A while back I posted this missive which was about a specific bike to gravel grinding and how I felt the "bike industry" was not ever going to make this bike for various reasons. Just yesterday an e-mail exchange with someone related to the bike industry sparked what you are about to read today. (Assuming that you continue to read, that is!) So- I must post the usual "TK" inspired disclaimer:
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....
It reminds me of the "Rough Riders" , whose motto, "Any Bike, Anywhere" doesn't let the type of bike you have define the type of terrain you want to ride on. Which is pretty cool,but this "zen terrain cycling" mind set is not where the vast majority of cyclists are at with regards to "what to do" about picking out hardware suitable for "most riding needs". And when it comes to those "needs", I believe the bike industry is mostly oblivious. Yes- they just don't get it. As a bike shop mechanic, I see it every day.
I saw a thread on an on-line forum that I believe is a doorway, -a portal, if you will- to where most riders are coming from when it comes down to "all arounder" bikes. I have decided to lift this list directly from the thread I saw it on:
Interesting, isn't it? I am going to comment- point by point- on this list.
A.) Strength / Durability - I am a Clydesdale and uses for the bike would include primarily commuting on some pothole infested roads, weekend solo road rides, and possibly some light touring. I am not interested in carbon, aluminum is just fine by me. Wheels would need to be relatively bombproof.
B.) Flexibility - The ability to easily convert the bike for a variety of uses (road rides, commutes, etc.) This would include the need for rack/fender mounts and proper clearance to run anything from 25mm slicks to 32+mm with tread.
C.) Comfort - I am not a racer. I'm not even a strong rider. I just like to ride. I don't particularly care if the bike is aero... or terribly light weight (I'm neither of those things, so why should my bike be). I do want something I can get on and ride long distances. I want to have to stop riding because I'm too tired... not because I'm too sore.
D.) Groupset - I've been spoiled by the performance of 105. I am also intrigued by the possibilities of Apex. Any higher up the food chain I know is going to conflict with my next point...
E.) Price - I am a cheap bastard. I would likely have to be out the door for under $1500.
|Trek CrossRip: Close but...meh!|
- Point A: Frame material choice can accommodate whether it is steel or aluminum, so I will table that for now- What is interesting is the comments about durability for what I would call "average sized people". Rear wheels- in particular- seem to be woefully inadequate.
- Point B: While I like the direction this person is going, I would say that the opinion expressed here is conservative. Listen- folks will do more on a bike that can do more. Give them clearances for up to 42mm tires and 38mm with fenders. More clearance will not hurt sales.
- Point C: Bike industry folks- (if you are paying attention here)- if you do not get anything else from this, take down notes from "Point C" and listen up: Folks are not interested in being someone like the Pro cycling team you sponsor. Heck- they can't even relate to that. They just want an efficient, very versatile, multi-road surface bicycle. This means taller head tubes, slacker angles, and better designs on frames and forks that are not so damn stiff.
- Point D: 11 speeds? Electronic shifting? Hello? Most folks do not have any interest in this sort of "halo" componentry. Decent, long lasting, good looking, and value oriented parts are what folks want and need. 9 speeds are plenty, really.
- Point E: Yeah...the clincher. Bicycles are getting more and more expensive while the vast majority of cyclists are scratching out a living where expenses are increasing to the point that recreational activities are suffering. Here's an idea: Make the same, great looking 9 speed groupset for the next ten years. Do not change it. Make it affordable, durable, and polished. Want to see more folks on bicycles? Keep the price of entry reasonable, but packed with value, versatility, and durability.
I wrote about this five years ago and called it "Adventuring". I was thinking a bit fatter tires back then, but the post is still relevant today just as much as it was back then. Call it an "any road bike", or as some do- an "all road bike". Whatever- but in my opinion, the bike industry is really missing it here, and folks are left to scratch their heads in bewilderment at what most companies focus on.
Tomorrow: Brakes Revisited.