Saturday, March 8, 2014

Aren't we done with this yet?



Do you remember 10 years ago when every little guy with a machine shop was constantly trying to reinvent everything? Everybody wanted to reinvent something. Point One tried to reinvent flat pedals. Industry Nine tried to reinvent spokes. K9 started making spring bearings. Hope was making brakes because no one else made good ones yet. The best ever was Tag Wheels trying to re/uninvent the wheel.

But you know what? Most of those ideas sucked, and they faded away into obscurity. The only place you're going to see most of those obsolete products is on Dan the Man's bike. You know Dan, that one guy you see at the trailhead every once in a while who's rocking the Moab Brewery sticker on the back of his Isuzu Rodeo, who believed the hype and will still tell you the benefits of the 180mm crank arm for taller guys while he's pedaling his Ellsworth Truth up the hill complete with Panaracer Tires.

The reason Dan the Man is the only guy running any of those stupid products that should have gone extinct like the dinosaurs is that everything works pretty darn well right now. Most of the big innovations and product revolutions have happened. As a result, most of the good products available today are coming from big manufacturers who have the R&D budget to do constant small, iterative improvements. Here's an example:



Big, new, revolutionary products are typically new ideas done mediocre. The Gravity Dropper is such a product. It was way ahead of it's time, and before the era of Reverbs and Thomson's and DOSS and Lev's, having a Gravity Dropper was infinitely better than not having a Gravity Dropper. But it's a pretty crude, unrefined product. It's a little rough around the edges.


This is where the dropper post battle is won or lost now. The 2015 KS Lev Integra is arguably the best post on the market, and for 2015 it sees a small change to the existing stealth routing/cable actuation to make it slightly better. Rockshox, Fox, and everybody else is constantly doing little tweaks like this, and the dropper post market that was raw and new five years ago is now leveling off and getting boring pretty quickly.


Back to pedals. I like incremental, iterative improvements as much as the next guy, but what exactly is wrong with the three clipless pedal standards right now? There are SPD guys, there are Crankbrothers guys, and there are Time guys. Out of those three, it seems to me that everyone is pretty well served.

I don't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet 10 to 1 that this new pedal interface sucks. I've never ridden it, I've never met anyone whose ridden it, and I've never even seen it in person or on video. Really, I'm not basing my assumption on the product itself.

What I know is that for ten years there's pretty much been Shimano, Crank Brothers, and Time. There were no rules against new pedals, no regulations, and no barriers to entry. If a better idea came along, I'm sure it would have taken off. But there weren't a whole lot of better ideas to be had.

Again, I don't know anything about this design. I'm just saying that 10 to 1, this probably isn't one of those rare "better ideas."

3 comments:

technology said...

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." Misquote from Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899.

Ben Furbee said...

I thiiiiink what charlie is trying to get at is there are plenty of good choices for pedals and to think that you alone have and answer to ALL OUR PROBLEMS! (We don't have problems. We just think there is always something better coming along). Charlie is saying its pointless because even of you do wind up with a good idea 2% of the people will be interested and less than 1% will actually buy it. And if you sell more than 1% of the big threes sales they will either buy you out or just copy you and win anyways.

Or am I wrong?

Coach Pete said...

Remember when I mentioned the Bike Industry being a "Tsunami of lies and gimmicks washing over you like an unstoppable force, day after day" ??

Well, you don't have to be at a trade show in Taipei to know, it is washing over you *Right *Now.........
And there ain't Nothing Anybody can do about it now