Improved technology?



C

Chris Hansen

Guest
Hello,

I've talked to several people who have talked about how
bicycle technology has improved in the last 10-15 years. I
realize that mountain bikes have come a long way and that
shifters and brakes on road bikes are fancier now but it was
also mentioned that drivetrain components and wheels and
stuff are a lot better. I was just wondering what that means
by being a lot better, what has changed? In terms of rolling
resistance, is it worth upgrading wheels or tires if the
ones you have are still in good shape? I keep wondering if
the new stuff is really that much better?

Thanks.
 
L

Luigi De Guzman

Guest
On 6 Mar 2004 13:01:03 -0800, [email protected] (Chris Hansen)
wrote:

>Hello,
>
>I've talked to several people who have talked about how
>bicycle technology has improved in the last 10-15 years. I
>realize that mountain bikes have come a long way and that
>shifters and brakes on road bikes are fancier now but it
>was also mentioned that drivetrain components and wheels
>and stuff are a lot better. I was just wondering what that
>means by being a lot better, what has changed? In terms of
>rolling resistance, is it worth upgrading wheels or tires
>if the ones you have are still in good shape? I keep
>wondering if the new stuff is really that much better?

If you're only replacing your tyres now, after 10 years,
then you either have bombproof tyres or dont' ride enough!

<VBG>

-Luigi
 
T

Tom Kunich

Guest
More gears, easier and more accurate shifting. Slightly
better brakes. This is a hell of a lot better than the older
stuff, but it really isn't a large change.

"Chris Hansen" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> Hello,
>
> I've talked to several people who have talked about how
> bicycle technology has improved in the last 10-15 years. I
> realize that mountain bikes have come a long way and that
> shifters and brakes on road bikes are fancier now but it
> was also mentioned that drivetrain components and wheels
> and stuff are a lot better. I was just wondering what that
> means by being a lot better, what has changed? In terms of
> rolling resistance, is it worth upgrading wheels or tires
> if the ones you have are still in good shape? I keep
> wondering if the new stuff is really that much better?
>
> Thanks.
 
E

Eric S. Sande

Guest
>More gears, easier and more accurate shifting. Slightly
>better brakes. This is a hell of a lot better than the
>older stuff, but it really isn't a large change.

How can a hell of a lot better be equal to not a large
change?

We both know it isn't significant.

--

_______________________ALL AMIGA IN MY
MIND_______________________ ------------------"Buddy Holly,
the Texas Elvis"------------------ __________306.350.357.38-
>>[email protected]__________
 
K

Ken

Guest
[email protected] (Chris Hansen) wrote in
news:[email protected]:
> road bikes are fancier now but it was also mentioned that
> drivetrain components and wheels and stuff are a lot
> better. I was just wondering what that means by being a
> lot better, what has changed?

Compared to 15 years ago, components are significantly
lighter weight today. Back then, only high end bikes were in
the 20 pound range. Today, some mid- range bikes are down to
17 pounds and high end bikes are around 15 pounds. Dropping
5 pounds from your bike will give you very noticable
improvements in acceleration, climbing, and responsiveness.
 
D

Dan Daniel

Guest
On 6 Mar 2004 13:01:03 -0800, [email protected] (Chris Hansen)
wrote:

>Hello,
>
>I've talked to several people who have talked about how
>bicycle technology has improved in the last 10-15 years. I
>realize that mountain bikes have come a long way and that
>shifters and brakes on road bikes are fancier now but it
>was also mentioned that drivetrain components and wheels
>and stuff are a lot better. I was just wondering what that
>means by being a lot better, what has changed? In terms of
>rolling resistance, is it worth upgrading wheels or tires
>if the ones you have are still in good shape? I keep
>wondering if the new stuff is really that much better?
>
>Thanks.

I think that you need to clarify what you are doing with the
bike in the first place. Professional road racers, for
example, will be hesitant to use new technology if it won't
improve their performance, and probably wouldn't use
anything that hurts their performance (yes, I bet they all
have their price...).

Mountain bikers have been subjected to a series of
improvements based on new technology. It's a relatively
young field, so having improvements in the first decade or
more makes sense for any new technology.

