On New Year’s Eve, I’m in bed in California before they drop the ball in Times Square; it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about the last year, though, or given the last twelve months their due. For me, it’s been a fantastic year; a game-changer. Jones Precision Wheels and Stinner Frameworks are in the same location; something Aaron and I had planned for three years previous. We have a great landlord, plenty of business and a clock on the wall that always reads five o’clock.
I’m frequently given to viewing the present as it relates to the past, how things have changed and how far we have come. I think the subject of disc brakes for road bikes reflects clearly the fundamental change in bike industry dynamics — and the Internet is to blame for everything.
I will explain.
Take a glance at the world of cycling thirty odd years ago. News, both technical and sporting, was disseminated by only a few organs; a handful of cycling magazines and manufacturers themselves, for the most part. There were few other avenues of information letting enthusiasts and consumers know what others were thinking and experiencing. No way for consumers to benefit from the collective information (or dis-information) that is available today, via the Internet in general and blogs in particular. Thirty odd years ago, an employee in a bike shop was almost always more informed than the average customer.
How things have changed! The consumer of 2015 is, in some ways, the most informed consumer of all time, on a par with the bike shop regarding the latest developments. They may not know how to make practical sense of it all, but in terms of information, it’s pretty much a level playing field for consumer and industry professional.
How does this affect the industry? I think that “the industry” listens to consumers to a far greater degree than it used to do, because they have to. This was once an industry that dictated what people wanted and usually offered them the same bikes, componentry etc. that their idols rode in the Tour and the Giro. If a deep-drop Cinelli 66 handlebar was good enough for Eddy, it was good enough for John Q. It hurts your back? Get used to it, you damned sissy!
Enough history, John. Get thee back to disc brakes.
Disc brakes work well and they don’t heat up carbon rims; (I guess I should have given you a spoiler alert.) The average enthusiast/rider likes disc brakes, having used them without problem on mountain bikes for the last fifteen or so years. The average rider/enthusiast appears to regard road disc brakes as progress; therefore, we will see disc brakes on most road bikes in 2017; maybe, even a majority in 2015 at the Interbike Trade show.
Is this the tail wagging the dog? Should pro riders ride equipment that the cycling public appears to favor? Should consumer preference dictate what the pros ride? I will leave that question for you to answer, reader. I will only say this.
Nostalgia requires that things change. Let’s experience the changes together.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy 2015.