Future Used Electronics

I think the backlash will come only if electronics start to invade low end bikes.

High end road and MTB bikes are just toys for everyone but sponsored professionnal riders. And the ones coming with electronic groupsets are expensive ones that people only buy if they can afford to replace them, and that they replace on a regular basis just out of vanity.

Now the people who rely on a bicycle to work or go to work , and here I am not talking about professional bicycle racers, need to have bikes that can be:

  1. fixable
  2. fixable quickly, meaning they enter the bike shop, get their bike fixed in place without wait.

Those kind of people would never accept a bike whose replacement part need to be ordered. Most of them ride Deore, Alivio or Tourney equipped bicycles whose replacement shifters (or compatible ones made by third party) are available in any bike shop, general sporting good stores and even supermarkets.

2 Likes

Will it not be the case that those low end parts will be electric in the future though? The fact that electric drivetrain parts are so expensive now is due to their novelty/newness, no?

Will the pattern not be like watches - in a few years, complicated moving parts will be for enthusiasts only, who are prepared to pay a premium.

Caveat - I’m guessing here, haven’t really got a clue if the analogy works :laughing:

I don’t think this will happen….as you start moving features downstream, you are incentivizing customers to spend less money. If I can get electronic shifting at $2k, why should I spend $5k? Heck, you are seeing it now with many consumers simply opting for Ultegra vs DA as the cost increase is not warranted for DA any longer.

Now, there is a balance to this….as some features become more affordable, you can grow the entire market, making the trade off worth it.

Electronic shifting has been mainstream for well over 10 years now….the “novelty” has long since gone.

At our end of the market I’d agree.

I’d guess that the majority of bike owners who may spend about £500 on a complete bike don’t know that electronic shifting is a thing.

2 Likes

Absolutely…and that is what I was referring to. Again, I don’t see it trickling down much past a 105 / Rival level anytime in the near future.

I think that there is a possibility of longer term support as electronic groupsets become more mature. For instance, once there is 105, it is fairly easy at a technical/electronic level to make them interoperate to a significant degree. The 105/Ultegra/Dura Ace mechanical where generally quite similar and interchangeable within a generation, so this may be something that they keep in the electronic sense. Since the shifters are simply buttons, it is ‘easy’ to make these work across generations (barring more intelligence going into the shifters.)
This doesn’t solve the fundamental long term supply of the ‘complicated’ bits, ie the derailleurs and battery/brains, but having 3 levels of components that share underlying technology will tend to stretch out the product cycles.
I don’t see any consumer electronics (complete items) having the kind of long term supply and/or interoperability that mechanical has. It would likely be a real burden to try to keep manufacturing 5-10 year old designs - I would be that this would involve stockpiling certain ICs, which is not going to happen in this market.
As an aside, compatible work-alike high end multimeters (Fluke, in particular) seem to be a thing, apparently largely due to government contracts and military procedures documenting the use of a specific multi-meter product. You can buy some very expensive, brand new and ‘obsolete’ multimeters due to this. (EEVblog has some youtube videos on this for those interested in more detail/commentary.)

1 Like

This might be a very long time though. For Shimano, Campagnolo and Sram protect their “inventions” with a myriad of patents which IMHO are often granted to them much too easily.

And then the communication in-between the components of an electronic drive train is encrypted. Can that encryption be hacked with any reasonable amount of effort? I don’t think so.

Shimano when upgrading Dura-Ace and Ultegra to their current 12s versions have already demonstrated unashamedly that they have no interest to make things compatible which is very easy for them. They in fact did it for that 11s stuff - like the shifters for time-trial bars - which they didn’t want to bring in a new version due to sales volumes which they obviously consider to be too small.

Sram did the the same thing when introducing their AXS groups with all the silly proprietary “standards” they introduced with those.

Seeing all that I’m not optimistic at all that those companies will move into that desirable direction.

And taking into account their patents I don’t see anyone else trying to take them on and develop alternative electronic drive train components with promised long-term support and firmware updates.

1 Like

It’s really unfortunate to see only electronic coming from Shimano and SRAM in 2022. Like nearly everyone has said, that just means lots of e-waste in the ocean or landfill within just a handful of years and no way to repair or fix. If cycling becomes just another new iPhone every year and throw away the old one then we are no better than cars etc. Quite hypocritical of Shimano to go with paper packaging now while a 10 year old electronic system just goes to trash. I found a 10+ year old Ultegra 10speed groupset in my collection and it would work flawlessly and weigh less than an equivalent 2022 bike. It’s unfortunate because these views lead to some fanboy calling you a “luddite” to justify this trend.

4 Likes

One could hope for legislation regarding right to repair to fix this. It won’t for this generation, but moving on to the next it could change the standings.

