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Are Modern Components Better?

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Are Modern Components Better?

Old 08-12-20, 04:01 PM
  #1  
Salamandrine 
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Are Modern Components Better?

As this is a more general question, I didn't want to piggyback this onto the similar advice request thread 'favorite vintage frame'.

Seems to me modern components are a bit of crossgrade more than anything. There's more speeds in the back, that is for sure. There has been a general trend of evolutionary improvement, IMHO, but it's typically been a 3 steps forward and 2 steps back type of thing, sometimes 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. I'd go so far as to venture that the actual performance advantage of using a modern component group vs a vintage group is fairly minimal. Many components have become much more refined, but would you get dropped on a vintage frame with vintage components vs the same frame with modern parts? I doubt it very much.

Some stuff has gotten better. These are the things that IMO have seen some major improvements:

Clincher tires - old ones were terrible, that's why I rode sew ups in the past
Clipless pedals - just better, lighter and more comfortable compared to the old toe clips and slotted cleat shoe system. SPD allows you to walk too.
Cassette hubs - no more broken axles and less weight than a traditional hub/freewheel
Cassette cogs - these things have gotten really light
Chains - ^^^ ditto, and it's nice to be able to take them on and off with the quick link
Threadless steer tubes and aheadsets - just better, stronger, lighter, more durable. You do lose the easy adjustability of quill stems.
Derailleurs - thank you Suntour for the modern RD design, but they really all have become quite refined and smoother shifting
'Aero' rims - what took so long. Making them deeper made them stronger at little cost other than they are more aero too. That said the more extreme deep section carbon rims look kind of dumb and make lots of noise, arguably.

I'd be interested to know what some of the rest of you all think has gotten better, or worse.
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Old 08-12-20, 04:09 PM
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Yes. Unequivocally.
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Old 08-12-20, 04:26 PM
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Old 08-12-20, 04:31 PM
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I'm hard-pressed to think of what got worse.
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Old 08-12-20, 04:33 PM
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Steel frames have not improved as much as parts have. A modern frame is lighter but vintage frames are cooler IMHO. You can get a lighter steel bike than you could back in the day, but I think parts have improved more than have steel frames.
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Old 08-12-20, 04:33 PM
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I suspect, a good deal of the improvement on clincher tires are also bolstered by the present trend of riding wider tires, = more compliance and comfort.
I rode modern clinchers for a while, not so long ago, but in narrow sizes not exceeding 23mm. And they were still quite harsh riding. Similar but not quite as bad as the old HP foldable clinchers from the 80's.
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Old 08-12-20, 04:34 PM
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Most of the above are not all that "modern", Most of them were not uncommon on '80s bikes. The exception would be threadless steering, and I'll take the adjustability of quill anyday.

I thought this was going to be about truly modern components, such as electronic shifting, through-axle wheels, disc brakes, 1x8923927 drivelines, boutique tire/wheel sizes, tubeless, etc. I'm sure there are others, but among the ones I can think of, I'm perfectly happy with the C&V versions. Batteries to shift?

STI road shifting is a toss-up. Definitely better operationally, but the absence of a friction option is limiting.

I would say that toward the end of what we presently call C&V, there were some sensible innovations, not the least of which were indexed shifting, aero brake levers on road bikes, improvements in cables, brake pad materials, etc.

So the pendulum swings both ways.
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Old 08-12-20, 04:39 PM
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Yes, usually. There are missteps along the way (What are chainstay U-brakes, Alex?).
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Old 08-12-20, 05:02 PM
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Dan is a friend and knowledgable bike geek, and I usually try to stay out of these discussions.........

However, it all comes down to individual perspectives and experience. Newer is not always better. Sometimes new (bike) technology is a solution looking for a problem. Sometimes new technology it is change for change sake, and to generate traffic in the show room. In my experience, quality classic components are made of long lasting materials that if well cared for will last for several lifetimes. The bike I rode today was 44 years old with components of a similar age and it is basically bullet proof, looks great, and rides great. It checks all the boxes for me.

I believe it is the horse and not the chariot that makes the difference. But I'm a dinosaur. I cut my teeth racing classic steel bikes and associated components. I ride my bike because I like to ride my bike. Not because it has all the modern bells and whistles. For the record, and full disclosure, I do have a modern "carpet fiber" and Ti bike in my collection that do get ridden, but they generally aren't my first choice.

