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.