Thursday, August 18, 2016

When It Has Been Decided For You

Making it obsolete is makin' my job harder.
Okay, I'll forewarn y'all- This is a rant. Okay? So, here we go.....

The bicycle industry keeps trying to make itself money, which is what it is supposed to do. It is the "how they do it" of it all that perplexes this old mechanic. You know, heaven forbid we all use the same bolt circle diameter on crank sets, as an example. Or worse yet- I hate it when a company invents a BCD only to abandon it in 5-6 years. Combine that with how many parts are OEM for brands only and never supported in the retail market place. NEVER!

It is just plain stupid, frustrating, and it ends up making people less likely to buy into your XYZ company's latest stupid gambit to be different. Or....and more likely, it has to do with a way to find a way around a patent. Thanks for nothing you "intellectual property nerds" in all those corporate law firms. Do we really need to lock people out of BCD patterns for chain rings? Really?

So, the absolute worst offender by far is SRAM. Probably it is due in a large way to two things. One- They cater to brands that spec their parts by offering the lowest price. They can do this by manufacturing near to, or right next door to the Asian factories that make bicycles. The thought of actually making these bits for support down the road, ya know.....for people that actually want to maintain their bicycles? Yeah, that is not even a concern of SRAM's. How do I know?

I tried getting a 42T, 120BCD chain ring for a mountain double as spec'ed on a Salsa Fargo in 2014. Nope! Not even the SRAM rep had even heard of the part! Road chain rings used to be like finding hen's teeth for SRAM road cranks, but there seems to be a meager supply of some of these now days.

Secondly, it surely has something to do with Shimano having locked up patents on every detail of the minutest piece of a bicycle. Ever wonder where all this 1X stuff being pushed by SRAM is coming from? Just look at front derailleurs, which Shimano has and they work beautifully. SRAM cannot make one anywhere close to a Shimano one because the patents Shimano has disallow competition from SRAM in that area. Front derailleurs are not bad, patent lawyers are. Well, not for Shimano anyway......

And don't think Shimano is a whole lot better. They tend to run parts to maintain bikes down the road, but they change stuff so often, and delete SKU's so often, that it is hard to figure out the revolving door. And you may as well source your Shimano stuff from the Chain Reaction/Wiggle UK on-line vendors because they are almost always cheaper than the industry suppliers and distributors.

So, as a mechanic, what should be an easy chain ring swap becomes a multi-day ordeal of tracking down parts and trying to recreate a set up sold in 2014 that can be maintained into the future. It is a damn hard task when so much has been decided for you in advance that the thing is almost obsolete in two freakin'  years.

That's just unacceptable.

Rant mode off.........

11 comments:

bostonbybike said...

Similar thing with integrated road shifte/brake levers. I find Shimano STIs best with Campagnolo close second. SRAM, on the other hand, was so late in this game that they had to come up with something that would not infringe on Shimano's patents. This is how DoubleTap was born. Some people like it though...

Barturtle said...

Specialties TA is probably your best bet for those Sram 120 rings.

Slender Fungus said...

Let's not get into the bottom bracket conversation!

Neil Hodges said...

Seems like the safest bet would be to just stick with stuff that the big guys have long since declared 'obsolete'. That stuff has been widespread for so long that it'll take a long time for it to become unavailable.

Exhausted_Auk said...

The 120mm BCD chainrings are available, but I have only seen them (on eBay) as expensive XX quality parts. I would really like to get a 39T ring for the same crank.

Agree with you on the sentiment!

Roger Kummert said...

My Fargo came with a crank (I forget the manufacturer now) but the bottom bracket failed and I needed to replace it but I could not find a replacement online or in any local bike shop. Instead of wasting more time I changed over to a square taper crank that used a cheap easy to procure bottom bracket.

James Lademann said...

In addition to the aforementioned Specialites TA, Blackspire also do a range of 120 bcd rings out of Canada which may be easier to source States side (think you can order direct). SRAM seem pretty poor with replacement chainrings in general. Raceface also used 120 bcd as well IIRC but I don't think with 42t.

Guitar Ted said...

@Barturtle: Researching the Specialties TA site brought up no results for 120BCD chain rings.

@James Lademann: Cool find, but at $110.00 plus shipping for a 42T ring? We sold a Shimano one for this job for a quarter of that asking price. Thanks though....

James Lademann said...

$111 Canadian (so $87ish US) but yeah still pretty expensive, though can be had for £59 ($77ish US) from good old Chain Reaction. Less if you wait a bit for our UK economy to tank some more ;-). The Specialites TA Cross is available in 120/80 but can be difficult to find in Europe even (made in France) and usually about the same price, sometimes a bit less (about $10-15 maybe). I looked up all this stuff when I was considering the RaceFace crank I mentioned when it was on sale, looked for chainrings and decided against it for the reasons you've discovered. I'm not a chainring anorak, honest.

Miran said...

Probably this one ... http://specialites-ta.com/plateaux/mtb/cross-chainring.html

Cory Edd said...

@bostonbybike I will say this..... I have one bike with SRAM double tap drivetrain and another with Shimano SLX. I like them both alot! But I have had to be on the phone with each company for tech support with various issues in the past and SRAM by far was more helpful and took the time with me on the phone to diagnose an issue. Shimano on another issue gave me the feeling that they were in a hurry to get off for the next call. Personally I like my SRAM double tap 1x drivetrain. But in all fairness, I have never tried a Shimano road set up so I cannot compare the 2.