Alpha Beta wrote:
> One of the members of the consortium is Shimano.
> They just haven't figured out is that there is a fundamental incompatibility with the traditional
> upright bicycle and comfort: namely that thing that sticks up your ass. (which they call a seat,
> but which I call a perverted, sado-masochistic device.)
This looks like a European push by Shimano for an apporach they have had going in Japan for awhile.
They usually have a bike loaded with this stuff at Interbike (though I don't remember seeing it this
year). The components are part of a group called Nexave C910. They seem convinced that people are
intimidated by the gears on bikes and have gone to great lengths to make these simpler to operate by
making the system much more complex. Yet they say it would be "reilable and trouble free". I wonder
how well the front deraileur system would function after being covered by winter road grit? (It is
still partially exposed.)
After my business was done at Interbike last year, I took in the "Art of the Motorcycle" exhibit at
the (now dark) Guggenheim. It clarified for me the design tension between having the components of a
mechanical device exposed and visible as distinct elements, and having them hidden behind bodywork
as their complexity increases. Personally, I decided I preferred the traditional bicycle aesthetic
of small tubes and exposed elements, and not too many of those either. (In the recumbent world, Rans
and TE are examples of this approach.)
But bicycles are being pushed out of the traditional aesthetic from three directions. As mtb's have
more and more elaborate suspension systems, they can no longer maintain the light and simple look,
although they do still have all the elements exposed. Some people feel this gives them a technical
look and they like it. But there is really not much connection to the traditional bike look.
There is still a lot of tradition in the road racing world, thanks in part to restrictive rules,
but even there, new materials and the push for better aerodynamics are making small tubes a thing
of the past.
The third push, and probably the weakest, certainly in N. America, is the comfort bike. Noone seems
quite sure what that means. Shimano has been articulating their vision in their Nexave C910 show
bikes. KHS and especially Giant went one step futher this year with these relaxed upright bikes
that, at their top end, incorproate enclosed, complex components, probably some of them from the
Shimano group. (I did not like these bikes and didn't look to closely. I couldn't get anyone at
Giant to talk to me the time I tired anyway.)
I agree with AB that there is unlikely to be a comfort breakthough unless you get serious about
changing the basic position. (But OTOH I really don't know how much of a barrier the position and
the comfort issues are to increased sales, esp in Europe.) In any case Giant is tentatively
combining some of Shimano's ideas with a slightly modified riding position. Apparently KHS (their
basic bike was very similar to Giant's basic bike) thinks they can sell this in Japan and Europe and
hope they can sell in N. Am. Apparently they think they might be able sell a recumbent in N. Am but
not elsewhere (hello? recumbents _do_ sell in Europe).
From an aesthetic view point I find it interesting that the Vision V70 series and the Rans Fusion
bracket riding position of the KHS and Giant, but maintain a very traditional small tube, simple
look. I prefer it, and my feeling is that most N. Ams would. I think they "look like bicycles". And
I think the current state of indexed gears may not be that intimidating.
We have a lot of utility cyclists in Toronto and you can hardly get them to use a full set of
fenders, let alone go for one of these monocoque look bikes. Just yesterday I saw a lady out on a
cold and snowy day. She had no front fender and only a partial rear. She was getting road spray on
here white coat.