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Why Did These Products Fade Away Or Die Out?

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Why Did These Products Fade Away Or Die Out?

Old 11-19-14, 02:40 PM
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RoadGuy
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Why Did These Products Fade Away Or Die Out?

Reading a thread from a guy wanting to fit a carbon fork to his road bike so he could try a disc front brake, and the discussion about carbon, aluminum, and steel steering tubes got me to thinking about products that appeared to have promise that faded from the market.

Why did manufacturers stop marketing and selling them? Safety concerns or failure of the idea to catch on. or was it the price? If there was a safety problem, what happened to or where did the parts that got sold into the market go? If there was a safety problem, were they all recalled?

Here are a few I'm wondering about...

Titanium bottom brackets (both hollow and solid). Incredibly light, lighter than any other design of bottom bracket I have ever seen. The price was trading down as more manufacturers got into the market, and then they disappeared. I've read something about some of them breaking, but not the brands that broke. Where did they all go? I was looking forward to trying one when the street price had dropped below $100, and was heading lower. Then, they disappeared.

Titanium handlebars. Another incredibly light product. I never was interested in them, and lost the little interest that I had when I read warning stickers on a couple of different brands of mountain bike handlebars that stated that they should be replaced each season. $150-$200 for a product that the manufacturer recommends that should be replaced every year? I don't think so.

And now, aluminum steering tubes on forks. This is the one that started me thinking. Twenty years ago you had the choice of steel or aluminum steering tubes on aftermarket fixed and suspension forks. Now I'm reading posts from people that doubt that aluminum steering tubes were ever offered? Aluminum steering tubes were big weight saver options for both on-road and off-road forks. I went with steel steering tubes for my on and off-road bikes, because I could not see spending the extra money even though the weight savings was significant. Now I read that some broke, so manufacturers stopped making them. Were they inherently unsafe, and withdrawn from the market, OR was it simply a matter of the higher selling price eliminating the product?

On the fringe of fading away? I'd say alloy bodied, ball bearing equipped, rear derailleur pulleys. On one side, they were supposed to save pedaling effort, and last longer than the plastic bushing equipped, factory pulleys. On the other side, Detractors claim they don't shift as well as the plastic pulleys because the bearing equipped pulleys don't have slight side to side sliding ability of the plastic pulleys, and the alloy pulleys wear faster than the less expensive plastic pulleys. At one time new manufacturers were popping up everywhere and every bike store carried a variety of brands, colors and models. Seems like there are very few carried in bike stores now, and the only place to see variety is on eBay or Amazon. What happened?
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Old 11-19-14, 02:54 PM
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White Industries Ti BB is about $180 street. I think titanium is just too expensive, and it is still heavier than carbon fiber. Now that CF is used practically everywhere, even high-load parts like handlebars, cranks, and steerers, it is hard to see a place for Ti other than the occasional bolt.
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Old 11-19-14, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadGuy View Post

Titanium bottom brackets (both hollow and solid). Incredibly light, lighter than any other design of bottom bracket I have ever seen. The price was trading down as more manufacturers got into the market, and then they disappeared. I'vead something about some of them breaking, but not the brands that broke. Where did they all go? I was looking forward to trying one.
I think the main thing with Ti BBs was that first splined (ISIS and Octolink), and then external bearing, and most recently several press-fit BB standards took over from the traditional square taper BBs, and with so few bikes using square taper BBs, there is virtually no market for the Ti replacements. And most new cranksets come with a built in spindle. All that, plus that fact that the standard size of spindle, when using a softer and weaker (per unit of cross sectional area) material resulted in unacceptably flexy and weak BBs, hence the reports of breakage and restrictive rider weight limits.

Originally Posted by RoadGuy View Post

Titanium handlebars. Another incredibly light product. I never was interested in them, and lost the little interest that I had when I read warning stickers on a couple of different brands of mountain bike handlebars that stated that they should be replaced each season. $150-$200 for a product that the manufacturer recommends that should be replaced every year? I don't think so.
Question: Why are Ti handlebars not popular anymore?
Answer: carbon fibre handlebars

Although there are a few manufacturers who make Ti bars, a lighter and probably stronger set of bars is almost definitely available made from carbon.

Originally Posted by RoadGuy View Post

And now, aluminum steering tubes on forks. This is the one that started me thinking. Twenty years ago you had the choice of steel or aluminum steering tubes on aftermarket fixed and suspension forks. Now I'm reading posts from people that doubt that aluminum steering tubes were ever offered? Aluminum steering tubes were big weight saver options for both on-road and off-road forks. I went with steel steering tubes for my on and off-road bikes, because I could not see spending the extra money even though the weight savings was significant. Now I read that some broke, so manufacturers stopped making them. Were they inherently unsafe, and withdrawn from the market, OR was it simply a matter of the higher selling price eliminating the product?
Forks with aluminum steerer tubes are still very much available - both suspension and rigid forks. The very highest end forks now come with carbon steerers, but there are plenty with aluminum too. I wonder if you aren't confused about a recent thread about adapting an aluminum steerer tube for use with a threaded headset - aluminum steerer tubes were common, but very rarely threaded.

