PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Ed’s Rant: Money Makes The World Go Round!

Ed’s Rant: Money Makes The World Go Round!
Ed's Opinion: Ed Hood has been keeping his rants in check, but the sight of a 22 grand bike has got his blood boiling and don't mention 1x11 and disk brakes! Bikes need to be sold and new 'fashions' or 'technologies' need to be found to keep the cycling World turning. Rant time!

Liza Minnelli got it right; ‘Money Makes the World go Round’. Our sport was born from commercial interests; to sell newspapers, bikes, aperitifs, coffee machines, salami, high fashion, cars, cosmetics, I could go on. So it’s no surprise that green backs are so important in this sport where teams are known by their product name rather than a place name, which is the case with most other team sports. But this obsession with moolah is getting out of hand within the cycle industry.


Have you ever gone over the handlebars because you yanked on the front brake too hard? Yeah, me too. And have you locked up the back wheel under braking and scuffed a flat in the tyre? Likewise this guy. So why do we need disc brakes? I can see the need in MTB racing and cyclo-cross, and sure, if you’re racing in extreme conditions like a Paris-Roubaix or Tro Bro Leon, yes. I didn’t add ‘snow’ because with the current UCi ‘bad weather protocols’ everyone is back in the team bus faster than you can say, ‘Andy Hampsten on the Gavia.’

Hoogvliet - archief - archives - stock - - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Passo di Gavia - Giro D’Italia - Andy Hampsten - foto Cor Vos ©2011
No disks or gravel bikes for Andy Hampsten

At the last Tour de France, Martin and I made the Quick-Step Floors bus one of our first ports of call so we could catch up with our amigo, Jack Bauer. On proud display was multi-stage winner Marcel Kittel’s machine, complete with discs ready for another, flat, fast stage. But a day or so later, as the Tour headed into the mountains, Big Marcel’s bike was displaying conventional rim brakes.

Kittel's disked Specialized

When I pointed this out on social media I was told in patronising, ‘we best explain this to the old fool,’ fashion that; ‘disc brakes are too heavy for stages with lots of climbing.’ Right. This means that on the stages where the hardest braking Marcel does is when he pulls up to cuddle his team mates after another winning supersonic finale, he rides discs. But on the stages where that big frame of his is hurtling down cols at warp speed and could really use that extra braking power, he doesn’t have it. Enough said.

Cycling: 35th Tour of San Juan 2017 / Stage 2 Arrival / Tom BOONEN (BEL)/ Specialized Bike / Disc brake / San Juan - San Juan (128,8km)/ Etapa del Oeste/ Vuelta A San Juan / ©Tim De Waele
'Tommeke' said he liked disks, then retired

We spoke to friends at one of the big equipment manufacturers and their view is that they give the option; ‘discs are there if you want them, but our rim brakes are still there and better than ever.’ It’s the bicycle manufacturers who are pushing discs hard, not so that you can have ‘better’ braking but so they can sell you another bike.

No disks on this Venge for Peter Sagan

The Sportive boom has peaked, most everyone has two bikes now and they have to be convinced that they really need another one – a machine that’s radically different from the one(s) they already have. Enter disc brakes with no standardisation on rotor size or through axle design – take a look at the pro peloton in the mountains and see how many riders are on them when the road rises.

The 3T 1x11, mmmm!

Then there’s ‘1 x 11’ transmission. For MTB and cyclo-cross the attractions are obvious; a simpler set up, much less chance of chain derailment on the chain ring and there’s a weight saving. And there’s the aero aspect, with no front mechanism there’s much less turbulence around the chainring area – there is then obvious benefit in a time trial on a non-technical parcours. But on a road bike in a packed peloton with the air comprehensively churned – how much difference will that really make?

Wadi Dayqah Dam - Oman, Sultanate of Oman - February 15 : BLYTHE Adam of Aqua Blue Sport, VAN AVERMAET Greg (BEL) of BMC Racing Team, CAVENDISH Mark (GBR) of Team Dimension Data pictured during stage 3 of the 9th edition of the 2018 Tour of Oman cycling race, a stage of 179.5 kms between German University of Technology and Wadi Dayqah Dam on February 15, 2018 in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, 15/02/2018 - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 20187
What is Adam Blythe thinking?

And how about on a Giro mountain stage where you require a huge spread of ratios? Those Aqua Blue guys are pros, they’ll ride whatever they’re told to but have you seen the cassettes they were running in Liège-Bastogne-Liège? The bottom sprockets were enormous, so there can be no getting away from big jumps between ratios at the ‘low’ end of the cassette. Those Aqua Blue 3T machines with the single ring, curved seat tube, tight clearances and disc brakes look ‘rad’ to many – not to me though, I hasten to add – but I can’t help but think it’s a step backward to limit the ratios you have available and have horrible leg killing ‘jumps’ between gears.

Sprocket the size of the disk

When I first started racing we were on a 42 x 53 front rings with five speed ‘blocks’ and for hilly races it was difficult to get it right – 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 was one combination but two teeth jumps at the ‘high’ end of the spectrum aren’t the answer. ‘Mega aero’ isn’t much good to you when gear changes hit your legs like falling off a wall. But again, the cycle trade has to convince those sportive guys that really NEED another bike, an aero one with 1 x 11 transmission and discs.

11x1 (46t) on the left - Ed's favourite on the right

My buddy Stevie was in an Edinburgh bike shop the other day and there was a build underway, we’ll not mention the name on the frame but it was a high end US frame. The total build value was over £15,000 Sterling with the frame costing £8,000 and the paint job another £1,500. Yes, it’s the client’s money to do with as they choose but lean over the fence at any Belgian kermis and there are guys there winning on 1,000 euro machines.

Save up for a Passoni Fidia

And then the June issue of ‘Cyclist’ magazine dropped on my door mat; a Passoni Fidia is featured at £22,650 with the Gokiso ‘Super Climber’ hubs – that’s JUST hubs, not wheels – coming in at £7,000. Madness. But the big manufacturers will lap this up; '15 grand? – why, we’re only half of that price. . .

You can buy a full carbon Ribble R872 with Shimano 105 gruppo and Mavic Aksium wheels for £1099 – sit a pro on that in just about any race that doesn’t involve mountain passes and he’ll win on it.

The reasonably priced Ribble

And back when, ‘I were a lad’ we used to venture off road regularly on our training bikes, ‘rough stuff’ it was known as back then and as long as you had reasonably substantial ‘wired-on’ tyres – ‘clinchers’ we call them now – there was the only the odd puncture but that was just part of the game. But now we all need a ‘gravel bike,’ presumably with discs and ‘1 x 11’ transmission – I’m not sure about ‘aero’ though when you’re over the rims in mud?

A handy bike to have when you are in the desert

But I guess you have to doff your cap to the marketing guys? Back in the 80’s when we were all Yuppies, the trendy question you’d get asked at sales interviews was; ‘define marketing.’ That’s easy these days in the bike industry; 'persuading people to buy bicycles – preferably very expensive ones - that they don’t really need. . .'

Just what you have always needed

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by our contributors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its employees. Although we do try our best, is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by our contributors.


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