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 Post subject: Bike Electronics
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:49 pm 
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Whenever I read about the newest computer, or the electronic groupos I get excited about the technology. After about 10 seconds, I remember why I love bikes: They are extremely efficient, relatively simple (both to build and maintain), and the nice ones show a certain degree of craftmanship.

I realize that electronics are infiltrating every aspect of our society, and I do not believe there is any stopping it. But I feel like the classic soul of the bicycle (a machine that you can maintain, and build a relationship with) is gravely threatend. I would be very sad to see the day when a person cannot work on their bike in their garage (covered in grease) because they don't have the right electronic equipment.

One only has to look to the automotive industry to see where this is going. Yes, fuel injection and computer modules have made cars greatly more efficient, but they have also become stamped out "robots". Older cars have much more profound personalities. It is that purity. The feeling I got when I first learned about carborators, it was a piece of machineing brilliance.

My hope for the electronic future is that cycling will be one of the few industries to adopt an open source outlook on this. In a way it would be good for the companies, they could through their hands up and say, "hey you messed with it, you fix it" Hopefully there would be a community there to help people fix the issues. I have really been inspired by the Linux community in this respect.



What is the point of this thread: What electronics do you have or want on your bike? Where would you like to see it go? And why?


I have a wireless speedometer on one of my 3 bikes, a light on another, and I bring my phone as an MP3 player (the phone part is really just in case I get stuck out somewhere with a gnarly crash).


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 Post subject: Bike Electronics
Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:49 pm 


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:12 pm 
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I couldn't agree more with you.

Wireless computer and powermeter is as far as I want to see it go!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:27 pm 
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I can't think of a part of my life that has been affected detrimentally by electronics/computing, so I'm happy for it to be a big part of cycling.

Currently bike computer manufacturers seem to have a problem even making devices with standard mini-USB connections, so I think it's going to be a while before there's anything usable.


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 Post subject: Re: Bike Electronics
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:45 pm 
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Tubes6al4v wrote:
Whenever I read about the newest computer, or the electronic groupos I get excited about the technology. After about 10 seconds, I remember why I love bikes: They are extremely efficient, relatively simple (both to build and maintain), and the nice ones show a certain degree of craftmanship.
. . .
What is the point of this thread: What electronics do you have or want on your bike? Where would you like to see it go? And why?

I had much the same reaction which I shared on the thread about the new Shimano electronic shifters:
http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum ... c&start=75

I do like my Garmin 705 with the ability to link to my laptop (via USB connector) and both upload my data after a ride and download routes when I travel with the bike and actually use the Garmin's mapping capabilities.

If I didn't use the Garmin, I would definitely use some other wireless bike computer. I just hate the look of all those extra wires. But other than that, the only electronics I carry on the bike is a very small, 86g cellphone for emergencies. And, when conditions require it, I do put on some small lightweight lights.

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"I can't understand why people are frightened by new ideas. I'm frightened of old ones." -- John Cage

http://weightweenies.starbike.com/phpBB ... 928#126928


Last edited by swinter on Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:48 pm 
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One of the biggest joys of cycling that I have done lately was to build my 29" rigid singlespeed. Simplicity at its best. After just three trail rides my average times on the local loop are faster than with my geared bike. I rode with a friend on Sunday that I always had a hard time keeping up with his full suspension bike tell me that he was having difficulty keeping up with me and how much faster I was since going to the single.

I can imagine hearing at a not to distant race: Anybody have a spare battery? My bike stopped shifting when I was warming up or I lost the sprint when my battery died"!

One more thing to go wrong.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:36 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
I used to have an ergobrain coupled with a polar HRM + power meter. That gave me everything including speed, distance, heart rate, calories burned, power output, temperature, altitude, gear indicator... :shock: But I've since gone full circle, and none of my bikes have any electronics of any kind.

I don't ride at night so I don't need lights. I do often carry a mobile phone but I don't consider that it is a part of my bicycle.

I like the simple look it gives the bike & I like the focus it gives me. There are no distractions mounted on the cockpit.

Where would I like to see it go?

Well I don't really care... electronics will always be there for those that need/want them but I would always like to have the choice of riding my high-end bike without any circuitboards attached.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 12:15 am 
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When I first saw the electric groupsets from Shimano and Campagnolo I initially wondered what the point was. But then thought about it some more and you can see perhaps where things might head with powermeters for example. I am sure it wouldn't be too long before you could have "automatic" gearshifts. Powermeter reads torque, power, speed, cadence and depending on the parameters that you have made it would shift into the appropriate gear.

Personally I would like to have electric shifting on the TT bike for some cleaner lines but not sure if this would actually make me go any faster but damn it would look trick :D

Other electric goodies I would like to see would be a "heads-up display" on my riding glasses or TT helmet so I don't have to look down at the computer.

Though as sync mentioned I have actually stripped my training bike down a bit so that the basic speedo is only held on by a rubber band to make it easier to go "naked" and just enjoy the ride rather than looking an LCD screen for most of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Bike Electronics
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:25 am 
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Posts: 1343
Location: Lyon, France
swinter wrote:
If I didn't use the Garmin, I would definitely use some other wireless bike computer.


Simplicity is a complex issue :lol: It has been suggested that Einstein's general theory is a an elegant explanation of gravity because it
explains everything by a single underlying concept, curved space-time. So in a sense, it's simple. Yet if you write out the field equations in
full detail :eek:


I hate wireless bike computers, because it's an unnecessary, inappropriate and inefficient use of technology: replacing 50cm of
fine wire with a transmitter, a receiver and an extra battery... and they are subject to interference from passing vehicles and ham radio
(or at least the ones I've owned have been), they stop working as the sender battery ages. It offends me that it's impossible to buy a
bike computer with a reasonable level of function that still uses a wired interface to the speed pick-up.

