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Does cycling depend too much on technology?

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Liam Mercer's picture

Liam Mercer

Tech Editor here at off.road.cc Liam can also be found photographing bikes as well as revelling in cycling's intricacies. Whether it's gravel, mountain, or e-MTB as long as it's a bike on dirt, he's happy.

12 comments

2 months 1 week ago

froze wrote:
Sorry but all this technology is costing the average cyclist a lot of money, so much so that bicycle sales are falling off dramatically.  People don't want to pay for all of that useless nonsense, we have been riding basic bicycles for over 200 years and all of this technology doesn't do a damn thing toward making riding more enjoyable, in fact, it's giving cyclists more of a headache with the increased cost of bicycles and the maintenance costs along with any parts that break, not to mention that as this technology ages, which the track record shows that electronics ages out much faster than mechanical technology, you won't be able to find replacement parts for what you have that you may have bought just 5 years ago!

If you're a pro racer and companies are giving you this technology for free then fine, use it, but don't start spreading the lies that the average cyclist needs this crap, we haven't needed it for over 200 years and we don't need it now. 

The bicycle was created to be a fun, cheap, simple mode of transportation, we have taken that concept and ruined it!

Well apart from bikes not even being 200 years old, cheap bikes still exist. Far better bikes for less than 20+years back are also easy to find. The differnce is there is more choice at the crazy high end, which in reality is only ever bought by a very few atypical folk, despite being disproportionately featured in tests. 
Bike sales are an issue at moment because of the Covid boom, the subsequent delay in orders catching up, manufacturers not understanding this was a blip and the temp boom meaning the secondhand market being flooded, so less even less need for new bikes. And that's not even taking into account the wider economic issues outside of cycling that mean most folk have less money to spend.
Modern bikes also need far less maintenaince and so very rarely break compared to older bikes. Mechanicals on group rides are the exception now, not the norm as was previously the case.

2 months 1 week ago

Laz wrote:
the real problem with the new tech is the biz sells that at a premium while pushing out the old tech- rim brakes and their wheelsets are just one example where cyclists are eventually forced to dispense with their ride for want of a spare part

However, you can still get parts for just any mainstream bike tech, even if like rim brakes, discs have mostly replaced them. Because there are still vast numbers of such bike still sold and being used. Disc brakes are also cheap because don't forget, even that is last century tech now. And of all tech to rail against, that is not a good one because better, more versatile braking is definitely the something you should be very glad of. 
I have an old 26" rim brake bike frame I'm thinking of resurrecting for around town usage. I can still get brakes and wheels for it. But alternatively I could actually get frame brazed for discs instead. I have too many rim brake anecdotes and none with discs. 
2 months 1 week ago

Sorry but all this technology is costing the average cyclist a lot of money, so much so that bicycle sales are falling off dramatically.  People don't want to pay for all of that useless nonsense, we have been riding basic bicycles for over 200 years and all of this technology doesn't do a damn thing toward making riding more enjoyable, in fact, it's giving cyclists more of a headache with the increased cost of bicycles and the maintenance costs along with any parts that break, not to mention that as this technology ages, which the track record shows that electronics ages out much faster than mechanical technology, you won't be able to find replacement parts for what you have that you may have bought just 5 years ago!

If you're a pro racer and companies are giving you this technology for free then fine, use it, but don't start spreading the lies that the average cyclist needs this crap, we haven't needed it for over 200 years and we don't need it now. 

The bicycle was created to be a fun, cheap, simple mode of transportation, we have taken that concept and ruined it!

2 months 1 week ago

 

And it’s only through the advancements in technologies and new products, like dropper posts, disc brakes and suspension components that allowed riders to challenge themselves further.Take the progression of downhill racing for example, where in the ‘90s it was going down a grass hill as fast as possible to describe it crudely,

I'll happily take you around a couple of our 1990s NEMBA XC + DH race courses on a modern MTB.
I took a mate riding a modern trail bike on our NEMBA 92 XC course in Sheffield a while back. He had 29"/2.4" tyres, 160mm travel front and rear, dropper post and modern geometry. He's a decent rider, yet found it rather challenging to ride the XC course. Steve Peat trained on one of my DH courses in Wharncliffe.
NEMBA races were on serious MTB terrain. Very differnt from the bland non technical courses found down south, that I'd rather use a CX  to ride. A friend who moved up North to study said he thought he already knew how to MTB, but felt like a complete beginner all over again on our techy local trails.
Folk who lived in places with rocks, roots and techical terrain rode them on what would now be called a gravel bike. Because that's all we had. So we learnt to ride it anyway, without modern kit. 

The big difference for me with modern bikes is the massive reduction in mechanicals and bike faff out in middle of nowhere, in paticular the tranformative move away from crappy inner tubes. Tubeless trumps all other bike tech for me. Because we can finally use the right tyre pressure, instead of tyres pumped way too hard to try to stop pinch flats and we are now really comfortable on bikes in general. This means I can ride any bike, heck even a road bike on very technical terrain. And yes I've done that more than is sensible. laugh  . No more need to use Winter MTB tyres either. My fast rolling Summer tyres still work on soaking wet trials littered with roots and rocks. Plus flats are a real rarity
As for batteries. I'd rather cary a spare AXS mech battery than deal with yet another cable that shredded inside a brifter on my CX bike. Which is a home/workshop, not a trail fix and about the only real mechanical I've tended to get in last decade or so. Thankfully for my wallet, MTB shifters very rarely do that.

2 months 1 week ago

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2 months 1 week ago

marmotte27 wrote:

 

If cycling is to be any part of the solution to humanities problems, then less tech is definitely better. Especially since the actual electric and electronics fads don't really ad anything worthwhile to the riding, but instead to the coffers of big industry.

But my biggest beef with this relentless "innovation" is that good quality materials to keep older bikes running are pushed out the doors. In a few years time good quality cables, cable housings, rim brake pads etc. will be nowhere to be found.

 

sorry, I didnt see your comment before I posted the same - but it is good to see we agree

cheers!  

 

2 months 1 week ago

the real problem with the new tech is the biz sells that at a premium while pushing out the old tech- rim brakes and their wheelsets are just one example where cyclists are eventually forced to dispense with their ride for want of a spare part

2 months 1 week ago

the real problem with the new tech is the biz sells that at a premium while pushing out the old tech- rim brakes and their wheelsets are just one example where cyclists are eventually forced to dispense with their ride for want of a spare part

2 months 1 week ago

Big picture, technology is just a way for humanity to use available resources at an ever increasing rate. For bicycles, my preferred level of tech is what I can comfortably build-up and maintain by DIY means. This puts me in the late 20th century with the asthetic caveat of lugs and horizontal top tubes.

2 months 1 week ago

Electronic gears may make sense for the professionals and those with difficulties actuating traditional gears but they are appallingly for the planet, they and their batteries are essentially throw away consumer electronics destined for land fill. 

2 months 1 week ago

If cycling is to be any part of the solution to humanities problems, then less tech is definitely better. Especially since the actual electric and electronics fads don't really ad anything worthwhile to the riding, but instead to the coffers of big industry.

But my biggest beef with this relentless "innovation" is that good quality materials to keep older bikes running are pushed out the doors. In a few years time good quality cables, cable housings, rim brake pads etc. will be nowhere to be found.

2 months 1 week ago

Nice article, good to make people think about this.
New technologies and developments are not automatically 'progression', they can also just be diversion. Change, but not neccesarily for the better.

I still ride my 1994 mtb with so much pleasure. Modern bikes are more capable, but that does not mean they are more fun.