However, I would prefer it if the new ideas and equipment actually worked, or in case of hydraulic rim brakes, didn't work, before they were attached to peoples bicycles. The results of my hastily assembled flimsy research have thrown up a couple observations I’d like to share with you. Thus, and quite literally, viz…
Riding in Majorca this year we came across a young German feller standing at the side of the road with a grim look of consternation on his face and a couple of dents in his virtual Teutonic armour. He was holding a very nice looking expensive carbon bike with carbon wheels on carbon hubs, carbon tyres and a carbon saddle with carbon sprinkles. Despite all this carboness, neither he nor the bike where moving anywhere. We gathered he was testing the proto-type ‘Kaput Shizer’ version of Shimano’s Di2 Dura Ace groupset and, for reasons unknown, it has gone into error mode. We asked if we could do anything to help, he looked wistfully at his broken bike like he was witnessing the last moments of life of his faithful Alsatian dog and said ‘there is nothing anybody can do now’. Thankfully, his trainer (in a team car) and team mates appeared to rescue him. Being British, we were slightly wary of a load of mechanised Germans in uniform swarming over a foreign mountain so we moved on.
A day later, rolling gently down the Coll de Soller (I won’t call in descending, it wouldn’t be fair) we came across another rider carrying his bike UP the mountain. Same problem but no team car this time. Heaven only knows what he was going to do when he got to the top, there’s nothing there other than a lovely view. Presumably he was going to carry it down the other side.
Campagnolo electronic system will work better of course. Anybody who has ever owned products manufactured by Alfa Romeo, Moto Morini, Moto Guzzi or Fiat will testify to the reliability of Italian electronics. In the rain.
I foresee different problems on a comparable scale to Die2 and EPS with hydraulic disc and rim brakes for road bikes so big thanks to SRAM for coming up with this particular piece of genius level thinking. Never, not once, ever, have I finished either a training ride or a race and had somebody tell me the whole experience would have been improved if they could lock their wheels up with just the touch of a finger. Never. Ever.
One of the things that makes bunch riding safe(ish) is that nobody can slow down quicker than anybody else. On the track (no brakes) everybody has to use their legs to slow down, on the road, rim brakes are capable of scrubbing off enough speed but pretty much everybody has the same stopping power. Try it, put one guy on a track with brakes and see if you fancy riding in the bunch with him. Alternatively, put one nicely inexperience rider in the local road race league with hydraulic brakes and ride behind him. In the wet. Go on, dare ya. You’d better just hope he’s riding with an electronic groupset and his battery has gone flat.
I suspect much of my bitterness comes from resisting the temptation to go for Campagnolo 11 speed a few years ago as it would have meant I’d have 8,9,10 AND 11 speed non compatible componentry. I made the sensible decision to go for SRAM/Shimano 10 speed on everything. So now I look like a complete chump so thank you, thanks a lot.
I know component manufacturers have to come up with new shit to flog us but it has to make sense, right? What’s next? Servo assisted remote controlled braking and gear shifting? Now that does sounds like fun.
Rich Smith is bitter, twisted and old. He is also the author of the potential No1. best seller ReCycled. Not available in good book stores but definitely available via Amazon for a quid or so...