Thursday, August 07, 2014

Summer Random Post

I've done 2 "rides" this year.  By "ride," I mean pedaling a bike, not just to get from point A to B, but to have fun and ride with other people.  One of those rides was the OWL ride.  It was a good time and a welcome break from the monotony of the 2-3 mile daily commutes.  Same roads.  2-3 times a day.

So since I haven't been "riding," I can't really comment on that.  But what I can comment on is an interesting trend in bikes I've noticed and fully support, along with another trend I see as a severe detriment to bikes in general.

I've been building bikes at the local Trek Midtown store, which has taken place of pretty much any social life.  The biggest benefit of this is I'm paying my car off early with the extra cash(which also seems wrong in some way).  The secondary benefit is I like wrenching on bikes - it's like meditation to me.  Usual builds include lower end comfort bikes, lower end mountain bikes, and kids bikes.  Pretty banal stuff.  I'll build up a fancy mountain bike sometimes, but since the inner workings of suspension and hydraulic brakes are a mystery to me, I just make sure the normal stuff works - shifting, no brake rubbing, etc.

Sometimes, however, a nicer road bike will come through.  I used to LOVE working on those.  It was like the cinnamon sugar sprinkled on my bread and butter.  I would build the bike exactly how I would personally like it setup - tight brakes, crisp shifting, and aesthetically - the handlebars angled to have a nice flat bar top and shifter profile.

I tried to run my road bike that same way last fall, when I made sort of a comeback to riding and joined Strava, thanks to Fred.  This led to a pretty bad wrist issue.  I put the road bike up for the winter, then dismantled it for random parts this summer.  I decided to put it back together again recently, but wanted to try something different to avoid wrist pain.  I angled my shifters way up.  I first noticed this bullhorn shifter setup from CX and road cycling Pro Tim Johnson in the following video at about the 20 second mark:

Notice the stark difference in angle of shifters.  I thought this was just a random CX thing that only Tim Johnson had come up with, but then, after watching some of the Tour de Frank this year, noticed that about half the peleton is doing it now.  The look of this setup is kinda weird, but it's SOOOO comfortable.  I would highly recommend it.  

So that's the trend I'm liking in newer road bike setups.

The trend that really has me worried is the newest high end groupsets.  Mostly, I'm referring to Shimano's 4 bolt proprietary crankset, and both Sram/Shimano's new front derailleurs.  

Setting up a front derailleur, although sometimes difficult to tweak and make perfect, was a pretty straight forward affair.  With Shimano's new front derailleur, you have to go through all sorts of steps to make it function relatively well.  I guess I could try to explain it, but I'll just link another video:

I haven't even touched the new SRAM Yaw front derailleur, but after a quick view of some videos, it's also fairly wonky in it's setup.   

But by far, the biggest issue I have is Shimano's new cranksets.  Both on the road and mountain side, they are becoming increasingly proprietary.  The standard road 5 bolt 130 mm bolt circle diameter (BCD) has been around for more than, I think, half a century.  Now Shimano puts out a weird 4 bolt X-men inspired crankset on which only their VERY expensive chainrings can be replaced. This may change in the future if all other manufacturers hop on board, but obsolete-ifying decades of standardization seems like a bad idea to me.  

So that's what's been on my mind recently.  Oh, and I just found out the bike I've been commuting on weighs in at 34 pounds.  Ooofdah.  No wonder my quads are staying fairly strong even though I'm barely riding.