Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Road Tech Goes Mountain Biking

I have been pondering all of the standard breaking technology coming out in the road bike market over the last few years and especially for '08 products. Cannondale, Specialized, and now Trek are smashing road bike tradition in terms of component standards with oversized bottom brackets, differentially sized head tubes/bearings, and integrated seat masts. How long could the mountain bike as we know it hold out? Well, the dam has burst just a bit!

It seems that Specialized has thrown down the gauntlet with their '08 Stumpjumper Carbon. I figured it was only a matter of time before somebody got ahold of the differentially sized head/steer tube for a mountain bike. Of course, the Stumpy has a long uphill battle in the face of all of the current suspension fork makers. Certainly Specialized with it's newly founded suspension line up can afford to take on new technology, but the other fork manufacturers won't be as quick to jump on board with this new standard. However, this is something that's not going away, and you are going to see more of it in the future. A lot more of it.

Why should it change? Well, the mere fact that these new ideas have radically changed the way road bikes perform and handle should be a clue. The ideas work, and work well. Not just the head tube/steer tube design, but the bottom bracket has seen some oversizing to a great benefit as well. The integrated seat mast is another thing all together, but even a hardtail mtb was shown at Sea Otter with this frame design.

The changes coming will some day have a positive affect on 29"ers. The head tube/steer tube idea is tailor made for 29"er use. The oversizing of the bottom bracket is a long overdue change that will help 29"ers as well in frame stiffness. Finally, I think it's high time the overlock dimensions for the rear wheel and front wheel be changed to 150mm and 120mm respectively. These changes would allow the wheels to have a wider flange spacing which would dramatically increase wheel strength.

Sure, all your "old stuff" would be obsolete, but you would get to buy new stuff! Besides, if you could ride something made in the ways I am detailing, I think you might just heartily agree to park your "old technology" anyway. The bottom line is that it just makes a lot of sense to do these things. When the headset went to 1 1/8th", we were just starting to use suspension and we still had cantilever brakes, when the bottom brackets went to European shells we were using adjustable cup bottom brackets and square taper spindles, when the overlock dimensions were set for mountain bikes we were running 7 speed systems and rigid forks. Now you wouldn't dream of using canti brakes, adjustable/serviceable bottom brackets, or 7 speed drivetrains. Why should the standards set then be kept when changing them would increase the effectiveness of brakes, wheels, drivtrains, and suspension forks?

Or maybe we should go back to the old stuff!

Something to think about...........

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