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Opinions on recent "improvements"

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Opinions on recent "improvements"

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Old 08-22-05, 09:34 AM
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Point
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Opinions on recent "improvements"

I've been thinking lately about recent trends in bicycle frames and components, and was wondering what "improvements" to frames and components really are better, or which serve to simply save the manufacturer money during assembly.

Compact frames...... fewer sizes to build....saves money
Threadless headets.... fewer parts.....saves money on assembly, but bar adjustment is limited.
External bottom brackets...saves money on assembly, but could affect the Q-factor, esp on triples.
Factory built spec wheels...saves the product manager from specing out hub, spokes, rim.

In my opinion, none of these really presents a quantum leap improvement over some of the old stuff.

Opinions??
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Old 08-22-05, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Point
Compact frames...... fewer sizes to build....saves money
Don't like the way they look... never rode one.

Threadless headets.... fewer parts.....saves money on assembly, but bar adjustment is limited.
I like threadless because it makes aftermarket forks an affordable possibility, and makes the stem feel stiffer, but I do prefer the asthetics and adjustibility of threaded stuff.

External bottom brackets...saves money on assembly, but could affect the Q-factor, esp on triples.
I totally don't buy the argument that these are stiffer. Most "bottom bracket flex" comes from the frame, NOT from the bottom bracket itself. Spacing the bearings outside the frame does nothing to make the frame itself stiffer.

The other purpose of external BBs is to use be able to fit larger, more reliable bearings. There isn't room for large bearings with ISIS and Octalink apparently. I say "What's wrong with square taper?"

Factory built spec wheels...saves the product manager from specing out hub, spokes, rim.
I have a pair of Mavic Heliums which I got used. They work fine, but I would not buy a brand new pair as they are overpriced and a serious pain to service (hub must be partially disassembled in order to replace a spoke, need special straight spokes).

I don't mind machine-built wheels in general, but I'm skeptical of these "wheel systems" where nothing is really interchangeable.

I agree that most of the things you mentioned are not really improvements, just gimmicks. Except for threadless headsets/forks/stems, which do offer real advantages in my opinion. There are older innovations which I think offer MAJOR advantages over stuff from the 70s and 80s: cassette hubs, shaped shifting-profile cogs, aero brake levers, dual-pivot brakes, cartridge bottom brackets. But most of the new stuff in the past few years seems very gimmicky to me, like paired spokes and ultra light hubs and all that junk.
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Old 08-22-05, 09:57 AM
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You should do some research as to the purported benefits of all of these things. For example:

Compact frames: claims for improved stiffness and better handling
Threadless headsets: a stiffer and stronger headset/stem setup than classic threaded/quill.
External bottom brackets: larger bearings make for a stronger BB. Oversized internal bottom brackets are the best option but require bike companies to use oversized shells. External allows a retrofit of large-bearing BBs on existing frames and allows manufacturers to continue to build without the risk of moving to a new standard. These and threadless headsets come from the mountain bike world where the classic setups weren't up to the abuses of offroad use.

There are some things that are done to save money (welded versus lugged, for example), but some things have claimed benefits.

Do any of them represent a quantum leap in quality? Not in my opinion, particularly when removed from the realm of elite competition, but that doesn't mean they are solely to lower production costs. In fact, if that were true, you'd see bottom-end bikes with threadless headsets and external bottom brackets when exactly the opposite is true.
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Old 08-22-05, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by moxfyre
But most of the new stuff in the past few years seems very gimmicky to me, like paired spokes and ultra light hubs and all that junk.
Yup, but what's an industry that's been around for the last 100 years and achieved huge market penetration to do when it wants to grow sales? An appearance of innovation is a must. We're fretting at the margins here but the bike industry would like you to believe that paired spoke wheels will make the difference between standing in the winner's circle and DFL.
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Old 08-22-05, 10:09 AM
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Is there anyone here who thinks a 10-speed cassette is a real improvement? The parts (especially the chain) wear more quickly, they're more expensive, and aren't backwards compatible. Aside from selling a new "number" what good does it do anyone?
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Old 08-22-05, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by bostontrevor
Yup, but what's an industry that's been around for the last 100 years and achieved huge market penetration to do when it wants to grow sales? An appearance of innovation is a must. We're fretting at the margins here but the bike industry would like you to believe that paired spoke wheels will make the difference between standing in the winner's circle and DFL.
Oh, I agree I'm sure it's maddening to be in an industry where the core technologies have already been developed nearly to perfection.

