Yes, it is an entirely different market, and I think it was mountain bikes that transformed it. It is striking how many European teams ride American frames, or more often Chinese/Taiwanese frames marketed by American companies. Most of these companies started out making mountain bikes, which for a few years seemed that they would totally eliminate road bikes from the market. In those years many traditional road bike or road component manufacturers disappeared, while the new mountain bike guys prospered. When the market for road bikes rebounded, many of the traditional manufacturers were gone and the mountain bike guys started building road models to fill the void. Of course a few companies like Shimano managed to make the transition from road to mountain components, mantaining road models and ramping up production again when demand rebounded. Ou course it helped that Shimano did not depend on bike components for survival, as they make lots of other products, including some of the best selling fishing tackle.
Jerry Moos Big Spring, TX
Harvey Sachs <email@example.com> wrote: 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.