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March 2015

We are all dummies

A pair of shorts in an upcoming design made of three untried fabrics has its first outing of many in the forest near the Nzo HQ. A pair of shorts in an upcoming design made of three untried fabrics has its first outing of many in the forest near the Nzo HQ.

Last night I went for a ride in a pair of test shorts. Testing is one of the good bits of this business, whether it is a design or in this case a material. Along with other tests that are done on squares of the fabric, we make a prototype using the new fabric and we subject it to the kinds of indignities it will experience at the hands of our customers.

Glen calls me her “crash test dummy”, and that is an accurate description of the part I play. I don't crash on purpose, but given enough trail time, I will crash. During the period before the crash, which could be months, I will be doing other stuff that will inform the eventual approval of the material. Getting it dirty is a given. Rubbing it on the saddle, also hard to avoid.

Other things that we may not have thought of happen too: chafing against pack straps, interfaces with thorns, episodes of ad hoc trail clearance, swimming in hot natural streams and freezing cold lakes, use while doing garden duties, spilling stuff on them while trying to eat and write a newsletter at the same time (30 seconds ago).

We figure out how keep it looking good through multiple washes, and while we don’t do all the stuff you guys do, like washing our shoes in the same machine at the same time (cross my heart, this has been done) or wearing our Dobies while house painting (more common than you would think), we do know what the tricks will be for a given material to keep it good as new for as long as possible.

That is why we get comments like this (verbatim, from Facebook today)

“my NZO shorts have taken SUCH a bashing over the last coupla years (they really have) and every time, after a wash they look, quite honestly, as good as new. Like I'll never need a new pair! Bugger”


“Ill testify to that gaz. ..your shorts are Tom proof!” (from Tom, obviously).

Clearly, selling shorts that don't fall apart is counter-productive given the capitalist’s objective of selling bales of stuff and rolling around in bathtubs full of cash. We have touched on this before: we don’t want to sell you more shorts than you need, but we do need to keep selling shorts. If your Nzo shorts are really good, please tell your mates. And perfect strangers if you get a chance. If you have a problem with your Nzo stuff, tell us!

As the comments above will show, you are crash test dummies too.



Dirt is the new sand

Semi-selfie: Naomi and Paul rolling through the jungle.

Here is a little test to help you feel better about your obsession with mountain bikes.

Give an average couple the choice between three nights in a deluxe apartment with a balcony overlooking a popular east coast beach, or three nights in a cramped economy motel unit in Rotorua.

To make the test more interesting, tell them that part of the deal is that no matter which option they go for, they will have to pay for the beachside apartment.

Decision takes about half a second longer than it takes for the couple to understand the question, right? While they go and look for their beach towels and hefty paperbacks, ask the same question of a couple who are both mountain bikers.

To up the ante, find a couple who have only three days left in New Zealand before they head back to Sydney.

That is obviously ridiculous, a couple like that will be hard to find. So we found one for you.

Naomi and Paul were visiting Rotorua for the second time. We met up in the Nzo shop last weekend, and got out for a ride together the next day. After filling their boots in a five day stint in the Whakarewarewa Forest, they hived off to their beachfront mansion to ride the Motu trails and generally kick back on coastal time.

After their ride (excellent) and a snack, they started thinking about the long days of seaside relaxation stretching out before them, and the endless ribbons of dirt an hour inland, which they might not see again for a while.

There were a few minutes of discussion, then they packed up their stuff and headed back over the range, checking into the first cheap motel they could find on the RotoVegas strip.

We got a text saying we’re back! Any chance of a ride?

As luck would have it we were headed to the Timber Trail with Lauren and Seamus, the lucky winners of a Nzo / Hawaiian Airlines / Holiday Inn competition we ran in North America. They have been here for a week already, and have extended their stay to make the most of their long trip south.

We convoyed to Pureora, had a great ride, and then hooked into Kerosene Creek for a hot soak on the way home.

So, was paying for an empty beachside apartment AND a bedroom in Vegas a good investment?

Ask Naomi and Paul, the next time they are here. We don't think it will be long before they’re back.


Picking and eating blackberries en route.

Lauren and Seamus have come all the way from the eastern USA to ride some Rotorua trails for a couple of weeks.

WPKeroCreek After the long dry spell the water at Kerosene Creek was so hot we could only swim around like this for 5 minutes.

WPKeroCreek2 Sitting on a rock with the legs in hot water for a while is a great way to finish a big day out.



There's no school like the old school

A window poster form the original shop A window poster form the original shop

Back in the day, when Nzo opened its first shop, we ran ads in the magazine that was published upstairs.

It was called NZBike, and was ahead of its time. There were probably not enough mountain bikers to support a magazine in the nineties, and maybe not enough to make an apparel boutique retail store work either. Opening that store did provide a clear idea of what people were looking for, and made us some lifelong friends. A lot of them worked in the bike trade. They would come in on the weekend and buy stuff in our shop, and that struck us as kind of cool.

Every month, about 15 minutes before the magazine was due to go to press, Fred (the Freditor) or Cara (the designer) would come downstairs to get the Nzo ad. Well, the N-Zone ad, because that was our name back then.

One we particularly liked was a small one with the headline “N-Zone: the brand bike shop professionals pay retail for”.

Fast forward to now, and a lot of the riders that were in school in 1998 have grown up, got fast, turned pro, blazed a trail, and retired. Quite a few used our products before they got really fast, used their sponsors’ products while they were racing, and have ended up back in Nzo in retirement, where they can wear whatever they like. We have thought about a promotion saying “Nzo: the brand retired bike racers pay retail for” but we are not sure that would convert any youngsters.

Anyway, just to make sure it was a dumb idea, we went looking for that original ad. Here is how old it is: if we could find it would be stored on a CD. Remember them?

We didn't find it.

We did find a pile of other old stuff though, including the ad below, which hails from the end of our second summer. It features some prototypical New Zealand mountain bikers, some of whom are still pushing the envelope now. From top left: Stacey Amor, Rob Metz, Zib Campbell, Mike Metz, Geoff Cox, Rob Paul and the inimitable Glen Sisarich. Ask anybody who saw him ride the water tank corner at the Mount Downhill, they will tell you. If you go to the link, it is a crusty old VHS look at riding in the day, but for talent on steroids, check out the 360 move at 27seconds in. Then go and try one yourself.

That little ad is a snapshot of a time when half the riders were on steel bikes made in New Zealand, brakes needed bleeding every second ride, and the twat gap was longer than the shorts.

We were excited to be involved with such a great sport back then, and we are no less excited today. That is mountain biking, and why we love it.

[caption id="attachment_752" align="alignnone" width="801"]WP499 From top: Stacey Amor doing a Superman, Rob Metz racing Nationals at Rotorua, Zib Campbell racing DH round in Dunedin, Mike Metz racing four cross somewhere, Geoff Cox racing DH somewhere else, Rob Paul racing DH in Christchurch, and Glen Sisarich racing DH on Mt Ngongotaha, which we can see out our window.[/caption]



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