Does anyone at CT actually like bikes?

Ok, bait-y title, but it’s a real question, I assure you. To flesh it out a bit, do any of the CT writers/staff actually like any new bike development over the last decade or two?

We have #team-tube-inside, or whatever they’re calling themselves, the podcast loves to bemoan how electronic shifting is unnecessary/too expensive/whatever, and now the the SL7 recall, they’re fanning the internet flames of how terrible internal cable routing is. Another trend seems to be groaning about anything new since it’s terrible for the environment. The resounding mood around here is getting increasingly curmudgeon/get-off-my-lawn.

Semi-related tangent: the cable routing/SL7 debacle seems to be more of an excuse to bitch and moan about how much of a pain things are to work on. Do you want bike shops to have a future, or not? At the same time, surely the handy home mechanic can handle the once or twice a lifetime finagling with the hose length to get the front end set correctly. Or do you guys/gals replace your di2 wires every season to keep things clean inside?

Before anyone jumps in to point out all the articles they write on di2, axs, whatever… yes, they cover the industry. I’m not saying they don’t. I enjoy their coverage in general. I am just pointing out that their passion seems to be more around hating on anything that isn’t yesterday’s tech.

Weird place to be for a cycling site.

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I think each writer’s opinions are clear on CT and are balanced with how they ride and what they like to ride. If you had a different composition of people on the podcast, the opinions would be different. It’s not as if CT or any cycling media outlet can equally hold all opinions on all things bike. For example, I’m sure if the podcast featured a bunch of pro racers, the opinions might be different.

If they didn’t share those opinions, the rest of us would just say they are pawns of the big bicycle companies.

I am supportive of their discussions about the environmental impact of cycling. Every industry needs to do this, albeit some more than others.

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I sort of agree with what you said. Often times is seems like some of the podcast opinions are based solely on the particular commenter’s personal experience rather than looking at the bigger picture. Team-Tube-Inside is a perfect example. The guys have obviously not lived in a location with a lot of goat’s head thorns. I have. It is not unusual, with tubes, to get multiple thorn flats in a single ride. On one unlucky ride I had 5 flats in three hours. Going to road tubeless completely eliminated the thorn flats. Is it somewhat of a pain sometime? Yes! However, it is better than a ton of flats. So, having the podcast hosts say that road tubeless is basically stupid for tires above 50psi just goes to show that they don’t understand the whole picture.

I am on the fence about internal routing. Once my bike is set up I rarely change the setup and, thus, the changing the hose length problem is not really a problem. What IS a problem is servicing the headset. It only happens every few years so it isn’t that bad since you probably need to bleed the brakes anyway. Internal looks nice. I just hope that there isn’t a lot if internal hose rub inside the headset area.

In term of modern technology, I LOVE disk brakes and electronic shifting. I wouldn’t go back if I didn’t have to. Charging batteries is way less work than maintaining cables.

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With regards to internal cable routing, you’ll be maintaining your headset bearings annually, perhaps even more often if you live somewhere wet. It can’t be denied that internal routing makes this much harder.

Bike shops have too much work as it is right now, I’m friends with several owners of shops. Honestly they roll their eyes at 5 hour jobs, they’d far rather be able to do several jobs that take half an hour each, it certainly makes them more money.

People want the option to choose between rim/disc, tubes/tubeless, wireless/cabled, external/internal cabling, standardised/proprietary parts so they can have what they want but at the high end it feels like the options are decreasing.

With regards to the environment, what’s wrong about caring about the planet?

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I actually sort of agree with you. I’m just getting tired of all the complaining, I guess. They talk about new stuff, but not with the same fire as they complain about stuff/praise the old ways.

With regards to the environment, what’s wrong about caring about the planet?

It’s not that. It’s that in conjunction with almost every new product/innovation being derided for some perceived failure. It’s the overall theme that only the old way is the only right way.

Bike shops have too much work as it is right now…

Nice problem to have, I imagine.

…, I’m friends with several owners of shops. Honestly they roll their eyes at 5 hour jobs, they’d far rather be able to do several jobs that take half an hour each, it certainly makes them more money.

How does that work? I assume they charge an hour’s labor for that 30 minutes? I’ll have to remember to prioritize my shop work to only bring them work that can maximize their dollar earned. 5, 1 hour jobs should bring in the same money as 1, 5 hour job, no?

