Several people have asked me offlist about the cycle commuting tax credit I mentioned. Here is where I believe I saw it, on the ICycles web site:
Not much detail here, but it does seem to be a Federal program, not a state one. Maybe one could get some additional info from Icycles. Or maybe call the office of your local Congressman. That's the supposed justific ation for Congressional staff, especially the ones in the home district - t o provide service to constituents. So if we are going to pay Congression al staffers, we may as well get some service out of them. I'm surprised I can find no mention of this on the League of American Bicyclist website. But perhaps I shouldn't be, I haven't been real impressed with the LA B for some years, probably since about the time they changed their name fro m League of American Wheelman in a fit of gratuitous political correctness.
Classic content - I'm hoping to use the tax credit to help pay for those Be thoud and Carradice bags and Nitto racks, and various bits from VeloOrange. Come to think of it, a large percentage of high quality touring and com muting gear seems to be classic or perhaps KOF, classic designs with some m odern features, like the updated attachment systems on Berthoud and Carradi ce bags. I think maybe the prominence of classic-inspired touring gear i s due the fact that most modern bikes and gear cater excessively to racers and poseurs. Most of those carbon fibre bikes are not very practical for touring or commuting, and the moderate weight disadvantage of a lugged ste el touring bike with alloy rather than carbon components is more than compe nsated for in ruggedness, durability, versatility, comfort and value for th e money. I will concede that I believe Jan Heine did review a carbon fib re randonneur bike in a recent Bicycle Quarterly, but carbon fibre tourers/randonneurs certainly aren't a prominent part of the current bicyc le market. And I'm guessing they may never be.
Now the real appeal of carbon fibre to bicycle marketers is that it is very cheap to produce in large quantity, wheras from the marketer's point of vi ew the light weight serves mostly as way to hype the material to the public as high-tech and therefore justify relatively high prices for cheaply prod uced goods and therefore a high profit margin for the marketers. I don't hold a very high opinion of most current bicycle marketers - I hesitate to call them manufacturers, as most of their production is outsourced to Taiw an and China, where the marketers, despite their claims to the contrary, ha ve very little input into actual manufacturing.
One reason I don't expect much in the way of touring and commuting gear is that stuff to me takes a lot more thought to design and sell, and a real ap preciation of consumer needs and what designs and materials best meet those needs. The guys running the big bicycle marketers today seem neither qu alified to do that nor interested in doing so. Their talents, if you can call it talent, seem to lie mostly in exploiting cheap offshore labor and deluding the public into thinking that an overpriced bike will make them ri de like the guys in the pro peleton. So a lot of the touring and commuti ng market is being served by more traditional and usually smaller companies like Berthoud, Carradice, Brooks, Nitto, Rivendell, VeloOrange and Jitensh a. And those guys do not seem to be impressed by carbon fibre, and tend to steer customers toward lugged steel, or at least steel frames, and in se veral cases they have such frames made to their specifications, usually in America or Japan, rather than Taiwan or China.
Now, given the cheapness with which carbon fibre frames can be made, it w ould probably be possible to offer an very lightweight carbon touring bik e at a price cheaper than a lugged steel one. But the large marketers seem to have little interest in a reasonably priced tourer, and the smaller more traditional companies seem to see carbon fibre as a poor material i n terms of durability and versatility, which I would have to agree with.
Big Spring, Texas, USA