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  1. #1
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    Bicycle technology changes (road bikes, really) since the 90's

    Happened across this article when navigating the web. At first I thought it would be an interesting article. But as I read it, it became funny.

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018...-wheeled-tech/

  2. #2
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    It is funny.

    What I really don't get is how a carbon road bike can cost the same as a carbon full-suspension mountain bike. The mountain bike has way more cost-adding stuff on it like suspension parts, dropper post, beefy wheels and brakes, etc.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  3. #3
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    Love the head tube angles on those frames! And his illustrations in general, MS Paint?

    His next article:

    Computers no longer use punchcards.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  4. #4
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    Exactly what is the point of that article at all, just a personal anecdote on how technology doesn't stay the same? The fact that 400 people decided to comment on something like that, or that we're commenting on it, is astounding...

    Or maybe the point is obvious in the fact that my ad and tracker blocking plugins are well into the double digits.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    It is funny.

    What I really don't get is how a carbon road bike can cost the same as a carbon full-suspension mountain bike. The mountain bike has way more cost-adding stuff on it like suspension parts, dropper post, beefy wheels and brakes, etc.
    Most high end road bikes do not cost anywhere near what their mtb equivalents would be. There are some boutique brands that have crazy prices, but the same could be said about boutique mountain bike brands. Electronic shifting is also becoming common on high end road bikes and that really jacks up the price.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    It is funny.

    What I really don't get is how a carbon road bike can cost the same as a carbon full-suspension mountain bike. The mountain bike has way more cost-adding stuff on it like suspension parts, dropper post, beefy wheels and brakes, etc.
    My nice carbon road bike with Shimano Ultegra group set was $2,300. Which is at the low end of a full suspension mtb rather than a mid range with upper end components.

    For the really expensive road bikes I think a lot more detail goes into developing and building the carbon frame. GCN did a video on a LOOK frame and it's made up of over 400 separate cut outs of carbon layed up in a very precise way to get the ride/strength characteristics right. Instead of money going into suspension development it goes into frame design.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith View Post
    Most high end road bikes do not cost anywhere near what their mtb equivalents would be. There are some boutique brands that have crazy prices, but the same could be said about boutique mountain bike brands. Electronic shifting is also becoming common on high end road bikes and that really jacks up the price.
    The nice thing is, you can pick up a really nice older road bike and have a great bike. I have several high end steel bikes from the early 2000s, a couple of Lemond's, a couple of Gunnars and a Jamis. True, they don't have disc brakes and the cables show more. Mountain bikes that old… really outdated to say the least.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    Love the head tube angles on those frames! And his illustrations in general, MS Paint?

    His next article:

    Computers no longer use punchcards.
    That's exactly the sort of stuff that I found funny.

    Also his weird graphic of how that now, drive-side spokes connect to the freehub body, which is what the cassette cogs connect to (huh?) and that makes rear wheels stronger and prevents you from breaking axles

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith View Post
    Most high end road bikes do not cost anywhere near what their mtb equivalents would be. There are some boutique brands that have crazy prices, but the same could be said about boutique mountain bike brands. Electronic shifting is also becoming common on high end road bikes and that really jacks up the price.
    I was at the bike shop and looked over at a carbon road bike and saw that the price was pretty comparable to a carbon MTB with nice parts. I just thought that was very odd since not as much stuff goes into a road bike. It struck me as being out of whack.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    I was at the bike shop and looked over at a carbon road bike and saw that the price was pretty comparable to a carbon MTB with nice parts. I just thought that was very odd since not as much stuff goes into a road bike. It struck me as being out of whack.
    carbon mtb is not equal to a carbon road bike.

    carbon mtb (unless a top level xc racer) is generally overbuilt with pretty wide margins, whereas carbon road bikes are anything but.

  11. #11
    the discerning hooligan
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    I actually was reading about cottered cranks last night.

    Dave Moulton's Blog - Dave Moulton's Bike Blog - CotterÂ*Pins


    Just imagine those first guys on the Safety bicycles with their fancy chain drives and the crap they had to hear from the established Penny Farthing purists. Who thought the "wheel size debate" was a new thing.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    It is funny.

    What I really don't get is how a carbon road bike can cost the same as a carbon full-suspension mountain bike. The mountain bike has way more cost-adding stuff on it like suspension parts, dropper post, beefy wheels and brakes, etc.
    Lot of r&d and careful manufacture into making it light weight. Carbon mountain frames are a lot easier to design and make.

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    I mean, the article wasn't directed to a bunch of bike geeks. Still, I found his focus on freehub vs. freewheel to be kind of bizarre. Because that's kind of bike geek 101.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schulze View Post
    Lot of r&d and careful manufacture into making it light weight. Carbon mountain frames are a lot easier to design and make.
    My Emonda frame weighs roughly 1.45 lb. That frame can support a rider of 275 lb, and is stiffer in the bottom bracket than a mountain bike.

    That's some strong design, engineering and carbon, so yeah, I'd say a carbon mountain frame is far less "critical" for engineering, which means it's definitely cheaper.

