Robot is away, enjoying a well-earned vacation, so I’m pulling through while grabs some much-needed recovery. He’ll be back next week, unless he decides to make a career of vacationing … and if he did, who could blame him?
This year I’ve ridden a number of bikes, but only about half of them are “traditional” road bikes. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that most of the really interesting work—to my eye, anyway—being done in bikes is in one of three areas: aerodynamics, multi-surface or mountain. Arguably one of the most interesting road bikes I encountered turned out to have horrible brake cable routing and before I could sort the drag problem out I had to return the frame as the company sank under the waves in bankruptcy.
While a few people laughed at the 3T Exploro, I’m in love with it. My thinking about aero equipment and its relative importance in my riding a few years ago in a conversation, coincidentally, with Dave Koesel, the new manager for 3T North America. Following that, two other events also affected my thinking: 1) learning that riders at Leadville were running aero helmets and 2) looking down at my GPS moments after leaving the dirt at Old Caz and realizing I was doing 28 mph—Grade A aero territory.
The adventure bike realm has been fascinating because of the incredible range of what’s being produced. Clearly this is, at least for now, the domain of the custom builder. These bikes are responses to situations, terrain and ride style and as a result are as individual as fingerprints.
The universe of mountain biking—it does feel as if it is its own universe—has some people on edge due to what they decry as a lack of standards. New bottom bracket and axle standards have unrest, if not outright confusion. And it’s now possible to buy tires from as narrow as 2 inches (remember when that was wide?) to as wide as 5 inches, and that span from 2 to 3 is covered almost continuously in .1-inch increments (I’ve yet to run across a 2.7-inch tire). Mountain bike suspension is so diverse as to be standard-proof. Engineers are devising ever-more-inventive suspension designs that allow us to pedal a bike with 5 or 6 inches of travel without hopping like we’re on a pogo stick. To put this in perspective, an engineer I know in the automotive industry said that he was keeping his eye on mountain bike suspension designs because they were more sophisticated than anything being done in automotive or motorcycles, in part because inefficiencies in the suspension can’t be overcome by adding more horsepower.
As I’ve written previously, I’m not a fan of consumerism, but I’m a big fan of anything that can make the experience of riding a bike fresh. People shouldn’t be cajoled into buying a new bike just because three years have passed. But aero equipment, riding drop bars on dirt, and the new generation of mountain bikes have each contributed to stoke cycling, to keep it fresh
And so now to you: Have any of these developments increased your enjoyment? Are any of them on your radar in terms of new purchases? Or, are you not swayed by tech at all? Is the bike you’re riding enough to keep you satisfied?