Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shop Talk with Shop Guy #3

Welcome to Shop Talk with Shop Guy* #3. We can't show you Shop Guy's face because he's a shop guy. Today, Shop Guy gives us the low-down on the 2012 range. And instead of telling us that everything is 250% lighter, stiffer and stronger, Shop Guy just tells the truth. Can you handle it?

2012 is a not here yet on the calendar but it is well and truly here for those of us in the bike industry. While some bikes and bits are starting to turn up in stores now there is still much to anticipate in the coming months. While most brands are promising that their products are lighter, stiffer, faster, more compliant or prettier for 2012 generally there is no great revolution from the bike industry in the coming year. There are some cute ideas and neat tricks but there is nothing that makes the bike you rode in 2011 obsolete.

For the road riders the main conversation will be about Ultegra Di2 – finally electronic shifting will be affordable for the working man. Priced at about the same as mechanical Dura-Ace (affordable clearly being a relative term) we will see a bike from most manufacturers in 2012 fitted out with this groupset. The majority of brands are fitting it to their second tier frame rather than their top level one where Dura-Ace Di2 will remain the electronic group of choice (it appears Campagnolo’s electronic group will be available in 2012 but it is unlikely to be on any 2012 model bikes).

In the mountain bike world there is no single new idea that stands out but rather the expansion of two existing trends – 29er bikes and 10-speed. There is almost no brand doing mountain bikes now that does not offer at least one 29er in their range, and in the case of most of the mainstream American brands a whole bunch of 29er options. Specialized in particular now has more 29er models than they do 26-inch. You know 29ers have gained widespread acceptance when even Colnago are offering one in 2012.

Trickle down continues with 10-speed cassettes on mountain bikes reaching down to lower models than last year. As with the trend to 10-speed on the road, Shop Guy isn’t entirely sure this bodes well for the recreational rider who often values durability and cost effective parts replacement over having an extra gear.

Cyclocross bikes are interesting this year because with the UCI rule change for racing these bikes, we are starting to see the first big wave of disc brake-equipped cyclocross bikes being released. Some, such as Felt, are even offering a carbon disc brake ‘cross bike for 2012. Even if you’re not into cyclocross racing, disc brakes will make these bikes even better commuter and go anywhere anytime bikes. This is true trickle down of technology - where improvements in racing bikes provide a genuine benefit to the non-racer.

*Shop Guy is not to be taken lightly. His years of experience in bike shops has made him bitter, jaded and lacking in any compassion. It has also given him a lot of knowledge that you’d do well to remember. 

If you're interested, and you should be, check out more from Shop Guy here.

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