Once upon a time there was a boy, and this boy was abducted by Pee-wee Herman disguised as an alien spaceship zoo thing. The boy then found himself transported through time into the future, where he got to meet young Tiny’s first movie crush, and he didn’t even try to cop a feel.
Sandra Bullock would be the only babe to topple her, in The Net
After that he saw some slimy Jim Henson muppets, went underwater, and probably learned a life lesson or something. Who knows. I certainly don’t, because all my detail memories of The Flight of the Navigator have long since been displaced by memories of Sarah’s extreme 1986 foxiness.
Anyway, I have a point here, I promise…
They couldn’t have executed that better if they’d planned it
Where I’m going with this is not that I think that helmets resembling spacecraft specifically are good or bad, but that a lot of equipment in cycling is starting to look awfully 1986 sci-fi and, dare I say, goofy.
Aerodynamics, everyone has now unanimously agreed, are of the utmost importance. Go faster, win more, get future babes. It makes sense. Very intuitive.
I took fluid dynamics in college and did acceptably well in it, however the big takeaway from the class for me was not the capability to work out math problems, but learning that beyond figuring out really simple stuff (like flow rates through a certain diameter tube) fluids solutions are extremely complicated and at times very counter-intuitive. I can somewhat accurately tell you the air pressure at different specific points throughout a heating duct, but I can’t even take a stab at what is going on around a spinning wheel, or the backside of somebody’s head as they move 35mph through the air. An expert in the field, with lots of relevant experience, could probably make a decent guess, but she would still need software simulation or empirical testing to get meaningful numbers.
I can’t claim to know the state of fluid analysis software 20 years ago, but judging from the bike design of that time, it wasn’t as good or as available or as easy to use as it is now. We’ve gone from “make it skinnier” to “make it a combination of 800 weird shapes, with rough surface finishes in these places”. And in addition to sci-fi bike frames, we’ve also now got computer designed weird skinsuit/bib/jersey halfbreeds so that guys can stay aero and retain the ability to pee easily during 250km road races, and helmets with no vents at all, that claim to vent better than helmets with vents. It’s pretty far out stuff. Technology!
And getting away from just aerodynamics, we’ve also now got battery operated transmissions, road tires that don’t need tubes, and masses of people begging for hydraulic disc brakes on their road bikes… Everything is changing; equipment is charging headfirst into the future. New advanced tools and knowledge exist widely enough now that the CAD nerds and calculator people all over the world can’t resist trying to improve everything involved in cycling.
And I don’t like it. I’m a happy guy, I’d like to say, but I admit that I am prone to bouts of grumpiness. I like tradition, and I think there should to be a very good reason before departing from it, because even if it has long been forgotten, there was probably a good reason for things to be the way they are. I’m also extremely conservative when it comes to engineering and design, and I strongly dislike entirely new and proprietary technology that boasts only marginal benefits, which are sometimes more than offset by increased cost, complexity, and poor serviceability.
I’m realizing now that those are my problems though, and not anybody else’s. Resisting change isn’t something to be proud of, I don’t believe. Wishing for a static state is unrealistic and unproductive. Shaking my head in disappointment when I see the latest bicycle that has to be half way disassembled to replace the cable housing doesn’t make any difference, except giving me a little bit of stress. The industry’s trajectory has been set, and bicycle technology has a course that it will follow whether this little guy likes it or not. With that in mind, I’ve decided to try to make an honest effort, for my own sake, to be a little more on board with it. After all, on some level at least, I can’t deny that the foundation upon which the technological push is built is solid; go faster, win more, get future babes.
And in the meantime, I’m going to thank my lucky stars that there are still a great number of talented folks out there ready to continue supplying me with the bikes I like. Simple, effective, beautiful, and plenty fast.
PS: Speaking of crushes… If I was a teen, I would be creepin’ around this rapper with a wedding ring in my pocket for sure.