Escorted from the White House
Interesting that you quote James Huang.As I said... "If it made financial sense to cater to the small minority of luddites.. they would. But it doesn't. So they won't." Both SRAM and Shimano note that people just aren't buying mechanical.
Electronic dominanceThe death of Ultegra mechanical can only mean one thing.cyclingtips.com
No one can deny that mechanical shifting has a sizeable advantage over electronic shifting in terms of serviceability and often weight (particularly at anything other than flagship price points). However, in conversations with countless product managers from various bicycle brands in recent months about consumer preferences, the answer is always the same: when given the option, so few people are actually buying the cable-actuated stuff that it’s impossible to justify keeping it around from a financial point of view.
One only has to look at SRAM’s recent product development to see evidence of this trend in real time.
It’s been a very different story for SRAM’s mechanical road groupsets. Despite plenty of love and loyalty from hardcore enthusiasts, it’s basically a case of the highly vocal minority.
The current generation of SRAM’s Red 22 mechanical groupset hasn’t been updated since its last revamp in 2013.
From an engineering standpoint, it wouldn’t take much for SRAM to update its mechanical road groupsets to the 12-speed format....
In all likelihood, SRAM has the resources to do this, and you’d better believe that if the demand (and profit margins) was there, the company would make it happen. However, SRAM has clearly decided the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, and its OEM partners apparently feel the same way (though that hasn’t kept third-party tinkerer Ratio Technology from doing it on a retrofit basis).
As promised, Di2’s shift performance is uncannily faster and more precise, it’s more consistent over time than mechanical setups, and many riders just prefer the lighter feel of short-stroke buttons instead of bigger levers with more throw.
I anticipate that — unlike with Ultegra — Shimano will continue to offer 105 in a mechanical version, which will assuredly also make the jump to 12-speed. If only to keep OEM product managers happy, I would guess that the new 105 mechanical would hold pretty firm on the end cost, or maybe just increase slightly. Nevertheless, it seems likely that — at least as far as Shimano is concerned — 105 will now be the brand’s top mechanical offering.
Here’s the same exact guy in a different article:
So why do I still prefer mechanical drivetrains on my own bikes, then?
There are a lot of reasons why electronic drivetrains are superior. Unlike braided steel cables and plastic-lined housing that constantly stretch, squish, and abrade, wires aren’t subject to wear over time. Aside from periodic battery charging, electronic drivetrains are practically maintenance-free. They also don’t care if it’s cold or wet or muddy, there are heaps of customization options, they’re more consistent, and so on.
But electronic drivetrains have always left me a little cold. When I push a button on an electronic shifter, it does exactly what I tell it to do, but at the same time, it also doesn’t tell me anything in return.
I’m hardly averse to advancing technology: I’m a big believer in disc brakes, I usually prefer carbon-fiber frames, and I almost never ride without a GPS computer.
But when it comes to bicycle transmissions, it’s just that I prefer the feel of physically doing something with my hands.
When I push on a standard Shimano Dura-Ace lever, I can feel the derailleur moving at the other end. When I release the ratchet on a SRAM DoubleTap lever, I’m rewarded with a loud “click.” When I slam the thumb lever on a Campagnolo Ergopower lever, I know exactly how many gears I’ve selected by how far my finger has moved.
Electronic systems may work better, but it doesn’t speak to me.
There’s also the undeniable appeal in the simplicity of a mechanical drivetrain: a lever moves a cable at one end, and another component at the other end of the cable moves in kind.
I can see and hear what’s going on, and problems are easily diagnosed (and fixed); the same can’t be said of electrons traveling at light speed through a copper wire.
Yes, I know that mechanical drivetrains require periodic maintenance to keep everything in tip-top shape. Yes, I know my prized stash of Gore Ride-On sealed derailleur cable-and-housing sets will eventually run out.
And yes, I know that in many ways I’m nursing a dinosaur and turning a blind eye to the future.
But I spent 14 years as a bike shop mechanic and still do all my own work. I enjoy doing bike maintenance, not needing a computer inside my garage, and that stash of Gore Ride-On cables is big enough to last me a lifetime.
For me, it’s like an automatic transmission versus a manual one in modern automobiles. While the former has advanced to the point where the latter is essentially obsolete, there’s a level of user engagement that comes with one, but not the other, that still justifies its existence in the eyes of the faithful.
Don’t get me wrong; I love electronic drivetrains, I really do. I have the utmost of admiration for what they’ve become, for their technological superiority, for their merciless pursuit of engineering perfection. From a purely functional standpoint, they are, without doubt, better.
But for the type of riding that I typically like to do, getting from Point A to Point B as quickly and efficiently as possible isn’t as important as how much I’m enjoying the space in between — and as far as cycling goes, my interaction with my machine is a big part of that.
I remember vividly the first time I rode a modern electronic transmission. It was August 2008, and Shimano had flown a small group of journalists to Japan to sample its latest achievement. As a longtime fan of various forms of motorsports racing, it was also quite a treat to have that first...