And then some of it is crossover stuff. V-brakes are
probably a good example. They did have a purpose and
answered a problem on rear suspension bikes. I'm not
certain, but I can see that setting up V-brakes would be a
touch faster than setting up cantilever brakes. In a
factory, 5 seconds saved per operation can add up to a lot
of money. As long as you get it so the V-brakes don't throw
everyone over their handlebars, they were probably adapted
to mass-marketed bikes because they saved manufacturers
money and didn't create hazards. Much easier to have only
one style, one operation to train for, in a factory.

There are some concrete improvements over the years. I
haven't used brifters to any great degree, but many
people love them, and I can see why. V-brakes? I don't
see the need. Yes, they are different, but not better for
my purposes.

And in a very simple sense, a company needs to sell goods to
survive over the years. Selling parts for bicycles that will
wear out and fail is downright dangerous, and expensive from
the lawsuits. So they have to generate new sales in other
ways. New eye candy, new (although not improved) design for
components, new colors.... And count on people with
disposable income and low self-confidence and immature ego
states to keep them in business.

If I had the latest, greatest, most efficient equipment, I
think that I could appreciate the difference and consider
much of it improved. When it comes to bikes, though, I am
content with second or third generation technology. That's
my choice. And since I do not race and do not spend time
with people who compare and judge equipment every day or
week, I am content to stay where I am.

Enjoy the ride. If the equipment helps you enjoy riding in
the manner you want to ride, then it is good. That's my
criteria for buying new equipment- when something is
hindering my enjoyment of riding, I will see if new (or
used) equipment would change this.

In the end, that is what counts- are you getting what you
want out of what you have? If not, explore whether that is
because of limits of the equipment or limits of you. My aim
is to get on my bike and not give a flying f*** about the
equipment, not notice it, not worry about it, etc. When I
don't even think about the equipment on my bike, I have it
set up perfectly.
 
P

Pete

Guest
"Ken" <[email protected]> wrote

> Compared to 15 years ago, components are significantly
> lighter weight
today.
> Back then, only high end bikes were in the 20 pound range.
> Today, some
mid-
> range bikes are down to 17 pounds and high end bikes are
> around 15 pounds. Dropping 5 pounds from your bike will
> give you very noticable improvements
in
> acceleration, climbing, and responsiveness.

Is that just better, repeatable, cheaper, machining?

Pete
 
C

Chris Hansen

Guest
> If you're only replacing your tyres now, after 10 years,
> then you either have bombproof tyres or dont' ride enough!
>

Actually I just got the bike from an extended family member.
They don't look that old but they look just like the tires I
remember from my youth.
 
L

Luigi De Guzman

Guest
On 6 Mar 2004 19:58:13 -0800, [email protected] (Chris Hansen)
wrote:

>> If you're only replacing your tyres now, after 10 years,
>> then you either have bombproof tyres or dont' ride
>> enough!
>>
>
>Actually I just got the bike from an extended family
>member. They don't look that old but they look just like
>the tires I remember from my youth.

more to the point of your original post:

If the bicycle has been hanging on a hook for ten years and
not ridden, you can be fairly sure the tires have rotted. No
mechanical failure in cycling sucks nearly as hard as a
blowout; there's no remedy for it. Punctures can be
patched...blowouts can be booted, but only if they're small
and well-behaved. The most frustrating thing is that these
can be prevented by foresight....

...and foresight may mean a new set of tires.

You haven't mentioned what sort of riding you intend to do
with the bike, or described the bike all that fully--we can
be far more helpful if you do.

If you want to ride on the street, it's a simple matter of
popping into your local bikeshop and buying a pair of slick
tires. The difference will amaze you--slick tires on
pavement deliver less rolling resistance, feel faster, and
generally feel better. They do pretty well on hard-packed
dirt. They're all right in gravel. They suck if you intend
to ride mud, though.

-Luigi
 
T

Tom Keats

Guest
In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] (Chris Hansen) writes:

> but it was also mentioned that drivetrain components and
> wheels and stuff are a lot better. I was just wondering
> what that means by being a lot better, what has changed?

I wonder if they were referring to freehubs/cassettes
deprecating the older screw-on freewheels.

