[CR]Paradox and Variety, was top 10 improvements


Example: Framebuilders:Jack Taylor

Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 21:11:11 -0400
From: Harvey Sachs <hmsachs@verizon.net>
To: Classic Rendezvous <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR]Paradox and Variety, was top 10 improvements

Or called something like that. I stayed out of the debate on "improvements" suggested by a Tour pundit, but I got to thinking about the question while riding to work today (on my '78 A-D Vent Noir, a nice ride).

what strikes me is a paradox.

On the one hand, the number of more-or-less mainstream manufacturers seems to have shrunk in the past 45 years (since I got my first 10-speed). both Bikes and parts. Yes, there are new companies (at least to us) with good shares (Shimano, Avid, Sram), but a lot got swept away (Mafac, Cyclo (both), Huret, Simplex, "real" Weinmann, Altenburger,... Balilla, Ideale, etc.) Folks whose stuff used to come on factory bikes.

On the other hand, the market offers much more apparent variety. My mind was boggled one day when I skimmed a Cannondale catalogue's variety of niche bike types, and thought back to the slim variety from Schwinn or Raleigh in the late 60s. We've "invented" (fads like?) mountain bikes (in many specialized flavors), hybrids, and "Tri" bikes; and reinvented city bikes and cruisers. How many different grades of parts does ShimaNO offer to differentiate the market? And frame materials. Used to be that you had the choice of steel or gas pipe. Now you can get a few other materials (!), sometimes mixed in the same frameset. Back then, you chose rubber pedal surfaces or metal; now we've added multiple incompatible clipless systems.

I'm not sure how much of this represents real (engineering), vs. novelty-seeking marketing. I love vintage bikes, and have virtually no modern ones. I've never ridden most of the new frame materials.

But, I am struck, as an outsider looking around bike shops occasionally, at how much difference there is.

We return now to our regular programming.

harvey sachs
mcLean va.