Yet I love my Garmin. It works. It tells me stuff I find helpful, I don't get lost, I don't get a sore head trying to navigate a menu structure
designed by someone with advanced autism and it doesn't beep at me if I choose not to wear a chest strap. I can even use it to navigate foreign
cities on foot. So it's simple to use, even if the underlying electronics is massively complex.

If only it was 70g lighter :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:52 pm 
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Good topic, as I am sure there are lots of differing opinions on the way electronics have permeated cycling. Mine are as follows:

Lights: If you ride at night, you need them at least to be seen if not to see the roadway. I shudder when I see lightless riders on the road at night. It is nice to see battery and bulb improvements in lights that have led to brighter lights that last longer.

Computers: I love my Garmin 305 because it tells you so much with so little input. Wheel size for instance is irrelevant unless you care about the calories burned calculation. The Garmin can be moved from bike to bike to bike, without any resetting or changes in accuracy. The technology that is moving forward seems practical and reasonable. In other words, I don't think the bike computer manufacturers have "jumped the shark" so to speak.

Groups: This is where there will always be the most controversy with regard to electronics. Electronic groups will advance the sport and the lifestyle of cycling in many ways, but they also add complexity and in some ways remove the simple mechanical artistry of basic components like derailleurs and shifters. Thinking outside the scope of traditional cycling is important here. Time trial bikes with shifting possible in multiple hand positions. Shifting made easier for those with hand disabilities. Coasting bikes that encourage the non-cyclist to consider the sport and lifestyle. All of these are positive developments for the sport and lifestyle of cycling.

Mechanically, electronic groups will to a certain extent disturb devotees of working on their own bikes and equipment, and I'm sure it will frustrate many professional mechanics as well... However from a riding standpoint having a servo controlled FD that eliminates chainrub no matter what gear I'm in sounds pretty darn exciting. It also occurs to me that for all of us WW's there are 10 or more cyclists that don't work on their own bikes, so most of the learning curve goes to the professional mechanics. Based on my riding and routine, I don't think I'd ever have a problem remembering to recharge an electronic group either. I already spend 5 minutes post ride (or more) prepping gear for the next ride including recharging my aforementioned garmin computer. Having a second battery sounds like a good idea for Centuries and longer rides, it weighs less than 100g.

So, I guess overall I am a proponent of electronics as they have been developed so far, but there is always the potential for manufacturers to take things too far. Then again, the idea mentioned above of a HUD in the glasses would be something I would buy in a heartbeat.... I guess I am just a nerd. :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:40 pm 
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Full integration... (shifting, lighting, power/heart...)

Bluetooth Wireless dashboard on a flex screen (stem mounted with a small battery pack and very low weight).


A groupset where multiple shifts are as fast as cable systems, and why there is a large wire running anywhere just makes things seem silly as it stands.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:01 pm 
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I personally will expect to have at least two bikes. One electronic, and another mechanical, along with a single speed. Most likely it's because I seem to be addicted to always getting something new to play with. I find it a bit odd that I'm so excited to get Di2, particularly because I don't use electronics on my bike most of the time. No power meter, no speed, cadence, distance etc... not even a cell phone when I'm riding. The only thing I take is a watch(sometimes a computer mounted on the bar without a transmitter to give me the time) and a pair of Oakley Thumps for music. Yet I really want to get Di2, I suspect I will use it without the flight-deck.

The one thing that surprises me is that several people have mentioned simplicity or the complexity that electronics introduce. I disagree with this. We've been introducing complexity into our bikes for decades. 10/11 speed rear ends, sti/ergo, carbon parts which require torque wrenches, etc... If anything bikes have been getting less simplistic since the beginning.

I think the bulk of the resistance will be to a big change and an "aritificial" shifting system. I have to say, while I was excited to get a car with paddle shifters, I still find it odd feeling and often mis-time my shifts. However the more I shift the more I get used to it, and the more foreign other systems start to feel.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:06 pm 
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PezTech wrote:
Bluetooth Wireless dashboard

Ha ha ha ha ha. Why do people always talk about bluetooth? It's so horribly unreliable and narrowband.

Wireless, I can maybe understand, but Bluetooth? Crazy idea.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:08 pm 
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PezTech wrote:
Full integration... (shifting, lighting, power/heart...)

Bluetooth Wireless dashboard on a flex screen (stem mounted with a small battery pack and very low weight).


Low tech.

The future is heads-up display glasses integrated with GPS. through the glasses, you see a virtual display of HR, Cadences, gear, speed, time, etc, plus position or turn-by-turn directions. Also, "ghosts" in your view of other riders on the same climb, or famous riders in history, or your fastest time.

I've tried a pair using scanning lasers for the display, they were big, but that's changing fast.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:11 pm 
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EURO wrote:
PezTech wrote:
Bluetooth Wireless dashboard

Ha ha ha ha ha. Why do people always talk about bluetooth? It's so horribly unreliable and narrowband.

Wireless, I can maybe understand, but Bluetooth? Crazy idea.


My Garmin is bluetooth, works fine.
My cell phone is bluetooth, works fine with external GPS or headset, 100%.
My laptop does bluetooth networking to my desktop without a single failure,ever.

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 Post subject:
Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:11 pm 


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:20 pm 
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Location: Lyon, France
PezTech wrote:
and why there is a large wire running anywhere just makes things seem silly as it stands.


I know we are irreconcilable on this, just different aesthetic judgements, but to me this is like saying

"Why does my bike have to have this ugly chain? Couldn't it be shaft drive?"

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