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Now retired but busy still living..

Sunday 13 November 2011


Everything is improved over time....well most things anyway and I suppose that it is only to be expected. Over my lifetime the improvements that we have seen in all manner of things has been staggering to say the least.
Look at the motor trade and just see the advances made with the automobile.The aircraft industry is another area in which we have seen fantastic steps forward.

Like a lot of people I have a number of interests....one of these is photography and again in that area there have been many changes both to systems technique and style.

Now I have no argument with valid improvements, but over the years the frequency of the so called improvements seems to happen at a faster and faster rate. I can remember, say back in the early seventies when I could buy a camera and the model would not be 'updated' for about five plus years. Indeed one model of camera ran for thirteen years before it needed an update.
 When the 'improved' model was introduced it actually had some real improvements that made a positive impact on the ease of use and quality of the photographs that I could produce.

One of my current cameras was only purchased about eighteen months ago and despite having all sorts of accolades lauded on it when it was first released - they are now on model 3. 
Another of my cameras is on model 5 in just over two years. 
Often the improvements are something questionable such as 'touchscreen control'.  I say questionable because I really do dislike touchscreen control, as despite the manufacturers telling me it is quick and easy to use I personally find that it is none of these things. 
I must say that I find the Electronics Industry is one of the worst for the speedy introduction of spurious or at least questionable so called improvements. 

Well, could this now start to happen in the cycle industry? 
One of the 'big' things to happen in the recent past was the introduction of electronic shifting to the enthusiast market place. The Shimano Di2 (the electronic version of DuraAce) and then at a slightly more affordable price we got the Shimano Ultegra Di2 system.
More recently we have seen Campagnolo introduce a Super Record electronic groupset. 

Most people I speak to still seem to be quite sceptical when it comes to electronic shifting ....they are unsure of the value of electronic gear shifting in an activity which after all, is all about personal fitness and physical ability. 
Apparently I can be fit enough to cycle back from Gibraltar (for instance) and strong enough to power my pedals up a 25% hill, but I am now led to believe that I need assistance to just click on a gear lever . Well I am sorry but I just don't buy it....and I won't ....not yet anyway. I will want to see these systems demonstrate more proven performance enhancing capabilities first. 

You do have to question all this when you still see many ProTour- level professional riders choosing to use the mechanical version of DuraAce over the Di2 version. 

Today I even read that a wireless brake system is now upon us. Apparently a University in Germany have come up with a system that replaces the brake cables with a radio signal sender and receiver. Would I want to ride without brake cables? I don't think so.

 And going back to the electronic gear shifting....will we be seeing model 1-2-3-4-etc? Well it is electronic so I think we probably will.  What do you think?


Steve A said...

So, are you suggesting we all go back to friction shifting? I'm in no rush to go electronic on any of my bikes, but I'll keep an eye on the whole trend. Ultimately, perhaps it will turn out for the best - or disappear just like quadraphonic records...

Big Oak said...

While agree with you that I wouldn't want electronically-controlled brakes, I do find it an interesting concept. I also think it is interesting that bike manufacturers are experimenting with integrating electronics with shifting, and using composite materials to make components lighter.

Would I buy any of this stuff? Probably not. But who knows, 40 years from now, this may be the vintage era that people will fondly recall?

Again, I whole-heartedly agree with you. But it is exciting that there is enough interest in our sport that people are willing to invest time, energy, and money into developing new technology that may, or may not, revolutionize cycling.

limom said...

You know you want it.

limom said...

Oh and the only reason I can see new versions would be if they are lighter or cheaper.
Or when Shimano decides 11 is better than 10.

TrevorW�� said...

*Steve A
Go back to friction shifting? No thanks! But at least with indexing you could see and feel that it would improve your ride....I can't see that with electronic shifting yet.

*Big Oak
As you say this could be looked back on as the vintage era...mind you my Wife thinks I'm pretty well vintage myself.

No , I don't want it...not yet...for a bit...possibly sometime.
I am sure they will come up with all sorts of 'desirable' extras in order to create new versions. It will be interesting to see where it all leads.

Michael said...

I just don't see any advantage to electronic shifting. A properly tuned shift system and a flick of a finger seems quick and easy enough for me. I bought Campy Ergo brifters soon after they came out, but passed on the Mavic electronic shifters in the '90s when they came out. I'm sure I will pass on these as well.

Jason said...

Well, I don't have anything against eletronic shifting per se, in that it doesn't affect the physical act of propelling the bike down the road. But that being said, there's such a wonderful elemental feel to cycling, which I think is diminished when electronics are added. I don't want to have to charge my bike like I do my cellphone. Manual drivetrains and STI shfiters are amazingly smooth and reliable, and they never run out of batteries. So no need to add wires, in my opinion.

TrevorW�� said...

A flick of a finger is plenty quick enough for me too Michael.

I think your point about the 'wonderful elemental feel to cycling' describes the way I see it pretty accurately Jason.

TrevorW�� said...

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Jim said...

I found it hard to leave friction shifting behind. It always worked. Period. The only advantage to index shifting is that I now have 10 gears to choose from, so I now only have two main cassette setups (one just for the really long, steep climbs of the Eastern Sierras, and one for everything else). Electronic shifting? Not in my future unless it's jammed down my throat. Bicycles are not meant to be electronic devices. And, as a lifelong photographer, I still miss my Leicas, Rolleiflexes, and Linhoff. Those were truly precision instruments and were a joy to use. ...but then, I'm probably giving my age away here, too!

TrevorW�� said...

*Once Known as The Badger*
Hi Jim,
At least you could see one small advantage with indexing..doesn't seem to be any with electronic shifting.
As you say "Bicycles are not meant to be electronic devices".

Regarding the cameras...I'm lucky I still have my Leicas although I must admit I don't use them as much as I used to. They really are beautiful precision instruments.

Belated happy birthday by the way...age is probably the only thing that you won't catch me up on as I will always be two years ahead of you.

Anonymous said...

What a tricycle! Really strange vehicle :)

TrevorW�� said...

*Mr Paparazzo*
Doesn't look very comfortable does it....?

Dan O said...

Cool post - being a cyclist and hack photographer....

Of course, the big jump in cameras was with the digital age - which basically turned the camera into a small computer - for good and bad. As with any electronic device, the endless updates do get old, and for most folks - probably don't matter anyway.

I used a Pentax 35mm camera for years, years ago. I recently started using a new Nikon 7000D. No comparison against the film days. Instant results and "free film" makes shooting blast. The fact that the 7000D will probably become worthless in 10 years does stink. But I'll use it until it dies - that's what I do with stuff. I'm not big on the endless updates. It's basically a tool.

Being kinda old school, the electronic shifting turns me off a bit. It's too high tech. Although, I once had the chance to run through the gears on the Dura Ace Di2 set up - in a work stand, not riding - and as expected - holy crap. Pretty impressive.

Even so, I'll still with "normal" STI since I dig it. I have no desire to go electric. I'm betting both options will exist in the future. I just hope the higher end stuff doesn't all go electric, leaving the "normal" shifting only for the lower end groups.

TrevorW�� said...

*Dan O*
Some really interesting comments there...I suppose that I must be a bit 'old school'as well..!!

Marilena Borriero said...

Meravigliosa bicicletta,pedalare pedalare come dal resto anche nella vita quotidiana.....Ciao ciao e buna domenica.Mari

Six weeks off.

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