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“Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. My friends all drive Porsches I must make amends.” Janis Joplin
Twenty-five years ago I had an opinion about Mercedes Benz. I thought it was a terrific car. My girlfriend at the time had one. It was the cute little convertible SL model. She drove the wheels off that thing. It never broke. Beside putting gas in it, she had the oil changed and put on new brakes from time to time. The car ran like a top. By the way, does anyone use that phrase anymore? Am I the last one? Am I showing my age? I don’t think kids today even play with tops. Note to self: Go to Toys R Us and buy a top. I used to love that toy. Wait a minute, I got off subject. Anyway, although the Mercedes was more expensive than comparable brands, I thought the price might add value. You pay a little more, but you get a lot more. Now when I see a Mercedes going down the road in any of its forms (sports cars, sedans or SUVs) I think, “What a pile of junk.” Not only are most of their models gas guzzlers, but a lot of my friends own that car in some form. You know what? It’s crap. Pure unadulterated crap. Beside the little things that break in it, I think the car could be a hazard or even death trap. Let me explain. I’ve had three friends this year alone where some air compression suspension system went out. The front end of the car plummeted to the ground. All three of these people said had they been on the freeway when this happened, they’re not sure how they would have handled it. I told you that to tell you this. There are products in the cycling industry that mimic the way I feel about Mercedes. Allow me to explain. Years ago, when Italian artisans built steel-lugged frame bicycles, they were worth their weight in gold. Each bike was hand-built and brazed by the likes of Colnago, Pinarello, DeRosa and so on. The attention to detail was astounding. In my opinion, it was worth every penny. Then everything changed. Carbon fiber became the new hot thing. Italy has gone out of the way to explain why we should buy a carbon fiber bike with its top builders’ names on the side. There is the Italian premium put on it…an extra thousand to two thousand per frame, just because the name ends in a vowel. Like idiot Americans, we believe that means something. Then again, I could be wrong. Americans like to spend more money on everything. Last week I was in the mall. There was a place selling bath soap. All the store sold was soap, as a matter of fact. The prices were marked up way more than 100 percent. And there was no shortage of customers.