Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

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Brucey
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Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby Brucey » 13 Sep 2017, 1:48pm

At risk of coming over as a luddite/reactionary old giffer who makes an art form out of not keeping up with the times, is it just me or is the simple, unfettered joy of getting on a simple machine (a normal bicycle) and going for a ride becoming a lost pleasure?

If you are remotely interested in cycling, you will be encouraged/driven to buy ever more complicated, ever more expensive bikes that provide 'marginal gains' of some kind for some niche cycling activity whilst having a shorter and shorter life and being more and more awkward to fix.

I am driven to start this thread by these comments in another thread;



reohn2 wrote: <off topic>
After browsing all the articles in that link it brought home how cycling is quickly disappearing up it's own rectum, and has become a technophile's orgasmatron :?


Samuel D wrote:It’s awful, isn’t it. Surely that whole glitzy page contains nothing of the cycling we know and love. It’s wanton consumerism at its basest, and it saddens me to think that this has become accepted as the norm. Who’s fighting the good fight these days? I have to hunt out books from the 1970s (before I was born!) to hear people speak out against this approach.


In this day and age it ought to be possible to make simple, functional components and bicycles that are better engineered than ever. Yet the industry is obsessed with a race to the bottom at one end and a load of overcomplicated nonsense at the other, seemingly at the expense of the middle ground. There are and have always been folk who will make anything (for a price) and there are a few suppliers that aim to provide simple and functional components at a reasonable cost, but they are few and far between.

I worry that at this rate, if you want a simple, reliable bike, in a few year's time, it'll be an idea that is so far removed from the mainstream that you will be in the hands of bespoke suppliers, or using secondhand kit.

Right now I probably wouldn't buy a new bike, in good part because it is difficult to find one that I really like. For now, anyway, it is much more likely that I'll build something I do like, using a few new parts and a lot of used ones. BTW on the few occasions that I have bought a new bike, I've either taken the whole thing apart and put it back together again, or bought it in pieces. Either way the assembly work has not been time wasted; it is far less likely that anything will go wrong and ongoing maintenance is made way easier if the bike is assembled 'just so'.

cheers
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thirdcrank
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby thirdcrank » 13 Sep 2017, 2:04pm

It's a different plot aimed at selling as much stuff as possible.

garygkn
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby garygkn » 13 Sep 2017, 2:08pm

I had the option to buil up my road bike with Campag 11 but I went for NOS Campag 9. The other day for the simple pleasure of just going for a ride I bought a bicycle fitted with a Duomatic hub with coaster brake. This bike has only one cable and one leaver. Very simple and pleasant to ride. I think marketing and sales people can make new bikes over complicated affairs. I have found that for my type of riding a used Mercian with my own mods meet my needs.

I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

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pjclinch
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby pjclinch » 13 Sep 2017, 2:17pm

I can see where you're coming from, but behind all the "Game Changer" headlines on what boils down to an extra "pay a £10 fine or take a chance" card, the supply of unremarkably dull but actually quite good mass market bikes is better than it's been for many, many years.

People can easily go out and spend a modest mount of money on a very decent bike that isn't pretending to be the last word in sports equipment.

In the UK most of the money is still in sports equipment, so that's what gets pushed. But there's more of an A-B transport sector than has been the case for a long while, it's easier to get hub gears, dynohubs, saddles you can actually sit on for more than 10 minutes without strange trousers, and so on.

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Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

roubaixtuesday
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby roubaixtuesday » 13 Sep 2017, 4:00pm

I dunno, I think you are being at least a tad luddite TBO.

Bikes available today seem to me at least to be far better and more practical for the equivalent money than they were 30 years ago.

Anyone missing trying to brake on steel rims?? Or snapping axles?? Or cotter pins?? Or tungsten bulbs??

And there is a definite trend towards the availability of very simple bikes, with fixies seeming to be all the rage.

I do agree that there's far more emphasis than warranted on the latest Di2 and the like, but really, those are just expensive toys for people who like shiny things and/or showing off. I don't see anything wrong with that, though it's not my thing, and much better they're spending it on a nice bike than a fast car.

amediasatex
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby amediasatex » 13 Sep 2017, 4:32pm

Yet the industry is obsessed with a race to the bottom at one end and a load of overcomplicated nonsense at the other, seemingly at the expense of the middle ground.


Funny how viewpoints differ... I don't see if this way at all. Yes I see the top getting more and more specialised, but the bottom staying the same but the middle getting bigger and better!

Be careful not to confuse the tiny top end stuff that gets shouted about in magazines and at shows, with the rest of the market as I think there is a very big disconnect between the two, the amount of noise in the media over the top end stuff is in no way reflective of what actually gets sold and used day to day.

I can see where you're coming from, but behind all the "Game Changer" headlines ..., the supply of unremarkably dull but actually quite good mass market bikes is better than it's been for many, many years.


I think this is very true. (very) Cheap bikes have always been rubbish, sadly they're still rubbish now. Mid range bikes are better than they have ever been*, reliable and very good value, in fact cheaper in terms of % of income. The top end is as it ever was, a reflection of racing and pinnacle of technology, ie: nothing like what you want for day to day use. Sure the tech has advanced and become ever more specialised, but it's still confined to the top end,the top end has gone upwards, but the middle ground has gotten wider and better.