I hear freehub axles are less prone to bending or
breaking. If that's so, I guess I could use an updated
wheelset, myself.

cheers, Tom

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K

Ken

Guest
"Pete" <[email protected]> wrote in news:[email protected]:
>> Compared to 15 years ago, components are significantly
>> lighter weight
> today.
>> Back then, only high end bikes were in the 20 pound
>> range. Today, some
> mid-
>> range bikes are down to 17 pounds and high end bikes are
>> around 15 pounds. Dropping 5 pounds from your bike will
>> give you very noticable improvements
> in
>> acceleration, climbing, and responsiveness.
>
> Is that just better, repeatable, cheaper, machining?

There have been significant changes in materials and/or
design of selected components that have caused large weight
losses, e.g., wheels, saddles, forks, and frames.
 
T

Terry Morse

Guest
Kenwrote:

> There have been significant changes in materials and/or
> design of selected components that have caused large
> weight losses, e.g., wheels, saddles, forks, and frames.

and wallets. Mine feels a lot lighter than before all these
innovations.
 
M

Mike Kruger

Guest
"Chris Hansen" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
>
> In terms of rolling resistance, is it worth upgrading
> wheels or tires if the ones you have are still in good
> shape? I keep wondering if the new stuff is really that
> much better?
>
Tires are irrelevant, because no matter how old the bike the
tires won't be more than a few years old, or they will have
deteriorated too badly for use.

I'd be very surprised if there was any real difference in
wheel technology that would matter to anyone not doing
serious racing. It's possible that the bike you have has low
quality wheels, and upgrading the wheels might have some
benefit (e.g. fewer spokes broken, if you are a big guy).
But if you replaced the wheels with new, low quality wheels
there's no benefit.
 
C

Chris Hansen

Guest
> You haven't mentioned what sort of riding you intend to do
> with the bike, or described the bike all that fully--we
> can be far more helpful if you do.
>

Oh, sorry.

It's a Schwinn LeTour, I think about 10 or 15 years old.
CroMoly frame, index shifting, 27 inch wheels. It looks like
it has alloy wheels, I don't think they're original. It
looks like it's pretty solid but needs a lot of cleaning,
lubing, adjustment, etc.

I plan to use it for commuting this summer and I'd like to
take it on the MS 150 in June.
 
F

Frkrygow

Guest
Chris Hansen wrote:
> Hello,
>
> I've talked to several people who have talked about how
> bicycle technology has improved in the last 10-15 years. I
> realize that mountain bikes have come a long way and that
> shifters and brakes on road bikes are fancier now but it
> was also mentioned that drivetrain components and wheels
> and stuff are a lot better. I was just wondering what that
> means by being a lot better, what has changed? In terms of
> rolling resistance, is it worth upgrading wheels or tires
> if the ones you have are still in good shape? I keep
> wondering if the new stuff is really that much better?

[... and later ...]

"It's a Schwinn LeTour, I think about 10 or 15 years old.
CroMoly frame, index shifting, 27 inch wheels. It looks like
it has alloy wheels, I don't think they're original. It
looks like it's pretty solid but needs a lot of cleaning,
lubing, adjustment, etc.

I plan to use it for commuting this summer and I'd like to
take it on the MS 150 in June."

------------------------------------------------------
----------

My impression of the Schwinn Le Tour is that it was a good,
solid bike with very reliable medium-grade equipment.
Nothing fragile, but by the same token, nothing super-light.
It's the kind of bike that will last pretty much forever.

"Significant" improvements? Well, index shifting replaced
friction shifting - but you've got that.

Cassette rear cogs replaced freewheels. That makes it easier
to replace worn cogs, and makes your rear axle a bit
stronger, but it's no big thing.

Triple cranks are more common. That's a big improvement if
your hills are bad enough.

Pedals became "clipless" which most people like, but you can
add those easily. (I've never bothered.)

Saddles have grown holes. Lots of people find those more
comfortable, but it's a very individual thing.

Brakes went from requiring three fingers for a panic stop,
to allowing only one finger to throw you over the
handlebars. I see no advantage there.

Handlebar stems and headsets went from slow-assembly, very
adjustable to fast-assembly, less adjustable. Here, we
sometimes argue about whether that's an advantage.

Shifters went from simple devices mounted on the frame (or
handlebar ends) to unrepairably complex devices built into
the brake levers. We argue about those, too.

