Are modern bikes boring?

General bike chat that does not fit elsewhere
Mercia Man
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Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Mercia Man » Tue Nov 27, 2012 21:14 pm

Is it just me, or are modern bikes a bit boring? My heart sinks every time pick up Cycling Plus magazine to read yet another "test" of a £2,500 Chinese-framed bike with Ultegra groupset and Mavic wheels. And it's a similar story at all price levels - the bikes are all virtually the same, even if they have a fancy Italian name. As a journalist myself, I sympathise with the Cycling Plus staffers and contributors trying to think up something new to write about these identikit machines.

I know this is largely because the industry is serving the boom in sportive-riding Mamils (and I'm one) but I wish we could read and hear a bit more about other types of bikes.

Strith
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Strith » Tue Nov 27, 2012 21:31 pm

I don't think so. You could say much the same about anything, cars, holidays, women/men etc. It just depends on your perspective I think.
If bikes are becoming boring for you then maybe it's time for a new hobby?

gavbarron
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby gavbarron » Tue Nov 27, 2012 21:32 pm

I'd say todays frames are more diverse in both form and function than in yesteryear when the geometry amd tubing was all pretty standard and unless it was a custom frame with beautiful lugs then they were all a bit similar. Modern frames vary in style, tube shape, materials, internal/external cables, integrated seatpost or not, aero frames, etc.
I'm sure in another 20 years we will be looking back nostalgically at today's crop in the same way we do today at an 80's Colnago


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Bluedoggy
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Bluedoggy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 21:34 pm

I personally think bikes have never been more exciting. I couldn't believe my luck when I bought my Wilier. I think modern bikes have a lot of personality and soul across the board. But that's just me:)
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Ber Nard
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Ber Nard » Tue Nov 27, 2012 21:36 pm

Hasn't this always been the case though? Yes, Far Eastern manufacturing has brought down the cost of what would have once been considered a high end frame more so than, say, 20 years ago. But I don't think everyone back then was riding around on bespoke steel frames with artisan lug work.

People look back at old road bikes through rose tinted spectacles largely, I think, because they look so different to what is popular (and affordable) today. Add to that only the special bikes would be restored or hailed as great and it glosses over all of the 531 framed (when it was affordable), mid range Shimano or Campag equipped bikes. And I think many of those people associate being different with being better.

Just my tuppence worth.

Rob

Bordersroadie
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Bordersroadie » Tue Nov 27, 2012 22:16 pm

I guess the Cycling+ target reader is a mamil so the content is going to be swayed that way. Yes, I've had my fill of lookilikee Sportive carbon products. We never called them products back in the day, did we?

I've been a road bike anorak since I was maybe 8, so for 40 years. The same emotional juices flow now when I look at images and info about bikes I dream of owning, as they did back in 1972 and during all the years since:

That is to say: cutting edge design,clever engineering solutions, state-of-the-art lightweight components, design flair, the occasional quirky design eccentricity (like curly Hetchins stays, "interpreted" and used more cynically as a "product differentiator" by Pinarello more recently) and all manner of Italian renditions of what is arguably the most beautiful engineering masterpiece of the last century to start with: the bicycle. So in that sense I'm as excited by today's offerings as I ever have been. I may be getting old but I feel the same feelings, in the main.

And the biggest change, a truly great one, is the quality of the bikes we can all afford compared to "x" years ago, it's incomparable in real terms.

I'm wowed as much by the brutally beautiful sub-7kg bikes and the SRAM Red/Dura Ace 7900 kit as I was with Campag Super Record and space-age Mavic componentry back then.

What has changed perhaps is the personality that is attached to each manufacturer/brand/frame builder and the handmade aspect that went hand in hand with these things. They seem far fewer and further between than the used to be, just my perception. And this may seem a minor shift but in fact is for me quite a big change, like the heart and some of the passion has been removed from the whole process, and some of the feeling that individuals were pushing the boundaries by their individual genius rather than a Management Board making decisions based on bottom line or "brand image". The world has become a much more competitive place commercially and cycling is a Global industry now so it's natural that this change has taken place, albeit it that it leaves one a bit cold.

