about them...other than the Phonak era press they got. i wouldn't own one (for millions of reasons including budget etc) partly because they look so different, i prefer to blend in and not look nutty. if you gave me one for free, i'd sell it. speaking of BMC, i have an interview with Rich Hincapie (george's brother who runs the clothing company) coming up, where I ask him about working with the team etc.

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  14. Jeez Lucho it's an epidemic. Nearly every bicycle manufacturer I could find has italics. The only one that didn't was the company formerly known as Mongoose (bikes made in China). Also Richard Sachs, who would fight you if you ever messed with his logo, although his headbadges swing both ways. Hmm...

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  15. I noticed that smaller companies tend not to use italics. I think the idea is that the slant of the letters suggest forward motion or something. I have to say, as much as I generally dislike dudes in Serottas, their logo is ingenious. why? because its slanted at the right angle, so that when place on the downtube, the letters are straight. Pretty cool. One last thing about BMC, like Kestrel (i know, that brand is a joke) their tube and general bike shapes seem to be a bit of "form over function", but I admit to being excited the first time i saw them...even if i knew they were not for me.

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  16. Bicycle logos have been a complaint of mine for a long time now. Even the smaller builders seem to treat them as an after thought.

    At a certain point, a bike is a bike. People need to spend a little time and money on better design.

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  17. Diamond Back is anti-italics as well. Is this a theme for formally bike shop friendly bikes?

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  18. I thought Diamondback was italics, and had recently changed to non-italics (aka Roman or Regular). I wonder how much more money a company can make by becoming a department store brand. I'm sure Schwinn makes much more money now than they ever did as a "legitimate" brand. i guess you run the risk of killing the brand, but i'm sure most think its well worth the try.

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  19. "Canyon is written thus becasue Cadel rides them."
    And as we all know, when Cadel rides a bike it looks like it's going backwards anyway... oooooh!

    If I may comment a little on the slanted letter logo thing... I worked as a graphic designer for a certain bike company in the 1990s and marketing insisted on ANY letters anywhere on the frame to be slanted. "It looks like the letters are moving", they told us. What a load...

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  20. Although Gary Fisher's corporate logo is italic, those on the bikes are proudly unslanted...

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  21. Elliot, I never noticed the Gary Fisher logo...it almost looks completely different on the bikes, and not just because it says "fisher" on the road bikes.

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  22. i love you all, these debates make me rofl.

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  23. we have reached the point where typography and bikes meet. what a place to be! talk about minutia.

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  24. i smell someones dissertation...

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  25. I'd like to point out that Orbea carbon bikes are made in China in a factory that they own, and in which workers can buy into the co-op (Mondragon, to be specific). This is completely unheard of in outsourced manufacturing, and a very very good step in the right direction.

    That said, I love MI, and I expect I'll see the same level of quality and detail in CI.

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  26. The Orbea situation sounds great actually. I'm sure things are improving. The whole thing with production in Taiwan and China, however, is that most of it seems to be done under a certain level of secrecy. I don't believe that products made in Europe or the US are necesseraly better. Craftsmanship and quality are not unique to euro-american individuals...I just hope that things improve for those who make products in other nations. I know that makes me sound like a PC liberal fool...but its true.

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