The fact is that a 32/36 spoke 3-cross wheel is ideal for probably 95-99% of all cycling, Jobst Brandt would probably say even more...
The LACING of a conventional wheel is already practically perfect. The low-spoke count wheels are basically only important for a tiny number of elite racers. I ride some 28-spoke radial Mavic wheels, as I said, but only because they were super cheap used. I don't believe I would race any worse with 36 spoke 3X wheels.

I would guess there are probably innovations still to be made in wheel design, in the rims and the hubs, but manufacturers focus on doing silly things with spokes because they're visually distinctive. Someone on rec.bicycles.tech said that the *only* purpose of paired spokes is to make it look like the wheel has fewer spokes than it really does. And apparently they're hard to true and susceptible to rim damage.

Oh, I just thought of one wheel innovation that I *do* like: off-center rims to reduce dish. My coworker has these on his new Fuji and it seems like a great idea to me
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Old 08-22-05, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by SeattleTom
Is there anyone here who thinks a 10-speed cassette is a real improvement? The parts (especially the chain) wear more quickly, they're more expensive, and aren't backwards compatible. Aside from selling a new "number" what good does it do anyone?
I was thinking about 8 vs. 9 speed recently, trying to decide whether it's worth replacing my right STI shifter on my racing bike, so that I can use a 9 speed cassette. I decided nope, not worth it. When it comes down to it, ALL I will get is a 14T cog between the 13 and the 15

I think it would be worth it for me to go 10-speed if I used a wide-range cassette and wanted close spacing. But as it is, I'm happy with a close-spaced 8-cog 11-23 cassette. Actually I could probably do okay with an 11-21 cassette, I never use the 39/23 combination.
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Old 08-22-05, 10:20 AM
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Sure, if you're a racer and they were reasonably durable. Putting more gears on a cassette allows you to run a wider range without compromising close spacing. Sounds great if it actually works right. I hear DA-10 is pretty decent, I've heard less good things about Campagnolo 10s.
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Old 08-22-05, 11:24 AM
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Mavic used to sell lots of rims but nobody purchased their fine hubs. That was until some bright spark in marketing figured out the special factory wheel. Now everytime you buy a racing rim, you have to get the Mavic hub and spokes as well.
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Old 08-22-05, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by SeattleTom
Is there anyone here who thinks a 10-speed cassette is a real improvement? The parts (especially the chain) wear more quickly, they're more expensive, and aren't backwards compatible. Aside from selling a new "number" what good does it do anyone?
I have a new 10s Veloce driveline and what it does is afford a broader range of gearing and maintain relatively tight spacing between gears. I have a 13-26 with triple and will be installing a double soon and at some point with go to a 13-29 rear cassette which will be no issue with the no. of gears available even with 13 to 29 cog range of gearing. Is it much better than an 8 or 9 speed?...some would argue not much per the cost hit you mention but it came on my bike and would say it is a step forward if you like broad gearing and seamless shifting for all kinds of riding. Lastly in the context of 10s Campy...you can shift 1 cog or 3-4 cogs at a time which will get you to the gear you like faster even with adjacent cogs only being one tooth different. That way you can always be in exactly the right gear you like to match your cadence to exertion level.
George

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Old 08-22-05, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
Mavic used to sell lots of rims but nobody purchased their fine hubs. That was until some bright spark in marketing figured out the special factory wheel. Now everytime you buy a racing rim, you have to get the Mavic hub and spokes as well.
Every time? Pretty sure high quality rims are individually available, even from Mavic.
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Old 08-22-05, 12:00 PM
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I like threadless because it makes aftermarket forks an affordable possibility, and makes the stem feel stiffer, but I do prefer the asthetics and adjustibility of threaded stuff.
Um what? You can get threaded forks and threadless just as cheaply.
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Old 08-22-05, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by operator
Um what? You can get threaded forks and threadless just as cheaply.
Threaded forks have to be sold with a bunch of different steerer lengths. With threadless forks, they just sell them all with long steerers and it's easy to cut the fork to length. This one-size-fits-all keeps costs down for fork manufacturers.

