First off, something you might want - Miles Rogoish and Jeff K riding some interesting looking skateparks:
Sun Ringle JAN 09 from Miles Rogoish on Vimeo.
And something you don't want - weird prices. If you've called up to ask for the price of a product recently, you might not have received a blisteringly fast, precise answer. There is a reason behind this - VAT (Which is applicable to the vast majority of bike related stuff) has been cut by 2.5%, meaning that prices are basically 'weird'. For example, using some stuff from the site, the new Deluxe frames is £224.13. Obviously, that's not the usual "£XXX.99" or whatever, and as a result, the shop dudes aren't necessarily going to be able to reel off prices instantly because the price they quote you on the phone could well be more than what it is. Basically, all I'm saying is bear with people while this change goes through. This is also the time when '09 prices come into force which, unfortunately, often mean a price rise.
Something you're gonna want to see:
TemperedBikes Jerard Vandervalk Afternoon Session. from TemperedBikes on Vimeo.
He might run drilled pegs, but that doesn't make him a bad person...
Something you don't really want, but probably need to know about - I've posted up here before about the CPSC (a.k.a. Consumer Product Safety Commission). These guys are the people who try and make sure that stuff that gets sold in the US is legit, and isn't going to be potentially harmful. They're doing a good job, and helping avoid instances like in China where toxic paint was used on kids toys - not an ideal situation. "So what does this have to do with us?" you might ask. Well, the CPSC passed a law that stated that all 'toys' sold in the US have to have less than "600 parts per million" lead content. Lead's obviously not a great thing for kids to be sucking on, as it can cause a whole load of problems.
Where this intersects with our world though is that all bikes with a wheel diameter under 24" are now classified as 'toys' according to the CPSC. This obviously means that bikes now also have to clear these measures. This is a lot of hassle for completes, where every single part of them, from the grips to the stickers, now need to be tested for lead content. One of the plus points as far as non-complete, aftermarket parts goes is that they could theoretically be labelled up for 26" use, meaning they'd be exempt. However, frames are obviously for 20" use or not, and as such frame manufacturers, as well as people making completes, are going to be hit by this new ruling.
This is only for the US, but as it's going to be fairly expensive to get everything tested, it's likely the cost is going to be spread over other countries too. To use a simple example, if you sold a product in 10 countries, and in one country due to testing costs prices would rise by 10%, if you spread that 10% over the other countries too, that's a blanket 1% increase, rather than risking all your sales in one country by raising prices by 10%.
There are people fighting this rule - the bike industry are rallying against it, as are other people - whether it's trying to get bikes classified as 'sporting equipment' so that they're exempt from the 'toy' regulations, or just trying to get the 24"> rule discredited. It remains to be seen what's going to happen, but if anything happens you'll find out here.
There's a lot of other issues here too (e.g. the way that after February, all products without a certificate of their 'clean' state will be illegal to sell), so click here to read a Washington Post article on the matter, or click here to read a post from Bicycle Industry and Retailer News.
Obviously it's not that fun or whatever, but it's something that's potentially going to have a significant impact on The Industry, so it's worth knowing about in advance. Couple that to rising material costs, a global recession, and a weakening currency and we've got more expensive parts on the horizon. Much, much more expensive parts...