A lot of places still have flat fees for servicing, for example:

I doubt the general service which includes a headset check will be staying at £65 for long if more and more internally routed bikes are coming in and a job that used to take a few minutes now takes a few hours.

Also each job will often involve some parts which are generally sold at a profit.

Where was the criticism of Hutchinson’s new gridskin tech? Improved tyres and also better for the environment, everyone seemed pretty keen on it when it was announced recently?

The criticism is aimed at the disposable society we live in which wants us to go out and buy new things instead of continuing to use or repair older things.

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A lot of places still have flat fees for servicing, for example:

Yeah, so basically they earn a higher hourly rate on quick easy jobs because of their own pricing structure. It’s not something inherent in the work. I guess what I’m saying is, they should charge me a fair hourly rate. I’m not expecting a deal when I bring in a job that requires more of their time. It makes no sense to charge me less. I paid a premium for the bike that’s tougher to work on. I expect to pay for the maintenance too.

Where was the criticism of Hutchinson’s new gridskin tech? Improved tyres and also better for the environment, everyone seemed pretty keen on it when it was announced recently?

Admittedly, I didn’t know what you were talking about so I went to CT and searched. No hits. Did you see it from CT? I found news of it on other sites.

But I’m not sure what you mean by criticism of it. What’s the inconsistency? That they didn’t mention it? That I didn’t mention it? Maybe they mentioned it on a podcast and I don’t remember. You’ll have to help me out.

I feel like I need to clarify. I don’t think all of CT is complete garbage and always do what I complain of above. I really like this site! I’m a fan! I’m just saying recently, it seems they’ve been very passionate about hating on a lot of new stuff. You can likely find more examples of products they’ve been excited about. But it’s very easy to find examples of them hating on the new “staples” that I mentioned earlier: Electronic shifting, disc brakes, tubeless tires/wheels, etc.

I think this misses some nuance:

  • you can love electronic shifting, without loving the enforced loss of mechanical
  • you can love high end bikes, without loving the 50% real world price increase of mid range offerings
  • you can love integration, without loving the difficulty in servicing

Need I go on?

I actually think those of us who really love cycling are quite sad that, in many ways, it has become less accessible, not more, at a time when the environment, many people’s mental health, and an increasingly sedentary population needs it more than ever.

Moreover, and more generally, good journalism isn’t afraid about speaking truth to power. And while I’m not suggesting calling Spesh out on their fork/headset interface is going to win a Pulitzer, it’s a responsible and necessary act. By doing things like this, sites like CT do a tiny bit to make the cycling world a better place.

Do you actually like bikes, or just shiny things that look nice and are a status symbol?

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I think it’s funny how you observe that a bunch of people who know a lot about bikes and get paid to discuss bikes don’t like many new developments and your conclusion is

“The CT staff are a bunch of grouches”
and not
“The industry is going berserk and new bikes are not better than old, adjusted for price”.

Are you willing to even consider the idea that maybe new bikes are a bit of a joke? That maybe all this “innovation” is primarily being driven by these companies’ desire to sell bikes rather than a desire to make good bikes?

The fact that cycling is becoming less and less accessible is far more of a threat to bike shops than bikes that are simple to work on. Bike shops were able to make money before the SL7 came along, somehow.

I don’t mean to be antagonistic, but I do think you should be willing to entertain the idea that the industry has regressed.

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All consumer product companies want to sell more insert product here. It is what they do.

Having worked in the industry for a number of years, I can tell you there is no insidious plot to force people to buy bikes they don’t need / want. Most of the people who make up the industry are bike geeks and just want to make / sell good stuff…from an opening price point MTB to the latest superbike.

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Well a) that’s my point. If we know that all companies simply want to sell more product, there is no guarantee that the new is better than old. Reminds me of the CollegeHumor Oreo CEO sketch - worth a watch.

But also b) I’m not claiming that there’s some insidious plot. But you’re somewhat contradicting yourself when you say most people in the industry just want to make good stuff if you also are acknowledging that the main goal of all companies is to sell more product. Which one is it?

The only resolution I can see for those two statements is that companies have a consciousness above that of their employees and act in a way that belies the wills of the individuals who comprise it. Which tbh… I could buy.