I believe it's responsible in large part for the recent proliferation of low-cost carbon forks

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Old 08-22-05, 01:48 PM
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Glad to see some others are in agreement with me. Hearing all the hype from the X-games wanna be's at the LBS gets to me. Try to explain to them that the placement of the bearings on a BB has no effect on the torsional wind up stiffness of the axle. All you get is some 20 something saleperson quoting Shimano's studies to the effect of 30 percent more stiffness. Really, can somebody actually feel the fraction of a degree difference in BB wind up under a pedalling load? I doubt it.

The more I hear a lot of this stuff on "new and better", the more I think most of the so called improvements have little or no real world value, and some may even have faults compared to the "old" stuff.
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Old 08-22-05, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Point
Glad to see some others are in agreement with me. Hearing all the hype from the X-games wanna be's at the LBS gets to me. Try to explain to them that the placement of the bearings on a BB has no effect on the torsional wind up stiffness of the axle. All you get is some 20 something saleperson quoting Shimano's studies to the effect of 30 percent more stiffness. Really, can somebody actually feel the fraction of a degree difference in BB wind up under a pedalling load? I doubt it.

The more I hear a lot of this stuff on "new and better", the more I think most of the so called improvements have little or no real world value, and some may even have faults compared to the "old" stuff.
I think about this when I go on group rides with the 40-something yuppies. Many of them have fancy new bikes because they're awesome riders and have the money, and some of them have fancy new bikes........ well, just because And they constantly complain about how finicky their wheels are, but not many seem to know how to fix things themselves.

What I'd like to do is figure out what all those people do with their bikes when they get bored of them
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Old 08-22-05, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by moxfyre
The other purpose of external BBs is to use be able to fit larger, more reliable bearings. There isn't room for large bearings with ISIS and Octalink apparently. I say "What's wrong with square taper?"
What's wrong with square taper is production cost - it's just about the most expensive bearing type to manufacture.
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Old 08-22-05, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Zouf
What's wrong with square taper is production cost - it's just about the most expensive bearing type to manufacture.
And yet the suppossedley less expensive BBs to manufacture still cost as much or even more expensive than square tapers.

Point is, it doesn't matter what it costs to manufacture the cost savings aren't going to be passed on to you.
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Old 08-22-05, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by moxfyre
Threaded forks have to be sold with a bunch of different steerer lengths. With threadless forks, they just sell them all with long steerers and it's easy to cut the fork to length. This one-size-fits-all keeps costs down for fork manufacturers.

I believe it's responsible in large part for the recent proliferation of low-cost carbon forks
No they don't. You can buy one long enough and cut it to whatever size you want.
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Old 08-22-05, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by operator
No they don't. You can buy one long enough and cut it to whatever size you want.
First of all, forks sold as threadless forks with thin-walled aluminum or carbon steerers CANNOT be safely threaded, and usually have the wrong inside diameter anyway. Secondly, it *is* possible cut and thread most steel steerers, but from everything I have read on rec.bicycles.tech, it is a difficult operation and one that many LBSes are not equipped for... there seems to be agreement over there that only factory-cut fork threads have reliable quality.

I don't mean to argue over it, in any case. You're certainly right that it's possible to thread/rethread some forks. But cutting a threadless fork is a much easier operation, so threadless forks are pretty much always sold with one-size-fits-all steerer.
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Old 08-22-05, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by operator
And yet the suppossedley less expensive BBs to manufacture still cost as much or even more expensive than square tapers.

Point is, it doesn't matter what it costs to manufacture the cost savings aren't going to be passed on to you.
Ah - cost vs price confusion. I guess you mean: ball bearing BBs are sold for more than the cost of taper bearings. If you are the manufacturer, it sure matters how much it costs - otherwise, Asia would be a place far far away, not a place where everything you buy is manufactured. Ball bearings cost less to produce than roller, and a lot less than taper; so that's what we have.

