We are at a curious point in the machinations of the road component market. A vacuum has developed. SRAM released eTap in the summer, but with uneven supply and into a market still skeptical after the initial failure of the SRAM hydraulic groups. Shimano teased the new Dura Ace 9100 mechanical early, and are already having supply challenges, while the 9000 groups run out everywhere. Simultaneously, the arrival of hydraulic versions of both eTap and Dura Ace sit on the 2017 calendar sometime between late spring and mid-summer.
There are a lot of moving pieces to a new component release (pun intended). Product managers want to run inventories of old parts low, before they launch. They want to be careful and conservative with their forecasts. Then there is the effect of OE parts spec, and the drop in the road bike market we saw in 2016. Meanwhile, Campagnolo is showing disc brake prototypes.
From a personal point-of-view, I don’t much mind. I’m still riding Ultegra mechanical. It works well. In fact, if I sit back and think about the burgeoning use of technology on bicycles, I’d rather have electronic braking than shifting.
What is curious to me is the calculus of the new bike buyer. How many are actively comparing the weights and features and aesthetics of new gruppos and deciding that they should put off a new bike, because whatever it is that they’ll get by waiting is more valuable than what they could get from riding a bike ASAP. Of course, many new bike buyers don’t need a new bike, and perhaps it’s the case that a new gruppo is the only justification they want/need.
This week’s Friday Group Ride asks, have you ever delayed a bike purchase or build for an upcoming component release? And how did that go for you? Worth it? A waste of quality riding time? What is important to you in a new gruppo? What gets you to buy rather than delay?