Originally Posted by RoadGuy View Post

On the fringe of fading away? I'd say alloy bodied, ball bearing equipped, rear derailleur pulleys. On one side, they were supposed to save pedaling effort, and last longer than the plastic bushing equipped, factory pulleys. On the other side, Detractors claim they don't shift as well as the plastic pulleys because the bearing equipped pulleys don't have slight side to side sliding ability of the plastic pulleys, and the alloy pulleys wear faster than the less expensive plastic pulleys. At one time new manufacturers were popping up everywhere and every bike store carried a variety of brands, colors and models. Seems like there are very few carried in bike stores now, and the only place to see variety is on eBay or Amazon. What happened?

I always got the impression that those pulleys had a definite negative impact on shifting for the reason you stated (lack of floating top pulley) and their claims of less drivetrain resistance were either grossly exaggerated or completely bogus. As I recall, one manufacturer claimed an energy savings of a 50 foot climb over some distance, but properly maintained bushing derailleurs don't have enough drag to make any sort of measureable or noticeable difference. This was pretty well known back in the days of anodized aluminum parts (early-mid nineties), so the only people that had them were the uninformed, or those who wanted matching purple anodizing on every possible part (you all know who you are, so please take a moment to hang your heads in shame now). Also, the top and second from the top derailleur from Shimano have long used ball bearings instead of bushings, and a whole derailleur doesn't cost much more that some sets of aftermarket pulleys.
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Old 11-19-14, 03:03 PM
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Ti spindles disappeared for two reasons. The first is an unacceptably higher failure rate that pretty much said they were unfit for general consumption. The second was the advent of external bearings and large iameter spindles which pretty much eliminated the weight advantage.

Ti bars are gone because CF is both lighter and cheaper, so it's aluminum for rough service or low price, and CF for high end with no place for Ti in the mix. Same applies, but to a lesser extent with Ti seatposts.

Aluminum steerers died because of unacceptably high risk of catastrophic failure. Once CF proved itself it was CF for weight, Steel for durability.

Steel BB RD pulleys are gone, because once quality engineering plastic were available there was absoluteley no reason for steel or aluminum pulleys.

Stuff changes because new materials and manufacturing techniques takes away the raison d'etre. Also consider that we live in a litigious age and than heavier riders are riding bicycles very similar or even identical to race equipment. That means that we can't build for 160# riders and have to maintain high service life standards for all critical components. (or have max rider weight disclaimers which people are going to fudge or ignore anyway.
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Old 11-19-14, 04:00 PM
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Carbon became more fashionable than titanium.
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Old 11-19-14, 04:08 PM
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Short attention spans, and the need to show something New at each annual bike Trade Show.
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Old 11-19-14, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
Carbon became more fashionable than titanium.
That's too simplistic. Carbon was lighter for the same strength. I have three Ti frame bikes and dearly love them but see no reason for Ti in most other applications. Aluminum is much less expensive and can be more than adequately strong with a small to no weight penalty while carbon is as strong or stronger and significantly lighter.
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Old 11-19-14, 09:29 PM
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I still have a Rhode Gear 'brake' for the front wheel: it attaches to the down tube, one swings it out when stopped against the front wheel, holding the wheel straight, keeping the front wheel from swinging around when parking and un-parking. I bought an Al frame, too thick for the mount.
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Old 11-19-14, 09:56 PM
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I broke a Campagnolo hollow titanium BB spindle.
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Old 11-19-14, 10:20 PM
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I've seen vastly more steel stuff break then AL, TI or carbon. Oh wait, there's been millions more steel things made then the others. Oh well, stats can be deceiving.

IMO the reason parts and materials are retired are because the resulting function/benefit don't out weigh the marketing value. The ones that stand the test of time pass this test. Andy.
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Old 11-19-14, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
I broke a Campagnolo hollow titanium BB spindle.
I broke a Suntour solid cromoly BB spindle. What do I win?
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Old 11-20-14, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
White Industries Ti BB is about $180 street. I think titanium is just too expensive, and it is still heavier than carbon fiber. Now that CF is used practically everywhere, even high-load parts like handlebars, cranks, and steerers, it is hard to see a place for Ti other than the occasional bolt.
that's all i've used for the past 20,000 miles on most of my bikes (about four of them). there're about 130 delivered...
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Old 11-20-14, 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
Forks with aluminum steerer tubes are still very much available - both suspension and rigid forks. The very highest end forks now come with carbon steerers, but there are plenty with aluminum too.
+1



