Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Cycling And Technology: Controlling Your Ride?

A snippet of a data screen. (Image courtesy of SRAM)
 Did you know about SRAM AXS Web? I didn't until yesterday. I've often half-joked that electronic shifting, sensors, rider output data, and controllers could feasibly run your derailleurs automatically based on performance and terrain/weather metrics. It looks as though that might very well be possible at some point.

So, SRAM AXS Web has been around since 2020, but little has been said about it until recently. Apparently features of it will be a part of the upcoming Hammerhead Karoo 3. So, just what is so fantastic about this idea/technology?

Take a look at the image here. It shows something already available to anyone, and not necessarily pigeonholed to SRAM users either. The SRAM AXS web can detect what gearing you use and when, how often it was used, and theoretically that could be integrated with your performance metrics. 

Now think about weather data. How could all of that performance data, how your body works in certain gearing on whatever terrain you are riding, and component performance data - How could that be integrated with wind speed, temperature, and humidity? 

Could a certain cadence and gear selection based off input data like that inform you on what to select as a rider for the next shift? Or could we expect that at some point, you'll just be able to pedal, hold a certain power output level that you can sustain, and the bike will use sensor data to select gearing to optimize all that for the best outcome? 


As a mechanic, I can see how this could be used to determine wear patterns and let mechanics know when to swap out chains, cassettes, and chain rings. If finely grained enough, power to spin the drive train could be set at a base level and compared after use to see at what point bearings and components in the drive train are less efficient. 

You could have AI (Artificial Intelligence) involved quite easily. What a world!

Or, ya know, you could just ignore all of that and ride for the fun of it all.


NY Roll said...

What if SRAM HQ could connect to the rider via APP and Bluetooth and remotely shift their ride. Now will UCI ban AXS or BT devices because competitors could remote in an shift their competitors remotely and create issues, like shifting on climbs an etc????

Guitar Ted said...

@N.Y. Roll - Well, let's say a DS in a race vehicle had a laptop and was able to coach a rider via race radio. Telling the rider that he is optimized in certain gear ratios and not others, or, as you say, be able to tell him "when to shift". I believe that's more probable to happen in the near term.

Nooge said...

Automatic shifting would not work well for riding in a peloton because you have to race to what others are doing, not what’s optimal for you. I suppose they could provide shift guidance, but for the most part experienced cyclists already select gears well to keep their cadence in their desired range. So I don’t see any such feature having much impact.

Guitar Ted said...

@Nooge - I agree, but I'm not suggesting that it would work in a larger group where drafting also has to be considered as a factor. I'm thinking more about time trials and mountain climbing.