but unforgiveable use of elitist marketing was an innovation too far for mountain biking - the infantile divisions they wanted to create linger on, even today.
If I understand you correctly, are you saying that many, if not all of the Klein enthusiasts you know today are elitist and condescending to enthusiasts of other brands? I have thick skin so if you believe I'm guilty of acting like that, please let me know. Otherwise, for myself, there are many Klein owners that actively participate on this board and "elitism" isn't the first, second, or fiftieth word that would pop into my head if I were to describe them. I think "elitism" is being substituted with the more proper marketing term = "aspirational". The LAST thing any company wants to do is to alienate prospective customers so why would Klein seek to market itself as a "we're too good for you" type of company? To my eyes and understanding of their advertising messages, it was "aspirational". Sort of "you've arrived" type of message that doesn't mean that anyone else can't "arrive" with you and own a Klein. They made bikes at several price points to make sure they had something to offer people who were willing to spend a little or a lot on a bike. If you see otherwise, that's your opinion but I think you're missing their point. Maybe Europe's culture interprets that type of advertising differently than in the U.S.?
And for myself, I'll just say that all these "elitist" comments are really unfounded. "Fan boys"? I guess that's meant to be pejorative but I think it's fair to say that everyone on this board is a "fan boy" of sorts in some regard because it seems everyone has their brand/bike of preference, no?
Wrapping up: Klein bikes = uber cool Klein owners = the worst people on earth. That still makes the bikes cool.