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Rivendell- Why do they bash compnent improvment so?(14 posts)

Rivendell- Why do they bash compnent improvment so?Auriaprottu
Mar 6, 2003 4:01 PM
Their frames seem gorgeous and impressive, but the attitude their website conveys towards component advances and cycling as sport seems almost psychotic. I've ordered parts from them in the past, and gotten great service over the phone. I'm aware of the Bridgestone legacy, but I'm curious about this company's (whose bike quality could be compared with Sachs, Baylis, etc. if only they spec'd Campagnolo) obsession with NOS "parts bin-esque" componetry and ridiculing the mechanical advances of modern cycling. It's one thing to offer bar-end friction shifters, freewheels and 36-spoke hubs on the side to guys who tour, but pretending that indexed shifting, threadless setups, bike weight management and even black anodized parts and pride in your chosen manufacturer (logos)are things to avoid is way over the top. Any info on their mindset/rationale?
probably because...Akirasho
Mar 6, 2003 4:28 PM
... in cycling, the word "improvement" is generally overused and somewhat subjective...

The motto of the company I work for is "Continuous Improvement"... yet, from a philosophical POV, it might indicate that what we were delivering in the first place was knowingly deficient... and as in certain sporting endeavours where improvements in speeds... let alone the time differential 'tween first and twentieth, can be measured in thousandths of a second... then the hoopla of integrated this, splined that and bazillion speed the other seems meaningless.

Marketing forces us to "upgrade" virtually every material aspect of our lives (how many of us have the same computer we might have had 6 years ago?) regardless of the prior's performance (it won't be long before ISP's try to completely phase out dial up connections... hell, my home phone is still on pulse).

And, for many of us, cycling represents a lifestyle... and much like any other... we have a center about which we orbit... but rarely stray.

Some companies will strive to be bleeding edge, while others will focus on the basics (remember, the basic bike hasn't changed much in nearly 100 years). There's room for both.

... just my $0.22 cents worth (allowing for inflation).

Be the bike.
Mar 8, 2003 10:01 AM
...(how many of us have the same computer we might have had 6 years ago?)... My computer is coming up to its 7th birthday in a few months! It is getting to be a bit like "grandfather's axe", though about 50% of the original bits are still there.

Agree though that "continuous improvement" is largely "continuous change". I'm amazed how many people change things because of boredom - many posts document change for the sake of change. Personally, when I find something that works really well I keep it as long as I can.

Rivendell aren't necessarily anti-progress, but rather anti-pointless-change; not the same thing.

Another point is that I have never seen anyone complain that their Rivendell/Bridgestone bike didn't ride well. This is not true of many of the current crop of lighter/stiffer/more disposable bikes.

Grant and co are to be congratulated for almost singlehandedly reminding people that there ARE options available which don't involve rapid planned obsolescence...
re: Rivendell- Why do they bash compnent improvment so?gtx
Mar 6, 2003 5:04 PM
the biggest "improvements" of the last 20 or so years have been in weight reduction and shifting. They just don't consider those to be all that important. I personally wouldn't mind my bike being a bit lighter, but not if it sacrificed reliability/durability. And I personally have never had a problem with 6 speeds in back and friction shifting. I do think they are a bit nutty, though.
Seems obvious to meAhimsa
Mar 6, 2003 6:28 PM
Hell man, they go so far as to explain it all on the website. Did ya read the "about us" page? Or the "Cycling 101" pages? Read those and it is all pretty clear. They do what they do because they want to produce user servicable bikes for people that like the same things they do. Nothin' wrong with that really. Doesn't the world have enough Nashbars and Performance Bikes type shops for the rest of us?

Here's a good explanatory snippet:

"We offer gear for cyclists who can't relate to the aggressive, thrill-seeking and/or body-shaping approach that passes as normal today. Our bikes are designed and built to withstand a lifetime of long, hard, fast riding and racing, if that's what you're up to, but we don't go out of our way to appeal to the rambunctious, speed-before-all crowd. It isn't us versus them, or retro versus techno, or old versus new. It isn't niche marketing in the tactical sense, either. It's the same gear we prefer and ride, every day. It is not a "market-driven" approach, which is one reason we're so small."


Mar 6, 2003 7:50 PM
ya see, this man has based his business on what he actually believes in.
healthy skepticism is not "bashing" andDjudd
Mar 6, 2003 8:30 PM
every change is not improvement. If I have to be warned about the possible failure of a piece of equipment for the sake of losing a few grams this is not improvement or worry about the maintenance/repair (especially on the road)this is not improvement. Bikes are simple and I want to ride them as much as possible with as few problems as possible. A few grams are and there will not ruin my ride whatsoever but a snapped handlebar or fork will
Mar 7, 2003 6:31 AM
Some of the so-called improvements in cycles over the past decade are primarily ways for manufacturers to cut costs, but are arguably worse for the consumers. Some examples -- threadless forks and stems, hidden headsets, compact frames, the proliferation of aluminum frames. Sure, these changes may provide a few advantages, but in many cases the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. Threadless forks and stems, for example, can make it very difficult for someone to set up a bike with a higher handlebar. Hidden headsets have no apparent advantages to consumers, but could result in nightmares in a few years when they wear out and owners are unable to get replacements and have to trash a frame.