I'm an aging git who likes nostalgia so of course I'd like to see more on proper handbuilt-by-real-passionate-people stuff of the like in some of the threads in the "my bike" section here.

Enough rambling, wife is still watching some jungle sh1t and I'm off to bed.

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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Raymondo60 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 22:30 pm

There are many 'alternative' bikes outs there if your desire is to be a little 'different' - I own a Belt-Drive Trek which gets a lot of attention, as well as a Steel-Framed Single Speed Pinarello; both are a little 'off the wall' even though they are mass-produced. I remember a conversation with a motoring journalist many years ago, who told me that the reason there are (were) millions of Ford Mondeos on the road is because they fit with most people's requirements; relatively inexpensive to buy and run, reliable, easy to maintain etc etc. I guess the same can be said for all those mid-priced carbon framed/105/Ultegra/Veloce type machines. If it means that more people have the opportunity to get out and ride on reasonably well-equipped bikes that can only be a good thing.......?
Raymondo

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neeb
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby neeb » Tue Nov 27, 2012 23:06 pm

I agree with many of the posters above, I don't think modern bikes are boring at all. If anything, carbon offers far more potential for variety in frame shapes, tube profiles etc. than alu or steel over did. There is an extent to which frame designs in recent years have settled on a general model that works well - big, often square section downtube bonded to deep chainstays through a voluminous BB area and a tapered headtube with an equally big junction, and then narrower seat tube and chainstays, with a top tube that starts out beefy at the headtube junction and then tapers towards the seat tube. This seems to provide the best solution to the old "lateral stiffness, vertical compliance" ideal and has become standard in most higher end bikes, but there is still massive leeway for individual embellishments, and then you have the interaction with the whole aero thing, with the inevitable trade-offs between stiffness and aero qualities. It's all very exciting and dynamic really, and a modern race or club run is a veritable cornucopia of aesthetic and functional diversity. Add to that the fact that every year bikes are getting a little lighter and/or stiffer and it's all good really.

I'll tell you what IS boring however, albeit (I hope and pray) a swiftly passing fad - this trend towards "stealth" black paint schemes and/or hideous fluro accents. If I see one more bike decked out like a cross between the bat mobile and something out of the original 1980s version of TRON I am going to lose my dinner... I guess it will take a year or two before real colour is back in fashion and the manufacturers start selling it to us as if they have just invented it...

Neale1978
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Neale1978 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 01:45 am

Dont concentrate on bike reviews if you have a bike? Lets be honest, the best times are when you are on your bike not looking at pictures of them

Reminds me of that saying 'You're not bored, you are boring' :roll:

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Drumlin
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Drumlin » Wed Nov 28, 2012 07:17 am

Mercia Man wrote:Is it just me, or are modern bikes a bit boring?


Couldn't agree more I'm afraid. The time was when you could pop along to your local framebuilder and spend hours (possibly months !) labouring over what tubeset, what bottom bracket and lugs, what braze-ons, what chroming, what cut outs, and what colour(s) and transfers of course. And back then such choices where available even on a modest budget so almost every bike on the clubrun was unique.
Nowadays such framebuilders are few and far between and they charge an arm and a leg. Only the most affluent can afford to ride something other than an identikit build from the Far East.
Would welcome company for Sat rides west/south of Edinburgh, up to 3 hrs, 16mph ish. Please PM me if interested/able to help.

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Navrig
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Navrig » Wed Nov 28, 2012 08:58 am

Drumlin wrote:
Mercia Man wrote:Is it just me, or are modern bikes a bit boring?

And back then such choices where available even on a modest budget so almost every bike on the clubrun was unique.


Was that the case or are you wearing the "rose tinted" spectacles referred to in a previous post. I am not trying to be provocative, I simply don't know as I didn't road cycle during that era.

