Friday, January 08, 2021

Friday News And Views

Brooks saddles, like the one on this bike, are made in the UK
You Cannot Get A UK Made Saddle In The UK Because Of Brexit?

In a weird twist of fate, Brooks, who have made saddles since the late 1800's (Really!) in the United Kingdom will no longer be able to sell them in their own country of manufacture, at least for the time being. This all due to Britain exiting the European Union, which became effective on New Year's Day. The story was broke by cycling journalist, Carlton Reid for Forbes online, and that article can be read HERE

I have been a casual observer of this whole exit of the UK from the European Union for a few years now. It seems as though, at least from this outsider's viewpoint, to have been a not very well thought through, or executed plan, and this laughingstock of a story about a UK manufactured product would seem to be evidence of this. The issue with Brooks arose out of the fact that Brooks is owned by Italian bicycle saddle manufacturer Selle Italia. The Brooks saddles are distributed out of their facility in Italy, so all production from Brooks goes to Italy, and due to the convoluted importing laws that "Brexit" has imposed upon the UK, the Selle Italia company has chosen to not import any saddles for sale to the UK, which includes Brooks saddles. 

Weird and, well......stupid. I've seen some other import nonsense concerning stuff coming into the UK from Ireland as well. Someone posted a diagram showing the requirements needed to move goods between the two countries and it was simply mind boggling. Makes me glad we don't have those sorts of trading issues within the U.S., (but if you check history, we very nearly did have those issues early on)

I've mentioned this before, but it would be hard not to imagine that the raw materials necessary to manufacture goods in the UK wouldn't be affected since those need to be imported as well. Could this mean higher prices for us outside the UK for their products, like stuff from Hope, as an example? Matched up with increased demand for cycling product and it is hard to say that we wouldn't see higher pricing on those things coming to us from the UK.  

UPDATE: A story was released on Wednesday saying that, in fact, you still could buy Brooks saddles in the UK and would be able to. I'll post more if there is a definitive answer to which way it will actually be. Right now this is pretty confusing!

Public Service Announcements:

Just a few things to share here concerning the blog/what I do. First up, another Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast dropped Monday night. It was meant to be dropped during the holidays, but oh well! Lots of ranting by yours truly on this episode. Get it at this link or wherever you get your favorite podcast feed.

Next I wanted to post the link to the latest "State of the Gravel Scene" opinion piece. I have been doing this along the turn of the year for the past few years now. The first was a series and so was the second, but I've cut it down to one, easier to read post for 2021. You can always find the links at the bottom of the page listed at the base of the blog header above or here is a direct link for your convenience:

Finally, I wanted to post the link to the Redbubble page for G-Ted Productions merchandise. Any purchases will have part of the proceeds go to my daughter to help her out with college and just getting going in life. You'll always be able to access this link, as long as the merch is available, by looking over at the far right side-bar of this blog under the heading "My Events and Websites" -

Wireless, cable-less gear systems are already in development.
A Wireless Future?

A recent story published in "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" online suggests that Campagnolo, SRAM, and Shimano all are working on various ways to do things by wireless means on bicycles. The story I read focused on shifting ideas, including a couple ideas from SRAM and Campagnolo using a glove with sensors in it which then could be pinched together with the forefinger and thumb to activate a derailleur. Wild! 

Not that this would ever become a reality, as "BRAIN" noted, since one of these ideas has been in the bag for five years with no further development. It is commonplace for companies to develop, patent, and sit on ideas without any intentions of using them. This is done for two reasons: One is that these ideas form a repository of knowledge and a basis for further product development at a later time. Secondly, it keeps other companies from developing similar ideas and beating them to market. So, the electronic glove idea may never see the light of day. 

But we still should pay attention to these wild-eyed ideas because it means that other, more scalable/marketable ideas are being developed in the same vein. What wireless controls might we see in the future? It isn't out of the realm of possibilities that 'remote shifter' points could be embedded into bar tape, or grips, as an example. And then we have to think about what a wireless controller could, you know......control. Brakes? Suspension settings? Tire pressures? 

Obviously, the HPC vehicles being developed will leverage a lot of wireless tech and I can see where that will be where these ideas get implemented first. A wireless shifter in a grip would be something I could see on an electrified bicycle, as an example. Not something you need to rotate, just a pressure sensitive thing-a-ma-bob. I wrote in this segment not long ago about a bike that was shifting automatically by sensing rider pressure on pedals, so this sort of thing is already in development. 

The DBR from Archer Components. (Image courtesy of Archer Components)
 Archer Components DBR Unit Available Soon:

If you've been following the blog over the last several months or so, you probably remember the Archer Components D1X on my original Mukluk fat bike. That's the remote and shifter box which can turn any drive train into an electronically controlled one. (See the tie-in with the above points?) Well, now Archer has released pre-sales of their new DBR (Drop Bar Remote) system and we now have a few of the questions answered that I had about this idea. 

My biggest question was how in the world Archer was going to integrate a remote into a system with so many proprietary variants. How would it integrate with Shimano, SRAM, or even Campagnolo shifting? Well., as you can plainly see, Archer didn't try to kludge a remote to work with everybody else's levers. No, they partnered with TRP who have a hydraulic lever with no integrated shifter and made the DBR to integrate into it instead. Probably a smarter idea, but for consumers, it complicates things a bit versus the D1X flat bar system. 

Now you have to buy into a brake and lever system. Of course, not many people are familiar with the TRP drop bar brakes either. Are they any good? How do they feel? Well, as it happens, I've been using TRP made brakes and levers on my Tamland now for a few years. The very same brakes as what these DBR hoods are meant for. Yes, the remote is a hood replacement for the TRP Hylex brakes. (I told you it was a bit more complex than the D1X) 

Many of you will have already tuned out by now, but if you are still reading this, the TRP Hylex brakes are incredibly powerful and require very little input to bring your bike down to a halt. In fact, they require so little input that it is super-easy to lock up the brakes. At least mine have been that way. So, these are incredibly powerful brakes. WAY more power than you'd ever need on gravel. 

Of course, that means you have to buy the brakes too. At $220 a set, plus installation, that's not small potatoes. Add in the DBR ay the introductory price of $400.00 and you're talking a pretty expensive set up now. may be great for your situation. If you run a 9spd set up, here you go. Even 10 speed set ups would benefit since there are hardly any 10 speed electronic groups out there to lay your hands on, and even the ones that are out there aren't being fully supported anymore. So, for the right situation? Yeah....this DBR deal from Archer might be good. 

That's a wrap for this week! Get out and ride if you can!


Daniel said...

Another thing to mention about the TRP brakes is the shape of the levers is very nice and yes they are powerful.

MG said...

I'd love to try that Archer system on the BWNN. I bet it'd be money with the hybrid MTB/Gravel drivetrain on that machine.

Have a great weekend, Brother!!

Skidmark said...

@MG, whatsa BWNN? Bike with no name?

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Yeah, I bet it would work very well. Have a great weekend as well, Brother!

@Skidmark - You got it. I'll let MG tell the story if he sees this.

Skidmark said...

👌, I did see Black Mountain Cycles has info up on the La Cabra.

S.Fuller said...

IIRC, there are some differences between either hydraulic hose and/or barb diameters that make interchanging hydraulic calipers and levers complex as well. I'm sure there's more to it than that (fluid type, reservoir volume, how much fluid the piston pushes, etc). It's too bad we can't all get along. :(