Alex Kostelnik Interview, Part II: Extra Footage
By Scot Hinckley
The interview I did with Alex seems to have gone over well, and that makes sense; he’s an interesting, unique guy with a lot to say. Here’s the stuff I didn’t put in there last week. It’s not much, but there are some interesting tid-bits in there. I was going to save it for a later date, but there’s no time like the present. I spent some of my weekend messing around with my brother’s bike, a 1994 Bridgestone XO-4 that’ll be the subject of an article sometime in the near future. It’s a budget commuter/camping style bike, but it’s great and everything works fine. Anyway, on to the stuff from the interview. Enjoy. Oh yeah, and you’ll notice I use the Sheldon Brown spelling of the word “derailer” below, don’t freak out.
(This is a story Alex told when we were talking about REI’s weird policy of checking employee’s bags as they entered the store)
A friend of mine had an asshole co-tenant in his apartment building who used the same laundry room. The guy would accuse everybody of stealing detergent from his bottle of Tide. He was a drug dealer asshole, and no one was taking his detergent. He was just high half of the time. So my friend decided to buy the same brand of detergent and keep topping the guy’s off. It drove him crazy. It was always full, right to the top. It was like the best “fuck you” ever. He hid the bottle he was using, so there was no known source. Same fragrance and everything.
(This next part is from when Alex and I were talking about his aspirations for the bike shop and his views about what success means)
I’ve always lived cheap, I’m an artist. I do things creatively, and it doesn’t cost much money. I didn’t make more than $13,000 in a year until 1998. I make more now, but not as much as you might think. In the winter, when things slow down here, we don’t try to think of more things to do. We take the time off, because life is for living.
(This is from when we were talking about the current big names in componenets)
When SRAM came out, they were called GripShift, and SRAM was a tiny company that made rotating shifters. Their big day was when they became an OEM supplier for Specialized and a bunch of other big names. Then all hell broke loose because Shimano couldn’t sell a whole gruppo to the major suppliers. The GripShift was really attractive because it was so bone-simple; two pieces of plastic and a metal spring, and it meant that suppliers could get even cheaper shifters. They put them on all the bikes and they were attractive to the consumer because they were new and different. They got so popular so fast that Shimano panicked and started making rear derailers that had extra-weak return springs because they found out that if you do that, it won’t work with GripShift. There’s a whole 5 year span where Shimano made these weak return spring derailers. SRAM retaliated with something called a bassworm, which was medical tubing that you’d allen screw to your derailer cable and it pulls the cable back and compensates for the weak spring. It pulled against the cable stop. We thought to ourselves that these guys are pretty wiley, what if we’re gonna get an American derailer finally? Well, right then they switched to Taiwan and now you have Taiwan derailers. We never got the American derailer we thought would come from SRAM. They turned into another one of the big guys and went to China. Paul makes a terrible one.