Friday, July 10, 2020

Friday News And Views

Former Shimano Chairman Yoshizo Shimano Dies July 3rd, 2020-

The passing of one of the Shimano clan is not necessarily news I would share, but in this case, this man had an influence on us as mountain bikers and gravel cyclists that cannot be measured. Yoshizo Shimano was one of three sons of Shimano's founder and ran the company for many years. Of particular interest to us, Yoshizo Shimano was the man who saw mountain biking as a possible avenue of cycling that might prove quite popular. He brought a team of Shimano employees over to visit with pioneers of the sport, such as Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly who ran a company at the time called Mountainbikes in about 1980 or so. (Yes- that's where the name "mountain bike" came from, by the way)

With the information gathered from the early MTB pioneers in hand, Shimano created the first mountain bike specific group set, Deore XT, and the rest, as they say, is history. Had this not happened, the segment, dubbed as a fluke, a fad, if you will, by the traditional cycling industry at large, may have been left to fizzle out and die then. Remember- These early pioneers were cobbling together drive trains using old tandem and touring bike parts mixed with BMX gear. It was a hodge-podge of barely workable bits that soon would have dried up and the industry would have evolved in another direction. Who knows when MTB as a segment would have resurfaced?

This sort of culture at Shimano- one that looked for a way to develop a segment that seemed popular and was growing, as they did with MTB, came up again when gravel bikes started to appear in 2012-2014. Shimano sent over teams of engineers, management, and athletes to see what was up with this new segment. They rode Almanzo 100, Dirty Kanza 200, and other events, and they talked to people along the way. Subsequently Shimano introduced a completely new group set for gravel called GRX last year.

Had Shimano not been the sort of company that Yoshizo Shimano shaped it to be, I doubt we'd have GRX, or mountain biking components as we do today.

 Sea Otter Play Promises Virtual Expo, Ride Challenges:

Sea Otter was cancelled for 2020, but the organization has found a 'virtual' means to allow people to participate and interact with over 350 brands which will be part of the first "Sea Otter Play" event September 17-20. Starting on September 1st, riders can also engage in several challenges set up to be governed by GPS data and be eligible to win prizes. The ride challenges end on 9-20-20.

Comments: This is indicative of 2020, right? Social distancing and protocols for dealing with COVID-19 have forced many events to delve into the 'virtual challenge' world. I suppose it is better to have those carrots dangling out there for the competitive at heart than not, but I know many are taking 2020 as a non-racing year and are setting sights on 2021 now already. I can imagine that the bigger names will be absent from these proceedings, but what would we have Sea Otter do? It's a big dilemma for racing for sure.

The expo? Interesting, and possibly game changing. If engagement numbers can be studied and deemed to be worthwhile, we may see more of this sort of thing in the future. It certainly tics a lot of boxes for the vendors. No shipping, no booth production, less labor, and less time. The big unanswered question will be how the consumer reacts to this. Will consumers flock to this like a Netflix series or will it fall flat on its face?

Hard to say now, but when the news was released on the 8th, I saw nary a mention on social media platforms. Heck, even Niner Bikes e-mtb thing garnered more attention than this festival deal. But perhaps marketing through the next month will realize more buzz about this effort. If's gonna be ugly. 

 Update On The Project Gravel Bus:

Whenever you do a frame-up build, there is always some snafu when you go to build it. I've had several during the initial phases of building up the Gravel Bus.

First off, my head set was missing the crown race. After a lengthy search, I gave up, and decided I needed to do something dramatic. It was time to dismantle the Singular Buzzard. That bike has sat now for at least three years unused and, of course, it also has not sold either. So, there are parts on it I can use elsewhere, and the head set race on that fork was the one I needed, so off it came. I also grabbed the 10 speed cassette off it for another bike. I'll get into that later and also what will become of the rest of the Buzzard.

Then I realized that one of the levers I had planned on using had turned up missing. Gah! I contemplated ordering a pair, but then I realized I had the perfect set of levers all along out in the garage on my rat-rod Raleigh fixed gear bike, (also a bike not getting used enough), so I went out and harvested those off that bike. Okay, two issues covered! This was going well, albeit somewhat bumpy along the way.

Then came the stopper, literally and figuratively. I had ordered the wrong front caliper, or the company I got it from sent the wrong one, I don't know, but either way, that caliper was a post mount, not a flat mount style. (sigh) So, I am at a standstill until the new caliper comes along, and I hope it is the correct one! At least the order details are showing me it is the correct one. Funny thing- I am getting the caliper from Amazon, which had a price equal to wholesale, and they say they actually have it, unlike any of the distributors we work with at the shop. Yeah......crazy bizarro world. 

So, as for the Buzzard. I am breaking that bike up. It will be offered for sale as a frame only and the fork will be separate. I'll get all that up on the Garage Sale page soon. The rest of the parts I am keeping for a possible ECR build. Maybe.......We will see.... I need another bike like I need a hole in my head. It even could be the new Black Mountain Cycles rig Mike Varley is working on. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out his Instagram feed and you'll find it.

Okay, that's a wrap for this FN&V. Have a fantastic weekend and I hope that you get some riding in!


Skidmark said...

It looks like Crusher in the Tushar is being run tomorrow July 11, is this true? - does that make it the first big gravel gather since CoV?

Skidmark said...

No- Crusher in the Tushar was cancelled, of coarse. (The internet can be misleading...).