I was talking to a fellow cyclist, and reflecting on changes in equipment over the last 20+ years.
Generally I focus on things like frame and component materials, compact frames, index shifters, brifters, threadless headsets.
But I realized that for my daily riding the most underrated improvment is that my brakes work!.
Back in ye olden dayes, brakes might slow you but they could rarely stop you. Now I trust them and they're highly reliable. Without even thinking about it, I've taken faster speeds and more aggressive downhill riding than I would with the old brakes. Actually I think it's a combination of excellent brakes and the machining on the rims that has made the difference.
Has any else from this ole f-rt forum had a similar perception?