My Spidey Senses Are Offended

Hello! It’s Friday so I’m just gonna come right out and say it–I don’t like SRAM, and I think they’re ruining bikes:

No, please!

Remember when electronic shifting first came out? Remember how it was the most expensive, and it was designed for and marketed to the most competitive riders? We all understood that you didn’t really need it, but maybe if your entire career hinged on a single mis-shift and you had a bunch of mechanics and sponsors behind you then sure, maybe it made sense. Now though, not only is it for everybody, but it’s specifically for beginners:

I do like that the bicycle industry has finally admitted that the word “gravel” means absolutely nothing. “Gravel? We don’t know what it is, but whatever you happen think it is, then sure, you need Apex AXS for it.” Basically, the world “gravel” now just means non-competitive cycling of any kind, which we used to just call “riding.” But “Apex AXS is well suited to the needs of new riders and is the right drivetrain for riders no matter how you define riding” is too redundant, so the copywriters just throw a “gravel” in there every now and again while reminding you that it’s anything you want it to be, even riding on a perfectly paved road.

So what do beginners have to gain from electronic shifting, anyway? Well, it’s not distracting:

What was so distracting before the shifters needed a battery? Knowing you could shift them forever without having to charge them?

Mechanical shifters already did most of that stuff anyway. As for “quick, clean installation,” no offense to the beginner riders out there, but I promise they’re not installing this stuff. Beginner riders could hardly figure out the quick release, and they’re barely able to install their own water bottle cages, let alone Apex AXS. Again, I’m not trying to make fun of beginner riders, not at all. We’re all new to something. It took me 20 minutes to change a lightbulb the other day because I didn’t know how to get the cover off the fixture. A new rider is plenty busy learning how to adjust the saddle, inflate the tires, lube the chain, and all that other basic stuff. By the time they’re ready to tackle an Apex AXS installation they’re also more than capable of installing a regular old-fashioned derailleur. The hardest part is breaking the chain, and I’m pretty sure Apex AXS still uses a chain–though I’m sure SRAM’s got that on the chopping block next.

Also, how are there “no cables to route” if it’s hydraulic disc brake only?

Yes, nothing more beginner-friendly than installing hydraulic disc brakes.

Look, I know it doesn’t matter what I think. I’m old, I’m irrelevant, I don’t understand that “gravel” is merely a state of mind, and that even Zwifting can be “gravel” if you do it while wearing bib shorts with pockets. Nevertheless, I don’t want a bike that needs a goddamn battery in order to function, is that so wrong?

I don’t think that it is.

Speaking of being contrarian, yesterday I also complained about the new Specialized electrical mountain bike for kids, and since then I’ve watched this propaganda video on their website:

It features the guy who designed the bike:

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that having now been to Switzerland, I’m very suspicious of Swiss people. This is not to impugn their character or their integrity or anything like that, not at all. Nevertheless, the fact is I simply can’t relate to anyone who comes from a delightful Alpine wonderland like that. THE GODDAMN COUNTRY’S SO NICE! It was clean, it was efficient, it was beautiful, everything worked… People drove luxurious German touring sedans and yet they didn’t even honk at you! How could I possibly trust anyone from a country like that? I found it all extremely unsettling.

Anyway, I was already suspicious of this Swiss guy going in, and then he explained that he had “started riding mountain bikes before those bikes were even mountain bikes.”

So wait, were you one of these people?

By the way, those proto-mountain bikers may have looked unkempt, but in fact they were obsessed with grooming. Check out this guy giving himself a pre-ride manicure:

Either that or he’s using it as a roach clip.

But no, what the Swiss guy means by that is that he started riding them at a time when mountain bikes absolutely were already mountain bikes, but they just hadn’t been ruined by technology yet. “It was the early ’90s, we had no suspension forks…”

Sounds like paradise.

Still, it’s crucial to push the idea that these bikes were completely unrideable:

“We had these silly tires, every time we went out we had a flat,” he explains while rolling his eyes:

“The early days were a struggle. Actually sometimes I talk to my colleagues, it’s like ‘How the hell were we able to ride with these bikes?’ Like, it seems impossible now, no joke.”

Impossible, really? I’m pretty sure you were able to ride those bikes because they were pretty good bikes:

The struggle is real.

A better question would be, “How the hell were we able to ride these bikes?”

The secret of course was the high-waisted pants.

So what does all this have to do with making electric mountain bikes for kids? Well, as he explains, “The kids they have a very high demand, they want to be just like adults.”

No they don’t. Have you ever shopped with a child? Kids are not discerning customers. That’s why big box stores are able to sell so many Spider-Man bikes:

And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes:

Of course he drives a Tesla:

I was pleased to see that at the end of the video he admits that the real reason this bike exists is exactly what I thought–it’s not for the kid, it’s so mom and dad don’t have to curtail their lifestyle in any way:

“…when we can go out as a family and enjoy the full mountain bike day together, not just 30 minutes and the kid goes, ‘I’m tired.'”

But that’s how it works! Kids get tired. I know it’s a mountainous country, but is really so inconvenient that a 4th grader can’t ride up an Alp?

They should call this bike the “Hurry The Fuck Up And Grow Already.”

Finally, while we’re playing “Follow-Up Friday,” I also mentioned micromobility the other day, and here’s some micromobility that will keep you on the edge of your seat:

He just made all those urban fixie riders look like toddlers on Spider-Man bikes.

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