Mountain Bikes and Beer

If Sesame Street were for grown-ups, I’m pretty sure that beer and bikes would be two of those things that “go good together.” This seems to be especially true of mountain biking.

You don’t have to look too hard to find proof of the affinity between these two. Peruse this website, or any other MTB medium, and it won’t be long before you find some reference to the sudsy libation so many of us enjoy. And virtually every major MTB event is fairly awash in both advertisements for the stuff and in the brown bottles of bubbly brew themselves.

Mid-race beer handups. Photo: mtbgreg1.

Further proof of this connection can be found all across the hilly landscape of America. Every MTB Mecca on the continent has a pub where people dressed in funny clothes with muddy stripes up their backsides go to wash down the dust in their throats after a day on the trail. And it’s always beer they’re flushing their phalanges with. It’s not wine. It’s not whiskey. It’s not vodka or schnapps. No—it’s beer.

Having spent plenty of time around MTBers over the years, this comes as no surprise to me. Heck, even the folks who make the stuff know it’s true. I’ve never seen a bottle of Chardonnay with a picture of a bike on it, but I’ve surely downed my share of Fat Tire ales and Chain Breakers. What did surprise me the other day, however, is that acknowledgement of this fact has now made its way even into the technical realm of bicycle repair manualdom.

I bought a copy of Park Tool’s Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair-2 last week, and lo and behold, on page 3 of the first chapter—Basic Mechanical Skills—I found the author’s explanation of torque values related to the reader in terms of how much a six-pack weighs! Now, it very well may be that they had in mind a sixer of Diet 7-Up, but I seriously doubt it. I suspect they know perfectly well that your average (adult) biker is more familiar with the heft of a six-pack of brewskies than nearly any other commodity on the market; and that’s why they chose “beverage” cans instead of, say, soup cans to make their illustration.

Now, If it were only this reference to the six-pack (and the half-rack, too, by the way) that Park Tool has included in their repair guide, I might harbor some doubt as to whether they were really tapping into (pardon the pun) the beer-bike relationship that’s such a prominent facet of the bicycling culture. If that were the case, perhaps it would be only fair to afford them the benefit of the doubt. Heck, maybe it was Diet 7-Up they had in mind after all! But such is not the case. No; there’s more to the story than that.

Photo: parktool.com

Among the vast array of specialty bike repair tools that Park Tool produces—tools such as the CSR-1 (a crown race setting tool), and the PW-3 (a pedal wrench)—they have seen fit to include in their lineup the BO-2, the BO-3 and the BO-5. No, they’re not antiperspirants made for bike enthusiasts. The BO-2 is a custom-made, high-grade stainless steel bottle opener. It sports a comfortable vinyl grip in the company’s signature blue color, and it comes emblazoned with the internationally recognizable Park Tool logo. The BO-3 is a pocket sized opener touted as a “…take along tool you shouldn’t be without,” and the BO-5 is a full-sized wall mount opener that’s “…cleverly disguised as a water bottle cage,” according to the company’s website.

For me, this seals the deal. Think about it. What other specialty tool company makes a devise expressly intended to crack open a cold one? And how likely is it that that cold one is supposed to be a pop? They’re pretty much all plastic nowadays—aren’t they? And Park tool didn’t just stop at one opener. No, they’ve got three! And one of them is “cleverly disguised” to boot. My question is this: From whom would one need to hide the fact that they’ve got a pop bottle opener mounted to their repair bench?

"Cleverly disguised as a water bottle cage, the BO-5 attaches to any wall, workbench or cabinet and includes a handy water bottle style cap catcher." Photo: parktool.com

You’ve got to give these guys credit. I bet they’ve sold a boat load of those openers to beer-drinking, bike-riding wrench turners just like me who find a special place on their peg boards to hang ‘em—right next to their Park Tool-blue-handled cone wrenches and cable cutters. It’s pure genius! Even if they sold them at a loss, they’d still win. They’re building brand loyalty by marketing more than just tools—they’re marketing a lifestyle. Whether I’m right or not about all this, I’ll leave up to you to decide, but I’m willing to bet my spoke wrench that I am.

Yep—beer and bikes go together like a chain and sprocket. Even Park Tool knows it. I’m just not sure if this is something we should be proud of, laugh about, or cry over. Maybe it’s all three.

Your Turn: What brew do you prefer to crack open after a long, hard ride?

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