People saying cycling is becoming less accessible blows my mind. In the last 18 months our LBSs can’t keep bikes in stock. At any level. The LBSs in my area are mostly very active in the community Facebook pages and they will post when new bikes are coming or in, and they often sell the majority of the truckload in minutes. Our trails are so overcrowded with new riders that it takes the fun out of being in the woods. Cycling in positively booming!

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It seems that you’ve (OP) made a rather odd association, that “liking bikes” is equivalent to wholesale embracement of all things new, with an emphasis on technology, where many of us who enjoy bicycles have pretty much the opposite perspective, where we enjoy bicycles/bicycling specifically because it is natural, embraces nature, doesn’t require electricity, contributes to the local ecology by not producing carbon residue and other waste, is healthy, and so forth, where, for many of us, the last thing we are interested in is new and largely unnecessary contrivances, just for the sake of change, or for keeping pace with the world tour athletes–many of us not only don’t need that, we don’t want it.

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I’m just getting tired of all the complaining, I guess. They talk about new stuff, but not with the same fire as they complain about stuff/praise the old ways.

Old = complaining… I know, I’m old and I complain every day.

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I would love electronic shifting… when they finally invent one without batteries that need to be charged. Couldn’t the stepper motor on the derailleurs just get the energy it needs from my fingertips/hands that is pushing the button? Oh wait. That’s mechanical shifting.

Why do you think those two goals are contradictory? Seems to me the best way to accomplish the goal of selling more product is to make good stuff that people want to buy.

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Accessibility is the big one for me and came to my mind with Dave Rome’s recent article. It is quite broad too - are bikes getting easier to ride, buy and maintain and is this new tech trickling down. Personally, I like new things, but I also want to ride a bike without worrying about cost or difficulties fixing it.

There are two other factors I think need considering. Cycling doesn’t have a great recent history with changing standards for debatable gains. Also, road cycling in particular is quite conservative by nature. So while the companies push new things, pro’s and elite cyclists tend to have a suspicious mindset. Hell, UCI regulates what designs can actually be raced!

An interesting point to ponder - how much has new tech changed the cycling experience? I think there is a diversion here for road and MTB. Road cycling has many marginal gains. A MTB in 2021 would ride and handle completely different to 2011.

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Your point about the progression of road versus mountain bikes is something that both James and I have written about before: Opinion: Why progress is so slow for road bike tech - CyclingTips .

As for the original question posed by @The_Guy , I think it’s rather obvious that @James_Huang and I hate everything related to all facets of cycling. :wink:

Joking aside, we complain because we’re in a position to impact change for the positive. A number of these new “innovations” we’re seeing are doing little for cycling beyond driving prices upward.

If we believe a new product or innovation is brilliant progress then we’ll surely say so. Unfountantely when we do praise such things people often accuse us of being shills for the industry. Given the choice, I’m happier to be viewed as a grumpy and jaded curmudgeon than a corporate shill.

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I’m not at all opposed to new tech. In fact, I embrace a lot of it, although I also strongly feel there’s a tipping that needs to be considered when any new technology is introduced.

Electronic shifting? As much as I prefer mechanical personally, it’s not a super hard preference and I’ll readily admit that electronic transmissions work substantially better.

Disc brakes? All for them.

Aero? To a point. As far as my personal riding is concerned, I’m fine with it as long as it doesn’t overly detract from other aspects like ride quality.

Heck, you should see my preferences in my mountain bike stuff: super progressive geometry, 1x12 drivetrain, the latest suspension tech, carbon fiber frame and rims, dropper post, one-piece carbon bar and stem, etc.

The tipping point for me comes when those technological advances offer minimal tangible benefits to the end user, and especially if they come at a significant cost in terms of serviceability and adjustability.

Take internal routing, for example (through the frame, that is). It’s been a thing on the mountain bike side for ages, but companies have figured out in recent years that it’s best to have fully guided internal tubes so that you just stick the housing in at one end and it magically pops out at the other. If fully concealed lines are to be a thing in road bikes for the foreseeable future, why can’t the engineers/designers figure out a way to have both the performance advantage and the ease of service?

Sure, bikes that are harder to work on might – in theory – bring a little more service business to bike shops, but do customers with those difficult-to-service bikes actually understand that a headset bearing or changing a stem length will cost more like $300 instead of $30? What sort of training is required for shops to properly do that kind of service, anyway?

All I’m saying is that serviceability needs to weighed in conjunction with gains in performance. All too often, it’s an afterthought, assuming it’s considered at all.

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