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Let's Retire the Term "Gravel Grinder"

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Let's Retire the Term "Gravel Grinder"

Old 05-11-22, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
"Brifter" persists because it is short, snappy, and generic. Terminology is "sticky" so if anyone wants to retire (I could also say "cancel") a word they don't like, it's on them to come up with something that fulfills those goals even better.
Brifter persists because this sport is dominated by grey haired men who's cycling coming-of-age was during the Lance Armstrong era when a combo brake/shifter seemed like revolutionary new technology that required a snappy new marketing term. I don't know anyone under the age of 50 that says "brifter".

https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/produ...T-R8170-R.html
https://www.sram.com/en/sram/road/se...force-etap-axs

Campagnolo wrote like 4000 words on their 12sp groupset (gruppo?) here and I don't see the word "brifter" used once: https://www.campagnolo.com/US/en/Cam...rake_groupsets
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Old 05-11-22, 08:32 AM
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We should've gone with "shake lever". Would've been vastly superior to "brifter".
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Old 05-11-22, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Brifter persists because this sport is dominated by grey haired men who's cycling coming-of-age was during the Lance Armstrong era when a combo brake/shifter seemed like revolutionary new technology that required a snappy new marketing term. I don't know anyone under the age of 50 that says "brifter".
Maybe, but who cares how it came to be?

https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/produ...T-R8170-R.html
https://www.sram.com/en/sram/road/se...force-etap-axs

Campagnolo wrote like 4000 words on their 12sp groupset (gruppo?) here and I don't see the word "brifter" used once: https://www.campagnolo.com/US/en/Cam...rake_groupsets
It makes total sense for Shimano, SRAM, and Campy to use their own product names rather than a generic term, not sure why that would be confusing to anyone.
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Old 05-11-22, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
And yet, you've found several words that are actually in the English dictionary that adequately describe this part without needing any additional clarification, all while avoding the temptation to mash them together into a new made-up word....

Please tell me a one word term that specifies an integrated shifter/brake lever combo and differentiates it from a brake lever or shifter.

BTW, all words are “made up” words. That is how language works.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
If I told someone that I crashed and broke the shifter on my gravel bike, there would be zero confusion about which part I was referring to. Is there really a need to specify that my shifter also functions as a brake lever, or vice versa?

If I told someone that I crashed (while riding in the gruppeto) and broke my Campy gruppo's downtube shifter on my vintage gravel grinder whip, there would still be zero confusion about which part I was referring to.

It's time to retire "brifter", which has always been an awful term.
There would be no confusion because they assumed correctly.

If I told someone I broke the caliper on my MTB, you would correctly assume it was a disc brake.

By your logic, it is time to retire the term “disc brake”.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
There would be no confusion because they assumed correctly.

If I told someone I broke the caliper on my MTB, you would correctly assume it was a disc brake.

By your logic, it is time to retire the term “disc brake”.
No one really specifies "disc brakes" when talking about a car's brake system, do they? This used to be common when cars were sold with drum brakes still, but that hasn't been a thing for several decades. So yes, I assume at some point we will stop specifying "disc brakes" on bikes, and just start referring to them as "brakes". The same thing has happened with "radial" tires and "unleaded" gasoline.

That said, there are still loads of bikes sold with rim brakes, (which until 15-20 years ago were just called "brakes"). I'd say there's still a need to specify which type of brake system.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
If I told someone I broke the caliper on my MTB, you would correctly assume it was a disc brake.
True -- and if you said you broke the caliper on your road bike, you'd have to clarify.

Sometimes I think it's easier just to grunt and point.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by freetors
"Gilet"? It's a freakin vest.
And anyone that says "bidon" can GTFO...
I do... and may be I should GFTO.... like every single French speaker...

as for jersey, cycling tops used to be wool pull over for sports also known as ... yes, jersey
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Old 05-11-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
Please tell me a one word term that specifies an integrated shifter/brake lever combo and differentiates it from a brake lever or shifter.

BTW, all words are “made up” words. That is how language works.
In the context of drop bar bikes, the word is "shifter".

I linked product pages for Sram, Campagnolo and Shimano above - all of them call these parts "shifters", and then use marketing terms like "dual control levers" or "double tap", etc. to describe how they operate. None of them use the term "brifter".
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Old 05-11-22, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
Maybe, but who cares how it came to be?
We're 3 pages into what is clearly a tounge-in-cheek discussion about retiring cycling terms. It's pretty clear who cares, and who doesn't.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:38 AM
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The problem I have with with brifters is the implication that they are used for brifting, as in: "I was zooming down the hill, when I had to suddenly brift."

AFAIK, that's not a thing.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla
The problem I have with with brifters is the implication that they are used for brifting, as in: "I was zooming down the hill, when I had to suddenly brift."

AFAIK, that's not a thing.
Exactly. What is that? Braking and shifting at the exact same time?
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Old 05-11-22, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
We're 3 pages into what is clearly a tounge-in-cheek discussion about retiring cycling terms. It's pretty clear who cares, and who doesn't.
By that I meant, why does anyone take it so seriously?

To be frank, I kinda enjoy the term "brifter." A seven letter portmanteau to describe a distinct type of bicycle component that controls the brakes and shifts gears, all without being tied to a particular brand or model. A masterpiece of elegant simplicity.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
By that I meant, why does anyone take it so seriously?