Does one need a 10 or 11 speed cassette to enjoy cycling? No
Does one need electric shifting to enjoy cycling? No
Does one need disk brakes to enjoy cycling? No
Does one need tubeless wheels to enjoy cycling? No
Is this the Classic and Vintage Forum? Yes

Most of my bikes are fitted with Campy Record (NR/SR) components. Record hubs with spin on freewheels, Record brakes with Kool Stop pads and low friction cables/housing, NR/SR derailleurs. Most of my bikes have tubular wheels. Record components are easy to set-up and it works. I don't fly off the road because I don't have disk brakes or dual pivot brakes, my bikes shift just fine though I will say on fast group rides, Ergo makes it easier to keep up. However, I ride by myself or with one or maybe two other people 90% of the time. Constant shifting isn't generally an issue for me.

I saw a post on the internet somewhere. It was a picture of a car's manual transmission stick shift. The caption read "Millennial Anti-Theft Device."

In my view, if you can drive a car with a manual transmission, you can drive just about anything. The cycling corollary is if you can use friction shifters, you can ride just about anything. I have a 15 year old son and he will learn how to drive a manual transmission. He already knows how to use downtime friction shifters (he also rides a modern 2020 Trek mountain bike with a one by drivetrain).......

Variety is the spice of life. Most of us have more than one bike. Many of us suffer from N+1. I suggest trying different components (new and old) on your different bikes. Enjoy the variety and see for yourself if newer is always better.

Disclaimer: After saying all of the above, I encourage people to set-up their bicycles anyway they want so that they WILL RIDE THE BIKE. At the end of the day, it is about riding isn't it?

This is just one old man's alternative opinion.

Let the arguments begin.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy Antipas View Post
I saw a post on the internet somewhere. It was a picture of a car's manual transmission stick shift. The caption read "Millennial Anti-Theft Device."
Excellent!

In my view, if you can drive a car with a manual transmission, you can drive just about anything. The cycling corollary is if you can use friction shifters, you can ride just about anything. I have a 15 year old son and he will learn how to drive a manual transmission. He already knows how to use downtime friction shifters
This constitutes service to the community and to the next generation, on both counts. Anything we can do to stave off the "Idiocracy"-fication of our population is noble. Next, once he's learned to drive a manual, he gets to learn how to do a push-start.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:29 PM
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Have modern Shimano 105 (Scott Solace) and Campy Super Record (De Rosa Professional), New is quick, reliable, thoughtless to shift... Old is quick, reliable, and requires some thought... which makes it a blast!
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Old 08-12-20, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I'm hard-pressed to think of what got worse.

Roads and us. We are fatter as a people than ever.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I'm hard-pressed to think of what got worse.
Bottom brackets.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:44 PM
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"Are Modern Components Better?"

Only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And never, ever on Sundays.

Actually, I don't know. They all make me grin like a weirdo.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy Antipas View Post
Does one need a 10 or 11 speed cassette to enjoy cycling? No
Does one need electric shifting to enjoy cycling? No
Does one need disk brakes to enjoy cycling? No
Does one need tubeless wheels to enjoy cycling? No
Is this the Classic and Vintage Forum? Yes
I will say that having a 10 speed rear end has made cycling more enjoyable to me than the 5-6-7 speed rear ends I've been riding.

For a long time I rode 27" wheels and didn't feel the need to change to 700C. Then I changed a bike over and went to fancy pants tires- it's made riding more fun.

Before doing a 10 speed conversion, I kind of settled into a 6 speed zone- and I really liked a lot of components from, say 89-94. It was "modernizing" a frame to replace 1985 stuff with 1993 stuff.

I don't like DT shifters. I get that people are all nostalgic about them... but I don't like them. I have a set of brifters that I haven't used yet, but I greatly prefer Command Shifters or bar end shifters to DT shifters.

Do you need modern components to enjoy riding? No- do some/many modern upgrades make riding easier or more fun- Absolutely.

FWIW- I sold my last manual transmission car in 1994 or so. Sometimes I wish for a manual transmission, but I'm glad for the automatic- especially in heavy traffic.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:54 PM
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"Threadless steer tubes and aheadsets - just better, stronger, lighter, more durable. You do lose the easy adjustability of quill stems."

Perspective - the engine is the single biggest factor. By far. Anything that comes before the ability to maximize the power, both sustained and in the short run better have some real magic to it. The fit of the engine to the chassis for this machine (rider + bicycle) is critical in terms of that performance. And it changes. That optimum fit changes as the season goes on, as the engine ages and has the engine has physical setbacks (sickness and injury). The easiest adjustment to make on a bike is (or should be) the ability to raise the handlebars for as long as necessary. Quill stems make that adjustment child's play. A tweak that can be done on short notice before riding or during a ride. No fancy tools or skills needed. (Well maybe a rock.)

Yes, the new threadless is stiffer and lighter. Stems with faceplates make changing handlebars or stem length far easier. But - the faceplate can be done with any style stem. That's not a threadless or quill issue except by manufacturers' default. I see no good reason (other than the horse has already left the barn) for not staying threaded, going to the new bigger diameters, developing much lighter quill stems with faceplates and keeping the huge benefit of that really easy (and if needed, big) height change.

