When Tech Geek and Bike Geek Collide…

By on October 11, 2005

They create Interbike. Many pictures of the new gear shown here. I still long for a Cervelo P3 Carbon.

How many other bike geeks are out there?

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  1. There was a day when I did a lot more biking than I do now, and spent a lot more money on gear! Now though, between kids, job, volunteering, etc… the only thing I have time for is an occasional jaunt around the bike trails with the kids on a Sunday. And the most recent upgrade I made was to buy a second-hand Specialized carbon fiber road bike from my brother last year.

    The thing that struck me browsing through that image gallery is how little things have changed in cycling in the last 30 years. Sure, there has been a lot of refinement in materials, components and frames, but the basics are still essentially unchanged. Frames are basically the two-triangle form factor, you still have two derailleurs, two shifters, etc… It just seems that the old timers got it right — the design is solid. The only recent advancements have been in the details.

    The near-vertical seat post on that Cervelo P3 is a bit different looking. I sure wouldn’t want to ride very far around here with a solid wheel on the back and a high-profile front rim like that; the wind would blow you all over the road!

  2. The thing that struck me browsing through that image gallery is how little things have changed in cycling in the last 30 years.

    30 years? Try 100 years! Not to the same extent, of course, but if you search for pictures of the Tour de France from the early 1900’s, again you’ll see basically the same thing you see now – 2 triangle frames, curved front fork, curved handlebars, brake levers with cables controlling everything. You’re right – it took another 70 years to get the feel of modern bikes with fancy deraillurs and lots of gears, but the basics have been laid for over 100 years – it’s just been a matter of technology and manufacturing ability catching up.

    I’m waiting for some radical design changes to hit the mainstream, and really long for them to come soon. As much as we have fine-tuned the current set up, all the BS with the cables, fragile derailluers, primitive chains getting dirty and falling off – there’s a lot of work left to do. Hubless wheels, universal-gear “transmissions”, drive shafts instead of chains – I think ideas like that, using modern or future materials and manufacturing, could go a long way into turning the bike into a piece of maintenance free equipment.

  3. All that stuff is great, but prices are still to high for normal consumers. Beside, who needs time trial bike for weekend riding? Good MTB and Cross are enough for normal people :)

  4. Joe – here is your autoshifting bike: http://www.lrbikes.com

    How does it work? “The derailleur changes gears automatically. As the wheel turns and begins to speed up, the two weights on the derailleur spin faster moving the chain to a higher gear. As you slow down or brake, the wheel slows down and the derailleur weights slow down moving the chain to a lower gear.”

  5. I remember seeing a Land Rider-type system years ago, and was underwhelmed by it. It’s not really an advancement over the old derailluer system, just a more complicated derailluer system. Maybe the reliability has improved since I last saw it, but it still doesn’t look like it would hold up against anything but casual Sunday riding.

  6. I agree Dave – I would never own one of these bikes. Both my Trek 820 (of 13 years) and Trek 1000 work quite well and I have control of how hard I pedal. Of course, I am doing triathlons and some adventure racing, so I want the control.

  7. drmthtr – thanks for the link. I’ve seen some autoshifting and some “infinate differential” hubs and stuff, but certainly nothing that’s hit main stream yet.

    my vision is a completely sealed drive-train – zero maintence. Probably 85% of all bike cleaning, maintence and problems comes from the drive train – cranks, bottom bracket, chain ring, front derailleur, chain, cassette, rear hub, rear derailleur – with most of the problems coming from the derailleurs and chain. I think we have the technology now to create a bike where the entire, or most of the drive train is encompassed inside the frame. It would invole some kind of planetary or continuously diffirential gearing system where the bottom brack is now, or in the rear wheel hub, or even in both places. Then a drive shaft running through the chain-stay from the cranks to the rear hub. The major problem now would be weight I think. But I think we have good enough materials that it could be done in a reasonable weight. I haven’t considered yet how shifting would actually work – likely still have to be cable and spring driven, at least at first.

    Hell, even a track-bike style setup where you have a single gear on front and back, modified to work with planetary gearing in the bottom-bracket/rear hub would be a huge improvement. Eliminate the derailleurs, cassette and the variable-length chain and we’ve taken care of most of your bike maintence needs.

    I thought about working with Solidworks and putting together some designs for this, but then I realized I’m an electrical engineer and I wouldn’t know where to start to design any kind of drive train. ;)

  8. Don’t own a P3 but I do own a P2K, along with an older Trek 2100 carbon and Pantera GT mtb. IMHO, joe avg triathlete, like myself, doesn’t need a P3 when you look at the price difference. I went with the P2K for two reasons. Easier off the bike running, but more important for me, a flat back. The tri-geomtry, also mentioned above, gets you over the crank a bit more which means you are closer to the aero bars. Once your back gets used to the position its actually quite comfortable. Its nice to come out of the water and basically get to rest your upper body. That is until you start pulling on the bars to up the pace or climb. ;-)

    To Dave’s point of no change, I tend to disagree. Cars still have 4 wheels, a combustion engine, etc etc, yet no one says they haven’t improved greatly. The same thing can be said about cycling. Different material used creating lighter yet stronger frames, index shifting, ten speeds, triple cranks, dampening add ons like gel seats, clipless pedals, and even better bar tape to improve grip in wet conditions. What’s amazing is how all of these changes have taken place under the watchful eye of the UCI which has very strict regulations on what the pros can ride.

    Another area which has made huge leaps are mountain bikes. When mtb first started 500 would barely get you a usable bike. It now gets you a full suspension frame, albiet with little to no adjustment, disk brakes, entry level clipless pedals and more gears then most riders will ever use.

    From afar I agree things “look” the same but when you get up close, its a world of difference.

    Now if I could only greatly improve my engine. ;-)

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