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Old 05-10-13, 05:02 PM   #1
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I'm an engineer, how many others, does it effect your cycling choices?

I'm admittedly a stereotypical engineer, Environmental by degree but I have worked as a civil engineer for 27 years now. I find my choices for bikes, components and tools influenced by my background almost completely. I don't use emotion or aesthetics for my choices, I evaluate the design and manufacturing or what I am looking at buying and using every time. Materials are something I try to analyze when I am deciding on things, too. I don't care about how the paint matches things, just its finish machining being correct and executed right. I am not a data nut though, but I do keep a riders diary and look back at the numbers and my body/health statistics regularly. I have a Machinery's Handbook nearby and I always find myself checking the metal and Carbon Fibre analysis there as well as bolt specifications and threading machining data.

Any others like this? I know we have several other engineers as 50+ members but not in any detail or what disciplines are represented here. Tell us how your background and engineering discipline have shaped your cycling, please.

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Old 05-10-13, 05:06 PM   #2
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I'm an industrial engineer, but it does not really have any affect on my cyclng. I like older bikes, enjoy riding them and working on them. Not much interested in the newest , lightest bikes at all. I just like the stuff that was out there when I was a kid, same thing with cars by the way.
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Old 05-10-13, 05:09 PM   #3
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I'm an industrial engineer, but it does not really have any affect on my cyclng. I like older bikes, enjoy riding them and working on them. Not much interested in the newest , lightest bikes at all. I just like the stuff that was out there when I was a kid, same thing with cars by the way.
Do you do time studies on your rides?
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Old 05-10-13, 05:22 PM   #4
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It's funny engineers seem to more often define themselves by their occupation. Much more than a lot of other occupations.

When I used to drag race cars the "engineers" cars always seemed to break a lot more and run slower than the people that were more concerned with trying things out rather than pouring over data and having the "perfect combination". FWIW I studied EE for 3 years, decided I hated it, did something else, and then later went back and got my comp sci masters.

I think riding equipment gets really over-analyzed and people get caught up too much in it fwiw.
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Old 05-10-13, 05:24 PM   #5
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I'm admittedly a stereotypical engineer, Environmental by degree but I have worked as a civil engineer for 27 years now. I find my choices for bikes, components and tools influenced by my background almost completely. I don't use emotion or aesthetics for my choices, I evaluate the design and manufacturing or what I am looking at buying and using every time. Materials are something I try to analyze when I am deciding on things, too. I don't care about how the paint matches things, just its finish machining being correct and executed right. I am not a data nut though, but I do keep a riders diary and look back at the numbers and my body/health statistics regularly. I have a Machinery's Handbook nearby and I always find myself checking the metal and Carbon Fibre analysis there as well as bolt specifications and threading machining data.

Any others like this? I know we have several other engineers as 50+ members but not in any detail or what disciplines are represented here. Tell us how your background and engineering discipline have shaped your cycling, please.

Bill, the Hairy Eared Engineer Club member.
Lol.

At the risk of offending my fellow engineers, I'd say it affects my cycling choices a LOT.

I tend to make choices primarily on function, and with a wary eye to new products or techniques that purport to be biggest improvement since the safety bicycle. When a claim of superiority is made, it is applied to my BS meter ... constructed from years of engineering practice and the school of hard knocks.

I've since gone the way of this famous cyclist:



But back in the day, I was an EE. Still am at heart.
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Old 05-10-13, 05:24 PM   #6
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No, I'm not really interested in speed at this point. I am interested in increasing the distance of my rides, but the time it takes to finish them doesn't really concern me. It took me roughly 5 hours to ride 55 miles last weekend, and I was more than happy with that. My son, who is 32, is obsessed with his average speed.
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Old 05-10-13, 05:48 PM   #7
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You have raised an interesting question
Im an artist-technical illustrator, and typically, my bike choices run from Bauhaus to Florentine
Whatever I feel like at the moment-- Like turn on, tune in, drop out, man . . . . is the thought process involved.
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Old 05-10-13, 06:10 PM   #8
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Petroleum engineer by degree and now that you mention it, I guess it does factor in more than I thought. The physics of getting from here to there more efficently(read lazy) comes into play.
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Old 05-10-13, 06:20 PM   #9
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Some people say I am an engineer. While working for NASA the past thirty years, I've had a variety of "jobs". Most dealt with the application of earth sensing ground cover imagery and its application to the study of the earth's renewable and non-renewable natural resources. The past five years, i've operated/controlled two instruments on two earth orbiting environmental satellites. It's a great job! No, that's not right. I don't have a job ... I get paid for a hobby. My academic background is an AA in Lithography, BA in Computer Science with a minor in Geography, and a masters in Geography. Since I've been riding way before I was an "engineer", my career has never influenced my bicycle universe.
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Old 05-10-13, 06:23 PM   #10
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Master's in Geography? I'll bet you never get lost on your rides.
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Old 05-10-13, 06:29 PM   #11
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I don't use emotion or aesthetics for my choices, I evaluate the design and manufacturing or what I am looking at buying and using every time.
How about as a veto factor? I was once selling a bicycle to a fellow who told me that color didn't matter to him. Whatever color was the next one to come off the assembly line was fine with him. The very next words our of his mouth: "Not green."
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Old 05-10-13, 11:38 PM   #12
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Structural engineer by profession. My first thought was, color and aethetics means more to me than anything to do with material composition or mechanical workings. In other words I'd buy it if it looks good. Having said that, if you've read my post about the Kona ***** Inc that I'm building, you'll discover that I have a tendency to spend hours and hours researching things - and then decide based on what color it is. I must be a reject engineer.
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Old 05-10-13, 11:46 PM   #13
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When I used to drag race cars the "engineers" cars always seemed to break a lot more and run slower than the people that were more concerned with trying things out rather than pouring over data and having the "perfect combination". F.
When I was a machinist, I used to hear from some of the other guys on the shop floor how "Them dang engineers with their high falootin book learnin' don't know what they're doin'. They ain't got no 'common sense'".