There will always be those who buy at the top end, and perhaps there are more of those people now due to the consumerism you speak of, but I think it's still a minority, and it's no more forced upon you than it ever was. Of course the marketing will be shouting about the latest and greatest, that's what they do, and have always done, but look below at the mid range stuff and it's still simple tech at heart and I think it is overall better than ever (with one or two niggling exceptions!)

Not everything is a step in the right direction**, there will always be mistakes and such, but overall things are pretty darn good really, and you really can choose the level of complexity you want to join in at. I think much depends on where you choose to shop and their attitude, some places will try and foist things upon you regardless of how appropriate or inappropriate they are. Other shops and mechanics are more grounded, but this is more about the people than the bikes.

I also think, that as 'seasoned cyclists' it's hard sometimes to let go of our preferences when thinking about this kind of thing. We have a lot of experience and that sometimes clouds our judgement as it's hard to forget a lifetime of working out what does and doesn't work for us and look at things from the new or causal rider point of view.

Having said all that I do think the industry as a whole would do well to turn more attention towards that middle ground, utility and transport bikes and casual/everyday riders. If they spent as much time and effort pushing boundaries in reliability and longevity as they do in squeezing out tenths of a second for racers bikes might be incredible!

* As an example, look at what £200 - £500 can buy you now. I think it's really impressive, and there are options at that price point from ultra reliable 7/8 speed bikes for transport and everyday use, right up to the beginning of high performance bikes for more sporty use.

The £500 - £1000 area is even more impressive and wide ranging, it might sound like a lot of money (and it is!) but if you account for inflation and look at % of income a £500 bike in 2017 is similar to the financial outlay a £200 bike was 20-30 odd years ago, and I don't remember them lasting that well...

** Whatever your views on increasing speeds/hydraulics/electric whatever, the thing that upsets more more than anything else is parts designed to be replaced rather than maintained and repaired, especially when it's only one small part of a lager component that renders it effectively useless. That really doesn't sit well with me.

wearwell
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby wearwell » 13 Sep 2017, 5:02pm

I've dumped a ridiculous Sram Apex 'compact' double chainwheel in favour of a treble - with a down tube changer to save having to buy new gear all round. It's just like my first bike (1958) and works perfectly well - much better than the high tech Sram option!
Arguably; for all normal purposes the only major significant change in bike design since the 50s is the increased number of gear ratios available, from 2x5 back then to 3x11 now. The rest is just fine detail.
PS and lights of course!

swscotland bentrider
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby swscotland bentrider » 13 Sep 2017, 5:11pm

I kinda agree with most of the last reply. I started serious cycling aged 15 in 1964. Ron Kitchings everything cycling and the ads in cycling weekly were pored over. We eat slept and breathed campagnolo hubs and fiamme rims!

Nothing's changed except the market has grown to match our rising incomes. The stuff I can buy now (all my bikes under 1k except the recumbents) is light years ahead of the stuff we drooled over then. :D

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Si
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby Si » 13 Sep 2017, 5:13pm

Certainly a lot more boutiquebike shops about, and fewer that have shelves full of unmarked brown card board boxes full of 3/8ths left hand widgets.

On the other hand there are a lot more basic,(beginners?) flat barred bikes with a good range of gears , wide comfortable tyres, good brakes, and a more upright position than, say, 20 or 30 years back when it tended to be racer wannabe bikes then mtbs.

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Si
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby Si » 13 Sep 2017, 5:16pm

But im reminded of my annoyance the other day....finally found a bike i thought i wanted...everything looked good on it then i noticed the seat post had a 'D' shaped cross section. Why in the name of all that is holy do you have to change seat posts from being round to D shaped?????????

Airsporter1st
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby Airsporter1st » 13 Sep 2017, 5:22pm

I don't miss the rust that used to appear at the first sign of rain when everything was (poorly) chromed steel.

bertgrower
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby bertgrower » 13 Sep 2017, 6:11pm

When did this process start. In 1970s you could get 15 speed bikes and aero brake levers. There has been some recent changes buthow many real people buy the compicated stuff I do not see at Dr Bikes.

fastpedaller
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby fastpedaller » 13 Sep 2017, 7:07pm

I agree with Brucey to a large extent. I'm thankful that suppliers such as Spa and SJSC exist, otherwise I'd be wondering where my next component would be sourced from. I agree with others that it's good to have a lot of choice, however the drive towards more and more gears (more and more duplicates) I consider is absolutely unnecessary. Just another opinion FWIW.

reohn2
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby reohn2 » 13 Sep 2017, 7:12pm

thirdcrank wrote:It's a different plot aimed at selling as much stuff as possible.

Nail,head,on!
It wouldn't surprise me in the least that people will soon be valued on their consumer ability,what am I on about it's happening now! :shock: :?
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531colin
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Re: Cycling as a whole; losing the plot...?

Postby 531colin » 13 Sep 2017, 7:37pm

Lots of people I ride with have "better" bikes than I do.
......until we are somewhere like the top end of Swaledale and they bust a spoke in their 20 spoke back wheel, or bust the cable in their 10 speed STI lever with under-tape cable routing.