Long rant: We are all slaves to advertising
In my search for a new road bike, the fact that Aerodynamics and weight are used as convenient excuses for the bicycle industry to convince us that we need to pay ridiculous prices for, insignificant, drop-in-the-bucket decreases in weight and drag has became glaringly obvious. The way that otherwise reasonable middle-class people who have mouths to feed and bills to pay will reach so deep into their pockets for an additional thousand dollars to get a wheel set that weighs a fraction of a pound less and has an extra 30 mm of rim depth while at the same time being far less durable, making stopping more difficult and generally increasing the chances that the rider will end up in an emergency room says a lot about the power of advertising.
So much effort and money is spent tucking cables into frames because they block so much wind, and shaving every last gram at the expense of silly things like durability, comfort and proper fit. It’s almost as if they have forgotten that there is going to be a large mammal perched atop that bike and if he can’t feel his legs at the end of the race, he isn’t going to give a **** about the aerodynamics of a brake cable.
The professionals work in wind tunnels with trainers, nutritionists, bike fitters and coaches and have already addressed the issues that matter most, like riding position and fitness, and they don’t have any more weight on their bodies than is necessary for creating the power needed for the kind of riding they do. Fabian Cancellara gets his bikes for free and he has already built the best engine he possibly can, so milking what little aero benefits he can out of some zip disk wheels makes sense for him, but the amateur who uses the same bike for time trails, road races in the wind, crits and hill climbs doesn’t need them. When the super-light and fragile derailleur on Cadel Evans’ climbing bike breaks, he tosses it in a bush and grabs a new one off the team car. When a cat-3’s derailleur breaks, his race is over. We don’t benefit from the same things the pros do. Why are we so fixated on trying to ride the same bikes?
In mountain biking where professional racing is less publicized, they still manage to give us an artificial sense of need. My first Mountain bike had a 7 x 3 setup, and even then I had replaced the big ring with a bash guard. The idea that my bike needed more gearing options never crossed my mind. Nonetheless, the people at Shimano were kind enough to solve the problem that never existed, for a price of course, and we now we have 3x10 drive trains to take to the local races where plenty of single speeders will be happy to kick our asses.
Ever see a decent 29er suspension fork with v-brake bosses? Of course not, you need disk brakes for more braking power to stop those bigger wheels right? Wrong, when you are functionally using the rim as your rotor, an increase in rim diameter means an increase braking power as with larger diameter disk rotor. Since the increase in distance between the fulcrum (hub) and the ground is the same as the increase in distance from the hub to the rim, V-brakes work exactly as well on a 29er as they do on a 26 inch rim. So why don’t they make 29er suspension forks that work with V-brakes? Probably because the same people who make the suspension forks also want to sell you disc brakes.
It's Just A "Long Rant" Rant...
The OP has some very good points, I think. Within any given population, there are going to be more followers than leaders. That's just a statistical fact. Followers are more susceptible to suggestion and guidance than leaders. Since most leaders aren't naturally endowed with genius, there are times when they too feel influenced by suggestion.
I say, that education is key. The more highly informed a population, the more people will be inclined to make independent decisions. The more independent decision-making that members of a population make, the more they acquire leadership skills. A more educated and highly informed population will produce the best leaders, and will be less vulnerable to marketing techniques and "con games".
However, as a population existing during modern times, it's imperative that we all know just exactly what we're up against. We're at the mercy of the highly educated. People go to centers of education for the expressed and singular purpose, of focusing their studies upon various methods of attracting consumers to a particular commodity. Those methods are discussed in the bulk of most marketing courses. Those students are all required to take psychology for a reason. Advertising is an integral part of modern marketing schemes. Advertisers have a way of increasing your thirst, when you're not thirsty. Where there once was no desire, there will now be insatiable yearning. The power of suggestion reigns supreme, and we humans fall victim to masterful designs in advertising by the droves. It's all just a small portion of a marketing scheme.
Sometimes, what the people want and demand, is exactly what the people have been told to want and demand. If you study a watch or a time-piece long enough, you'll eventually learn exactly what makes it tick. Psychology is the medium in which human behavior is studied. It has now become a tool used to attract consumers and increase the wealth of business.
Nobody needs to put a gun to your head when they exercise adequate control of your personal desires and choices.
- Slim :)