What I noticed was two things. First, some engineers were pretty clueless, but they were the minority. Second, those who claimed that the engineers didn't know what they were doing, said that mostly because they didn't understand what the engineers were doing. Those that didn't always slam the engineers are the ones I learned the most from. Working in manufacturing full time, and going to school part time, I got a BSME at the age of 37.

It does temper my decisions somewhat, in that I do a rule of thumb cost/benefit analysis to every bike purchase. I bought a $700 aluminum road bike from a LBS, where the owner picked me out for an engineer without me telling him I was one. He is also willing to teach me about bikes, as long as I keep spending money there (the education never stops). In a few months I plan to step outside of the "value engineering" mode and buy a carbon road bike because they are "way cool".
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Old 05-10-13, 11:49 PM   #14
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Their waz a time I cudn spel enginear, but now I are wun.
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Old 05-11-13, 12:18 AM   #15
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Their waz a time I cudn spel enginear, but now I are wun.
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Old 05-11-13, 02:29 AM   #16
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May I be so bold as to post in the 50+ while I am not so? Ok then...

I'm a computer programmer. I like beautiful bikes, with nice paint schemes, sometimes simple, sometimes bizarre, usually the colors you find at custom builders or racing bikes. While I admire the engineering/marketing/lightness that goes into higher end components and bikes, I know they will be of little use to me and therefore I buy lower end stuff. Recently I bought a CF Cannondale. My view was to NOT buy this bike after the test ride, but I liked it so much that I ended up buying it. While I dont classify it as beautiful compared to custom bikes, it's certainly attractive enough for me wrt a mass market item. I want to buy lightweight wheels, but I'd rather save my money. I dont use the bike much and prefer to buy things to use, rather than to admire hanging on a wall.

So in a nutshell: love beautiful or high-end stuff, admire it when I see it, but not particularly interested in buying it for myself.
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Old 05-11-13, 03:04 AM   #17
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I was heavily involved in Karting and as such I made and designed the frame and built it up from components that I knew worked and were good. I was one of the top men in Europe in Endurance racing where reliability played a big part in the equipment so was very loath to try the latest "Must Have" until it proved to be better than the one I was using and was strong enough for the job. Cost never came into it providing it was going to do the job it was intended for.

Same in cycling now. Design and latest fads do not come into it. Suppose that is why I still ride aluminium as the material of choice because top quality Al frames work just as good as C.F. and is more accident resistant. 105/ Ultegra is good enough for me although I know Dure Ace is better but Di2 is still not proven to me.

For me bikes have to work. Not worried about looks or how good the paint job is but colour is important. Anything but WHITE--so why do I have two predominantly WHITE bikes. Now a Whyte bike would not matter what colour it is and one day I will get one.
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Old 05-11-13, 05:06 AM   #18
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I was heavily involved in Karting and as such I made and designed the frame and built it up from components that I knew worked and were good. I was one of the top men in Europe in Endurance racing where reliability played a big part in the equipment so was very loath to try the latest "Must Have" until it proved to be better than the one I was using and was strong enough for the job. Cost never came into it providing it was going to do the job it was intended for.

Same in cycling now. Design and latest fads do not come into it. Suppose that is why I still ride aluminium as the material of choice because top quality Al frames work just as good as C.F. and is more accident resistant. 105/ Ultegra is good enough for me although I know Dure Ace is better but Di2 is still not proven to me.