I had my first ti custom built with the default threadless but staying 1". For years wondered if I was a fool for not going 1 1'8". I have just over a cm of vertical to play with. Sounds great but as I age, I am realizing that isn't much. But then I realized, 'oh yeah, this is 1" steel!" I can have the builder thread it, screw on some cups and drop in a sweet Nitto Peral stem!

Ben
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Old 08-12-20, 05:56 PM
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In my view, most of the new stuff is mostly better. Here are my complaints. They are not major.

New derailleurs and shifters don't last as long as the old stuff. They are more sensitive to things such as derailleur hanger alignment.

New wheels are often heavier than old wheels though they are a whole lot more durable and reliable.

New design chains tend to break more. And you should not rivet them shut again; you have to use a master link.

A lot of the new stuff is less serviceable than the old stuff.

Threadless steer tubes are definitely better but can we say the new stems aren't as pretty?

I think of all the great innovations from Shimano, my favorite is SPD. I'm so grateful for it.
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Old 08-12-20, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I'm hard-pressed to think of what got worse.
Longevity, compatibility, rugged good looks, simplicity, affordability?
Better is very subjective.
I'm stuck in a 7 speed world.
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Old 08-12-20, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Longevity, compatibility, rugged good looks, simplicity, affordability
Would also serve well as a personal profile on a dating app.
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Old 08-12-20, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
Would also serve well as a personal profile on a dating app.
Sorta like "Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms".
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Old 08-12-20, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
Bottom brackets.
Ha, agreed.
Splined cartridge bearing BBs were "meh." It just seemed to make everything more proprietary

I don't mind external bearing cranksets but they are more needy when it comes to parallel BB shell faces. It's nice not having to worry about getting your spindle length right.

Press fit? No thanks! Seems like there's some pushback in the industry and I have seen a couple new "standards" that are threaded. It would be hilarious is we one day end up with a new "standard" that is a threaded cartridge BB with an integrated spindle with taper interfaces to the crank arms. Except it's proprietary and has flashy bike industry marketing. Lock-in Power Interface Bluetooth Bottom Brackets by Specialized
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Old 08-12-20, 07:28 PM
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Thank you, @Andy Antipas / sorry I was the catalyst that dragged you into this.

The question, as phrased, was/is technically an objective one as it is framed with regard to performance. Capability, grams, fine-tuning, metrics, etc. If it was couched in the subjective, then it would be more of a personal practicality question, which has been asked and answered numerous times in numerous ways. The question was also not one of necessity, which is also a subjective question. We could ask this "Which is [objectively] better?" question about late '60s muscle cars vs. today's equivalents. If, like the OP's question, there are no qualifiers outside of (implied) performace, then compared (in capability, speed, handling, safety, feel, ergonomics, mileage, etc) to today's offerings, '60s muscle car are woeful.

Compare a standard racing FW from the '70s and '80s to a modern 11-28T Dura-Ace cassette that is employed in racing. The FW is heavier, shifts less smoothly, is limited in gear range and ratios (to keep the human in their optimal RPM and effort level). The modern cassette is objectively superior in performance.
Compare a single pivot brake with a dual pivot brake.
Compare a steel frameset with a carbon frameset.

We can play this game forever. Given the same motor (person) on either era of bike, the modern one will be of noticeable advantage. This is something that data can back up along with anecdotal experiences. 5-6 lbs of weight from a bike from the '70s or '80s to today's 15 lb minimum is going to be felt in a lot of places.

If we want to talk about necessity or practicality or personal preference or what's best for a riding environment or what do you remember fondly or (subjective or objective) longevity, that is something completely different and is so subjective that there is no logically correct answer.
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Old 08-12-20, 07:40 PM
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The chain and bearing systems are basically the same technology so efficiency gains there are minimal at best. Maybe more precise machining available now.

Otherwise when I want to go fast I take my brifter carbon bike and when I want to go fast and enjoy what I enjoy out of C&V then I take one of 6 steel bikes.
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Old 08-12-20, 08:02 PM
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STI brifters are definitely better than the old DT shifters. But are 11speed STI drivetrain all that much better than 7 speed STI drivetrains? I don’t think so:
1. With the 7 speed you never have to trim. With 11 speed you do all the time.
2. 7 speed chains range from $8 to $25- and they’re tough. 11speed chains range from $25 to over $100- for a chain that’s more fragile.

Last edited by icemilkcoffee; 08-12-20 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 08-12-20, 08:14 PM
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What about them new fangled seat tube lectric moters used by some pro racers these days??!!.............
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