How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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horizon
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How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby horizon » 7 Jul 2019, 12:53am

On another thread I was tempted to comment on the advantages of a front triple over the latest 1 x 11 set ups. But then I realised that (a) I have little knowledge of the new stuff and (b) I'm wedded to my 27 speed, bar-end shifter set-ups for reasons other than I think they are better.

I landed on this format (Shimano Deore 27 speed bar-end front triple) when I got back into cycling in the mid-nineties. I stick with it because it's familiar, it's what I got to know, it's what I have learnt to adjust, maintain and repair. Perhaps even more importantly, I can swap around between bikes, wheels and components knowing that everything will pretty much work. The same applies of course to brakes and gear shifters: I'm loathe to give up what I know. Inherent in this are friction shifters and cantilevers - they make everything else work (as far as I know).

I now do all my own maintenance but I'm no mechanic: I rely on painstakingly getting to know how to do something and then, maybe a year later, coming back to do the same thing in the same way with the same tools. I don't wish to adopt anything new, even if it is supposedly better.

So my question is: should I value familiarity over innovation? And is my inertia holding me back or making life easier?
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

thelawnet
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby thelawnet » 7 Jul 2019, 2:49am

depends dunnit

if the existing equipment meets your requirements and works well and is readily available at reasonable price there's no reason to change

Nowadays you can get a diverse selection of bikes with hydraulic disc brakes so if you learn that system then you can work with them all, so your system is but one choice.

I guess it doesn't make sense to necessarily start off with friction shifters and cantilever brakes but if you already invested in that it's a different equation.

Also spare parts is a consideration - if you have one 9 speed setup with quick links and chains and cassettes ready in hand, having to duplicate that with 10 speed or 11 speed may be annoying

But OTOH I have 8, 9 and 10 speed stuff and it seems to me that going down a rung doesn't have too many drawbacks in that even if you have to duplicate spare parts it's still cheaper.

I suspect in general that newer stuff is likely not worth the effort or expense over older, despite what the reviewers tell you, if you own the older already.

however pricing and product availability may force an 'upgrade' - if you're looking for a 'gravel bike' you might well end up with 1x unless you try hard to avoid it.

gbnz
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby gbnz » 7 Jul 2019, 7:50am

thelawnet wrote:
if the existing equipment meets your requirements and works well and is readily available at reasonable price there's no reason to change

.


+ 1. Have to admit I seem to have reversed from three bikes with 9spd set up's, to 8 spd over the last few years (NB. Having considered 8spd to be too basic and outdated some 15 years years ago!)

The advantage of cheap, robust, known gear and having all the tools/knowledge makes it worthwhile, though whenever replacing any major components I always have a quick scan to ensure that I'm not slipping into an absurd state in which I'm struggling to aquire outdated components at an increased price. As long as the price and component advantages make it worthwhile I'll continue using it, though would swap over to 10spd, 11spd or whatever, if I were to ever find myself struggling to pick up components and paying a premium for a long outdated gear system.

Brucey
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby Brucey » 7 Jul 2019, 8:54am

if something "ain't broke" then why "fix it"?

The simple fact is that for all kinds of uses (e.g. touring, commuting, audax, training etc) then measurably 'improving' parts of the bike by (say) 10% would be extremely unlikely to have a comparable effect on the way the bike feels or goes when you are actually riding it. However those small changes rarely come without a price of some kind, often in terms of maintainability, compatibility with other parts, and so forth.

A lot of touring-oriented riders are only pushed into a new generation of groupset if/when they buy a new bike. If the new bike comes with a real advantage that is worth having (eg lower gear ratios) then it'll be a hit. Otherwise it is as likely to be viewed as a source of irritation as anything else, and parts may be replaced with stuff that is (or in some cases is seen to be) more durable, easier to maintain, more suitable, or just less expensive to replace when it wears out.

Another point to bear in mind is that even running obsolete equipment isn't such a big deal these days. For one thing you will know what is liable to wear out and need replacing, and which bits might suffer in a prang but otherwise are unlikely to wear out; thus you can stockpile the parts you need if you want to. There have always been gazillions of bikes that are bought but not heavily used, and via the interweb it has (in relative terms) never been easier to source (NOS or good used) parts that are 20-30 years old or whatever.


The mainstream cycle industry has (pretty clearly) run out of good ideas when it comes to making bikes that are -for a whole swathe of uses- genuinely functionally better and/or more durable. Fortunately the cycle market is big enough that riders are not forced to have whatever this week's racing groupset is, and somehow make it work in a way that it was never designed to.

cheers
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Cugel
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby Cugel » 7 Jul 2019, 9:17am

horizon wrote:(snip)

So my question is: should I value familiarity over innovation? And is my inertia holding me back or making life easier?