To be frank, I kinda enjoy the term "brifter." A seven letter portmanteau to describe a distinct type of bicycle component that controls the brakes and shifts gears, all without being tied to a particular brand or model. A masterpiece of elegant simplicity.
There you go! I still hate it, but A+ for using "portmanteau".

I also which we could retire the term "podcast", much like we've generally retired the term "blogger" (or even more specific "vlogger"... which we just call YouTubers now I think, or maybe "Influencers").

OK, I'm done now.
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Old 05-11-22, 09:50 AM
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Old 05-11-22, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
If I told someone that I crashed and broke the shifter on my gravel bike, there would be zero confusion about which part I was referring to. Is there really a need to specify that my shifter also functions as a brake lever, or vice versa?
I'm not so sure. I've started seeing some flat bar gravel bikes. Pretty soon, you'll have to show them a picture of your (drop bar) gravel bike so they'll understand the shifter you broke is also your brake, or they'll wonder if you broke your brake lever too.

As you might guess, I'm one of those who thinks "brifter" is a good generic term. Say "brifter" and you don't need to specify Shimano, Campagnolo, SRAM, Microshift or whomever else makes "one of those," and you don't need to worry about what your manufacturer of choice calls the darn thing.
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Old 05-11-22, 10:16 AM
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There is little to no actual gravel where I live and it's mostly either dirt fire roads or single track. I would think a term like "all-road" might be better suited for "gravel" bikes.
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Old 05-11-22, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
In the context of drop bar bikes, the word is "shifter".

I linked product pages for Sram, Campagnolo and Shimano above - all of them call these parts "shifters", and then use marketing terms like "dual control levers" or "double tap", etc. to describe how they operate. None of them use the term "brifter".
No, “shifter” most certainly does NOT do that.

I was not aware that SRAM, Campy, and Shimano's marketing copy got to decide how we use the English language. Am I allowed to call something a bidon even though the manufacturer calls it a water bottle? Or vice versa? Is "dork disc" a no-go? Can I call something a "bash ring" when the manufacturer calls it a "bash guard"? Can I use the term "flat bar" if the manufacture calls the specific model a riser? Can I use the term "oval" for a ring that the manufacturer calls "elliptical" and vice versa?

Dual Control Lever = Brifter. One is a lot quicker to say and write. And if the term "brifter" serves no purpose (as some are indicating), why does the term "dual control lever" exist (which means the same thing, just longer)?

Last edited by Kapusta; 05-11-22 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 05-11-22, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla
The problem I have with with brifters is the implication that they are used for brifting, as in: "I was zooming down the hill, when I had to suddenly brift."

AFAIK, that's not a thing.
Kinda like sharting.... except less messy and not real.

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Old 05-11-22, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
No one really specifies "disc brakes" when talking about a car's brake system, do they? This used to be common when cars were sold with drum brakes still, but that hasn't been a thing for several decades. So yes, I assume at some point we will stop specifying "disc brakes" on bikes, and just start referring to them as "brakes". The same thing has happened with "radial" tires and "unleaded" gasoline.

That said, there are still loads of bikes sold with rim brakes, (which until 15-20 years ago were just called "brakes"). I'd say there's still a need to specify which type of brake system.
No, you do not generally have to say "disc brake" if you know the context. And you don't always have to specify shifter/brake.

But sometimes you DO have to specify the type of brake, thus there are different names for them..... and sometimes you DO have to specify the type of shifter, thus there are different names for them.

That's the thing about language. It is often contextual. If one is an a context where it might not be clear what sort of shifters you have, "brifters" clears that up.

New words are added to vocabulary when they have a use such as streamlining communication or adding clarity. Folks can accept that or they can yell at the clouds.
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Old 05-11-22, 10:53 AM
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Since the advent of tubeless tires, I've wanted a term for a tire with a tube in it.

Tubeful? Tubire?
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Old 05-11-22, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Fentuz
I do... and may be I should GFTO.... like every single French speaker...

as for jersey, cycling tops used to be wool pull over for sports also known as ... yes, jersey
You get a pass because you live under the Queen's rule.
- If anyone from Iowa ever said 'bidon', I would stare thru them in disgust with the heat of a million suns.
- If someone with a British accent asked me to pass them their bidon, I would view it as novel and happily pass it. Later, I would try to impress them with my British accent, which is really just an offensive mix of Cockney, Scottish, Aussie, and sometimes Mexican because I am terrible with accents. They would then leave with a terrible and accurate impression of Iowa and Americans in general.
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Old 05-11-22, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla
Since the advent of tubeless tires, I've wanted a term for a tire with a tube in it.

Tubeful? Tubire?
I call it a bladder tire system, or BTS. Sounds more technical than "inner tube".
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Old 05-11-22, 11:32 AM
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Finally, I get to use "po-faced"! As in, po-faced campaigns to eliminate usages and practices that trigger some and elicit bemused puzzlement in others - e.g., referring to brake/shifter combinations as brifters, indicating right turns on a bike with the right hand, etc.

The late Sheldon Brown pushed relentlessly for years to replace the inoffensive term "derailleur" with the much more obscure (and, to me, well-nigh appalling) spelling "derailer." But, given that English is now the lingua franca worldwide, we Anglophones can surely tolerate a few French spellings.
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Old 05-11-22, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
You get a pass because you live under the Queen's rule.
dual nationality however British accent is still very Gallic unfortunately
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