10 November 2013

What Will Be The Latest Diet Craze For Bike Parts?

It looks like we're about due for a wave of insane measures to save weight on bike parts.  Of course, some might argue that we are in one.  In any event, it seems that such a cycle comes every other decade. 

In my cycling life, I have witnessed two such bouts of insanity. The first came during the '70's.  Those of you who weren't into cycling (or weren't around) then probably remember other ridiculous fads like disco, droopy mustaches, pastel-colored suits and mood rings.  Well, in cycling, there was something almost as absurd:  an attempt to turn seemingly every bicycle part into a wedge of Emmentaler (or, for us Americans, a piece of Swiss cheese).

 Ah, yes, drillium.  I remember it well.  Along with it came slotted brake and shift levers.  Ironically, Campagnolo's cut-out Super Record brake levers actually weighed a few grams more than their smooth-surfaced Record levers.  A company rep said that Campy made the material thicker so to make the levers safe for slotting.

Along with grunge rock and "indie" everything (To me "indie" meant, in the '90's. more or less what "gourmet", when used as an adjective, meant in the '80's:  "pretentious".), the final decade of the 20th Century took slotting one step further.  It seemed that every kid who had an Erector Set as a kid came of age during that decade and either made bike parts or opened a "high concept" shop that sold them:

What will this decade's insane attempt to save a gram bring us?  I would argue that it already gave us one such trend:  almost everything made of carbon fiber.  Now, I can understand why racers would want a carbon fiber frame, and perhaps even a set of wheels--as long as his or her sponsor is paying for them.  But a carbon fiber seat post rack?  Any kind of rack made of that material?  The day we see a carbon fiber GPS system for bikes will be the day when, as Pere Teilhard de Chardin said about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, technology has triumphed over reason.

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