It's the fashion cycle of consumerism I dislike. Sometimes this is hard to distinguish from a genuinely useful innovation. Sometimes you have to accept some of the fashion cycle in order to get a worthy innovation.

Looking back at gearing things I've (literally) bought into over 60 years of cycling .........

10-speed rather than the 4-speed freewheels I began with. In truth I like more cogs as I want both a fairly wide range but also very close ratios that are gettable without having to constantly change the front chainring too. But 9 or 10 is certainly sufficient, especially with a triple chainset (another improvement over single or double, for me).

An example, though, of fashion-cycle force: I wanted what I consider is the genuine improvement of hydraulic road disc brakes but these were only available in 11-speed at the time. It necessitated the purchase of unwanted 11-speed gearing just to get the hydraulic STI levers. It also prevents the use of the LH STI lever for changing the triple chainset, as no triple LH STI hydraulic levers are available.

An associated issue is the foolish fashion for all cassettes to start at 11 teeth. I want mine to start at 14 but not to stop at the other end with a 25 but instead a 34. I can't find such a thing in 10 or 11-speed so have to buy two to make one.

*****
If something does seem to improve the functional aspects of my personal cycling habits, I like to obtain it, become familiar with it and maintain it myself. I try not to buy stuff just to learn something new , though. (I like learning new things). For me, cycling is primarily about riding the bike, not maintaining it.

In woodworking, I'm the opposite. I like to try new tools and techniques because, for me, cabinetmaking is as much about the process as the final product. It's not commercial but rather an obsessive hobby in which I can learn new things and practice new skills. It's also a bit about the acquisition of man-toys. :-)

Cugel

peetee
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby peetee » 7 Jul 2019, 10:11am

I think to answer your question is to delve deep in the brains of human beings. A large proportion of society are consumers - those that are never really happy with their lot and are fuelled by the need to improve their situation with ever-more capable or innovative products. Others recognise a good thing when they have it and would rather stick with it. And then there are the Inbetweeners.
All these people are cast into the swirling ocean that is daily life. The good ship 'Progress' has arrived and it's willing to take everyone on board. The consumers live for the moment and are taking every life belt that is thrown at them. The happy lot have turned their backs and are swimming away to their safe islands. It's a long way but they know they have what it takes and can last the distance. The Inbetweeners were treading water nicely but are being hit with so many lifebelts they can't work out whether to use their capable legs to swim away or take what's offered to them.
Current status report:
Latter side of fifty and feeling less than nifty.
Too many bikes on pegs and too few miles in the legs.

UpWrong
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby UpWrong » 7 Jul 2019, 11:09am

I got the cycling bug big time in around 2007 when 9-speed was pretty standard and I've always used triples for the range. With one exception that's what I've stuck with. Partly because of interchangeability and having a supply of spares backups for "n" bikes. Also being able to re-use 9 speed chain quick-links has been handy. I've been contemplating converting one bike to 10 or 11 speed largely because I've been trying out a double rather than a triple and wanting to match the range. Decided on 10 speed with a customised cassette. I'm not convinced it will bring much advantage but maybe I'd become too familiar with 3x9 using SRAM X 1-1 shifting. Time to leave my comfort zone.

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Mick F
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby Mick F » 7 Jul 2019, 11:46am

How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?
I reckon it's the same with all things. Cars, home furnishings, the opposite sex, pets, clothes .............. to name just a few off the top of my head.

We're all creatures of habit - especially men - and we are attracted to what we know and what is familiar.
Mick F. Cornwall

Carlton green
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby Carlton green » 7 Jul 2019, 12:41pm

I see two questions really, the first being “How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?”

In my experience it’s very important to make informed decisions and being familiar with something usually does mean that you’re ‘informed’. It is also important to understand the uses that you intend to put an item to and might reasonable extend to put an item to. If you’re not well informed how will you know whether or not an item will match your purposes?

“So my question is: should I value familiarity over innovation? And is my inertia holding me back or making life easier?”

This is rather a hard question to give a good answer to, it’s almost which is the best of four possible states: familiarity/holding me back; familiarity/making life easier; innovation/holding me back; innovation/making life easier. To my mind the purpose of innovation is to make life easier, but if the new stuff does’t work or is too complex for me then it holds me back. Familiarity is good in that I know what to expect and how to deal with issues but in being unwilling to change I potentially miss out on things that could make life easier.

To a small extent I incrementally progress from one solution to another slightly better one, but I’m of the view that familiarity is best and that in practice I’m usually little - if at all - held back by not adopting some perceived ‘perfect’ solution. It’s all about getting the best from what you have and can afford, and a big part of that is reliability and understanding how to work with what you have.

