Ridiculously Complicated Fixes to Non-Problems: Integrated Braking Edition

This here is one of those posts I started to draft during the past summer – during the 2011 Tour de France, to be more precise – but then put aside.

One of the more notable trends in bike design at this summer’s Tour de France (2011) has been the proliferation of intensively engineered time trial/chrono bikes. With Evans winning aboard a BMC, that bike clearly got a lot of attention….but BMC was not the only manufacturer rolling out totally “bespoke” chrono machines. Custom chrono machines is, of course, not a new trend. What distinguishes this batch from prior years is the attention going in to integrated braking solutions. Google Evans’ BMC chrono bike and you will see: they’ve been working to integrate traditional calipers into the fork and seat/chain stays such that the brakes are almost invisible, save for the arms and brake pads.

Now, it appears that this approach is shifting over (at least for a couple of manufacturers) to traditional road frames as well, of which the Ridley shown below is a prime illustration:

via Velonews.

Now, don’t get me wrong here: this is an amazing piece of engineering and problem solving, in my view.

But, mark my words here: in only just a few years (2015?), this bike will be viewed as a joke, a kind of last gasp of an earlier paradigm that is now completely outmoded. This bike, in other words, will be regarded in 5-6 years as Lance Armstrong’s ’99 TdF winning Trek was regarded by the time of his last TdF (2010) entry: an odd bird and kind of joke. [Armstrong’s ’99 bike, you might recall, was a Trek carbon frame, but with a 1″ threaded headset and a massive (albeit pretty) Cinelli quill stem. This was essentially a cutting-edge carbon frame, brought down by a sizing standard that had prevailed for decades; Trek probably managed to shave close to a pound from the bike in the next two years simply by shifting the headtube size and moving to a threadless setup]

These integrated braking solutions are the sine qua non that the limitations of the rim brake model have been reached (or even exceeded). Rim brakes must die, in other words, because the “best minds in bike engineering” are having to spend their time on stuff like this in order to keep rim brakes alive. Designers and engineers are turning themselves inside out to find a way to disguise and deal with rim brakes….all while the totally obvious solution is right in front of their eyes. Dump the rim brakes, dump the cables, mount a tiny hydraulic disc back there in the junction between the seat and chain stays, run some internal hydraulic lines that need no service, and you are done. Same with the front.

If I had any insider connections to “the biz” I’d make some ambitious prediction: 2012 will see the first TdF chrono bike with hydraulic discs. But, I don’t have any idea what goes on inside the biz, so I won’t be so bold. However, in subsequent posts – on Eurobike and Interbike 2011 – I’ll harp on this “so obvious the manufacturers can’t even see it” argument a bit more.

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Confusing Pro Jerseys: TdF 2011 Edition

Old stuff, I know, but relevant as we all try to figure out who is chasing Contador over the next three weeks of TdF action. Flandria Cafe points out the painfully obvious (that’s not a knock on the site!): some of the biggest teams this season have jerseys that are, for all intents and purposes, IDENTICAL! Definitely worth a read.

But, what really makes it worth a visit is this incredible graphic of old national team and trade team jerseys from the TdF. [Yes, the Tour de France was raced by national teams for a number of years, before trade teams really became viable]. I am actually going to see about having this blown up to create an office poster.

TdF National Team Jerseys

TdF Trade Team Jerseys

via Flandria Cafe

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Doping: Vaughters and Garmin Edition

We cannot change what happened in the past. But we believe it is time for transparency.
We expect anyone in our organization who is contacted by any cycling, anti-doping, or government authority will be open and honest with that authority. In that context, we expect nothing short of 100% truthfulness – whatever that truth is – to the questions they are asked. As long as they express the truth about the past to the appropriate parties, they will continue to have a place in our organization and we will support them for living up to the promise we gave the world when we founded Slipstream Sports.

It’s been pretty cycling/doping/Landis/Armstrong-heavy here on BB, but I really do believe this is a pivotal, potentially watershed, moment for pro cycling.

I feel bad for Vaughters and Garmin/Slipstream in this case. Vaughters has not tried to really hide his own doping during one part of his career, but now he has to walk this fine line between taking a hard line against doping now and not sounding like a liar/hypocrite. Yet, the only way he, thus far, could hope to keep Garmin doing is by not directly addressing his own guilt with respect to doping.

I would hope that the Landis Affair might open up the space needed for guys like Vaughters to come clean but in a serious, non-moralistic or non-absolutist way. Of course a bunch of American douchebag fans will still yell that anyone who ever doped should never be let back in….but what do these morons expect? It is only those who have actually confronted the reality of pro cycling and ALL of its cultural practices who can be expected to come up with realistic solutions to the sport’s problems (if we think of doping as a “problem” – and I’m not necessarily convinced we need to do that).

VeloNews.com

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