This being said, I'm not quite sure why you'd like to see tapers; as there is little lateral load on a BB, rollers can do great, for the same physical volume.
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Old 08-22-05, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Zouf
What's wrong with square taper is production cost - it's just about the most expensive bearing type to manufacture.
What does the shape of the end of the spindle have to do with bearing type?
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Old 08-22-05, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by d_D
What does the shape of the end of the spindle have to do with bearing type?
My bad - I thought he was referring to bearing type (taper rollers), while he was (obvious now) referring to spindle end...
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Old 08-22-05, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Zouf
Ah - cost vs price confusion. I guess you mean: ball bearing BBs are sold for more than the cost of taper bearings. If you are the manufacturer, it sure matters how much it costs - otherwise, Asia would be a place far far away, not a place where everything you buy is manufactured. Ball bearings cost less to produce than roller, and a lot less than taper; so that's what we have.

This being said, I'm not quite sure why you'd like to see tapers; as there is little lateral load on a BB, rollers can do great, for the same physical volume.
Eh... what?? Every cup-and-cone square taper bottom bracket I've ever seen used ball bearings. "Square taper" doesn't refer to the type of bearings, only to the form of the ends of the spindle, where the cranks attach to the bottom bracket.

The only reason that the spindle shape affects the choice of bearings is because a standard bottom bracket shell is about 1.37" wide; with a typical square taper spindle (about 3/8" in diameter I would guess) there is enough room to fit a bearing with 1/4" balls, but with a larger-diameter spindle the balls must be smaller. By moving the bearings outside the shell, they are no longer constrained by the 1.37" diameter...

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Old 08-22-05, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by moxfyre
First of all, forks sold as threadless forks with thin-walled aluminum or carbon steerers CANNOT be safely threaded, and usually have the wrong inside diameter anyway. Secondly, it *is* possible cut and thread most steel steerers, but from everything I have read on rec.bicycles.tech, it is a difficult operation and one that many LBSes are not equipped for... there seems to be agreement over there that only factory-cut fork threads have reliable quality.

I don't mean to argue over it, in any case. You're certainly right that it's possible to thread/rethread some forks. But cutting a threadless fork is a much easier operation, so threadless forks are pretty much always sold with one-size-fits-all steerer.
That's ok, I don't intend this to be a flamefest but I disagree. I never mentioned threading threadless forks, simply that threaded forks can be cut (you can hacksaw it if you want but I let my LBS do it) and threaded even lower if need be.
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Old 08-22-05, 09:40 PM
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About compact frames. The original intent was to create a stiffer,lighter bike. Giant did it for their race bikes, "first". It worked so well several other makers rallied and got the UCI to ban the compact design. These same makers later figured out that you could make a lighter/stiffer frame without losing strength or life. They then rallied to make the comapct legal for UCI competition and now most makers offer a compact frameset. Yes, most are not pretty.
There are often as many sizes as there are with conventional frame design and several companies still use the conventional metric designation even tho it is a "virtual" number based on an imaginary level top tube.

Threaded- race, bearing, cup, cup, bearing, race, washer, topnut
Non threaded- race, bearing, cup, cup, bearing, centering "race", bearing cap, spacers, starnut/expander, top nut, capscrew.
8 to 11(assuming one spacer) looks like more parts with the non threaded headset. Some integrated headsets have fewer parts.
Threaded steerer forks are getting fewer and fewer. They also still come in several lengths with only about two inches threaded.

External BB fixes(maybe) the problem of the big pipe spindle BB. That is the bearings in an ISIS or Octalink need to be smaller to allow room for that big spindle. With the external BB, bearing size can go back up. As the cranks are dedicated Q is unaffected, they are shaped to offset the pedal postion back to norm. The torsional strength difference would come not from the bearings but from the larger dia. "axle" used.

Depends on who makes the wheel. Some fall apart, others last for years as daily trainers under 240 pound wannabe freeriders. Traditional wheels are just as strong, often lighter, and easier to fix. But they don't come on the bikes.



AND, why is there no praise of the two bolt stem cap. Is it not nice to change a stem with out having to remove the tape/grips and controls?

How about the road compact stuff? Lower gears, without the big jumps.

Indexed shifting? Almost nobody *****es about that

Seats with perenial grooves? Lots of fans there.

Double pivot road bikes that actually have enough power to stop the bike?

Sure there are new things that are for show, but if there were no development in the bike world we would all still be riding fixed gear bikes with tubulars and no brakes. Oh wait, some of us still do. Just because they make it does not mean you need to jump on the wagon or deride it. Chuck
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