Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

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horizon
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Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby horizon » 11 Dec 2019, 11:43am

(NB this might have discussed before so links appreciated).

The technological threshold I'm referring to here doesn't mean that progress has stopped - it just means that we can see a point where things changed and what came afterwards is materially different from what went before (a comma rather than a full stop). And that remaining at this threshold for some people has some advantages.

So for example, we could take a standard 1990s bike with a diamond frame, cantilever brakes, 21 - 27 speed gears and square taper BB and non-threaded steerer. We could even swap the brakes for V brakes or keep a threaded steerer. It could be a 26" wheel mountain bike or a 700c tourer (or a 26" wheel tourer!) but essentially technologically the same bike. And it would be doing the job. Everything that comes afterwards is taking the bike into different (often more specialised) territory.

BTW, I don't think this is Luddite: it is just a way of saying that technology can reach a point where it not only does the job but some other benefits kick in as well. These might be cheap parts, common skills, interchangeability, familiarity, reliability and so forth.

So, did we have a threshold?
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

mercalia
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby mercalia » 11 Dec 2019, 12:01pm

for sportsman maybe not, for Joe and Mary Bloggs maybe

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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 11 Dec 2019, 12:01pm

Hi,
Yes I agree with everything you said.
Just like motorcycles, in the 80s and 90s the Japanese could make virtually anything they wanted to with any configurations.
The roads haven't changed have they?
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geocycle
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby geocycle » 11 Dec 2019, 1:58pm

Yes, I think there was a technological threshold as Horizon describes with everything since being incremental. Arguably e-bikes might have opened another phase?

iandriver
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby iandriver » 11 Dec 2019, 9:32pm

Given there is often a trade off between supple tyres and puncture resistance, I thnk we're a good way off. I wouldn't trade my LED dynamo lights for anything abilable in the 90s.
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

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horizon
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby horizon » 11 Dec 2019, 9:58pm

geocycle wrote:Yes, I think there was a technological threshold as Horizon describes with everything since being incremental. Arguably e-bikes might have opened another phase?


If everything since is incremental, then there wasn't a threshold. I think you are right about electric bikes though.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

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Tigerbiten
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby Tigerbiten » 12 Dec 2019, 9:09am

I don't know about a technological threshold, but the UCI acts as a technological brake.
If somebody comes up with a design that gives them an advantage, it's very 50-50 if it will be banned or adopted.
Recumbents where to fast so they got banned in 1930 and it took 50-60 years before their designs started to looked at seriously with modern materials.
Various radical bikes that got banned because they didn't conform to the specs for the "shape" of a bike, I'm thinking the hour record here.

luck ........... :D

PH
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby PH » 12 Dec 2019, 9:21am

horizon wrote: Everything that comes afterwards is taking the bike into different (often more specialised) territory.

No threshold, it just keeps moving. My best bike has many components not available on your 1990's example, Rohloff hub, LED lights, different alloy steel, disc brake, yet it's use is no more specialised.
The biggest change isn't bike specific and has been the revolution in manufacturing processes and the costs. A couple of years ago I was looking at an 80's cycling catalogue and some of the prices were not hugely different to what we're paying today, certainly a lot lower compared to the average wage. This is both good and bad, we can afford a better quality of bike, but we may not value it so highly.

peetee
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Re: Was there a technological threshold for bicycles?

Postby peetee » 12 Dec 2019, 9:21am

I think maybe we have but the possibility of a hitherto unimaginable innovation is still there. For example, back in the 80's, who could have imagined the concept and dominance of the Internet?
I think bike design has reached a point where it is driven by marketing and expectation for continual improvement. In reality those improvements are imperceptible or offer no performance gain for the vast majority of riders. For example, many riders using 11 speed systems would be perfectly happy with 9 or even 8 speed if they were offered a cassette and chainrings tailored to their needs.
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