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Why Can’t You Just Be Like Everybody Else?!? (Part Two)

So, last week I wrote a bit about why we make the products that we make. And why we don’t make some of the products we don’t make.  That got my brain rolling about who we are here at Surly.  And how we present ourselves in compared to other brands.  I know that there are people out there who think that the folks at Surly spend a great deal more time drinking beer than riding.  I’m here to say, that’s true.  Well at least for some of us it is.  Surly (at the moment) has 16 dedicated employees (plus a handful of people that we couldn’t do it without who don’t directly work for Surly but for the parent like company QBP, who signs the checks). 

My, hands down, favorite thing about working with this group of people is that all of us give a shit, in a big way.  We all care about Surly.  None of us clock in, hate our jobs, clock out and then spend the rest of our days and nights trying to forget why we’ve sold our souls.  Also everyone at Surly loves bikes.  We all love them, some of us more than others.  We all ride bikes, some of us more than others.  Some of us ride on weekends, some of us ride to work every single day (even if we have a bunch of shit to bring in or take home, so we have to use a trailer), some of us ride to work some days and drive the other days, some of us take the bus part of the way to work and then ride the rest of the way and some of us drive to work and spend the weekends with our families and squeeze in riding time whenever we can.  It’s true that some of us spend more time drinking beer than riding.  But does it surprise you to learn that some of us don’t drink beer at all.  Some of us eat bacon and some of us are vegans.  Some of us only ride Surly bikes, and some of us ride other bikes as well. Some of us have kids, some don’t. Some of us play Dungeons and Dragons, and others of us laugh and point at those who do that. Some of us really do get amazingly rad on a bike, others of us (like me) are just too chicken. 

Are you getting the picture?  It actually doesn’t matter if you are, cuz I’m on a roll.  When you sit us down in a room, the one thing we all tend to agree on is ...well, nothing.  We all have a different idea of what a bike should be.  We all have our own idea.  We are a group of individuals not a team of likes.  We all have our own ideas about everything. It's our varied approach to what a bike can be that is represented in the varied kinds of bikes that we manufacture and sell.  We make all kinds of bikes, for all kinds of riders, and coincidentally we are all kinds of riders.  Each with our own ideas.  Sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don't.

As a group, as Surly we stand together for the bikes and parts that we make, and we stand apart on most everything else.  We all ride bikes for our own reasons and in our own ways. Sometime look at all the different kinds of people out there who ride our stuff and I think you'll see that sentiment reflected quite powerfully.

I have people ask me: why we don’t sponsor riders, or why we don’t seek out the best/coolest/radest riders out there to ride our stuff and talk it up?  Why don’t we feature people like that in our ads and on our website?

The reason is simple, and it ties in with the reason that we make the products we make, and why we believe what we believe.

When other companies get the fastest/radest/coolest people riding their stuff in pictures and on their websites, there is an unspoken promise that if you ride their products you will be like those people. That you will be cool/rad/fast/whatever.  Like it's your free ticket to the cool kids table.

Honestly I find that line of thinking to be incredibly condescending.

The only thing that riding a Surly will make you is a person riding a Surly.  It won’t fit you into any special camp, you won’t be awarded any special ring, or handshake, there will be no playhouse key-code given out.  A Surly bike won’t make you anything.  It certainly won’t make you like any of us (and you should thank heaven for that). There is no cool kids table here, cuz we all sit at our own tables. Hopefully a Surly can help make you a better you, but that’s really the power of the bicycle and not the power of Surly.

So remember this, if you see someone out there on a Surly, chances are they bought it. (I would be lying if I told you we didn’t give any way. We do, just not that many).  If someone only rides things, wears things, eats things, talks about things or loves things because they are given the shit to ride/wear/eat/talk about/love, then why the hell would you listen to them in the first place?  That's not love, that an attitude bought and paid for, and again why would you listen to someone like that? Those people can go screw.

Sidebar: I spelled Andy’s name wrong last weak, and he get’s sensitive about that.  So I'm sorry Andy, and for everyone out there who might be spelling his name in the future: it’s Skoglund, and here’s another picture of him getting rad. 

Also here is a picture of me getting rad (in the only way I know how).

Now I’m going to go ride my bike.

Gern Blanston's avatar

About Gern Blanston

A rider-slash-Surly fan who somehow bounced like a quarter at a drunken college mixer into what he thinks is pretty much the swellest job a fella could have, it is Tyler’s job to determine how Surly should seek attention to its products and itself generally. He has an extensive background in children’s theater, which is, perhaps not surprisingly, a good fit for the marketing manager of this company.

Learn More About Gern Blanston

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