Metallurgy got better, and manufacturing techniques got
better, so frames, handlebars, seats, all got a bit lighter.
That's nice, but not usually significant (see below). In
some cases, those parts became "stupid light," meaning
you're expected to replace them just before they break, and
you're expected to know when that will be. Either that, or
just buy a new one when the old one's no longer fashionable,
to be "safe." That's detrimental.

Most other changes (like increased gear count, or arcane
changes in chain design) are not very significant.

Regarding weight: A lighter bike will make it a little
easier to climb hills faster, and easier to keep up with the
pack of racers in a sudden sprint. But in most cases, it
won't make any significant difference in your commuting
time, and it won't make you any more comfortable at the end
of the MS 150.

I'd say make sure the bike fits your properly. That's more
important than anything. And check the wheel rims with a
magnet, to be sure they're not steel, because steel rims
cause terrible braking in the rain. If they're aluminum,
they're fine.

Replace the tires. Slicks really are better. Replace the
brake shoes. "Cool Stop" brand is best. Give it a complete
tune up, including truing the wheels.

Then ride. The more you ride, the better your bike
will perform.

--
Frank Krygowski [To reply, omit what's between "at" and
"cc"]
 
M

Mike Kruger

Guest
"Chris Hansen" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> >
> > You haven't mentioned what sort of riding you intend to
> > do with the bike, or described the bike all that fully--
> > we can be far more helpful if you do.
>
> It's a Schwinn LeTour, I think about 10 or 15 years old.
> CroMoly frame, index shifting, 27 inch wheels. It looks
> like it has alloy wheels, I don't think they're original.
> It looks like it's pretty solid but needs a lot of
> cleaning, lubing, adjustment, etc.
>
> I plan to use it for commuting this summer and I'd like to
> take it on the MS 150 in June.

Frank's post has a lot of good info. You might be interested
in my experience with a Schwinn Super LeTour, 1976, which I
bought last year. This was a model or two up from the
LeTour, but also older.

It was a busy early spring, so I had the following work done
at my LBS. I'm a regular customer, and it was still the late-
winter doldrums, so I think I got a pretty fair deal.

Everything rubber was replaced: tires, tubes, cable housing
and cables, brake hoods, handlebar tape. Everything was
overhauled (i.e. bearings in wheels, headset, bottom bracket
cleaned, ball bearings replaced, regreased). This cost about
$100 for parts and $100 for labor.

The bike rides very nicely. But this was basically a bike
that hadn't been ridden much at all in its past life.

I also have a Schwinn Sprint from about 1979/1980. This was
a rummage sale bike; it's rusted so I can't get one of the
pedals off and can't get the headset apart. OTOH, it makes a
very nice commuter bike in flat Chicago (where I've done
centuries without changing gears). I've done RAGBRAI on this
bike, and a 680 mile solo tour.

If you are commuting and have to park/lock the bike outside,
and if the bike fits, an old LeTour might be just the
ticket. Certainly, assuming it fits, it will make a nice
commuter bike assuming road geometry is what you want
(rather than, say, a hybrid.). In other words, think about
the length of your commute and the security of the place
where you will park it; these are big considerations in the
old bike / new bike discussion.
 
D

David Kerber

Guest
In article
<[email protected]>,
[email protected] says...
> >
> > You haven't mentioned what sort of riding you intend to
> > do with the bike, or described the bike all that fully--
> > we can be far more helpful if you do.
> >
>
> Oh, sorry.
>
> It's a Schwinn LeTour, I think about 10 or 15 years old.
> CroMoly frame, index shifting, 27 inch wheels. It looks
> like it has alloy wheels, I don't think they're original.
> It looks like it's pretty solid but needs a lot of
> cleaning, lubing, adjustment, etc.

I've got a LeTour 25 years old (1979 model), which was my
only ride until last year, and it's still going strong;
everything original except for the tires. They have a
reputation of being quite indestructible with even
minimal care.

> I plan to use it for commuting this summer and I'd like to
> take it on the MS 150 in June.

What's the gearing on it?

--
Dave Kerber Fight spam: remove the ns_ from the return
address before replying!

REAL programmers write self-modifying code.
 
C

Curtis L . Russ

Guest
On Sat, 06 Mar 2004 19:44:12 -0500, "Eric S. Sande" <[email protected]>
wrote:

>
>How can a hell of a lot better be equal to not a
>large change?
>
>We both know it isn't significant.