I’m with the above remark of getting patents too easily, but this is not only a problem in cycling. IMO the patent system is broken because of “nationalist interests” of few involved countries with bigger markets.
This just begets that you’re waiting ~20yrs until the rectification of the protectionism of the companies. Then you have real innovation - if the market hasn’t put you on the next “innovation”.

Don’t get me wrong, the intent of the system is right in the way of protecting real innovators, but then you’d need a proper vetting process to ensure height of innovation.

1 Like

This already exists with mechanical stuff. Buddy of mine had 10 speed DA group set and wanted to buy a new shifter after a crash. Ebay prices for 10 speed DA shifters are insane, no problem, I suggested just get Tiagra shifters since they’re cheap 10 speed shifters and they actually have under tape brake cable routing. Nope, different pull ratio, he ended up just having to buy a Tiagra group set since it was cheaper than NOS shifters.

He didn’t have to buy a whole group. Just derailleurs to match with the shifters. The rest of his kit would have worked with Tiagra, and those derailleurs aren’t expensive.

Okay guess you win semantically but my point still stands that aside from a battery and junction box the same would be true with electronic. He’d still have to replace the majority of his groupset.

1 Like

Well, nobody “wins” here. But these things were easier and cheaper with mechanical groups.

The 10-speed mechanical failure needed shifters and derailleurs and that’s lame. But if it was electronic, the frame is (likely) built for electronic shifting only, so the choices are eBay surfing and a lot of patience, or the rider throws down for new electronic parts that WILL NOT be 10 speed. In fact, they probably won’t be 11 speed — 12spd is the established new standard.

So now you’re buying Shifters, derailleurs, a battery, wires, junction box, cassette, maybe wheels, probably a crank and BB … and this is assuming you can get that stuff in the correct brake compatibility since 10-speed was all rim brake stuff.

That’s a lot of hurdles (and like $2300) and that’s the problem.

Ok, so I guess if you have some kind of “trigger button” on your electronic shifter, I guess it could be possible to work out a way to retrofit old groups with different inner workings (electronics) and a firmware at the RD & FD that would be reprogrammable too for the respective groupset / manufacturer. I’m thinking along the lines of what ratio is doing for mechanical.
Now one has to decide if that market is big enough and one could recover the costs + a little margin :thinking:
I wonder if a collaboration with iFixit would fix some of the overhead… *hint hint :wink:
Anyone capable and up for that?

1 Like

I hope Ratio is doing exactly that.

If you look at Raspberry Pi, Arduino and such like being used to build robots and CNC machines from off the shelf parts, it is no big step to imagine replacing all the electronics on top of say a 10 speed Di2 system (like adding modern engine management electronics on top of a 1960s car) to make it move over different intervals as that is a very simple set of moves from a robotics perspective. Or bolt on a servo motor and ball screw like Campagnolo (or better, an off the shelf servo) to an existing RD. Given a top class 3d printer like a Voron 2.4 which runs 7 servo motors costs around $1000 all-in, there is an opportunity to build a totally modular user programable open source system for a lot less than the $3-4000 the latest Dura Ace system costs.

Regarding the missing Sram FD, isn’t the solution to use the DA11 speed FD with the really long lever arm and add a small piece of metal to the lever arm to move the bolt location to give the right leverage ratio? Sounds like the sort of small part that Ratio could make easily.

Dedicated electronic frames are just now becoming somewhat common…prior to the last 2-3 years, all but a few frames accepted mechanical and electronic.

The one big issue I can think of was an old Giant that was buil specifically around the first-gen Di2 stuff…that frame is basically junk now.

1 Like

from what I can gather, and I’m no authority, but Shimano seems to have designed their Di2 comms systems to be basically encrypted. this makes it difficult for aftermarket products to be matched up with them. when you think about it, that makes commercial sense. (for Shimano)

one day when electronic shifting becomes more commodified, consumers will be in a stronger position to value compatibility with other brands more - influencing Shimano to soften their stance.

1 Like

This is in line with what Archer Components is offering.

1 Like

Dedicated electronic frames are just now becoming somewhat common …

They’re becoming the norm, but they’ve been common since Di2 was introduced. All of the 1st gen Di2 bikes I sold as completes from Specialized, Giant, Scott, Fuji, you name it … they were mostly Di2 only in those early years. I didn’t start seeing “universal routing” until around 2013, and even then it was mostly on frames that were commonly sold as a frame/fork and had to be compatible with everything.

That old Giant is a great example of why we need to have some backward-compatibility with electronic parts. Your frame shouldn’t become junk just because you broke a shifter.

1 Like

Never worked on or owned a Di2 bike. Can you explain to me what makes the old Giant frame junk?