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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Change? Or Stay static?

Finally Shimano has revealed their 10 speed catch up game to SRAM XX in the form of the new 10 speed DYna-Sys. Of course SRAM was not too far behind to reveal their new 2011 10 spd lineup of their XO and X9. If you are going to read on, no, this is not another one of those cut and paste article of how good they are.

Rather what one should do to keep from changing/upgrading (especially if you own alot of bikes and are not subscribing to the hypes)

I for one don't. Any rider with experience worth his/her salt would be able to figure out from the gear ratios that it really is nothing to talk about. With 9 speed cassette sporting 36t and aftermarket offering different size chainrings apart from the usual default standards. What's this hype on bigger cogs and rings!

The only problem is that sooner or later most people will have to change.

The first targeted group are those that think in line with these big boys and truly believe what's new is really better. A minority may benefit from it but it really wouldn't bring heaps of benefit to the majority.

Second will be the folks that can afford and not really care about the $$ they spend on their bikes

Slowly, if there are no major issues, by phasing out the older models and making consumables like chains, cassettes and rings harder to get, more people will have to "upgrade". Of course its not lost on them that new bikes should all come specced out with the latest drivetrain.

Development into these older generations would also cease. So anything that makes a bike run smoother or shifter quicker will only be found on new parts which just amplifies the idea that these new components are really better. Really?

Its a rather simple strategy that's not limited to the biking world. Just look at computers! How many people really need the kind of computing power in the latest offerings? Only problem is that if you need to replace your old SODIMM ram, good luck finding it. Any that you find is likely more expensive than the newest ones that runs at demonic speed but incompatible with your motherboard. Only problem is that pricing in new computer aren't like bike components which generally spells higher for new products.

I seen the same thing like this coming even when 7 speed went to 8 and eventually to 9 speed. No big deal back then as all I had would only be 1 bike in the 7 and 8 speed days. Moreover there are certain important changes that a 7 speed would truly be lacking in today's kind of riding style with all the changes in frame design. 8 speed in my opinion is more than sufficient in many applications. All that is needed are really wider range cassettes.

But this time around things are different for me. One rainy afternoon in late 2007, I started dreading while doing some maintenance started and counting the number of bikes in the house. Did what I thought was best and adopted the   "Simplify, Maintain and Hoard" strategy

Simplify-- Using minimum models or at least things that are compatible across different bikes. Not all bikes will have equal ride time so theoretically some parts would last much longer with proper maintenance. In the event that something breaks-- replacement is just a bike away. All 26" wheel bikes I have are on the 2008 XT which really is one of those rare times when they made the XT better over the XTR compared year on year when new models are released. It helps too that I have started to ride singlespeed then at every possible chance, I make all my hardtails into "hot swappable" geared or SS bikes. On those days where something breaks on a drivetrain and I really have no parts, that bike will just go back to SS mode!

Maintenance...people tend to skimp on maintenance. While some recommended schedules on certain parts are really overkill but parts that undergo lots of wear and tear should really be looked into more frequently. Can't stress enough on chains that should be changed, otherwise spending on cassettes and cranks at the same time would be really expensive.

Hoard-- If something is going obsolete, there is usually a phase where they will be thrown out on clearance sales on top of the usual year end osales in major online stores. So whenever I find a good deal, I just hoard up these drivetrain parts and stuff like brake pads. For the minority like me that uses what 99.9% of the world will not use-- Dual Control Levers, don't pass up when a brand new pair of XT 770 series can be had for under 100 bucks

Drivetrain consumables are only a part of the equation. Lookout for things that will have to interface with the drivetrain on other parts on the bike or the frame itself. The first that comes to mind is the cassette freebody. Luckily from 8 to 10 speed all of them work on the same standards. Nothing was mentioned about the new Dyna Sys not being compatible with existing cassette freebody (and I guess they have to make the new drivetrains work with the existing standard on all modern hubs as it will be too much work to get everyone to comply to a new standard since there are literally tons of hubs manufacturers).

Lastly, not being a weight weenie helps a lot. Why?
Well, the problem I observed is that they narrow themselves down, for example chains, they will not "downgrade" themselves to use a cheaper, heavier one on their tricked out XTR or XO drivetrain. Me? Just the other way around, I have been steadily letting the weight on my bikes creep up. Without going to the point of being ridiculously heavy, a bike with weight evenly distributed is more important than saving a few lousy grams.

So looking at my boxes of stuff, that has in them 6 new cassettes, 14 new chains...what am I gonna do?
Buy more essentials when they are on sale.

The savings from not changing? Good question! There are parts that when upgraded will truly improve your riding experience. Or simply because some of the older components are not up to par anymore. Things like old handlebars and some stems should be changed periodically. A new fork could kick up a notch on the performance on your bike (check the max height recommended by your frame manufacturer before coming home with the latest longest travel fork!)

More saving tips the next time.


  1. Nobody post comment???

    K I sarpok you!

    Fully agree on the maintanence and Hoarding portion.

    Then again, older parts seem to last much longer. I have a perfectly working set of Deore DX 7 speed group.

    I also have some 2001 components still running well that are a mixture of 8 and 9 speeds.

    My commuting Birdy bike runs the 8 speed alivio, sure shifting isn't as crisp but that supposed POS seems to last longer than XTR (i wonder why).

    Yes, I'm hoarding 8 and 9 speed chains right now.

    If you need chainrings, has plenty of customizations available.

  2. Ha thanks for the support. I love my old XT 7 and 8 speed. Lovely stuff. Yup I got a couple of rings from Vuelta. But what's really needed are thick thick single speed non ramped rings 54, 55, 56 and 57 tooth for my SS bikes.