Biggest change IMO? A reliable seven speed internal hub for
commuting, especially on folders (no chain line issues in
folding/unfolding). Technologically speaking, I find my
wife's Breezer 7 more pleasing than my Bike Friday Metro.
And the internal 7's now are a bunch better than the 3-5's
that I used to work on (damn adjustment chains and two
billion internal spacers).

OTOH, I could have had a Breezer and decided playing with
the chain and the external 7 was a price worth paying for
the Metro. Maybe it was the red color...

Curtis L. Russell Odenton, MD (USA) Just someone on
two wheels...
 
P

Peter Cole

Guest
"David Kerber" <[email protected]_ids.net> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In article
> <[email protected]>,
> [email protected] says...
> > >
> > It's a Schwinn LeTour, I think about 10 or 15 years old.
> > CroMoly frame, index shifting, 27 inch wheels. It looks
> > like it has alloy wheels, I don't think they're
> > original. It looks like it's pretty solid but needs a
> > lot of cleaning, lubing, adjustment, etc.
>
> I've got a LeTour 25 years old (1979 model), which was my
> only ride until last year, and it's still going strong;
> everything original except for the tires. They have a
> reputation of being quite indestructible with even
> minimal care.

Wow, all these Le Tours. I bought one ("Deluxe"!) a couple
of years ago at a bike swap, mostly because it was a hard-to-
find 27" frame. Mine had really never been ridden, no wear
on the brake tracks. It even had the owner's manual!

First thing that had to go was those funky stem shifters. Of
the innovations over the past decades, I think indexed
shifting is a major improvement. I don't care about what
kind of shifters, as long as they're indexed. Changing the
shifters then brings another decision point: stick with the
original freewheel, or upgrade to a freehub. I'm big (235),
and have a tendency to break rear axles, so a freehub is a
major benefit. The old wheels on my Le Tour weren't bad
quality, but not worth re-hub-ing. I got a better set with
freehub'ed rear for ~$100. Wheels are probably the most
critical component affecting reliability, I'd rather not do
long rides in the boonies with wheels of that
vintage/quality, anyway.

I put 8-speed bar-end shifters, and a matching cassette,
mostly because 8-speed is much cheaper than 9-speed these
days. Rather than just cleaning and re-lubing the bottom
bracket, I just threw it away & put in a modern cartridge
one. I kept the original handlebars, stem and brake levers,
although I removed the "turkey wing" inner extensions.
Modern brake levers are much nicer, both because of cable
routing and more comfortable hoods, but the old ones are
serviceable, I sawed the turkey wing stud almost flush &
wrapped the brake lever body with a couple of turns of split
inner tube, followed by bar tape.

After replacing the saddle, seatpost, pedals (clipless
pedals are the other great innovation of the past decades)
and rear derailer (boat anchor), the bike got considerably
lighter. Like most of these projects, it became kind of a
"stone soup" bike, with almost nothing left of the original
but frame and fork. That's kind of the way it always goes.
The new stuff is (mostly) much better than the old, and once
you start upgrading there's no logical place to stop. Given
the disparity between component and complete bike sales
margins, it's generally much more cost effective to buy a
new bike than building one from parts. That said, I'm
pleased with the outcome. For perhaps $300, I have a bike
that I wouldn't hesitate to take on a long ride, or a fast
club ride, and am not too afraid of leaving locked up while
I run errands.
 
T

Tom Keats

Guest
In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] (Tom Keats) wrote:
>
> I hear freehub axles are less prone to bending or
> breaking. If that's so, I guess I could use an updated
> wheelset, myself.

Guess what happened to me today.

Yup.

Fortunately I was able to scrounge a spare axle out of the
heap of parts. I'm swapping-in the cones from the busted
axle right now. I didn't even lose any bearing balls.

There's another current thread titled "A humbling ride".
Leading a crippled bike home for 30 blocks is sure an
humbling walk. 'Specially when lots of other riders are
blithely breezing by.

Oh well. I stopped at a church for a rest; got chatting with
the caretaker and he offered me his Kuwahara MTB, which he
was just going to leave out for whomever'd take
it. Maybe I'll take him up on it.

cheers, Tom

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