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Next big thing?(13 posts)

Next big thing?filtersweep
Jun 16, 2002 7:10 AM
This is an abstract hypothetical question, but I'm sitting here thinking about the "state of the art" such that it exists with road bikes.

On one hand, it seems bike technology has evolved as far as it ever will. I really don't think parts will become any lighter (while maintaining any degree of reliability). I don't see things becoming discernably more aero. There haven't been any mindblowing advances in pedal design. A threadless headset? It really isn't that big of a deal. Bladed spokes? Sounds nice in theory. While shifters have changed, group sets operate on the same principles that they did decades ago. Blue, yellow, green rims.... just cosmetic.

The primary innovations seem to be in component material- whether it be carbon or titanium. It doesn't seem that prices have really dropped at the high end.

It seems to me that the technology is going into either component materials, or the finish of the product (ie. the smoothest possible bearings, rims that don't require tape, etc...).

On the other hand, I'm sure 30 years ago people thought "this is as good as it gets, or will ever get," and of course there have been a ton of innovations, incremental as they may be.

What is the next big thing? Will it be a carbon or titanium high quality frame for under $300 (ie. the technology merely LOWERS production costs)? I highly doubt that, and besides, there will then be a much better frame for 10X the price.

Aside from prices, what IS left to improve on? A bike with no visible cabling? (pretty much already done) A superlight direct drive (chainless) drivetrain? (doubt it) A tool-less crankset (for a roadside swap-out)?

Any prognosticators?
re: Next big thing?szybki
Jun 16, 2002 7:49 AM
I agree with you, I think the main advances will be in the materials used to create components. 20 years ago, who'd have guessed we'd be riding carbon fiber bikes (with 10 speeds) that weigh 16lbs! Machining\manufacturing processes will continue to improve. I think bikes will continue to get lighter, stronger, faster, and hopefully, cheaper. Also, GPS speedo's (no magnets, etc.), RF controlled (ala Mektronic) shifting, disk brakes on road bikes, who knows what else! Someday we'll be retro-grouching about new bikes not being as good as the "old" OCLV's.
re: Next big thing?Lone Gunman
Jun 16, 2002 10:39 AM
If I had to venture a guess, I think someone will improve on the Mektronic zap stuff to the point that brakes and shifters will be "ride by wire" and cables and housings will fall by the wayside. Bikes being as simple as they are the technology will continue to the point that weight loss will be incremental (16 lb bikes now might lose another 10%-15% and keep the same durability/reliability)
Battery weight & reliabilityfiltersweep
Jun 16, 2002 12:15 PM
The only trouble I have with that is that there would need to be some serious solenoids- at least for brakes, and likely batteries, which no matter what they are made out of, are usually heavy. AND- there would probably be some sort of redundant old school system for an "emergency brake."

I wouldn't mind seeing smoother shifting, but there is only so much that can be done with a chain-gear setup.
Fashion vs Science - If you believe the manufacturers...jose_Tex_mex
Jun 16, 2002 3:03 PM
I am convinced that fashion is one of the most important factors to many cyclists. In reading reviews people almost always say something positive about their machine and then go on to say "and it looks great." I honestly believe that if it looks good most people with find/search for something positive to say in order to make their choice rationale.
With that said, I am sure the machines of the future will be even more advanced than we could imagine. I would like to see electronic shifting and infinite ratio gears - lose the casettes and chain. How about magnets instead of bearings?
The modern day frame goes back a long time - I think the "safety bicycle" look is a hundred years old. There's always some new technology that comes along that you never expected.
As for mass, we will definitely see a drop. I would expect in 20 years the best bikes will approach the 10 lbs mark.
Until cyclists get away from the "it looks good" phenomena we can expect to have manufacturers continue to ram superficial changes down our throats. I have a Trek 5500 with a quill stem - probably one of the last ones made before threadless. I have had soooo many people to go threadless just because it would look better.
I would like to seehayaku
Jun 16, 2002 4:19 PM
REAL aerodynamics! Not just gimics to sell a bike.

I don't think cost is ever going to go down because the market is driven by competition between customers. As long as people think that a product's worth is determined by it's price, companies will charge what they can. As an eample look at the Trek TT frame, a crazy amount of money for something that's no better than several other frames out there.

I'd like to see the marketing departments all lose their jobs...

