Saturday, September 02, 2023

Two Things

Hey there! Thanks for checking in here at G-Ted Productions. Just a little housekeeping before we get into today's "Two Things" post.

I ran the "Fat Tires On Gravel" series from July through August here every Saturday. That series has been completed now and going forward I will be posting different things on Saturday's like usual. 

I also may not be posting anything. I've been contemplating giving myself time off occasionally so that would occur on weekends if that happens. I'm not saying it will happen, but in case it does, and you come here on a Saturday only to see the "FN&V" still at the top of the page, well there will be no need for panic. GT is just taking a day off is all. Maybe.....

I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. 

Now on to "Two Things" where I give my take on two different things related to bicycles. First, the new GRX stuff.....

Image courtesy of Shimano

The first thing that strikes me about this new GRX 12 speed stuff, which I fully anticipated happening a long time ago now once Shimano introduced 12 speed mountain and road components, is that the signs are there that the bicycle industry is not what it was pre-pandemic. That may seem to be an odd take on a new group set, but hear me out. 

I mentioned this yesterday in the "FN&V" where I posted about the dire situation retail bicycle finds itself in going forward into Winter and 2024. Shimano is privy to a lot of indications for what will be made going into the future. Brands consult with the components giant to get a read on what is coming from Shimano so that they can be designing bikes appropriately two, three, and even five years ahead of where we are right now. 

You'll notice that Shimano withheld the introduction of any electronic group for GRX 12 speed. Do not for a moment think that is a sign that Shimano cannot do that. I promise you that Shimano could easily make 12 speed, heck even 13 speed and higher, gravel group sets tomorrow if they wanted to. The company is not one that follows, it leads, and it does so with a restrained hand. 

Many make the mistake that Shimano is "behind" SRAM in component development, but SRAM wishes they were in Shimano's shoes, not the other way around. That's fact. 

So why didn't a Di2 GRX 12 speed get introduced now then? Well, that has to do with what Shimano sees in the industry and how they are tempering their expectations for business going forward. In other words, there is no Di2 12 GRX because business sucks right now and it doesn't make any sense from that standpoint to introduce it until things start to calm down inventory-wise.  

Image courtesy of Shimano

Secondly, I see Shimano responding to the gravel scene in a broader sense. They have seen racing, recreational, and challenging segments that exist within the gravel cycling scene that have different requirements for components and Shimano has tried to address this. 

While you might side-eye Shimano for their kitschy marketing terms, at least it is an effort to recognize the varied palette of riders that make up "Gravel™" and their varied needs. 

And again, I cannot help but think how the current economic situation has blunted what could have been. Because not only do we not get Di2 12 speed, but there were no 400 series offerings on the low end either. I cannot help but think that Shimano has something cool up their sleeves there that we are not getting a look at because, well.......sales suck and inventory is already maxxed out. 

So, I am glad to finally see 12 speed GRX hit the scene, and I am hopeful that in the near future we get to see what else is sitting there in Japan waiting to be unleashed upon the dusty roads of the World. Knowing Shimano, it will be pretty cool.

Jones Spec Schrader Valves: Image courtesy of Jones Bicycles

Your Presta Valves Are Off The Back:

Why do we use Presta Valves anyway? Ever thought about that? Well, Jeff Jones has, and he says your Presta valves don't flow, and that we should be all using Schrader valves now. And you know what? I think he is right about that. Especially for MTB, fat bikes, and gravel in certain applications. 

Back to the original question. Do you know why Presta valves were developed? It was to protect skinny wooden rims from breaking at the valve hole. They were a valve that made for a more reliable wooden rim than the concurrently available Schrader valve. 

Today our rims are wider, stronger, and Presta valves are kind of useless these days when you stop and think about it. Add in the tubeless factor and they make even less sense. Schrader valves are stronger, flow more air, and you could add air at almost any convenience store or filling station and not have to worry about carrying a pump, for urban riders. Plus Schrader is much more easily understood and less of a barrier to cycling for average people. Oh how do I know that! I've had to explain Presta valves a million times. Schrader valves? Almost never. 

Check out Jeff Jones test of Schrader valve flow versus several Presta valve variants HERE


Doug M. said...

On Schraeder valves, hear hear! I also like how well the traditional auto-type valves protect the core. Recently pulled a core out of a dirty old lawnmower wheel's valve, and it was absolutely pristine, shiny, and turned perfectly. Whereas all my presta valve heads eventually get bent and seized.

Derek said...

Funny to read that as our daughter found an old corroded presta valve head/ core (?) at a trailhead parking lot and asked "daddy, what is THIS?". Looked like galvanic corrosion to me, it was all crusty and nonfunctional. Who knows how long is had sat there in the sun and dirt.