I imagine that in the 60s and 70s and into the 80s most people probably lusted after these handbuilds but suspect that most stuck with the mass produced Raleighs, Peugots etc.

On that basis I suspect that there will still be a percentage of people with "unique" or at least realatively rare models, frames, colours etc. Is that percentage more than it was in the 70s? Who knows.

I also suspect that there is greater uniformity in the technical gear such as gearing and breaks. I think there were more manufacturers 40 years ago - Campag, Huret, Suntour, Simplex, Shimano, Weinmann etc.

Did a quick Google and found this:

http://www.disraeligears.co.uk/Site/Der ... 1970s.html

Amazing what people will reminesce over!

And if you want character:

Image

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Coach H
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Coach H » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:09 am

Drumlin wrote:
Mercia Man wrote:Is it just me, or are modern bikes a bit boring?


Couldn't agree more I'm afraid. The time was when you could pop along to your local framebuilder and spend hours (possibly months !) labouring over what tubeset, what bottom bracket and lugs, what braze-ons, what chroming, what cut outs, and what colour(s) and transfers of course. And back then such choices where available even on a modest budget so almost every bike on the clubrun was unique.
Nowadays such framebuilders are few and far between and they charge an arm and a leg. Only the most affluent can afford to ride something other than an identikit build from the Far East.


Did that happen any more than it does today?
In the 80s the vast majority of bikes on the club run were 531 frames stickered up with the prominent LBS in the area. There was a bit more variety in components and wheels as there were few 'complete bike' options and these were normally at the lower end of the scale. If you were from my area, if my memory serves correctly, in terms of wheels pretty much everyone, I know I did, in the late 80's rode Mavic Open 4cd rims laced to Miche Superfast hubs as their main wheelset as this was the LBS owners prefered build and the options we get now via the internet were just not available to us.

Yes there were a few bespoke and branded frames. Yes Al frames started to come in (I had a Peugot Comette frame, AL tubes and lugs that apparently got recalled as the tubes dropped out of the lugs at low temps. Hopefully this happened to the scrote that nicked it).

But, the vast majority IMHO were stock design 532 frames just made in different places and with a bit more variation in components

By the way, I liked black bikes then have a black bike from the mid 00's as my winter bike and a black bike as my best now. Apart from Sarroni red I have never really liked colour on bikes
Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')

Mercia Man
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Mercia Man » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:10 pm

Thanks for all your interesting and thought-provoking replies. I must stress I'm not bored with cycling itself - I'm just as obsessed as when I first got into mountain biking in 1986 and then progressed to touring and road bikes in subsequent years. And I don't dislike Chinese-framed carbon bikes - I have an Orca and love it.

I see a parallel with the motorcycling scene. I used to be an obsessive motorcyclist and my job partly involved road testing some fantastic (and not so fantastic) road and off-road bikes during the late 1970s and 1980s. There was an incredible variety of bikes at first - British, Japanese, German, American, Russian, Spanish, Swiss, French, Eastern Europe - with all sorts of engine configurations. By the end of the 80s, the market was dominated by Japanese transverse four-cylinder machines which were good enough to ride (ocasionally brilliant) but mostly bland and samey. In the end, I couldn't be bothered to travel all the way down to London to pick up yet another four cylinder Honda, Yamaha or Kawasaki for a two-week test. Only things like Ducatis, Harleys, Moto Guzzis and Laverdas could tempt me.

In a similar way, the cycling industry is now dominated by the big international brands and bikes are consumer products to be marketed to specific segments of society. Hence the domination of carbon identikits in the cycling enthusiast sector which we Bike Radar people belong to.

But it's not all doom and gloom. I'm glad to see the growing interest in artisan frame-building fuelled by things like the fixie fashion and Rob Penn's dream bike TV programme. Wheelbuilders and small-scale components manufacturers are still holding their own against the international giants, And there's no doubt that technological improvements such as clipless pedals and indexed gears have made cycling much easier since my early mountain bike days. It would be great to see all the technology currently concentrated on the Mamil sector diverted to other forms of cycling - such as a really high performance folding bike, tandems, utility bikes to encourage all those lardy folk out of their cars and sporty electric bikes with a decent range.