Other than that I have no idea. Ahh well!
"I'd like to see the marketing departments all lose their jobs"Birddog
Jun 16, 2002 6:12 PM
Why do so many people on this board think like this? What's wrong with "marketing". It is just an effort by a company to seperate their product from the others and sell their wares. I like to have choices, and marketing departments help me make those choices. They give me information, and I digest that info as I see fit and make my choice. I/we do it every day in myriad ways and situations. Life would be truly dull if we were not given so many choices and relatively free markets. You can always go to China where nearly every bike is an iron hunk of junk produced by a single company, and there may be only one brand of toilet paper. No, I'm not an employee in a "marketing dept.", I am a carpenter, and I market my skills and products every day. I give people choices and I "market" certain products over others. In other words, I "market" my wares. Usually, but not always, I steer people toward the more expensive product, which coincidentally, is invariably the better one. They make choices based on the facts as they understand them. Many people blame "marketing" for their case of "buyers remorse". Actually, it usually is more a case of not doing enough research, and buying impulsively.
Enough of the rant, suffice it to say, that I love free markets and the "marketing" that accompanies them. Just make your choice, and move on.
Jun 16, 2002 7:54 PM
I don't know if we have that many choices- look at wheel companies: Mavic, Velomax, Shimano, Campy, Bontrager (are they even a real company?), Spinergy are the main ones that quickly come to mind that have ANY distribution worth mentioning, and of those, how many are actually available in your LBS? Then get rid of all the copycat designs. Then consider particular riding style and needs... and how many choices are actually left?

One brand of toilet paper? How many groupset makers are there? Two? Not much better. Anyone think Dura Ace or Record might drop a bit in price if the field were a bit more crowded? Or would there be a ton of compatibility issues with cassettes, BBs, etc... rather than the reasonable amount of plug and play that currently exists.

Birddog- you are a carpenter? You probably see the whole picture. Many people can't or don't. There are probably a lot of people who have the equivalent (metaphorically speaking) of spending $20,000 to remodel their bathroom, and of that, they spent $19,000 on a titanium toilet ;)
Jun 17, 2002 3:49 AM
You make some good points about the relative lack of choices in certain areas, but in Gruppos, there are some 10 sub-choices for just road bikes, and also the Mavic system. My point was not that there are a lot of choices in the world of bicycles. My point was don't blame marketing depts for what some would consider specious choices. For the most part, the market dictates the number of choices we have, whether it is wheels or gruppos. BTW, there are countless wheel choices given independant wheelbuilders and their options.

I like your analogy about the toilet. As a remodeler, I see that sorta stuff all the time, albeit not quite to that extreme. Most of the horror stories that I see were brought about compliments of a brother-in-law who needed some extra cash, or a friend of a friend in the same situation. Invariably, people who get burned, do so because they don't check references. In other words, they made their choice without doing a little research.

Making choices based soley on emotion is probably stupid, and making choices based solely on logic is not very much fun. I like to incorporate a little of both, and I rely on marketing depts among others to give me that information. For example, I have FSA cranks on my bike, they are slightly lighter than Dura Ace, plenty stiff, cost me about the same, and they look pretty neat (to me). That choice satisfied both my logical and emotional needs. Again, not to rant, my point was "don't blame marketing".
You took me wrong.hayaku
Jun 17, 2002 3:46 AM
I just wish marketing was more fact and less opinion. It's impossible I think, but I'd like to see a company thrive by standing behind a superior product. "This is so good, we don't need to market"

Take it easy bro, I would rather live in Japan than China. I'm just a little too thick to see past the "marketing" sometimes. I believe the hype.... Awww no!
The idiot goes out on a limbMe Dot Org
Jun 16, 2002 9:09 PM
With computerization becoming ridiculously cheap and lightweight, perhaps we will see some kind of CVT transmission for bicycles. You would keep pedaling at the same rate, and the gearing would adjust automatically. I don't think this will happen in the next 5 years, perhaps in the next 20.

Reevu is a company that has come up with integrated rear view mirror in a cycling helmet. This looks very promising, and makes a lot of sense to me.

Hold on to this post, and you can probably make me feel foolish one day...
re: Next big thing?paulw
Jun 17, 2002 10:01 AM
Technology moves from plateau to plateau and I think we just reached one relatively recently. I think the most recent plateau is in materials. CAD has allowed frame builders to lighten frames quite a bit over the last few years and they've also learned a lot about carbon fiber in terms of how to shape it and how to bring the cost down. At this point I don't think there's much more to learn in these areas. The next step will be cheap Taiwanese carbon frames. Cheaper carbon wheels are a possibility also.

As for real technical advances, looking to mtn. bikes will show some future possibilities but they seem to have plateaued also. The one possility I see moving from there to road bikes is tubeless tires.

Anyway, I wouldn't expect to see any revolutionary technical changes for the next 10 years or so. If you're thinking about drivetrain changes, realize that it doesn't get much more mechanically efficient than a chain can cogs and it has to be small and light. What I'd like to see is see is some sort of coating like Teflon (but durable) on chains and cogs that doesn't require much if any lube.
Continuous variable transmission.the dad
Jun 17, 2002 2:04 PM
Probably have to use some kind of belt drive with a control lever to regulate how much effort you want to input so you can sprint or power up hills.