Friday, February 09, 2024

Friday News And Views

Screen shot from Performance Bicycle online.

Question: Does everything happen on Tuesdays?......

 You Know Things Are Bad When....

On Tuesday this week I saw someone posting on social media about Specialized bikes being sold out of Performance Bicycles online. This is a "Wow!" moment in cycling.

Ten years ago the market in specialty retail for cycling was flat. There was pretty much no real gains or losses to be had and most brands were scrambling for their piece of a pie that was not growing significantly, or at all. 

Then COVID hit. You could say that COVID was the excrement that hit the proverbial fan. That sent cycling into a weird trajectory that we are still dealing with in 2024. We knew coming into this year that sales were down, or near to where they were in 2019 in some pockets of the country. We knew that prices were higher, inventory was at an all-time high, and that bills for that inventory were coming due. Added to that, 2025 product is being made and will ship in a short time from now. Something has to give.

That "give" is unprecedented discounting and now - direct to consumer, online retailers like Performance liquidating stock for brands. But Specialized? That is one of the "Big-Four" brands here in North America with a big dealer network and a Pro road team or two, and..... Wow! Really?

The saying goes that "desperate times call for desperate measures", so I see that Specialized is pretty desperate to get rid of their inventory and liquidate it for cash, which they must desperately need. That doesn't bode well for their dealers, but more than that is the perception that Specialized is now a brand that could be had at discount prices. Consumers will remember this, and it will make selling Specialized in the future harder to do at a price that makes carrying the brand sustainable for a local bike shop. 

This is a big deal in cycling in North America. How it all shakes out will be very interesting to see.

Equipt "Sardine" multi-tool.

Equipt Sardine Multi-Tool On Test:

Recently I was contacted by a person I only know from being online who asked if I would like to try out a new multi-tool he had been working on. I stated that, "yes", I would, so he sent me out these "Sardines". (Ha!)

These are designed and tested in Japan and made in Taiwan. The Sardine has the essential hex keys and a Torx fitting for basic repairs and adjustments out in the field. Each end of the Sardine has two tool selections which can be made by simply flipping the end around on its pivot. There is also one more tool in the mid-section of the Sardine, which is hidden in the image. 

The company's name is Equipt, and they also have a plastic holder for the tool which can be mounted off a water bottle cage mount, or accessory bolt mount that your bicycle may have. The Equipt site isn't quite live yet, and I don't know what the Sardine will sell for at this point, but I will be testing this multi-tool out and giving my verdict on it later. You can follow Equipt on Instagram HERE.

Image courtesy of Wolf Tooth Components

Wolf Tooth Announces ReMote Drop Bar Lever:

Wolf Tooth Components announced on Tuesday that a new dropper lever was now available for remote activation of a dropper post on drop bar bikes. Dubbed the "ReMote Drop Bar", the lever mounts to the inside of the drop section of a drop bar just below the shifter/brake lever clamp. 

The design allows for the activation of a dropper post from either the drop position or the hoods position. Wolf Tooth claims that the design is ergonomic for both larger and smaller hand sizes. 

The lever features two stacked cartridge bearings for smooth operation and Wolf Tooth claims that there is no side-to-side play in the lever as a result. The clamp is cleverly designed so that it does not interfere with ergonomics and it has a machined in cable pocket to allow for under-the-tape routing of the cable. 

The ReMote Drop Bar lever retails for $64.95 from Wolf Tooth and is made in the USA. 

Comments: This is a pretty cool lever and it reminds me a lot of the old SunTour Accushift drop bar shifters that were meant to shift SunTour's first indexed shifting systems in the 1980's. Those had a similar "butterfly" design. 

This lever makes me wonder if you could use the ReMote as a friction shifter for drop bars. Hmm.... Probably not enough throw to make it work across many gears. Anyway, a cool new lever for those who use a dropper post on their gravel bikes or drop bar bike set-ups. 

Image courtesy of Velo Orange

Velo Orange Announces A Camera (!):

In a bit of a shocker, Velo Orange introduced a camera to their line on Tuesday of this week. 

A camera?

Yes, a camera. It's called the "Camp Snap", and it hearkens back to the 2000's "point-and-shoot" style, simplistic cameras that were small in size and had little to no controls. While this may seem like a detriment to camera nerds, sometimes having less choices just means you get to use the device more and not worry about the outcome. 

In my experience, I found that my old Fuji Finepix X5 had a certain charm and graininess to the images that gave them a certain character that really popped with a black & white film simulation. Maybe this new Camp Snap, with its 8 megapixel sensor , on-off white balance, and on-off flash is going to be similar. (By the way, that is ALL the Camp Snap's features!)

Image taken with my old Fuli Finepix X5 in B&W mode.

So, I don't know about the Camp Snap, but for sixty-five bucks it might be worth a whirl. I checked online to see what vintage Fuji Finepix X5's are going for and I found a pretty mint one in Japan that had a battery but no card and no cable for $130.00 plus shipping. So, yeah.... I might have to check that Camp Snap out and see what it feels like. 

Image courtesy of KMC
KMC Cassettes Announced

Thursday (What! Not Tuesday?) KMC announced a new line of 10 and 11 speed cassettes made from high-tensile steel. Available in 11 -42 or 11 - 50 teeth ranges in 11 speed and 11 -42 or 11 - 36 in ten speed. Prices are $65.00 for either the ten or eleven speed cassettes. KMC calls the range "React".

The KMC React cassettes are made to fit Shimano HyperGlide type free hub bodies. They have shift ramps engineered to work best with KMC chains, although I would wager that any 10 or 11 speed chain would work fine here. The finish on the cassettes appears to be a dark or black finish, but it is hard to tell from images I have seen online.

The React cassettes can be purchased from various vendors or direct from KMC

Comments: This looks like another good, inexpensive option for those running 10 or 11 speed MTB's or 1X gravel bikes. The cassettes are not light, (900+ grams for the 11 - 42 10 speed), but steel cassettes last a bit longer, usually. 

I don't know what, if any, carrier is used, and if these are totally separate cogs, (by the price, I would guess that they are), I'd probably pass on this offering. There isn't a lot of information yet on these since most sites just regurgitated KMC's press release. Hopefully more details will emerge over the next weeks and months.

That's it for this week! Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!


Tyler Loewens said...

"SunTour Accushift" YES - I knew that dropper lever reminded me of something. Thanks!

scottg said...

DiaCompe makes wing shifters.
These are power ratchets.

Guitar Ted said...

@scottg - Based off the SunTour design I see.... Nice but this paragraph on that page...

"For you youngin’s there are videos on YouTube that show how to install and put bar wrap on bars with Ene Wing Shifters."

....seems a bit arrogant. I mean, why not just say you have a link here and hit that for a lesson in how to do it, or provide instructions. (Maybe you get written instructions?) That and the asking price for those is a bit eye-watering. I'd rather get a Gevenalle set up and to boot, they have more options as well. Some much less than the asking price for those SOMA shifters.

But yes - those SOMA shifters are a similar form-factor to this Wolf Tooth dropper lever and the resemblance is there, most definitely.

shiggy person said...

The Sardine is priced at $60

Guitar Ted said...

@shiggy person - Thanks!