Yesterday I attended the Shimano tech seminar. It was a super secret affair open only to bike shop employees and hobos who wanted the free breakfast muffins. I suppose I got there too late for the segment about road bike groups (9AM start? I don’t do 9AM), so I sat down as the speaker discussed the new XTR and Saint groups. Even though I am mainly a road and track fanatic, I leaned back into my chair and eagerly listened to all the fascinating new developments in disc rotors and bearing (yawn). modifications that lengthy field testing .(zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz). (snort) um, what? It’s over?…do I have any questions?……um, do you have any muffins without cream cheese in them? After that the minions of the Imperial S company fanned out to the various tables of product to field questions from the riff-raff.
Really, this seminar was mainly to familiarize shop monkeys with the stuff they’d be selling this season, so I’d seen all this stuff and more at Interbike. I kinda wanted to poke at some of the new Alfine, but none was present. I can say that the new Tiagra STI levers look pretty nice. I’ve always liked the idea of an optical gear indicator, and those new STI have them integrated into the lever top. I’ll get back to you when I know how well they work after you crash on them.
If you must know, the new XTR is really cool. Though I have no desire to ride it, I find the attention to detail is just mesmerizing. And Shimano offers just about every type of lever ever conceived: hydraulic or cable brake lever, STI or Rapid Fire-style shifter, every combination thereof. To top it off, you can now have your XTR rear derailleur as Rapid-Rise (low-normal) or traditional (top-normal).
There were a couple cool widgets there. I liked the dynamo hub front road wheel. Next winter I’m going to have a winter fixie with one of these wheel powering my headlight. One of the tables had an adapter for 6-bolt disc brake rotors to fit on the Shimano œCenterlock hubs. It was just brilliant. I especially liked how there was a c-clip retainer to hold the rotor to the adapter during disassembly.
Personally, I’m most likely going to buy some shoes from Shimano before anything else. The new R300 road shoe is the bomb when it comes to stiffness. Then Shimano went buck-wild with the features such as heat moldable uppers, real vents in the sole, super strong straps there’s even some sort of minty-fresh antibacterial treatment. I wish I could say that they were beautiful to look at, but sadly no. At least they aren’t as HIDEOUS as early ˜90s Look shoes. Actually I thought the œindoor riding shoes were quite sharp.
I suppose these tech guys must find it tedious to field questions from bicycle retail’s worst techno-weenies, but that didn’t stop me from interrogating him with my own petty questions. œHey, when are they gonna make a track crank like the 10-speed road crank? That’d be Suh-WEET! Well, they ain’t because the equipment rules for keirin restrict design to 3-piece cranks (unlike the 2-piece œHollowtech 10sp cranks), and domestic keirin racing is Shimano’s foremost market for track equipment.
Oh, sure, Shimano makes a BMX crank using all the latest technology, but not a new track crank. Why? Because BMX is now an Olympic sport. Freakin’ great! The BMX dudes get all the X-Game coverage, Mountain Dew sponsorship, not to mention the hot chicks now they get an Olympic medal in Bejing and super-duper cranks. Oh, and where did that extra medal come from, you ask? That’s right, kilometer time trial got nixed from track racing. Yeah, yeah I know time trials are BORING to watch, but still why does the International Olympic Committee need to take away one cycling event to add another? What about all those ridiculous events the IOC has already arbitrarily added? Trampoline? PUH-LEASE! The only trampoline performance people actually watched was on The Man Show. When the IOC made trampoline a medal event back in 2000, I took it as yet another sign of an impending Apocalypse, started a cult, and made a batch of poison Kool-Aid. But this insanity doesn’t END.
How relevant is trampoline to the world around us? Also I have a hard time justifying whitewater canoeing I mean, the Olympic host usually has to BUILD an artificial white water rapids just for the event. Of course, the relevancy of the shooting competitions, in this world gone crazy, is painfully (and pitifully) obvious. The world would just be a better place if more people rode their bikes even you BMX guys with your cool cranks and hot girlfriends bastards.