If Only Everything Else was as Simple as our Bicycles

New Continental GP4000S tires on DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims

Some ways back I seem to have reached the summit of my enthusiasm for new technology. More and more it feels I'm pedaling on a false flat, working harder than I should and going slower into the bargain. The admission doesn't come easy for someone who makes a living as head of product design for a Silicon Valley startup. The promise of... take your pick... computing, gps, mobile phones, networking is invariably compromised by mediocre software, terrible usability, incomprehensible documentation and abysmal support. The pay off goes down as the passwords pile up. You get me?

The gadgets we covet and the services that seduce us routinely fail to deliver the goods and that's why I love the bicycle so much. There are few things that can go wrong with our two wheeled friends, and most of them are easily remedied. Flat tires repaired, components lubricated, brake pads replaced and off we go. We may be particular about the mechanical precision of our machines, but when it comes to function there are few inventions as resilient and reparable as the bicycle. They work for and with us, elegantly and simply.

Compare the bicycle with the frustration of more "advanced" technologies. Interested in upgrading your AT&T DSL? The derailleur is there but try getting the gears to change. Online or on the phone this is a company at war with itself. Customers can't get what they want, when they want it. At the office we had a $100,000.00 digital switch left by the previous tenant; a full two years after we set off alarms by unplugging it AT&T finally carted it away. We should have made good on our threats to auction it off on eBay.

I've written repeatedly about the trials and tribulations of Garmin's Motionbased/Connect services. I take no real satisfaction in the fact they've just missed another migration deadline. Fifteen months late and counting. Agile development anyone?

Then there's Cycling.tv... a complete waste of $90. It's dead and Competitive Cyclist says so. I just need to remember to cancel my subscription before it auto renews. What's the bet that piece of the machinery will work perfectly.

This all comes to mind because I just completed a two-weekend configuration of a new PC equipped with the Cancellara processor (at least I hope it's that fast). Eschewing my Macintosh roots I risked the vagaries of Vista and came through relatively unscathed. Epson struck the one truly sour note. The printer that's productively performed over firewire for three years with XP, can only print over USB in Vista thanks to Epson's latest drivers.

I could go on, but I'm twittering and it's time to get back to bicycles. Between reboots, and while the 4 TB NAS device was taking 17 hours to cook I changed tires, tubes and rim tape on the Enigma Sunday and got an object lesson in real value.

The molded-in wear indicators (the little circles) are almost gone

Value. A measure of utility or merit

The Continental GP4000S tires I'd been running for 2137 miles (to be exact) had reached retirement age. The wear indicators had all but disappeared from the rear and though they felt better than ever I knew it was time to let them go. This pair had done its job and then some. One flat in five months is stellar performance.

By my calculation the rear tire had lost 20g, nearly 10% of it's weight, the front 5%. The rubber really hits the road after all.

With clean Velox tape installed I rolled the new Continentals onto the DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims, laid in the tubes and brought them up to pressure. With so many products over promising and under delivering, it's nice to have confidence in the thin strips of rubber that we roll about on. Long after the gadgets have been consigned to history's rubbish pile, the bicycle will continue on its way, taking us happily along for the ride.

Now what's my network SSID again?

6 Responses to If Only Everything Else was as Simple as our Bicycles

  1. Nick holbrow says:

    Riding my road bike down a hill the other day I felt a real connection of man and machine. But now all I have to do and achieve the same syncrocity with my broadband connection. My house is only 4 years old but BT can only provide 2 meg, but to add insult to I injury my old dial up is faster at times. So There is only one answer where are my bike shoes?

  2. Patrick says:

    Buddy, what are you doing? Take the rear tire, put it in the front and the front put it in the rear. You’ll get another thousand miles from them. I literally just did my switch on my conti grand prix 4000s this weekend. The rear wears so much faster due to all the weight. And new rim strip?!? I mean, you could, but why? That stuff lasts as long as a wheel.

    • Patrick,

      You’ll be happy to know I kept the front as a backup for my next self-supported long ride. It’s light and guaranteed easy to put on, perfect for folding up and taking along. As for the fresh rim tape, I’d given the wheels a good clean and wanted to give them the full “detailing” treatment. Nothing says Spring like new rim tape.

  3. Drew says:

    Love the site, photos are awesome. I’m with Patrick but it’s going to be spring and fresh new rubber is about as good as a newly paved country road.

  4. Pingback: Hutchinson Fusion 2 Tubless Tires

  5. Hunkid0ry says:

    Nice Guassian blur.. pic looks good