I think it’s presently easy, and therefore tempting, to argue against new technologies on practical grounds. The new technologies do have some obvious flaws that the old stuff didn’t have (they had other flaws, but convenient and yet reasonable weighting takes care of that).
And the benefits are usually as preposterous as those of Oliver Burkeman’s wireless charging. Has any cyclist past the novice stage found it onerous to change gears in the last half-century?
However, we back ourselves into a corner by concentrating on the practical angle. It’s not inconceivable that problems with the new tech will be solved over time. And if they are, I still won’t want a black box of batteries, motors, electronics, and software changing my gears. To me, such an arrangement is complex to the point of grotesqueness on a bicycle. In contrast, my down-tube shifters are satisfying to use, work on, and contemplate.
I would add that Brucey’s reliability argument falls on deaf ears today. People just don’t care. I have seen again and again that they call a tow truck when their bicycle has a minor mechanical problem, and they do it without shame or apology. I think this is partly because the bicycle has been stripped of its social-activism significance and today occupies a less important place in culture than it did in, say, the 1890s or the 1970s. To most people it’s akin to a tennis racket. So the practical argument is doomed to mainstream irrelevance if it turns on reliability.
Annoying Twit wrote:How long until they have electrically operated brakes?
My guess is five years. And unlike electric shifting, electric braking will make possible a valuable advance: ABS braking. For the reasons discussed in these 31 pages, I still won’t want it.