  15. #15
    the discerning hooligan
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    I went back to read the article in it's entirety this morning. I'm sorry I missed Harold's point about the humor of it. I had to go back and see what else the author had written, and it turns out he's a pretty smart guy with a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology. I'm not sure he actually looked at a wheel before he went on writing about how it works.
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  16. #16
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    Read the article. I guess I also missed the joke as well.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby_rider View Post
    Read the article. I guess I also missed the joke as well.
    . It is funny that a guy with a doctorate in science would write a technical article and get almost everything wrong. The only thing that I couldn’t dispute is that the guy had bad luck with his tubeless set up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOJO K View Post
    . It is funny that a guy with a doctorate in science would write a technical article and get almost everything wrong. The only thing that I couldn’t dispute is that the guy had bad luck with his tubeless set up.
    I don't quite understand what his point is on the wheel section but what's so wrong about the frame, gear, helmet and light section? It's not technical by any means.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOJO K View Post
    . It is funny that a guy with a doctorate in science would write a technical article and get almost everything wrong. The only thing that I couldn’t dispute is that the guy had bad luck with his tubeless set up.
    If the guy had a doctorate in engineering sure, but the guy is a biologist. Doesn't surprise me at all.
    No dig no whine

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DethWshBkr View Post
    My Emonda frame weighs roughly 1.45 lb. That frame can support a rider of 275 lb, and is stiffer in the bottom bracket than a mountain bike.

    That's some strong design, engineering and carbon, so yeah, I'd say a carbon mountain frame is far less "critical" for engineering, which means it's definitely cheaper.
    Criminy! I had no idea that a bike frame could possibly be that light.

    That explains a lot.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby_rider View Post
    I don't quite understand what his point is on the wheel section but what's so wrong about the frame, gear, helmet and light section? It's not technical by any means.
    Compact geometry doesn't mean that the seat stays butt into the seat tube way below where the top tube butts into the seat tube.

    "Now, they attach to the tube that holds the seat much farther down"
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by twd953 View Post
    but the guy is a biologist. Doesn't surprise me at all.
    Not just any biologist. All the field biologists I've known have been pretty savvy and good problem solvers. I'm a biologist when it comes down to it (a field biologist/ecologist). This guy is a cell and molecular biologist - what occasionally jokingly gets referred to as a "cell smasher" (versus a "campfire biologist" - field biologist). That doesn't surprise me, but I didn't bother looking at his background.

    I'm just amused that the guy apparently likes bikes enough that he decided to write this article about bikes, and got so many fundamentals very glaringly wrong, regardless of his profession. You can just look at the outside of a rear hub to see that his sketches are hilariously incorrect. Take apart hubs that use freewheels and hubs that use freehubs sometime and you really start to see the problems with his sketches/explanations.

  23. #23
    the discerning hooligan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby_rider View Post
    I don't quite understand what his point is on the wheel section but what's so wrong about the frame, gear, helmet and light section? It's not technical by any means.
    But presented on the "arstechnica.com " website under the menu for "tech". They also have a gaming and culture section.
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  24. #24
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    It's a pretty big site not to have professional illustrations but rather allow the author to use his middle school drawing "skills" and crappy draw program (or maybe PowerPoint?) to create some really whacked up drawings. I think of scientist types as favoring exactness rather than just scribbling gross inaccuracies.

    Now I do work kind of as an illustrator so I'm sure I'm pickier than most but still, these look like something you'd find on a hobbyist's blog with a readership of 10 in a good month.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    I think of scientist types as favoring exactness rather than just scribbling gross inaccuracies.
    Good point. If I used graphics like this in my thesis defense presentation, I'd have been kicked out, I think.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Good point. If I used graphics like this in my thesis defense presentation, I'd have been kicked out, I think.
    I'd have been pelted with rocks*.









    * Let's see if anyone knows enough about me to get that.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    I'd have been pelted with rocks*.









    * Let's see if anyone knows enough about me to get that.
    you don't exactly make it a secret. still - funny.

    If you want to go that route, it probably would have been trapping scent lures in my case.

    Hell, I produced a video for my thesis presentation and seriously impressed some of my advisers because I broke away (at least a little bit) from the boring-ass powerpoint trash.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    I'd have been pelted with rocks*.









    * Let's see if anyone knows enough about me to get that.
    I seem to recall you starting a particular thread on the matter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twd953 View Post
    If the guy had a doctorate in engineering sure, but the guy is a biologist. Doesn't surprise me at all.
    Yep, science isn't just science. Life science has little crossover with physical science, and engineering or applied science frequently little crossover with physical science. I've even known some electrical engineers in abstract fields of electronics that I wouldn't let wash my car, much less change a flat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    you don't exactly make it a secret. still - funny.

    If you want to go that route, it probably would have been trapping scent lures in my case.

    Hell, I produced a video for my thesis presentation and seriously impressed some of my advisers because I broke away (at least a little bit) from the boring-ass powerpoint trash.
    Powerpoint is a scourge on humanity. In about 50% or more of cases, I'd rather the presenter eschew graphics entirely than some half-butt candy-butt ppt deck.