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Drumlin
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Drumlin » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:29 pm

Coach H wrote:Yes there were a few bespoke and branded frames.


From what I can remember of Midland C&AC/Shirley RC/Solihull CC clubruns of the 80's there were very few 'factory' frames - most folk rode custom builds from the likes of Brian Rourke, Mercian (often badged as Tom Crowther), Mike Kowal and Mercury. With a few exotic continental brands like Colnago and Gios. And they all came in colours other than black or silver !
Would welcome company for Sat rides west/south of Edinburgh, up to 3 hrs, 16mph ish. Please PM me if interested/able to help.

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Coach H
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Coach H » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:58 pm

Drumlin wrote:
Coach H wrote:Yes there were a few bespoke and branded frames.


From what I can remember of Midland C&AC/Shirley RC/Solihull CC clubruns of the 80's there were very few 'factory' frames - most folk rode custom builds from the likes of Brian Rourke, Mercian (often badged as Tom Crowther), Mike Kowal and Mercury.

Were most of them truly custom though? My memory is that most, not all, were made to a generic set of dimensions and only the guy who put them together, of which there were many and usually fairly local, was different. I am fairly sure that my friends 22" 531 badged as from our LBS was exactly the same geometry as another friends 22" 531 badged from Baron. Just my recollections anyway.

Drumlin wrote: With a few exotic continental brands like Colnago and Gios.

Agreed but as now these were ridden by dentists and lawers!! :lol: :lol:

Drumlin wrote:And they all came in colours other than black or silver !

Agreed, metalic purple seemed to be a staple in the late 80's I seem to remember, although I still wanted a black one :)
Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')

cougie
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby cougie » Wed Nov 28, 2012 14:06 pm

Modern bikes are far more exciting I think than when I started back in the 70's 80's.

Then it was mainly steel - and one steel frame looks a lot like another. Which was handy as the Pros got their local builder to make one up for them and just have it sprayed in team colours. It's a bit harder to do that nowadays.

You can still have custom frames if you want - they're not that expensive. But now we can have the wondrous carbon shapes too.

What has changed is the kit you hang on it. When I started you would mix and match as you wanted - but now its far more likely that you'd just put one whole groupset on it.

Everyone was on tubs back then too. Nowadays its tubs, tyres, tubeless too - so that's more interesting. And carbon rims too - that's new.

The cost of kit seems to have gone up enormously though. When i got my first job I saved for a custom steel frame and put the finest kit on it I could buy. The same stuff as used in the Tour. It wasn't massively expensive.

How much is say the Sky team issue Pinarello ? There's not many teens that could afford one !

RoyPSB
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby RoyPSB » Wed Nov 28, 2012 14:29 pm

It's all a matter of opinion.

I look at steel bikes from 20+ years ago and think they look extremely ugly in comparison with the Alu and Carbon bikes of today.

I agree though that the endless reviews of £3000+ bikes in the mags are utterly dull.

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JGSI
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby JGSI » Wed Nov 28, 2012 16:31 pm

OP It is one good reason for saving your £4 or whatever they cost a month.... I rarely buy the 'comic' these days as well ... if I do it is a whim.
I am actually looking for a new race specific bike for next season... I am not bored... just a bit overwhelmed by the choices.... not a problem I had back in the 60's when I had to makedo with my big brothers handmedown Raleigh Blue Streak when he got all grown up went to college and rode his Velocette 350 Clubman

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Navrig
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Re: Are modern bikes boring?

Postby Navrig » Wed Nov 28, 2012 16:36 pm

RoyPSB wrote:
I look at steel bikes from 20+ years ago and think they look extremely ugly in comparison with the Alu and Carbon bikes of today.



I sort of agree but wouldn't say ugly. In the same way as I prefer Nigella to Kate Moss I prefer the fatter tubes of modern day designs.


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