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TrevA
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby TrevA » 7 Jul 2019, 5:40pm

I have to say that I love STIs and would use them over bar end shifters any day. The ability to change gear without having to move your hands from the hoods and also the ability to brake and change gear at the same time are really useful. I was a committed Campag user for 30 years, and adopted their Ergo levers when they first came out. Campag are perhaps easier to adjust but a bit more clunky than STIs but I would be happy using either system. I changed to STIs 10 years ago because of better availability of wheels for that system, and because I bought a touring bike with STIs. If I hadn’t bought that, I may well have stuck within Campag.

I’m not sure about the endless pursuit of more gears, I was quite happy with 3x9, though I have bikes that are 9, 10 and 11 speed. I like triples, it’s nice to have that granny ring there even if you rarely use it. I haven’t always used them. For years I stuck with a standard double- 53/39, but a trip to the Alps taught me the value of a triple.

I’m still resisting disc brakes, but may consider them for my next tourer. I can see the value of discs on a winter bike too.

slowster
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby slowster » 7 Jul 2019, 6:54pm

I suppose it depends at least in part on what you mean by familiarity. In a slightly negative sense it might refer simply to the concept of sticking with what you have used for many years, possibly without having tried anything else or without having a good idea of the pros and cons of what you have versus possible alternatives. So you might ride a bike or equipment which make others throw up their hands in horror, but providing you are happy, comfortable and the bike functions and performs as you need, that might be all that matters. However, it might also be the case that you don't know how much you are missing out by not having XYZ, unless you have the opportunity to try it or ride with others who do have it and see if they are clearly enjoying a better experience in how the bike rides or performs.

For example, you might be quite satisfied riding an MTB with ordinary inner tubes, and it might only be riding in a group where you note that others have to stop much less for punctures that convinces you of the worth of tubeless for the terrain and riding that you are doing. Conversely, if you have no more punctures than the other riders, and your tyre/tube weight and pressures do not give much, if anything, in performance away to the tubeless riders, you might conclude that you have made the better choice.

A more important aspect of familiarity for me is the question of the knowledge of how to maintain, dismantle and re-assemble the bike and components, and crucially the tools to do so. The arms race between manufacturers of new standards has resulted in ever more specific tools, the cost of which often should be factored in when considering whether to upgrade.

scottg
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby scottg » 7 Jul 2019, 11:49pm

Mick F wrote:We're all creatures of habit - especially men - and we are attracted to what we know and what is familiar.


For me I like variety, I have 3 modern bikes, 2 old bikes, none has the same shifting system.
Nothing like switching from the Campy Ergo bike, to the Claud with rod operated front mech and
the awesome Cyclo-Benelux Tourist mech. Keeps your mind from turning to mush.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Why not the best, buy Cyclo-Benelux.

Mike_Ayling
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby Mike_Ayling » 7 Jul 2019, 11:51pm

FWIW watching the TDF summary last night I noticed that not all the teams have converted to disc brakes.

Mike

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horizon
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby horizon » 9 Jul 2019, 11:59am

slowster wrote:
A more important aspect of familiarity for me is the question of the knowledge of how to maintain, dismantle and re-assemble the bike and components, and crucially the tools to do so.


This is probably for me the key issue - I'm surprised it isn't for more people.

I get the impression that cyclists are divided into two camps, those who work or compete in the field and have daily contact with bikes and the mechanics of bikes and those who take their bike to the shop. There seems to be a dwindling number of people who, while not mechanically minded, are willing to give it a go. And then of course there's the rest of the population who either wouldn't dream of owning a bike let alone repairing it or whose bike sits at the back of the garage with a puncture. I did read once that according to a survey, the greatest impediment to riding a bike was not hills or rain but the fear of a puncture.

The main problem with DIY bike maintenance is that you actually don't do it often enough. You don't become practised or familiar with a task and when you do come to do the same job again, you've forgotten how you did it the first time. So taking on new types of brakes or BB is just another level of relatively slow learning that has to be gone through.

So when anyone claims that the latest brakes or electronic shifting isn't actually a great improvement on the old stuff then of course, it's music to my ears.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

Brucey
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Re: How important is familiarity in choosing equipment?

Postby Brucey » 9 Jul 2019, 12:35pm

horizon wrote: ….So when anyone claims that the latest brakes or electronic shifting isn't actually a great improvement on the old stuff then of course, it's music to my ears.


In all fairness the bicycle is a very mature product; the chances of there being a major new improvement that is truly universally applicable (rather than very 'niche', or with as many downsides as upsides) are pretty slim.

A lot of supposed 'innovations' to me look a lot like change for the sake of it, or change that comprises an additional layer of 'stuff' that is arguably irrelevant/inappropriate for most people's bicycle use.

Whether adopting a new technology is 'worth it' or not depends on the perceived benefits on offer vs the 'price of change'. Learning new things is good for the brain, but one of the things I have learnt is that most new designs for bicycle components are as likely to be rubbish as not, in some interesting (and usually crucial) way.

cheers
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