For me bikes have to work. Not worried about looks or how good the paint job is but colour is important. Anything but WHITE--so why do I have two predominantly WHITE bikes. Now a Whyte bike would not matter what colour it is and one day I will get one.
I think I'd summarize it similarly to this. Because I'm a scientist (physicist by training), I don't get overly impressed by the claims that for only double the price, I can reduce the wheel weight by 250g.
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Old 05-11-13, 05:35 AM   #19
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Aeronautical Engineer by education but hardly used professionally. I went into the operation of aircraft shortly after graduation. I appreciate the attempts at applying aerodynamics but also chuckle at the claims associated. I buy what feels good to ride followed closely by the colour of lipstick on the pig.
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Old 05-11-13, 07:14 AM   #20
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I'm not a degreed Engineer, I have a BS from Northwestern University. I've spent most of my career as a Product or Sales Manager for Industrial Component Conglomerates. These companies provide mechanical and electro-mechanical products for industry, such as bearings, chain, gearing, couplings, clutches, brakes, electric motors, etc.

For me, a bike is an combination of components, nothing more. Name Brand has minimal value to me. A frame provides geometry; it's material and workmanship matter and it should look good. Gearing consists of range and spacing data. Shifters and derailleurs are more or less precise and shifter effort is a value of importance. I like to break the object down to it's key functional parts. Form follows function.

Most bikes I see at retail are chasing a tribe. There is the Tour-De-France tribe, the Ironman tribe, The commuter-tribe, the knobby-tire tribe. I like being my own Product Manager and I will build a bike that meets my requirements. I prefer to build my bikes from an assortment of components I've selected myself.

My cycling includes longer routes both on road and on trail. I don't have a collection of bikes, I have an assortment. They range from heavy-duty to general-purpose to optimized-for-speed. I don't rely on what the marketplace provides, I build my-own.
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Old 05-11-13, 08:40 AM   #21
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Very interesting replies so far, I can see the same variance and trends I note in the work place with other engineers and skilled trades people/artisans I have the pleasure to work with. I guess that I am more of just a "it needs to do its job as simply and effectively/efficiently as possible" type when it comes to bikes and their components. I heard the phrase "Simple Elegance" while I was still in school and it stuck with me to this day. The latest and greatest or current fad does not impress me, getting things done with the least amount of fuss, waste and fluff makes things work for me. When I look at a component or frame I look for the machining, welding and quality control, not the bling factor. To just build a bike with the components I choose and the frame design and geometry I want and need is my next goal for a bike. Should be fun.

I don't tolerate the pure engineer with the attitude of "If I can draw it/design it you can build it and it will work perfectly or you didn't build it right" attitude. I encounter these types all the time in the construction industry. They make jobs miserable and mostly have the attitude of being superior and smarter than anyone else and they look down on the wonderful skilled tradesmen that make our industry work. Big, big mistake for them to do this. It is like the Marines and the senior noncommissioned officers with their hard won experience and the young officers that expect the NCO and junior enlisted to take their rank as the source of infallible knowledge, The shave tail LT with this attitude don't last or live very long.

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Old 05-11-13, 08:55 AM   #22
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What railroad?
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Old 05-11-13, 09:04 AM   #23
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I was heavily involved in Karting and as such I made and designed the frame and built it up from components that I knew worked and were good. I was one of the top men in Europe in Endurance racing where reliability played a big part in the equipment so was very loath to try the latest "Must Have" until it proved to be better than the one I was using and was strong enough for the job. Cost never came into it providing it was going to do the job it was intended for.

Same in cycling now. Design and latest fads do not come into it. Suppose that is why I still ride aluminium as the material of choice because top quality Al frames work just as good as C.F. and is more accident resistant. 105/ Ultegra is good enough for me although I know Dure Ace is better but Di2 is still not proven to me.

For me bikes have to work. Not worried about looks or how good the paint job is but colour is important. Anything but WHITE--so why do I have two predominantly WHITE bikes. Now a Whyte bike would not matter what colour it is and one day I will get one.
One of the most brilliant engineers I worked for before becoming one myself, had no degree. He had gone through 'pretiship in southern England. Degrees are nice. I have even used some of what I learned. I feel the biggest benefit of math through calculus and differential equations was that it made me really good at the algebra and trig that I actually use.
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Old 05-11-13, 09:10 AM   #24
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I am currently a software engineer and through the years various flavors of computer related engineer, with a background in mathematics and physics. Regarding over-analyzing cycling, guilty as charged. In fact before deciding on my first bike 5 or 6 years ago, I started from first principles to analyze the drag and mechanical resistance related to the various genres of bicycles in the context of my expected use, and then dug up as much as I could on the frames and components including materials and history of the manufacturers. Starting from zero as I said, but it would have been easier just to ask around.

With regards to maintenance and precision I'm more of a "get it done and forget it" type, probably reflecting my stints as a hardware technician.
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Old 05-11-13, 09:12 AM   #25
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Electronics here. I have no problem admitting that I am coldly logical. My bent bike and trike were bought with logic and engineering in mind. Price simplicity and grade of componets all entered into my choice. After 15,000 combined miles, I still feel that my logic and common sense rewarded me quite well. Emotion when it come to machinery is not very smart as far as I am concerned. You can end up with pretty junk!!!!
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