Lately I've been feeling a little worn by all the new crap coming out in the bicycle industry. I think a part of it is that as I get older, I'm trying to hold onto the simplicity of my cycling youth. I think back sometimes about my old steel Barracuda A2R, a Tange steel frame with a Rock Shox Judy fork and Shimano XT components. There was something pure and innocent about that bike, not sure if it was how it rode or that everything on it was industry standard.
There is a term that gets tossed around way too much these days, Industry Standard. The truth is that we have a total lack of standards right now. With enough hub, bottom bracket, and headtube "standards" out there to make you puke its easy to get lost in the technical mumbo jumbo of these "innovations" that are supposed to make your ride better. All the marketing for the new stuff makes it seem like we all barely survived riding our 26" hardtails out in the rough cut backcountry trails of yesterday. You really don't need 140mm of suspension for that rock garden , we all used our old bone shakers to ride it years ago without much issue. Its a damn scam I tell ya.
Bottom brackets - Holy shit, the recent (read: 3-4 years ago) move from a standard bsa threaded bb shell to the press fit system is the biggest crock of shit I've ever seen. The old bsa bb was a standard on bicycles for many decades, all you really needed to know was 68 or 73mm shell and spindle width for chainline. The X-type (external bearing cup) bb was the best of the best, a system I still use on all my bikes (because it fucking works wonderfully). Then someone went and fixed what wasn't broken and came up with the "stiffer, lighter, stronger, cheaper" pressfit system. I've owned one bike with a pressfit bb and it creaked and moaned all day. I tried grease, torque, complete re-installation, all to no avail. Truth of the matter is that its cheaper for a bike manufacturer to ream a hole for a pressfit install than to thread a shell then chase it after welding. In the last few days the all new T47 system has been all the talk about how it will fix all the PF30 issues. Guess how? With threads in the bb shell. Holy fuck! Talk about coming full circle and fixing a problem that didn't exist in the first place. Maybe soon they will come out with an "all new" square taper crank interface! Imagine that!
Hubs - Once upon a time all mountain bikes had 100mm QR front hubs and 135mm QR rears (130 on old 7 speed mountain bikes). These days you can have your pick from the good old 135mm all the way to 197 through axle hubs. I understand that fat bikes need big hubs, but the recent "Boost 148" hub is a joke. We already have a 142mm thru-axle system but the new 148 claims to be stiffer, lighter, blah blah blah. The Boost 110mm front hub is super amazing and stiff too, but we already had 110mm thru-axle hubs that existed for decades in the form of 110mm x 20, which was obviously too heavy so they made it 110 x 15. Yeah, thats better. More of what is old is new again.
Headtubes and steerers - Use to be 1.125" was the go to size. Now its 1.5" tapered to 1.125", and Cannondale was ahead of the game with their 1" 9/16ths steerer on the Headshok product since the late '90s. These days you have to buy headsets in two parts, uppers and lowers. You use to be able to just choose a nice 1.125" headset and go, now you need to do NASA level math calculations to combo up a headset suitable for you current bike.
Maybe I'm just being an old retro-grouch (which is entirely possible) but I feel like the golden age of mountain bikes has passed us by and bikes are now built without soul like they once were. Bikes use to have kickass names like Avalanche, Pantera, Alien, Hammer, Blizzard, Attitude..... now its all boring shit like XXXwhateverXXX 7.5 and the XXXblah BlahXXX 9.3. Bikes also use to be made from steel tubing, not that plastic shit they are now, and had a lively feel unlike the dead feeling carbon bikes of today. I still like my 4130 Cro-mo frames, my plain jane threaded bottom bracket, my quick release skewers, and tubes in tires. Its impossible to buy a bike like that now, unless I go for a custom built frame.
I guess I'm just trying to hang onto the good old days, but as Bob Dylan says "The Times They Are A Changin'". So retro-grouch me up. And while I'm in a bitching mood, get the fuck off my lawn.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.