I always got the impression that those pulleys had a definite negative impact on shifting for the reason you stated (lack of floating top pulley)
+1
That'll be one of the fairly few things where I'm quite confident that I could spot the difference at a blind test. Shifting DO get rougher.
Not Old-School, flat-sprocket rough, but rougher.
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Old 11-20-14, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by RandomTroll View Post
I still have a Rhode Gear 'brake' for the front wheel: it attaches to the down tube, one swings it out when stopped against the front wheel, holding the wheel straight, keeping the front wheel from swinging around when parking and un-parking. I bought an Al frame, too thick for the mount.
That was called a FlickStand, and I miss them a lot; I bought out a closing LBS's dusty old stock of a few and have no more. They did make a "Fat Tube" model FlickStand for thicker MTB tubes. I first used them in the late '80s and the supply finally dried up a few years ago; they come up on EBay ocasionally. I really wish somebody would make them again, they were a great product.
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Old 11-20-14, 08:32 AM
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A contemporary of the FlickStand was a small plastic stepped and notched wedge made by Blackburn called, IIRC, the "Brake Block". You pulled your brake lever and inserted this wedge into the opening between the lever and body to hold the brake engaged. It didn't lock the steering the way the FlickStand did but it did keep the bike from rolling away. It weighed next to nothing and had a string loop so you could hang it on the lever body for convenient access.
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Old 11-20-14, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by RandomTroll View Post
I still have a Rhode Gear 'brake' for the front wheel: it attaches to the down tube, one swings it out when stopped against the front wheel, holding the wheel straight, keeping the front wheel from swinging around when parking and un-parking. I bought an Al frame, too thick for the mount.
The "Flickstand". They stopped making them for the same reason you now have, Bigger tube size.
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Old 11-20-14, 09:01 AM
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some of my newish forks have AL steerers, heard more about risks of AL fork blades snapping, which I believe many rigid AL frames bikes still use steel forks. Are we talking steerers or blades?

Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Aluminum steerers died because of unacceptably high risk of catastrophic failure. Once CF proved itself it was CF for weight, Steel for durability.
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Old 11-20-14, 09:07 AM
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Suntour command shifters, they seem to have small cult following, why so and why didn't it catch on?


I don't have Commands, instead the Suntour "wishbones", saving it for a xtracycle/expedition bike I'm specing out
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Old 11-20-14, 09:15 AM
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I had a Flickstand many years ago. It became un-useful to me when I got an aluminum-framed bike, and I lost track of it in the midst of military moves. It wouldn't have worked with fenders anyway, and I don't own any bikes without them these days. I have used a mini-bungee for years in place of the Flickstand. It works with any frame and with fenders, costs next to nothing, weighs less than that, and does double duty augmenting my rack bungees when needed.
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Old 11-20-14, 09:45 AM
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Mavic Components..
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Old 11-20-14, 10:15 AM
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a lot of innovations by mavic, why did they shut down that part of the company? Even Shimano doesn't have wireless shifters yet...
I miss the Mavic diamond logo, reminds me of the good old boys; Merckx, Hinault, Lemond, Fignon, Moser, list goes on. The current logo just represents this tainted era we're currently stuck at.

Other great manufacturers long gone who made great components are Ofmega, Galli and Ofmega (not considering the Morphos shifters, any body actually buy a set of these from the 2009 batch?)
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Old 11-20-14, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
That's too simplistic. Carbon was lighter for the same strength. I have three Ti frame bikes and dearly love them but see no reason for Ti in most other applications. Aluminum is much less expensive and can be more than adequately strong with a small to no weight penalty while carbon is as strong or stronger and significantly lighter.
Certainly, the products in question would still be in production if titanium were fashionable enough.
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Old 11-20-14, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
Carbon became more fashionable than titanium.
I was watching titanium come down in price in the '90s, hoping to swoop in but CF became less expensive to produce, I guess. Litespeed had a no-frills frame called a Classic; I seem to remember it getting as low as $1,500 from Colorado Cyclist before I lost track or interest.
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Old 11-20-14, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post
Suntour command shifters, they seem to have small cult following, why so and why didn't it catch on?


I don't have Commands, instead the Suntour "wishbones", saving it for a xtracycle/expedition bike I'm specing out
maybe, IDK, because it's possible to mount this kind (same mounting position) on a road bike too, and was incredibly inexpensive (1995) and effective on the 1x8 i was touring on at the time. a little filing was necessary on the clamp.

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Old 11-20-14, 02:38 PM
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I don't get the part about aluminum steerers. They are extremely common on entry to mid-level road bikes and mtbs.
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