  31. #31
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    Wow, I had no idea they had come out with "three rings of gears by the pedals". That sounds cutting edge.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    you don't exactly make it a secret. still - funny.

    If you want to go that route, it probably would have been trapping scent lures in my case.

    Hell, I produced a video for my thesis presentation and seriously impressed some of my advisers because I broke away (at least a little bit) from the boring-ass powerpoint trash.
    I did my thesis on refined procedures for uranium/lead dating which would put everyone on this thread to sleep immediately if I described it anymore. I feel sorry for my advisers.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Not just any biologist. All the field biologists I've known have been pretty savvy and good problem solvers. I'm a biologist when it comes down to it (a field biologist/ecologist). This guy is a cell and molecular biologist - what occasionally jokingly gets referred to as a "cell smasher" (versus a "campfire biologist" - field biologist). That doesn't surprise me, but I didn't bother looking at his background.

    I'm just amused that the guy apparently likes bikes enough that he decided to write this article about bikes, and got so many fundamentals very glaringly wrong, regardless of his profession. You can just look at the outside of a rear hub to see that his sketches are hilariously incorrect. Take apart hubs that use freewheels and hubs that use freehubs sometime and you really start to see the problems with his sketches/explanations.
    Hahaha, yeah, I wasn't knocking biologists at all. My brother is a fisheries biologist, my son will be going into the same field, and my wife is also in a closely related field.

    My perspective was more that a PHD in a very specific field doesn't automatically make one an expert in another completely un-related field. It doesn't preclude it either.

    I work with a fair number of PHDs. Many of them are really brilliant people that are knowledgeable on a wide range of topics. But some of them have such a narrow focus/view point that it leads them to spectacularly wrong conclusions when they start talking about things outside of their narrow area of expertise, and they can't even conceive that they could be wrong because...you know, they have a PHD.

    I suspect the author of that article could be more of the latter type.
    No dig no whine

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by twd953 View Post
    My perspective was more that a PHD in a very specific field doesn't automatically make one an expert in another completely un-related field. It doesn't preclude it either.

    I work with a fair number of PHDs. Many of them are really brilliant people that are knowledgeable on a wide range of topics. But some of them have such a narrow focus/view point that it leads them to spectacularly wrong conclusions when they start talking about things outside of their narrow area of expertise, and they can't even conceive that they could be wrong because...you know, they have a PHD.

    I suspect the author of that article could be more of the latter type.
    I got your point. I guess mine had to do with the fact that scientists who spend a lot of time in the field or on the application side of things often have to improvise in a wide enough variety of situations that they wind up as much more well-rounded than scientists who spend their time on theory or in the lab.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I got your point. I guess mine had to do with the fact that scientists who spend a lot of time in the field or on the application side of things often have to improvise in a wide enough variety of situations that they wind up as much more well-rounded than scientists who spend their time on theory or in the lab.
    Very good observation, although I might take issue with "well-rounded." They might be excellent musicians or artists or writers or whatever, just lack mechanical aptitude or any sort of real-world ingenuity. And, of course, there are plenty of non-technically educated folks that have plenty of both.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith View Post
    Most high end road bikes do not cost anywhere near what their mtb equivalents would be. There are some boutique brands that have crazy prices, but the same could be said about boutique mountain bike brands. Electronic shifting is also becoming common on high end road bikes and that really jacks up the price.
    Sorry, I have to disagree. Top end Trek road bikes (Domane, Emonda or Madone) are nearing $12k whereas the Fuel 9.9 is in the $9k range. The same can be said for Specialized.

    Going from standard Dura Ace to Dura Ace Di2 is an $800-900 bump for the groupset.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by twd953 View Post
    My perspective was more that a PHD in a very specific field doesn't automatically make one an expert in another completely un-related field. It doesn't preclude it either.
    Going through one of the better engineering schools, I can tell you I met plenty of "educated" idiots. Some lacked any practical knowledge.

    That said, I think the guy wrote the article in a conversational fashion vs academic and it certainly was not aimed at people with the level of interest or knowledge of bike that we find here.
    Last edited by BlueCheesehead; 4 Weeks Ago at 06:05 AM.

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    I thought the article was sort of charming. Even though he gets so much wrong, he's geeking out on his bike and enjoying it apparently :P

    I'll jump into the side argument since I am here already and say that while it may not be as apparent, there have been a lot of positive technological changes for road bikes in the last 25 years. I rode a high end steel frame road bike 20 years ago, and bought a new carbon road bike last year.
    New bike is A LOT lighter, it is also stiffer where you want it to be and more compliant where you want that. Bigger tires that can run lower air pressure to grip better, PLUS they roll faster than my old bike with small tires due in large part to new rubber compounds. Carbon aero rims, aero frames are all new. Carbon anything and everything. The geometry has shifted mostly to compact like mtb has done for way longer which is a positive. Disc brakes are finally pretty standard if you want them on most any bike. DI2 shifting. Bigger cassette counts all the time like mtb.

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