I wanted to replace my worn out Vredestein Fortezza SE tire with another exactly like it. It had exhibited excellent ride and wear characteristics during the time I owned it, but eventually it wore out — after well over 3,000 miles — and it was time to retire it.
I had bought it at a Performance store in town, so I headed over there again. But in the aisle with the tires, no Fortezza SE to be found. Performance doesn’t stock them anymore. They’ve got a higher-end Vredestein tire, the TriComp Road, at twice the price of the Fortezza SE. Okay, certainly I could find one somewhere else.
I hit the Vredestein Tire website, and navigated my way past lots of contemporary music and nifty videos to their tire listing. Sure enough, there was the TriComp — but no Fortezza SE. The TriComp looks to be a great tire, with an advertised excellent grip in both wet and dry weather, and very good puncture resistance. But I wondered what had happened to my Fortezza SE.
I gave up, and put a Continental Gatorskin on the back of my bike. I still have a Fortezza SE on the front, and it should be good for another thousand miles or two.
But have you ever noticed that whenever you find a great product, it gets dropped from the company’s product line? Runners know this. When I used to run, I found a great pair of shoes that cushioned my feet and provided excellent support at the same time. I ran in them until the black outer sole wore through. When I went to get a replacement, the line had been discontinued.
The replacement product is always touted as being an improvement, and it just might be. But very often, it doesn’t work exactly like the item it replaced. Some runners used to buy two or more pair of a favorite shoe, knowing the model would be discontinued, and wanting to make sure they would still be able to enjoy it well into the future.
Or golf clubs. My wife started building up a collection of Ping hybrid clubs several years ago, when we were still regular players. She had two, but when she looked for two others of different lofts to round out her set, she found out that Ping had dropped the G5 line, and added a G10 or something. I was able to find the two additional G5s she needed, but I had to go on EBay to do it, and battle through a couple of different auctions, losing twice, before I was able to land the coveted clubs. What I thought was funny about that was that the G5 had replaced the G3 line just a few years before.
(“What’s the difference between the G5 and the G3?” “Two.”)
Obviously, some of that goes on in the biking industry too. Bikes, of course, are always changing. My bike is a 2008 Specialized Allez Elite Compact, which means it came with upgraded drive train components — Tiagra front and 105 rear — over the base Allez. The current Allez is offered in six different versions, including an Elite Compact. But the current Elite Compact is different from mine. It has a 10-speed cassette instead of my nine — improvement. Both front and rear are Tiagra — slight downgrade. It also has alloy chainstays and seatpost — mine are carbon fiber. The wheels are probably better than mine. All in all, my four-year-old Allez is a good match for what’s rolling off the Specialized line now.
I know one constant in life is change. But it’s still frustrating when change makes you rethink your cycling situation and moves you in a (slightly) different direction.
Have you ever been flummoxed by the discontinuation of a cycling product you really, really liked?