After a day perusing the pits at Germany’s largest bike festival there were a few big tech innovations that struck me having been absent from the sport for a little while.
Firstly it would appear that bike designers have finally grasped the engineering concept of Second moment of area – essentially for the same weight a thin large diameter tube is loads stiffer than a thick one with a small diameter. Where are we seeing this? QR15 through axels, 2 piece cranks, tapered head tubes, and oversize are all successful examples of this change that has crept in over the last few years.
Another concept that seems to have taken off in the last few years is integration. We all know that Sram pretty much own everyone, so they clearly have a lot of options going on. One particular thing that caught my attention is press-fit bottom brackets. What an excellent solution – they have worked for years on BMX, and the older mtb ones were always wearing out owing to undersized rolling elements. Scott have also gone crazy with integration, this time a vee-band style clamp on the seat post clamp caught my eye – an absolutely elegant solution! Also on Scott and other bikes were Chain stay mounted brakes. Now this may not be news to many, but I’m stoked to see disc mounts on the strongest location of the frame, and well out of harms way inside the rear triangle. A big thumbs up from me. It’s also nice to see quite a big move to post mount brakes – who enjoyed shimming out IS mount brakes anyway?
While there was a lot of new tech on show in Willingen, there was also more European bling in the form of some mega weight optimised TUNE components. Cool in their own right, but I’d have some stiffness thanks! Notable omissions must also go to paired spoke wheels – not a winner in my book when it comes to stiffness, weight, and reparability. Perhaps there is a good reason Shimano don’t make too many anymore? Also of interest from Shimano is a regression to the old 965 design on 980 XTR crank arms. I Spoke with one of the Shimano guys on site – the reason? The original design was a goer, it just wasn’t understood, so a lot of bolts were stripped and over-tightened – hence the overcomplicated design on the 970’s.
Finally there was a whole lot of retro on show – many Cannondale super v’s, and even some ancient early 90’s rocky mountains running XT thumb shifters. So far Willingen has had it all. Apart from two 19mm cone wrenches requisite to adjusting an American Classic rear hub.