Perhaps the biggest charade in modern cycling is the obsession over light weight. Manufacturers (and consumers) seem to sacrifice nearly everything -- comfort, price, convenience -- for the sake of shaving a few pounds or ounces. I absolutely cannot believe that people shell out $2,000+ for lightweight frames that are practically guaranteed to fail within a few years (hence the short warranties). That's why I think Rivendell/ Grant Peterson is a welcome voice. He seems to be the one of the few people in the bike industry who promotes comfort and durability as the most important things for consumers, rather than lightness, speed and stiffness. More power to him.
their bikes are beautifull so...colker
Mar 7, 2003 6:52 AM
riv is redeemed of all their sins!
really... if not for them and other stubborn non conformists we would be looking at only one road bike in the near future: a sloppin top tubed aluminum frame w/ carbon rear and front and 43 speed changed by a shifter /bar/ lever/stem (all one piece made this way to save you 43 grams) w/ non replaceable parts. sad, huh?
just another marketing gimmick to appeal to retrogrouches nmcyclopathic
Mar 6, 2003 11:43 PM
Bingo! (nm)geeker
Mar 7, 2003 5:24 AM
As we ride longer distances our bikes look more and moreMB1
Mar 7, 2003 7:45 AM
like what Rivendell suggests.

Comfortable, sturdy and durable bikes that can be fixed without a whole lot of new tools or parts every year.

They might be on to something there.
Not a Luddite, but a Voice of ReasonDale Brigham
Mar 7, 2003 8:22 AM
IMHO, the Grant Peterson perspective that "new" does not necessarily equal "better" makes more sense to me every year I ride (30+ years of racin' n' ridin').

We live in an era characterized by rapid changes in cycling product lines, much more so than in the 70s and early 80s. Many innovations since then have been, I feel, real boons for cyclists. Indexed shifting, cassette hubs (Thanks, Shimano!), better clincher rims and tires, workable non-ferrous frames -- these are a few of the innovations that I applaud.

From my readings of the Words O' Grant, I don't think he outright rejects all of these and other "new" things. He just says that you don't have to go that route, if you don't want to. I think he says that you don't have to be a slave to the market; you can take your own path.

Although there have been many changes in bike components and frames over the years, the essence of cycling has not changed for over a century. As a buddy of mine who is in the bike biz says, no matter how exotic bicycles get, "You gotta' pedal every goddamn one of 'em." The Rivendell approach emphasizes physical skill and esthetic enjoyment over gadgetry and obsolescence. He does not let the technology get in the way of the simple pleasure of riding the bike.

Grant, I believe, acts as an essential counterbalance to the prevailing marketing message that last year's (or last decade's) bike just won't do for this year's ride. He preaches reliability, functionality, and durability in frames and components, which is a tough sell in the current climate that values "newness" above all.

Personally, I pick and choose the technologies I want for the given purpose. As an example, for randonneuring, I value durability and repairability (in the field) above all. So, for me, a steel frame, bar-end shifters (indexed), and sturdy wheels (32 or 36 spokes) makes sense on my rando bike. Yes, I have Ergopower and STI shifters, low spoke count wheels, and aluminum frames on other bikes, but those "newer" technologies don't serve me well for all uses. I go with the right level of "innovation" that meets my needs. I don't let the marketplace tell me what I need; rather, I make the choice.

If having the latest frame material and newest component group defines cycling "success," then Rivendell's message won't resonate with you. If you think that bikes are more than counting grams and space-age materials, then he'll make sense.

I'm with Dale--"new" isn't necessarily "improved."Silverback
Mar 7, 2003 9:06 AM
I don't think Riv bashes improvements--it's just that a lot of recent changes aren't any better than what they replaced. My Atlantis is a little heavier than my other bikes, but it's my all-time favorite two-wheeled vehicle, and I've been riding 30+ years. Even the friction shifting is as good as indexing, once you learn to ride with it. I could have indexing just by turning the dial, but I keep it set on friction.
One other example: I have two mountain bikes, a 10-year-old Bridgestone and a more modern suspension bike. The Bstone was rigid, but I added a suspension stem (not a Flexstem--the one with the spring in it). It's comfortable, almost as fast and will run through anything, grinding up brush and twigs in the six-speed driveline and churning through mud. The new bike is a little lighter, but it takes three times the maintenance, and the chain falls off if any little piece of trash gets in there. It's a "better" bike in the showroom, but on the trail there's a big tradeoff.