Like many cyclists, I shop online for hard to find parts and discounted cycling goods. As a habit from my early days of online shopping — when close-up photography and graphic descriptions were virtually unheard of — I read product reviews to gain insight into the item under consideration.
I follow this procedure for everything I purchase online. If the site I’m planning to do business with doesn’t offer reviews, or no one has left any, I devote some time to hunting down product reviews on other sites. For some products, like clothing and housewares, the majority of reviews are terse and dry.
Electronics reviews are often detailed and informative. Bugs and poorly thought out features are brought to our attention by disappointed purchasers of the products. Pros and cons are highlighted in a bullet pointed manner expressive of a businesslike and methodical approach to product evaluation.
For the most part, this type of review can be skimmed through for pertinent content; every word is not necessary, and, in fact, a lot of mind-numbing verbiage often taints such reviews. A quick perusal is enough to give a would-be purchaser an overview of what the product may be like in real life, and saves him/her the inconvenience of having to ship back an item which isn’t at all like what was expected.
There is an exception to this rule: Bicycling product reviews are often hilarious. Some of the terms customers use to describe the products are enough to bring a prospective customer to tears from laughter. Customer experiences with the products are even funnier.
Usually, the funniest reviews are written about hated products. A customer buys something based on the information provided by the merchant, only to find that it is nothing like what was described; hence the ranting review.
It’s sometimes difficult to know whether the negative review is aimed at the merchant or the product’s manufacturer. Ranting has no direction. It is pure invective hurled at the wind in frustration for having lost control of one’s destiny. But, it sure is fun to read.
Just to get a taste of nostalgia, I decided to leaf through a paper catalog sent to me by an online merchant. The feel of paper rustling between my digitally oriented hands brought back memories of my childhood. In those days, all publications were printed on paper. To annotate the text, we used highlighters and pencils — not to mention tangible bookmarks to mark where we left off reading.
At times, I miss those days. Words had a physical quality which made them seem part of the corporeal world. Today, words are locked behind the glass of a screen, where they are transitory, and one strike on the wrong key can obliterate them forever.
While I was waxing nostalgic, I came across a long product review printed neatly on the right-hand side of a page. Modern digital wonder that I am, I immediately recognized it as an online product review from the merchant’s website. How clever of them, I thought. They are appealing to the digital crowd by printing product reviews in their paper catalogs.
As I began to read the review, I noticed its unusual format. It was not written like a description of or experience with a product, but rather like a story. After noticing this, I was compelled to read on.
I had no interest in the product. But the review-story caught my attention. I liked it so much, I read it twice, in disbelief. It was very creative. I might have written something of this sort myself, had I been in the proper mood.
The author was a local. He was from Cambridge, MA, just outside of Boston. His humor made me want to know who he was. Could he be someone I’ve ridden with?
Out of curiosity, I located the review online. The reviewer identified himself as an “avid cyclist.” This came as no surprise.
The product he was reviewing was an urban/street helmet. Purportedly, he spent many hours wearing the helmet (according to the review), which most likely resulted from spending a lot of time on his bike. So, he was a diehard.
This made perfect sense. Cyclists who use their bikes as transportation are often people who think outside the box. They see things differently, and act accordingly. Therefore, it should come as no shock that they are creative in other aspects of their lives. And, further, it is no wonder that avid cyclists develop a strong sense of humor — given the trying circumstances they must laugh off on a daily basis. Humor is an invaluable cyclist versus driver road rage diffusor.
Cycling product reviews of this type show another side of cyclists, the side beneath the helmet and below the defensive exterior. Read this review and then ask yourself: who is more clever, cyclists or drivers?
(Plain text is provided below for those who can’t read the screenshot.)
“What better to protect your head. A WOLF
By Guy With Best Helmet Ever On His Head
from Cambridge, MA
About Me Avid Cyclist
IT HAS A WOLF ON IT
Attracts too many women
Needs more wolves
Comments about Giro Section Urban/Street Helmet:
I listed that this helmet was a gift – even though I paid for it… It was a gift from the freggin gods – that’s why.
You may or may have not noticed…
I typically wear this helmet 23-23.5 hours a day. I didn’t take it off for about 2 months- but then I started getting too many girlfriends – and I was spending all my money on really fun dates.
One morning, I was walking to my job (which I’m awesome at) and I saw a ruffian pestering an elderly lady…
I briefly took off the helmet (so I could look at the wolf) and I knew just what had to be done.
I sprinted and dove at him like that dude Rayden from Mortal Kombat – WOLF FANG HELMET IN THE LEAD.
He dropped like a sack of potatoes – I stepped over him and told him he should “pack it up and get out” (get it cuz wolves run in packs?) – yea, it was an awesome one-liner (thanks wolf helmet)
I was the hugest hero in my neighborhood… The lady made me wolf-shaped cupcakes.
Helmet with wolves on it > Helmet with anything else/nothing on it
Feels true to size
Was this a gift?:
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend”