Dick Burke Part 2 – Revolution Now, The father of bike advocacy

Posted on Mar 15th 2008 | Advocacy, Bike Life, Blog,

Thanks for the nice emails and comments about my Dick Burke blog. Beyond the personal stories about Dick, I did mention he was a visionary and that is the subject of today’s blog. I consider Dick the Father of Bicycle Advocacy in the bike industry. Many do not know this about him, but here is why I feel this way. Dick Burke had numerous perspectives in business, as he owned various companies and he recognized that companies in many other industries got together as a group to help promote the products they sold. One such example of this is the firearm industry. They have a very powerful trade organization and user group called the N.R.A. (have you ever heard of it??) to promote their….ahem…product. Now, I know what you’re thinkin….the firearm industry is probably a hundred times bigger than the bike industry and they have some verbage in one of our country’s founding documents “right to bear arms” or some such outdated b.s.. Hell, they even have Charleton Heston, the dude who took on the whole frickin planet of the apes with one rifle….or perhaps you would like to consider him Moses whipping out his 10 commandments (which if you look really close in the movie and can translate ancient Hebrew, it says “thou shalt have the right to bear arms”….sneaky NRA PR people paying to get that on the tablet in the movie)…..but I digress. Well, turns our the firearm industry and the bike industry are just about the same size….yes, that’s right about the exact same friggin size and where is our constitutional amendment that we have the right to bear a bicycle?? So, my point is the bike industry was so busy with the Life cereal dilemma “I’m not going to try bike advocacy!” , “Well, I’m not going to try bike advocacy!”…..”hey, let’s get Mikey (Sinyard??)…..he hates everything!” But in this scenario, Mikey doesn’t like it either, so no one tries it after that. Well, Dick Burke sees this….I mean SEES this and so instead of getting Mikey and others to try it, He “steps up to the plate” and proposes and starts BI0, Bicycle Industry Organization to unify the bike industry and to put on its own tradeshow and use the profits to promote bicycle advocacy….as the dudes in the Guinness commercial say….Brilliant! So Dick does get Mikey and a few other big hitters to get together with him and off we go on the path to enlightenment….right? Wrong…..turns out the business who stands to lose the most from this (the tradeshow company) also owns the biggest Bicycle Retailer (not the exact name, but something like that) publication in the bike business and they, in a manner that would make that Bill O’Reilly proud, SPIN the whole idea as BAD medicine for everyone in the biz….I’m talking total one sided they did not publish anything at all positive about it in the two years that BIO struggled to take hold. Well, Dick took the hit on this and was blamed by many for nearly tearing the bike industry apart over this endeavor. Talk about your misunderstood! In the end he settled the deal with Interbike by ending the BIO tradeshow in exchange for Interbike donating a big sum to bike advocacy on an annual basis. Hey, where is that money by the way?? I will address this train robbery in another blog. End of story right….Dick rides off into the sunset as a bike industry pariah right? Not Dick Burke, he goes back to the drawing board and learns from the first attempt and nails it the second time. “Hey folks, we have a new trade group called Bikes Belong and here is $100,000 of my own money to get it started”. Nobody is threatened by it and it costs only a small percentage of sales to join, so everyone pays their fair share to promote our industry. Genius….pure genious….this time it sticks and let the tables start to turn. With all due respect his son John is also a player in this and should get his kudos too….the apple does not fall far as they say….. It’s Revolution pure and simple…. to be continued…..