the cyclist who loves the machine .
by this I imply that some cyclists have a real appreciation of ,and even passion for,, the bike itself , and this implication is not something I can attribute to all cyclists . Many cyclists only have appreciation for ‘riding’ bikes .
in my many decades as a bicycle mechanic I have seen em all , the skint student who just wants the damned thing to run well enough to make it to uni , the avid commuter that who expects perfection without any cost or maintenance , the well off businessman who wants everything perfect for the amateur sportive at the weekend and will pay whatever to have that one-upmanship at the start line . Beyond these sweeping generalisations there is the ‘Cyclist’ , these folks are the ones who are not left with scowls on their faces when you start talking about the superiority of ACI Alpina double butted spokes over dt swiss champion spokes . or how we miss the sedis chain company , which tyres offer the best trade off between suppleness and puncture resilience etc .
this is of course understandable as bikes in the now fairly distant past were made of better stuff . Lets look at the afore mentioned “Sedis” chains , before the advent of shimano index systems the sedis sport chain was king , and for good reason , smooth ,quiet and most importantly long lasting , more than triple the lifespan of any modern chain . I just popped the chain checker (wear gauge ) on both my sedis gold and sedis black chains , they have both done a couple of thousand miles and measure like new chains , I then checked my shimano hg chain on a 10 speed system and its showing wear with only 700ish miles on it . likewise the kmc chains I have on the 8 speed bikes .
this was perfectly demonstrated during last years race across America when one of the female racers had to have a chain replaced midway through the event ! . call this a grumpy old cyclist moaning if you like but if a cycle chain cant even do a single long distance race can we call it fit for purpose ? , how much built in obsolescence is too much ?
its the same all over the cycle industry which as far as I can tell are working harder than ever to sell us all crap that truly is not fit for purpose under the guise of the latest and greatest . it can be suggested that building ever lighter kit brings its pitfalls such as reduced lifespan , I would certainly accept that if I was at pro-am or pro level but when I buy a bike from a dealer to simply commute and do a bit of leisure cycling , they simply will not tell you that the chain will need replaced in 3 months if you do 10 miles or more a day, everyday ,, or that if you wear the chain too far the cassette sprockets and chainrings will most likely be shot as well .
and so to the point of this grump , cycling is not racing and the humble cyclist needs a company or two to step up and start making some of the type of stuff that is as good as claimed .
I spent 10 years working at one of the main bicycle recycling stations in the UK and have seen bikes that did 10,000 miles or more on one chain ! was it unacceptably heavy ? no. in fact they were often high quality vintage sport tourer’s that are now very highly sought after by collectors . some will argue that old stuff wore out too , but I will guarantee it lasted 10 times longer than modern so called high end kit that is nothing more a fashion item good for two years or thereabouts before its considered to be somehow no longer suitable for use and may even hamper your chances of riding a bike .
this is not green , cost effective or sustainable and , in my opinion , goes against the whole reason for the bicycles continued reason to exist .
to those companies that are trying to bring back some of the functionality over form , and yes there are a few such as Compass bicycle , velo orange , soma fabrications ,to name but 3 .
don’t just settle for the current state of affairs , the manufacturers are stuffed without you , hunt out the good ones and if you do find a goodie , shout about it .